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10 DIY Ways to Repel Pests and Bugs

A girl scratches at her leg as mosquitos fly past.
MIA Studio/Shutterstock.com

Summer is finally here, and while that means a lot of fun in the sun, it also means the return of many unwanted, pesky pests. Mosquitos, ants, and ticks—oh my! There are so many insects to deal with in the warm summer months that it can make spending time outside downright unpleasant.

Thankfully, there are plenty of safe and effective DIY pest-repellent solutions you can use to keep summer bugs away.

Keep Your Kitchen Clean

A woman stands looking at her kitchen while holding cleaning supplies.

The easiest way to keep most pests away is to make sure your house is clean and decluttered—especially the kitchen. Most insects enter the house in search of food, which is why it’s not uncommon to see a trail of ants crawling from the floor to the countertop.

Keep kitchen surfaces as clean as possible, wiping them down frequently to avoid even the slightest remnant of a spill or food particle. Keep food safely stored and don’t leave open containers out anywhere.

Eliminate Standing Water

A mosquito on a leaf

Mosquitoes are one of summer’s most pesky pests, and they can even be quite dangerous.

Thankfully, you can keep these bloodsuckers from hanging around your home by getting rid of standing water wherever you might see it. Mosquitoes are attracted to these areas because they can safely lay eggs there.

Dump out water from kiddie pools, bird baths, fountains, and even beach buckets. Keep your gutters clean and free of standing water. Make sure everything stays relatively dry, and you’re likely to see fewer mosquitoes lingering around the yard.

GOOTOP Outdoor Electric Bug Zapper

Maybe not DIY but still handy to have!

Use Spices

A person chops a pepper on a wooden cutting board surrounded by other peppers.

Do you have a hard time tolerating spicy food? Most bugs do, too.

Ground cayenne pepper is fantastic for keeping away ants, spiders, and cockroaches. You can simply sprinkle it around the entrances to your home and it will serve as a barrier for those spice-intolerant insects.

If you’re a gardener, you can also sprinkle cayenne (or mix it with water and use it as a spray) to protect your precious plants from getting eaten by insects.

Empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles

Keep your cayenne concoction nearby.

Grow Herbs

A woman plants an herb garden

Having an herb garden is a fantastic way to celebrate the bounty of summer, but some herbs can actually do double duty by keeping certain bugs away.

Basil, for example, naturally repels flies. Meanwhile, rosemary could help repel mosquitos, and mint can keep ants at bay. They don’t like the strong earthy aroma the herb gives out through its oils, so they tend to stay away wherever it’s planted. Try putting it in a garden bed or in small pots near your home entrances.

Planters' Choice Window Herb Garden Starter Kit

You're not limited to outdoor gardens with this kit.


A close up of apple cider vinegar being poured from a bottle to a spoon.

Vinegar can be used for cooking, cleaning, and keeping certain bugs away. By putting equal parts distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle, you can deter ants.

Ants are typically attracted to a home by the scent of food. Vinegar helps to eliminate that “scent” trail for them. Spray it all over your home entrances so they have less of a desire to come inside. Plus, apple cider vinegar makes a great trap for fruit flies.

Amazon Brand Happy Belly Distilled Vinegar

Stock up on vinegar for all your pest-repelling needs.

Use Garlic

A person chops garlic.

If you’re a garlic lover, you’re in luck. You can use the pungent vegetable to ward off mosquitoes.

While consuming a lot of garlic until it’s coming out of your pores is an option, your family and friends probably wouldn’t appreciate that very much. Plus, there’s not a ton of scientific evidence surrounding how effective consuming it is when it comes to keeping mosquitos away.

Instead, take the easy route and sprinkle garlic powder around your home exterior. It’s an odor that they hate, and it lingers for weeks!

Save Leftover Beer


This one is a little bit gross, but so are the bugs it takes care of. No one wants to see cockroaches running around their home or storage areas, but it happens! If you happen to spot one or two, don’t throw out that leftover beer from your family cookout.

Cockroaches are attracted to the smell of beer because they think it’s a food source. Fill a cup with any leftover beer you have sitting around, and the cockroaches will climb inside. But, they won’t be able to get out. While it’s not a long-term solution to a big problem, it can help to nip a cockroach issue in the “bud” right away.

Get it, “Bud”? Beer? Okay, moving on…

BaveL Large Beer Glasses

Beautiful beer glasses for summer parties, and for...keeping roaches away.

Use Essential Oils

A sign reads, "Beware of Ticks" and sits next to a bench by a field of flowers.
Heiko Barth/Shutterstock.com

There are plenty of uses for essential oils, and one of many of them is tha they can be used to repel ticks! Ticks can be incredibly harmful to both people and pets, potentially causing Lyme disease and a host of other illnesses.

Thankfully, ticks hate certain smells, including peppermint, lemon, orange, cinnamon, and lavender. Sprinkle some of those oils around your home, and you’re less likely to see ticks trying to latch onto your pets or family members.

Install Yellow Light Bulbs

Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Do you ever feel like you’re swatting flies all summer? One of the easiest ways to keep them away is to swap out your light bulbs for yellow ones.

Color can make a big difference when it comes to attracting and deterring flies. They seem to be most attracted to blue, and they’re not fans of yellow. Installing yellow lighting can help to keep them away from your outdoor parties and your front porch.

JandCase Yellow LED Light Bulbs

Keep flies away with warm yellow lights.

Grow Wasp-Repellent Plants

A wasp sits on a wooden surface.
Ruth Swan/Shutterstock.com

Having bees around your home exterior can be a good thing—we need to save the pollinators! But, there’s a difference between wasps and bees, and when you see wasps trying to form a nest outside your house, it can be downright dangerous.

You can help to keep wasps away by growing wasp-repellent plants, like marigolds, thyme, spearmint, and wormwood. Wasps tend to stay away because of the strong smells, but these are all actually pretty and/or useful plants you can use in other ways, too!

If you don’t want to rely on heavy chemicals and unnatural insect repellents this summer, try some of these DIY solutions. It’s easier than you might think to keep bugs at bay.

With a few simple changes, a little planning, and by utilizing natural ingredients, you can keep yourself and your family safe from pests all season, so you can enjoy as much time outside as possible.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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