Indoor Pest Control

Get rid of cockroaches, bed bugs, fleas, gnats, ants, termites and other indoor pests

Small ant infestation inside a house.

Indoor pests can be unpleasant and invasive. This guide will give you tips on basic do-it-yourself pest control for the most common indoor pests, including bed bugs, fleas, gnats, ants, flies, fruit flies, termites, cockroaches, mosquitoes, moths, scorpions, spiders, ticks, flour beetles, silverfish, and whiteflies. See the chart below for a quick snapshot of what you can do to rid your home of these unwanted visitors.

Learn detailed tips on home pest control with these specific guides: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs, How to Get Rid of Fleas.

Insect Identification Prevention Treatment

Bed Bugs

  • Hide in warm, dark places and prefer tight spaces such as mattresses
  • Can be detected by painful red bites on your skin
  • Regularly inspect bedding and mattresses for small
    black bugs tightly hiding in mattress or suitcase seams
  • Vinyl covers for box springs and mattresses help protect beds from bed bugs
  • Examine suitcases after travel; store in sealed clear plastic bags between trips
  • Use a liquid insecticide or aerosol on floors, walls,
    furniture and all mattresses and bedding linens – focus on cracks and seams – to kill eggs before hatched
  • Repeat as directed to
    eradicate any eggs
  • Glue traps have lures to attract bed bugs if present in the home
  • Use a fogger, following manufacturer’s instructions
  • Diatomaceous earth can be applied in cracks and crevices and also kills other crawling insects
  • Check for approved us around children’s
    bedding; mattresses and bedding may need to be replaced

Fleas

  • Can be detected by splotchy and itchy red bites on people or pets
  • Bites are raised and scabs will form at point of entry
  • Inspect your pets when returning from outdoors
  • Observe any unusual activity from your pets
  • Start with a liquid perimeter to prevent entry into the home
  • Treat all areas in the home to remove fleas, eggs and larvae
  • Treat pets with a
    veterinarian approved flea preventer
  • Shampoo carpets and vacuum furniture; seal the
    vacuum bag and
    immediately remove from the home
  • Wash linens and pet
    bedding in hot sudsy
    water
  • Consider using a fogger following manufacturer’s
    instructions
  • Diatomaceous earth can be applied in cracks and crevices and also kills other crawling insects

Gnats

  • Look like small mosquitoes but do not bite
  • Prefer houseplants
  • Remove sources of water in saucers under plant containers
  • Check all houseplants to determine number of
    plants affected
  • Apply a liquid garden insect killer to foliage
  • Heavily infected plants may need to be removed from the home
  • Fruit fly traps attract adult gnats and ensnare them so they cannot escape to breed
  • Fly sticks attract and trap adult gnats

Ants

  • Can be seen on countertops, in food packaging and near water sources
  • Indoor ants prefer food that has a sugar or grease base

  • Clean food crumbs from countertops and floors immediately
  • Store dried food and sweet treats in sealed containers
  • Start with a liquid perimeter insect killer to prevent entry
    into the home
  • Spray visible ant
    populations with an
    aerosol
  • Use ant baits and traps under sinks, in cabinets and under refrigerators; the worker ants eat the
    bait and share with other ants and queen to kill entire colony
  • Gel baits can be applied in cracks and crevices using a syringe
  • Diatomaceous earth can be applied in cracks and crevices and also kills other
    crawling insects
  • Consider using a fogger, following manufacturer’s
    instructions

Flies

  • Flies are commonly seen around standing food in warm areas
  • Can spread germs
  • Keep food in sealed containers and cover open food
  • Keep the home as clean as possible
  • Keep garbage cans
    covered and away from the home
  • Use glue traps, fly paper, fly traps, fly sticks or fly swatters

Fruit Flies

  • Can be found near fresh fruit and in the kitchen drain or disposer
  • Store fresh fruit in the refrigerator
  • Regularly clean drains and disposers to remove organic matter
  • Pour boiling water down the drain and use a disposer cleaner regularly
  • Traps attract fruit flies and ensnare the them so they cannot escape to breed

Termites

  • Store firewood and lumber away from the home
  • Trim shrubs and bushes away from the exterior of the house
  • Do not attach wooden decks or arbors to the
    house
  • Remove standing water sources around the home
  • Contact a licensed pest- control professional if termites are present in the home

Cockroaches

  • Seek sources of water and food
  • Prefer kitchens and
    bathrooms
  • Run away when exposed to light sources
  • Store food in sealed containers
  • Clean food crumbs from countertops and floors
  • Neighboring apartments or condos may also have cockroach infestations
  • Treat the perimeter,
    baseboards, windows,
    doors and cabinet interiors with gel, bug spray or aerosol
    pesticides
  • Powdered products
    containing boric acid
    allow roaches to carry the powder back to the nest and reduce populations in two weeks; the powder is effective as long as it stays
    dry
  • Roaches enter bait traps to eat the bait then crawl away to die
  • Roach traps lure and catch roaches
  • Diatomaceous earth can be applied in cracks and crevices and also kills other
    crawling insects
  • Consider using a fogger, following manufacturer’s
    instructions

Mosquitoes

  • Clean up sources of standing water from
    non-draining gutters
  • Move wading pools and birdbaths away from the home
  • Dry out washed recycling bins
  • Build ponds away from the home and add a moving water feature
  • Use a fogger, mosquito trap, water dunk, lawn granules, or aerosol repellant outdoors
  • Check out the Mosquito Control Buying Guide for
    more information
  • Use aerosols, pump sprays, candles to repel mosquitoes
  • Electric flying insect traps rated for indoor use can eliminate mosquitoes
  • Consider using a fogger, following manufacturer’s
    instructions

Moths

  • Moths can be seen flying in attics and chewing on fabrics
  • Flour moths can be seen near starchy foods
  • Store sweaters in bags and keep clothes in totes
  • Store food in sealed, air-tight containers
  • Dry cleaning clothes will kill moth eggs
  • Place mothballs in
    drawers and closets
  • Destroy food that has been infested with moths; secure packaging and
    remove from the home

Scorpions

  • Scorpions are nocturnal and hide during the day
  • Some species may have poisonous venom
  • They may be seen in kitchens and bathrooms when temperatures rise
    above 100 degrees
  • Repair loose screens and keep doors closed
  • Seal cracks or openings in home’s foundation
  • Use a flashlight to inspect crawl spaces
  • Remove outdoor hiding places such as clutter or loose rocks near the home
  • Use a liquid perimeter
    insect killer to prevent
    entry into the home
  • Trap and physically
    remove scorpions
  • Liquid sprays and aerosols target cracks and crevices
    where scorpions crawl and hide (under appliances,
    behind baseboards and around doors and windows)
  • Barrier tape traps scorpions on walls and other vertical
    surfaces

Spiders

  • Prefer warm areas where they will not be disturbed
  • Spider webs may be visible, especially in corners or the tops of window treatments
  • Some species may be poisonous
  • Repair loose screens and keep doors closed
  • Seal cracks or openings in home’s foundation
  • Use a liquid perimeter insect killer to prevent
    entry into the home
  • Remove spider webs
  • Various species of spiders can be controlled with
    specific liquid insect killer
  • Spider traps and glue boards attract and catch spiders

Ticks

  • Tick bites can easily be observed on people or pets as the skin will swell with a circular red scar and visible scab
  • Ticks can often be found while still feeding as the
    body of the tick enlarges with blood to three times normal size
  • Run hand through hair or pet’s fur to detect ticks
  • Check pets when returning from outdoors
  • Check yourself and family members after spending time outdoors in wooded
    areas or tall grass
  • Treat grassy areas with granular insect killer
  • Liquid sprays can be used on carpets, rugs and pet bedding
  • Use veterinarian-
    recommended tick control products for pets

Flour Beetles

  • Bore small holes that can be seen in plastic or paper bags of flour or other grains
  • Can be spotted in cupboards or other dark locations
  • Store grains and baking flours and powders in sealed containers
  • Destroy food that has been infested with beetles and remove packaging from the home
  • Remove all products in cabinet where infested food was found and vacuum
    thoroughly in cracks and crevices

Silverfish

  • Fast movers that prefer damp, dark places and starchy spaces
    like book bindings and dress shirts
  • Look through old books or bookcases for signs of infestation
  • Recycle or remove old newspapers, magazines and print materials
  • Keep important papers in sealed containers
  • Seal holes around pipes and check for cracks in windows and screens
  • Store new products in sealed containers
  • Use a liquid perimeter insect killer to prevent
    entry into the home
  • Remove books or
    printed materials where silverfish are detected
  • Vacuum thoroughly in cracks and crevices
  • Consider using a fogger, following manufacturer’s
    instructions

Whiteflies

  • Appear as a white mass on
    houseplants with larvae underneath plant leaves
  • Inspect plants for signs of infestation
  • Check all houseplants to
    determine the number of
    plants affected
  • Wash plants with water to dislodge flies
  • Remove infested leaves
  • Paper traps trap flies
  • Treat plants with insecticidal soap
  • Use a systemic insecticide after flies are removed
  • Heavily infected plants may need to be removed from the home


Identify Points of Entry

Close up of white window sills and black shutters on a brick house.


Indoor pests often enter the home from outdoor sources. The first line of defense includes sealing cracks and small openings around windows and doors inside and out, as well as your home’s foundation.

Spraying a pesticide around the perimeter of your home and around bushes is a good next step for deterring pests.

Some pests such as gnats, termites, fleas and ants can be reduced by treating the lawn in addition to the inside of the home. 

Ensure window screens are in good condition. Inspect your pets when returning from the outdoors, and examine plants – especially those that are newly purchased or have been recently brought indoors.

Removing refuse and dead plants from around the home, cutting back tree limbs that extend onto the roof of your home, and trimming shrubs away from your home’s façade and foundation will remove common hiding places.

If you have a compost center, keep it away from the house.

Remove Food Sources


Take steps to remove food and water sources for indoor pests. Keep food covered or sealed in containers. Promptly repair leaks around sinks, and keep countertops and floors clean from crumbs or spills. Take garbage outdoors and keep trash bins away from entry points to the home.

Trash cans should have lids that fit securely, and recycling containers should be thoroughly rinsed and dried.

Keep firewood stored outdoors until ready to use as some insects and bugs live and burrow inside the wood and can easily leave the wood and move into your home.

Sprays and Other Pest Control Methods

Person spraying insecticide on a window sill.


Once indoor pests are inside your home, you must determine the type of pest, how they entered (if possible), and the locations of the pests to create an effective plan of attack. You will likely need several methods to effectively remove the source and offspring of the pests.

There are multipurpose or general control methods including sprays, glue strips, traps, aerosols and foggers that can deter several types of pests simultaneously. Some products are designed to target a specific pest. 

Another important consideration is the impact the pesticide will have on your home. There are organic pesticides that use essential plant oils as an alternative to the synthetic pesticides commonly used. Some plant oils may leave an oil mark, so test in an unseen spot before use.

Electronic pest chasers use ultrasonic frequencies to repel insects and rodents without disturbing pets.

Safety First

Protective clothing and accessories to be worn while spraying insecticide sitting on a table.


No matter which insect control products you choose, wear proper safety equipment including gloves, eye protection, and a respirator when applying. It is best to wear old clothes and wash them after applying the pesticide.

Thoroughly read the product label before using any pesticide. Aerosols may have limitations on the areas where they can be sprayed. Some pesticides may harm wood floors or specialty furniture fabrics. You may want to test the product in an inconspicuous area before use. 

Depending upon the brand of fogger, you may need to shut off gas valves, turn off pilot lights, tightly close doors and windows, check cycling appliances (such as refrigerators), remove exposed food, and cover aquariums and plants.

Keep people, kids and pets out of the area until the pesticide is dry or for the recommended time listed on the packaging. Make sure the treated areas of your home are adequately ventilated.

Set traps and apply granular or powdered products in safe locations away from curious little fingers. People with respiratory concerns or skin sensitivities should take extra precautions.