What indoor bug spray should you be using? Do you know what the best indoor bug spray is on the market for you and your family? If so, you are probably familiar with pest problems at home.
For just a general, all-purpose indoor bug spray you have to determine what kind of spray you want. Do you want a liquid concentrate you have to mix? A ready-to-use product? How about an aerosol spray?
Are you out to save the planet? Maybe you’re just concerned about the safety of your family and pets. You might want a bug spray more on the “green” side of the aisle.
What are Some of the Most Common Indoor Bugs?
There are countless types of pests that try to make a home inside your home. Many are merely an annoyance, others are harmful to plants and pets, and others can be harmful to you and your family.
Here is a list of many bug pests you will likely encounter at home:
- Bed Bugs
- Boxelder Bugs
- Drain Flies
- Fruit Flies
How to Prevent Indoor Bugs
The best remedy for a pest infestation is to do whatever you can to avoid having one to begin with. Pest control products can be helpful in controlling bugs in and around our homes, but they should never be your one and only strategy. Many species of insects develop resistance over time to many of the synthetic pest control products commonly used.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a comprehensive, holistic, more earth-friendly approach to pest control that relies on physical/environmental, biological, and mechanical control methods first, before resorting to the use of pest control products. It takes into account “acceptable” levels of pest populations and using earth-friendly pest control methods (attracting natural predators like birds, bats, and predatory insects, and nurturing plants that act as natural pest repellents, etc.) to maintain a healthy ecological balance in an environment.
How can you implement IPM methods more into your pest management approach? Following are some suggestions.
Seal/block off places where pests can enter your home and/or hide.
- Assess how well doors and windows are sealed up. Replace door and window weather stripping as needed. This will also help reduce your utility bills. Make sure all your screens are in good repair.
Caulk cracks, crevices, and utility entry points (indoors and out), and around cabinets or baseboards. Use steel wool to fill spaces around pipes and cables. Fix holes or cover them with wire mesh.
Eliminate sources of water, food, and shelter. Make house pests feel unwelcome! This will include keeping your home and yard tidy, clean, and well-kept. Bugs love liquid spills, leaks, food crumbs, cracks in walls and corners, and clutter. Since prevention is always the best remedy, make sure you give bugs no excuse to come live in your home.
- Learn about the pests you have, might have, and about the options you have to control them.
- Check for pests in backpacks, luggage, bags, packages, and boxes before carrying them into your home.
- Fix leaky plumbing and don't let water accumulate anywhere. Careful that water doesn’t collect in trays underneath plants or your refrigerator. Don't leave pet water (or food) out overnight.
- Keep food (including pet food) in sealed containers: plastic, or preferably glass.
- Garbage with food scraps should be kept in tightly-covered trash cans. Take trash out regularly.
- Eliminate clutter. Get rid of empty boxes, stacked newspapers and magazines, etc.
Keep lawn and foliage trimmed, remove or refresh any stagnant water from your yard (i.e. pet dishes, kiddie pools, birdbaths, puddled water, etc.). Keep foliage/branches trimmed at least 12–24 inches from the side of your house to reduce bug entry-points.
Using Indoor Bug Spray (and Other Pest Control Products)
After you have completed preventive steps and you’re still seeing bugs, you may need to use some pest control product(s). You need a good bug spray for the house. If an infestation has become overwhelming, call a pest management professional (PMP), even if only once or twice a year for maintenance (especially if the structural integrity of your home may be compromised, as with termites, or if venomous pests like spiders or scorpions are involved).
If you do hire a professional, be sure to ask them to find and correct the source of the bug problem before applying any professional bug spray. Your PMP should be able to provide you information about any chemicals he or she uses (i.e. a safety data sheet, or SDS). In many cases, however, with a little time, homeowners can save money by managing some pest problems themselves*.
Baits and dusts are a good first line of defense against insect invaders like ants, cockroaches, and spiders. Baits/traps and dusts are usually effective and can be used with a low risk of human and pet exposure to the product, as long as you store and apply these products out of the reach of children and pets. Other lower-risk pest control products are also available to help control bugs. You can do your own research or ask your PMP.
How to Choose the Best Indoor Bug Spray
There are two main types of active ingredients used to formulate indoor bug killers: synthetic (formulated in a lab) or naturally derived/naturally occurring formulations (a.k.a. green, botanical, earth-friendly, etc.), which take a greener approach to pest control by using plant-based ingredients or essential oils as their active ingredients.
Though there are many terms used to describe “green” pest control products, they should not necessarily be used interchangeably. Read more about the differences between natural, organic, and green products.
Indoor bug sprays can be divided into two main categories: aerosol and non-aerosol sprays. Aerosols, once deemed harmful to our earth’s ozone layer, now virtually all use different propellants for delivery that are much more environmentally safe to use (at least the ones allowed for sale in the United States). Non-aerosol sprays are applied using some sort of trigger-action applicator.
The most effective bug spray for the house will not only kill bugs on contact, they should also provide some residual protection.
Synthetic Bug Sprays
The most common ingredients used to formulate conventional bug sprays are synthetic chemicals. These synthetics are widely used by PMPs, as well as for pest management for commercial crops. These synthetic formulations are effective against a wide range of insects.
They are labeled for home pest control, though many of these synthetic chemicals take longer to break down in soil. These chemicals can also be highly toxic to fish and other animals can cause allergic reactions in people with certain skin types, and should never be used around pregnant women.
Green Bug Sprays
People aren’t the only ones who want to get rid of bugs! Did you know that plants use their own oils as a built-in defense system against pests? Plants want protection from them, too!
If you prefer to choose a more earth-friendly bug spray for the house, you can still count on a high bug kill rate. Most green bug sprays are formulated using some combination of plant-based ingredients and/or essential oils (e.g., peppermint oil, wintergreen oil, geraniol, cedar extract, citronella, rosemary oil, etc.). Naturally derived sprays are healthier for the environment and your family since they break down more quickly in the environment, do not leave behind any harmful residues, and are more kid- and pet-friendly.
What kind of bug spray do PMPs use?
If you want to use the same professional bug spray that your pest control professional does, find out what kind of formulation they use. Are they using a conventional insecticide or a greener alternative product? Your PMP will use (or should be using) similar application techniques as the ones we will recommend, but the chemicals being used are usually a concentrate that requires mixing before application.
Maggie’s Farm Products offer the most effective green solution option available in a ready-to-use product, which requires no mixing and no need to store it in your home for years while trying to use it gradually, as you would with a concentrate.
So, Where Do You Apply an Indoor Bug Spray?
You want to focus your applications mostly for areas where food and moisture will readily be available to the pest. You can find pests in any room of your house, but for most homes, the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are prime areas for them to hang out. Also, the garage, crawlspaces, basement, and attic, as these places are quiet, out of the way, and provide great places to hide.
Be sure to treat behind baseboards, underneath and inside sink cabinets, and around plumbing entry points. A light, targeted spray is usually all you need to leave a pest barrier that keeps working for weeks.
Pests also frequently occupy basements because of the high levels of humidity and moisture found underground. They are dark, quiet, and offer great places to hide.
How Do You Apply Bug Spray?
General Application Tips
- Always read and follow the product’s label directions and safety information for use and proper storage and disposal information.
- You can usually use pest control products both indoors and out, though some are specifically labeled for outdoor use only.
- It’s preferable for homeowners to use ready-to-use products (i.e., no mixing needed) whenever possible*.
- Store pest control products in original containers only. Do not store other materials in empty pest control containers, no matter how much you’ve rinsed it out. Children and even adults have been accidentally poisoned by consuming pest control product stored in old beverage containers.
- Your community may offer household hazardous waste collection and will accept unwanted pest control products/containers.
Indoor Spray Application Tips
- Shake bottle well to ensure all ingredients are properly combined.
- Set nozzle to “spray” mode.
- Hold sprayer 12 inches from surfaces being sprayed.
- Pest control products not contained in baits or traps (i.e., sprays and dusts) should only be applied to targeted locations, not sprayed throughout an entire room. Instead, spray areas where you see pest activity, and in out-of-the-way areas like wall voids, behind baseboards, cracks, crevices, etc.
- Always wipe away excess liquid.
Don’t assume twice as much is twice as effective. You may endanger the health of your family, pets, and yourself. After you have sprayed a room, fully ventilate the room to clear the air.
Outdoor Spray Application
- To achieve effective indoor control, you must also apply product around the outside of your home. Start by walking around the structure’s foundation to inspect. Spray (outdoor use) where different building materials meet (such as where wood trim meets brick). Spray cracks and crevices, spray around areas where pipes and utility cables enter your home, and also around doors and windows.
- Avoid spraying in wet conditions as this can weaken the spray’s effectiveness.
- To create a barrier of protection, apply product around your home’s foundation, one to two feet up and two to three feet out, including walkways adjoining foundation or porches. This is best done using a hose-end sprayer product or a compressed air sprayer with a diluted concentrate.
- Apply to other areas where you spot insect activity: around sheds, woodpiles, etc.
- When spraying liquid, spray with the wind to avoid getting sprayed.
*Safety tip: When mixing a concentrate, do so in a well-ventilated area, and when applying, be sure to wear gloves.
How many hours do you need to stay out of your home after spraying for bugs?
Most conventional insecticides dry within just two to four hours; it might take longer if you are in an area with high humidity. Keep your family’s traffic (esp. children and pets) out of areas treated with an indoor bug spray for at least that amount of time. If using a green product, re-entry can be much sooner.
During application, remove bird cages and cover or remove fish and reptile tanks from rooms being treated. Remove cooking utensils and kitchenware and cover electric appliances like coffee machines and toasters when spraying in the kitchen. Be sure to wash away excess spray with soap and water.
Bug Spray for Plants
If you are looking for an indoor bug spray for plants, you will need a product labeled to treat plants. Be careful as indoor plants are not as hearty as outdoor plants, and those botanical oils can burn your indoor foliage if not used properly. We would recommend testing on a small section of a leaf to make sure the spray does not harm your plants.
When you are trying to control small flies or gnats that are breeding in the organic matter of your plants you can use an indoor fly spray to control the adults that are driving you crazy. Usually, the best control method is to allow the potting soil and trays to dry out completely. Ensure you have adequate drainage to prevent fungus gnats from re-spawning. You can also spray the soil with a botanical indoor bug spray so it can volatilize to repel and kill off those pests.
Outdoors: What is the Best Time of Year to Spray for Bugs?
You can spray for bugs anytime you see them, but typically the best time to do an outdoor preventive spray for bugs is before they become an issue. Early spring, right before bug season gets underway, is one of the best times to spray. You will catch bugs when they are shaking off the winter before they reproduce and find a new home.
It’s advisable to spray for other insect pests in the fall, such as box elder bugs and Asian lady beetles, because they will try to get inside to spend the winter (overwintering pests), especially in your attic, crawl spaces, etc.
When to Call a Professional
How do you know when you should call a professional pest control company?
- When you’re outnumbered. Large infestations of pests happen–for example, German roaches multiply so fast that a couple can become hundreds in a short time. A large millipede infestation can happen quickly under the right conditions. Stink bugs can easily take over a home in the fall. All these situations can be too much for the average homeowner to handle. In these cases, a very thorough treatment is necessary, often to include attics, crawl spaces, eaves, and soffits. A professional has the equipment and experience to treat for pests on a large scale.
- Dealing with pests that can do structural damage: If you are dealing with a carpenter ant problem, or find signs of termite activity, you should seriously consider contacting a professional.
- Finding bed bugs in your house: Bed bugs are some of the most difficult pests to control, and they can reproduce and spread quickly. A pest control professional is probably your best choice in this situation.
You can spray for bugs any time of the year you see them, but the critical seasons are spring when bugs are coming back to life after winter, and the fall, when they’ll try to shack up inside your home for the coming cold.
Your best long-term strategy to keep pests in check is to use pest control products as a final step. There are several things you can do to keep them out of your home, but first, you should first make them feel unwelcome by:
- Eliminating entry points into your home as much as possible
- Eliminating their water, food, and shelter sources, by keeping things clean and organized indoors, and well-trimmed outside
- Removing/refreshing stagnant water regularly
For applying indoor bug spray, the rooms bugs like the most are:
- Laundry room
Don’t forget to treat behind baseboards, underneath and inside sink cabinets, and around plumbing entry points.
Stay away and keep your family members, especially kids and pets, away from treated areas for at least two hours (for conventional pest control products). Remove bird cages and cover or remove fish and reptile tanks from rooms being treated. Remove cooking utensils and kitchenware and cover electric appliances like coffee machines and toasters when spraying in the kitchen.
For scientifically-tested, effective pest control that is better for the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective family of green pest control products on the market. Find out why life’s better on the farm!