The kitchen is often one of the most appealing areas for pests to congregate in your home. With plenty of dark nooks between appliances, shelves and cabinets, and the promise of food, it’s hard create a hostile environment for pests in the kitchen, which can pose health threats if not properly dealt with. While the primary way to keep your home completely safe from pests is to purchase a pest control maintenance plan, there are a few things you can do on your own to decrease your chances of pests making themselves at home in your kitchen. Here are a few of the most effective practices, borrowed from the food industry:

Always clean up after a meal.

We’ve all had those nights where we think we’ve spent every last drop of energy we had left to cook dinner, and decide clean up will be left for tomorrow. Trust us though, the amount of time and energy it will take you to clean up your pots, pans and dishes is much less than the amount necessary to take on a pest infestation.

Wipe down surfaces.

In addition to cleaning up and putting dishes away, wipe down your meal prep and eating surfaces. Small spills and crumbs that seem like nothing to the human eye can be the equivalent of an endless buffet to pests.

Store cutting boards, plates and flatware in high places.

Keep any kitchen items you use to prepare or eat food in your highest possible shelves and cabinets. The lower these items are, the more likely they are to come into contact with pests, which can result in food-borne illness.

Inspect food.

While grocery store purchases may not need much inspection, always look over food bought at a farmer’s market or straight from the farm itself. While the food itself probably fresher than what you buy at a big box store, it is much less regulated, and could be carrying unwanted pests along with it that you want to keep out of your home.

Properly store food.

Opt for sealable containers over paper and cardboard bags and boxes. Mice can easily chew through flimsy materials, and will happily do so if given the chance.

Rethink your insect trap location.

Always keep insect traps away from food preparation areas, and preferably out of the kitchen altogether. Traps are meant to attract pests, and you’d much rather have them be drawn to a location away from where you prepare and eat food.

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