Don’t Waste Your Money on These Pest Control Products

person spraying spider with can of pest spray

You probably have some pests you just can’t seem to get rid of. Why? Because most of the stuff sold to stop them doesn’t actually work. Have you been wasting your money on these common pest control products?

Chemical Sprays

worker with chemical bug spray

You'll find them at any home improvement store and even the grocery store. But just because you see a lot of something doesn’t mean that it works. At-home chemical sprays designed to manage pests such as ticks, fleas, spiders, and other crawling things can be extremely toxic and not especially effective.

These sprays you get for home use can actually be even more toxic and dangerous than the mixtures used by professionals. They also work only where you spray them. There may be many places inside walls and under floors that you can’t get to with a spray, and it’s exactly in these places that bugs are hiding and waiting.

Chemical sprays are dangerous, they don't work well, and very often, they smell horrible as well.

Repellent Plants

It's a dream scenario for any homeowner. If you want to deter pests, all you have to do is plant some beautiful growing things. They're natural and Earth-friendly and lovely!

Pest repellent plants like marigolds and basil can work up to a point, especially in a relatively small area. But to bugs the smell of an inviting meal often outweighs the effects of plants they don't like. You'd have to grow an extreme amount of repellent plants for them to really be effective at any sort of large-scale pest control.

However, it isn’t a bad idea to mix a few of these pest-repellent plants into all your growing areas, and perhaps add a little sprig of something to every floral arrangement you bring inside from the garden area.

This is an effective pest control method, it’s just one that’s very limited.

Crushed Seashells

a pile of small seashells

This one sounds like another amazingly eco-friendly solution to pest control. Simply get some crushed-up seashells and sprinkle them around garden beds to create barriers with them. Pests will be cut by the sharp edges of the shells and be killed off. Sure. What’s not to like about that?

Well, for one thing, it's a brutal death for the pests. Worse, though, it's an unattractive, or at least highly visible method. Seashell powder is white, so you'll see it in your landscaping and garden areas after you spread it around.

You also have to put this seashell powder everywhere pests may be getting into your property and use it often so it will continue to be effective.

Pour Gasoline On It

People can be pretty darn convincing when they're sharing their home remedies and sometimes, strange things really do work. But in this case... well, this is just an awful idea on multiple levels.

You may hear or read online that gasoline is an effective way to be rid of bees and wasps. The theory is that if you pour the gas right on the nest, it will kill bees and wasps and keep them from ever coming back to this hive.

And yes, that's true. They won't use that hive again. However, you'll also contaminate your groundwater, cause harm to nearby plants, and potentially create a serious fire hazard. Gasoline can cause death to plants and animals, even pets.

Some people use torches and flamethrowers to burn hives. Please don't do this either.

Any sort of pest control treatment that involves flammable liquids, fire, and other potentially fatal hazards should be avoided at all costs. When the cure is much worse than the pests, consider alternatives.

Bug Bombs

bug bomb pest control product

Bug bombs sound like a truly amazing way to be rid of pests. You set something off, clear out of the area and let it do all the work. The fumes and chemicals travel all over your home to get rid of all the pests. Awesome! But like many solutions that are supposed to be easy and relatively trouble-free, it's too good to be true.

When bug bombs go off, pests scurry deeper into crevices and cracks and crannies and get away from those harmful fumes, waiting it out until things clear up a bit before they just come venturing right back out again.

No bug bomb can travel deep into every crack and nestle into all those dark places to truly drive all the pests away. Some pests can be killed this way, but not all of them will be eliminated, which puts you right back to where you started before you let toxic fumes fly all over the environment where you breathe and sleep every night.

Electric Zappers

The good old electric zapper is still a summertime staple and these days, it even has the power of nostalgia. How many lazy childhood summer evenings do you think of every time you hear the sweet sound of another unwanted bug biting the dust? Zooooop. Zoooooop.

It's a very reassuring noise and clearly, the electric zapper works. You can hear the thing working. So what the heck is it doing on this list?

Electric zappers do work... at killing the bugs that fly right into them. There are still plenty of bugs hanging out there in the dark. The zapper may get those bugs that are close to you when you're sitting near it, but this is by no means keeping pests away in a real way.

It offers you a small cone of protection and that's it. The zapper is also pretty gruesome, and since it's constantly humming with electricity, there's always a potential for it to malfunction.

Plus that bug-zapping sound is actually kind of gross when you really think about it.

Organic Tricks

There are all sorts of little organic, eco-friendly tricks you can try to keep pests away from garden and landscape areas. Used coffee grounds, cayenne pepper water, and other DIY recipes for self-made pest repellent can be effective on a small scale. These tricks can work, up to a point, on individual plants and in specific garden areas.

But unless you have enough coffee grounds to spread them after every rain or you really enjoy the scent of cayenne pepper being sprayed everywhere every other day or so, these little tricks are not long-term solutions. They're quick and effective short-term methods of pest control that don't at all address the problem that's bringing pests around in the first place.

They make great hacks if you’re about to have an outdoor bbq and you want to keep your outdoor areas more pest-free in an organic way, but it lacks staying power.

Salt Guns

Salt guns are the modern version of the fly swatter. Instead of swatting bugs, you can shoot them with a salt gun. These guns use standard table salt so they are not toxic. They don't need batteries or electricity to work.

A salt gun shoots a small amount of salt and it's actually kind of fun, in a video game type of way. But this is just a fancy fly swatter, meant for managing bugs as you see them. It's not a big picture solution.

It's also dangerous. Many home accidents have been reported as a result of salt guns. The packaging will even warn you not to shoot a person or animal in the face with the gun. A salt gun can cause much more serious problems than the bugs themselves, which really isn’t worth it.

Sonic Pest Repellant

hand holding sonic bug repellent device

What if there was a device that you could plug into a standard outlet? Some little piece of technology that emits a noise human beings can't even hear that drives pests away?

The sonic noise can prevent bugs and just keep them away. It can prevent rodents from gathering food, so they'll starve to death. It can do it all and you don't have to do anything but plug it in. It's a totally work-free, easy solution for pest control. But does it even work?

Not really, no.

Various studies conducted on different types of sonic and ultrasonic devices aimed at eliminating pests have had mixed results. Some pests acclimate to the noise and simply ignore it, identifying that it is not harmless. Other pests are less disrupted by the noise than advertised and some pests seem to exhibit no behavioral changes at all in the presence of the noise.

What Pest Control Methods Actually Work?

You can't just keep killing bugs as they appear and expect that to put an end to the problems. To really manage pests, you need to treat the source of the problem and eliminate pests where they're coming from, not where they end up. To get rid of pests, get rid of their sources of food, water, and shelter.

Start by eliminating attractors. Don't leave food out or uncovered. Store all your food in sealed glass or plastic containers. Cover trash cans tightly. Seal things up and cover them, because it's the smell that brings in pets. Take out the trash regularly instead of letting it build up.

Next, eliminate unintentional sources of water. Fix all leaks and don't let standing water hang around inside or outside your home. If you're having drainage problems, use ditches and tunnels to get things flowing again. Standing water will draw mosquitoes and many other pests that you absolutely don't want to see around your home and property.

Trim bushes, hedges, and large plants. Keep your landscaping and garden areas relatively neatly trimmed and cut away branches or foliage that connect to the house or other structures. Get rid of most stick and leaf piles and other places where debris may have accumulated. Eliminate their hiding places and you will eliminate the bugs.

One caveat—if you're trying to cultivate a welcoming place for wildlife, you'll need to bend some of these rules. Birdbaths, bushes, and even piles of sticks can be very valuable for birds, and they might even return the favor by eating up some of your bugs. To get the best of both worlds, just choose the areas where you'll let things stay a little wilder, and try to keep them farther from your house.