How to prevent an infestation

Pests can cause health hazards, contaminate food, create unpleasant odours and damage buildings. Follow the advice below to help prevent an infestation and reduce the chances of having to call out a professional:

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  • Ants
    • Ensure good housekeeping in food areas
    • Store food stuffs in sealed containers
    • Clean up spillages immediately
    • Empty and clean bins regularly
    • Seal any holes and gaps around windows and doors. 
  • Bedbugs
    • Store suitcases and bags off the ground and away from your bed when staying in hotels or other accommodation abroad or in the UK
    • On your return, store your suitcase in an isolated area until you or a qualified pest technician can inspect it
    • When buying second-hand furniture inspect it for insects within the seams, cracks and crevices
    • Vacuuming the mattress and fabrics of the infested areas may help reduce the number of insects and eggs. Empty the vacuum outside into a sealed bag. Dispose of the bag in an outside bin. This will not prevent bedbugs but will help control numbers
    • Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperatures
    • Cut down on clutter in your house to give bed bugs fewer places to hide.
  • Cluster flies
    • Block access into cavity walls. For example, replace missing bricks and seal around windows and doors.
  • Cockroaches

    Good housekeeping and hygiene should prevent or control a cockroach infestation. The following suggestions may also help:

    • Keep all open food stuffs in sealed containers
    • Keep surfaces, food preparation areas and floors as clean as possible
    • Clean kitchen areas, focusing on areas where grease accumulates
    • Clear up after every meal and do not leave food lying around, especially overnight
    • Remove rubbish from inside. Store it in sealed bins (for example, wheelie bins) and away from the building
    • Seal any indoor drain access. Grease the edges of lids to ensure they are completely sealed.
  • Fleas
    • Treat pets for fleas. Consult your vet to get the correct treatment for your animal
    • Vacuum living areas, including furniture, on a regular basis
    • Vacuum areas where any animals sleep (disposing of the bag/contents into an outside bin)
    • Wash bedding and animal bedding in a hot wash.
  • Mice and rats


    There are many simple things you can do to avoid having a problem with mice and rats. You can exclude rodents from your home by repairing external structural faults such as: 

    • Gaps beneath external doors. Attach draught-excluding brush or bristle strips or renew or raise the door threshold
    • Holes surrounding pipes. Block with wire wool and fill with cement or expanding foam
    • Air vents. Replace damaged old-style vents with holes over 2.5cm or cover with fine mesh. Do not block air vents.
    • Block access into cavity walls. Replace missing bricks and seals around windows and doors.


      You can make your home and garden less attractive by following these tips:

      • Keep your house clean
      • Store food (including pet food) inside and off the ground. Keep opened packages in sealed containers
      • Outdoor pets. Attach a board to the front of cages to catch discarded food. Remove dog poo on a daily basis
      • Bulky waste. Remove collections of materials (such as old furniture and carpets) kept close to your house
      • Avoid the build-up of rubbish outside your property. Use wheelie bins and store away from vertical surfaces where possible
      • Cut back tree branches so they do not overhang your property. Trim wall-climbing plants so they do not reach from ground to roof level
      • Ensure your garden isn't overgrown.

        Bird feeding

        Wild bird feeding is one of the most common reasons for rat infestations around homes. To reduce attraction of rats to your garden you should:

        • Use suspended wire feeders with trays for waste
        • Don't put bird food on the ground
        • Only put out enough bird food for the day and clear any spillages
        • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has more advice on how to keep your feeding pest-free. 
      • Squirrels

        To reduce the attraction of your home and garden to squirrels you should:

        • Clear up and remove anything in your garden which might provide a food source. For example, fallen fruit and spilt pet food
        • Don’t put bird food on the ground
        • Feed birds using mesh feeders or suspended tables
        • Use squirrel-proof mesh bird feeders where possible
        • Cut back tree branches so they do not overhang your property
        • Trim wall-climbing plants to prevent them reaching from ground to roof level. Squirrels are excellent climbers and will use anything to access your property
        • Place protective mesh on redundant chimneys
        • Repair any damaged fascia boards or roof tiles (if you can see daylight from inside your loft then you have a hole). 

        If your property is joined to another one (for example, a terraced house) you should encourage your neighbours to follow the above steps, too.

      • Wasps
        • Keep bagged refuse and lidded bins with potential food sources away from your house
        • If you plan to have a barbecue in the summer there is a risk of wasps homing in on your food. Purchase and install wasp traps before the event (available from most garden centres and supermarkets)
        • Inspect your loft periodically throughout the summer to check for any new formations of a nest (especially where there is a history of wasp nests).
      • Silverfish

        Silverfish are attracted to damp, dark environments. One of the best means of prevention is to ensure damp does not become an issue in the property.

        The following may also help prevent infestations:

        • Ensure any leaks into ceiling voids and flat roofs are fixed
        • Ensure there is no moisture trapped under flooring - for example under vinyl, laminate and non-permeable floors
        • Ensure there is no moisture trapped in exterior walls
        • Ensure condensation (especially near plumbing) is cleaned regularly
        • Repair any plumbing leaks.

      Page Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2024 at 01:02 PM