How to Clean After a Pest Infestation
Getting pests out of your house is a huge step, but the work of cleaning up in the aftermath is still standing between you and your peace of mind. The best cleaning method will depend on what pests you’ve recently eradicated from your home, but here are some helpful tips that might provide a jumping-off point for finishing the job.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and cleaning your home completely doesn’t have to be a one-day hurricane (although if that’s your style, go for it!). To do a thorough job often requires a store run to get the right cleaning supplies, perhaps to even rent equipment, such as a carpet shampooer, depending on the pest.
The big thing here is to be patient with yourself and the process. Take your time so that the job is done well and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Weather-permitting, a simple first step to cleaning up after a pest infestation is to open the windows and let clean air circulate. Opening up your living space and turning on fans allows fresh air to clear out your home.
Opening windows does a few things:
- Clears chemicals that your exterminator may have used for pest treatment so you’re not breathing them.
- Dissipates leftover bacteria and allergens hanging in the air of your home.
- Improves the air quality, letting fresh air suffuse your living space.
- Improves the smell, letting out odorous compounds.
- Will help you think more clearly. Research has found that extra oxygen to the brain helps with cognition and the release of serotonin (the happiness hormone).
Make sure you are using screens! The last thing you want after getting rid of pests is for more to slip in through an open window or door.
Collect the Proper Tools
Tools make the difference between a breeze of a job and a downright ordeal, so make sure you’ve got what you need for the job.
These are some the tools that we recommend when cleaning up after a pest infestation:
- Broom: A broom allows you to sweep up anything from dead insects to droppings left behind. Additionally, you can reach spiderwebs in the corners of your ceiling with either the sweep end, or the handle with a rag wrapped around.
- Vacuum: A vacuum allows quick and easy cleaning of hard or soft surfaces, as well as hard-to-reach places, such as behind the fridge or other furniture.
- Mop: A mop allows you to kill bacteria invisible to the eye without having to wipe your floor by hand. Water with a splash of bleach will kill bacteria and the odors they cause. If you have hardwood floors, make sure you use a cleaning product that won’t damage the finish.
- Steam mop: Another way to disinfect floors and even furniture. If you have a steam mop, run it everywhere pests have been.
- Spray cleaners + rags/paper towels: Your cleaner of choice will likely do the trick for cleaning any hard surfaces, such as countertops in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Bleach: A little bit of bleach goes a long way. 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water is enough for general sanitizing purposes, but you can add a touch more for areas that have seen a lot of pest traffic.
- Nitrile gloves: These will protect your hands both from the corrosive effects of bleach as well as from contact with bacteria left over from pests.
- Mask or respirator: Breathing in dust from droppings is how diseases like Hantavirus are transmitted to humans, so take care that you’re not breathing in these substances.
- Carpet shampooer: Especially if you’re dealing with roaches, renting a carpet shampooer will get everything beneath the surface of your carpet out.
Often, you’ll be able to make due with supplies you already have for regular cleaning, but it’s worth taking stock and seeing if you lack anything before getting started. There’s nothing worse than having to stop halfway through a job to run to the store. Save yourself the disruption with a bit of planning.
Clean Up After the Pests
Now, the job itself: actively cleaning your home. There are multiple ways to skin a cat, so if you have your own cleaning preferences, go by those. However, here are some simple guidelines for safely sanitizing your living space in the wake of pests.
Urine and Droppings
Most bacteria and viruses are left in urine and fecal matter, so doing a careful job to clean and disinfect areas without kicking up dust is important for protecting your health, as well as the health of family members and pets.
Droppings: The most dangerous aspect of cleaning up after rodents is inhaling fecal dust that carries Hantavirus. For this reason, don’t vacuum or sweep rodent droppings because these can throw harmful dust into the air. Instead, spray them with a cleaner or bleach, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe droppings away. Also, wear a mask and gloves when cleaning up rodent droppings to minimize the risk of inhaling fecal dust.
Insect droppings don’t require the same care, so you can vacuum their droppings. Roaches call for more thoroughness—they carry large quantities of bacteria on the hairs of their legs. Vacuuming and then shampooing carpet is the best way to make sure roach droppings and bacteria are gone. Make sure to disinfect all hard surfaces as well.
Urine: Spray with a disinfectant and let it soak, then wipe with a paper towel and trash the towel. If droppings or urine get on your clothes, send them through the washing machine on the highest-heat setting.
Debris and Nests
Removing larger signs of infestation like nests might be a little more hands-on (this is where the gloves come in handy). For anything that’s too big for the vacuum, we recommend getting in there with gloved hands and manually transferring nesting material to a trash bag. Once again, wear a mask for this and try to stir the nest/debris as little as possible Once you’ve gotten the big things, soak with bleached water or another disinfectant, then wipe away. Of course, throw away your gloves once you’re finished!
Similar to cleaning up debris and nests, gloves, mask, and a trashbag are your best friends for picking up any dead pests remaining in your home. As soon as you’ve removed any pests remains, deep-clean the area you found them. Then make sure you dispose of your gloves, tie up the trash bag, and put it in your street trash bin so smells don’t seep into your home.
Deep Clean the Infected Area
Although you might feel motivated to bleach your entire home after an infestation, focusing your efforts on areas where pests were spotted will provide the best bang for your buck. Start in areas of high traffic, then move to areas that pests might have traversed.
Multiple passes with sanitizing sprays or bleach water will ensure that no harmful bacteria or substances remain. You can repeat clean high-traffic areas, while just doing a once-over everywhere else.
Discard Any Food Left Outside
If you accidentally left food out when your exterminators treated with a spray substance, the safest bet is to toss that food in case any chemicals drifted over to it.
Additionally, this might be a good opportunity to review your pantry to see what foods weren’t sealed up while pests were active. Toss anything that might have been accessed by pests, and develop a system for keeping food secure from pests in the future. Bins with click lids or jars of various sizes can serve to store anything from flour and sugar to snack bars.
Seal of any Entry Points
A key step to preventing a future infestation is barring entry to your home. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime (the size of a quarter for rats), so any crack or crevice in your home’s exterior could spell a future invasion.
Examine the perimeter of the house and look for small openings in or near:
- Utility breaches
- Laundry vents
- Attic vents
You can seal up these openings with a few things, such as:
- Expanding foam
- Wire mesh
- Planks and screws
Asking a professional to help may prove valuable as well, since exterminators will have a good sense of how pests usually enter homes.
Check to Ensure the Pests Don’t Return
Now that pests are gone, take the small steps so they don’t come back. This includes:
- Cleaning your home on a weekly basis.
- Keeping water pipes from leaking.
- Keeping food sealed in pest-proof containers.
- Regularly inspecting the exterior of your home for potential entry points.
- Looking into preventative measures that will keep pests like termites, mosquitoes, fleas, and rodents away.
A bit of prevention today will save you a lot of money on pest control tomorrow.
FAQs about Pest Control Treatments
Do I Need to Move Out for the Week?
Generally, no, you won’t have to move out for a week for pest control. Usually your pest control provider will recommend you vacate the house for 2-4 hours after a spray treatment, but it all depends on what pest you’re dealing with. If your exterminator is only setting up rodent traps, you may not even need to leave the house. Regardless, make sure to ask your exterminator so you can plan ahead.
Does Everything Need to be Washed?
It depends. If you’ve had pests like fleas, bed bugs, and cockroaches that often move over or hide in fabrics, you’ll likely want to send all your fabrics through a hot-water washing machine setting, as well as thoroughly vacuum and steam furniture and carpets. However, different infestations may require more localized cleaning instead of your entire home.
Can I Clean the Floors After a Pest Control Treatment?
For any spray or fog treatment, you will usually want to wait to clean until the spray has dried, and perhaps longer depending on the product and the pest being managed. Ask your exterminator for specifics.
Ask the Professionals
In the end, pest control and its aftermath is complicated. Don’t be afraid to pepper an exterminator with questions—they can handle it and they will have the answers that apply to your specific situation.
If you have more specific questions that we can answer, or need pest control yourself, give us a call at BOG Pest Control!
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