The holidays are here, Thanksgiving brought friends, family, and great food. Though it also usually leaves a mess, one that in this transition of fall to winter, will attract unwanted bugs and vermin into your home. From this week to the first week of January, your kitchen and dining room are going to be hot spots for bringing your friends and family together for celebration. These hot spots need to be tended to and kept in check, as with each holiday mess comes the potential for new holiday pests. The kitchen has always been susceptible to bugs and vermin as is, but during these holiday months, you can use these tips to keep it battle ready against pest invasions.
A Clean Home is a Happy Home
And there’s a reason for the saying. If you keep your home clean from messes and leftovers, there’s nothing for pests or vermin to sustain themselves with. When you’re cooking, the same cleanliness should be applied. Making pies means getting flour all over the counter top and having the dough roll pinned into it, spreading the mess of dough and flour everywhere. Counter intensive cooking should be clean before and afterwards, since you don’t want your counter having anything contaminating what you’re cooking. Do more than just sweep the counter off, scrub it down with warm water and soap to ensure everything is cleaned off and picked up by the sponge or wash cloth you’re using. Afterwards it doesn’t hurt to clean the floor near where you were doing counter work, simply because your cooking ingredients may have ended up on the floor and can be an unnoticed treats for pests.
You should also clean your range, tops of ovens, or cooktops after use. When you’re boiling something like a sauce, it’s expected to bubble and pop during the process, but it can easily pop outside of the pot and onto the stove top. Same with the counters, all you need to do is wipe it down with warm water and soap to ensure that you’re not leaving any trace behind. Again, clean the area in front of the cooking space to pick up anything that might have gone onto the floor.
It’s also a good idea after scrubbing everything to also wipe down surfaces with a dry rag. Cockroaches are inclined to puddles of standing water, so don’t just scrub these areas down without drying them up afterwards. With the floors you just want to be mindful of how much water you use if you decide to mop, as you can either towel it off or let it air dry. Most would rather not have to towel it off, but if you’re uncertain of water usage while moping, an alternative could be to use a flat-top mop like the Swiffer brand.
And not just with tin foil and a plate, you should be using proper storage containers depending on the food. Pie can be a tricky one to deal with, as you can’t just remove a pie from it’s pan and stick it in a sealed container. Pies should be put in the fridge, and at minimum be saran-wrapped to allow for the best protective seal. You can do this with individual pieces of pie if you have leftovers to give, but no proper containers to give away or want to potentially never see again. This applies to most pan dish items such as casseroles, or awkwardly shaped dishes like an entire leftover Turkey or Ham. As these may not conventionally fit into a container without a lot of removal work, saran wrap can definitely do the trick to seal these items.
Saran wrap shouldn’t be considered ideal to keeping pests out, and if you use the same piece of saran wrap over time, it starts to loose it’s ability to seal. It’s optimal to carve your ham and turkey altogether so that they can be placed in proper containers when everyone is done eating. Outside of preventing pests from inviting themselves into your home, it’s optimal for keeping the food fresh for longer periods of time.
The best way to store your leftovers are containers with sealable lids, or zipper storage bags with the sliding zipper. The sliding zipper is important because of how it creates a seamless seal that cannot be pealed apart and broken into. Ideally anything sealed in a zipper storage bag needs to have the air removed as best as possible. You can roll the bag with the food in it, then seal to create this effect, or press the air out before finally sealing the bag. If you are interested in making all your food sealed air tight, here’s a handy video to the side on how to do that with nothing but water and a container!
Check those Pantries
While you’re cooking for the holidays, take this opportunity to check out the state of your pantries. You’re already going to be pulling pots and pans out that are normally untouched for the entirety of the year, which makes this a good opportunity to check for pantry bugs. Pantry Bugs are small insects that are prone to getting into the corners of your cupboards while trying to find a way into your flour and sugar. These guys are usually small beetles, weevils, and sometimes moths. They aren’t necessarily harmful, but can be problematic if they find their way into your pantry foods.
To find pantry bugs, the best way is to first check your food supplies, then work towards areas with pots and pans. They will likely scatter or line themselves to the corners of the cupboards, so keep a sharp lookout in those areas. Pantry bugs can live for weeks without food supplies, which is why it’s important to check all your cupboards and not just a few you may suspect or worry for activity. Again, that’s what makes the holidays the perfect time to see if you have pantry bugs, simply because they can be anywhere still looking for a food source.
If you find that you’re currently housing pantry bugs, there are a few steps you can take. You can try a few traps, such as pheromone traps that attract different kinds of bugs to sticky paper which traps them. You would want to be mindful that different pheromone traps are suited for different kinds of bugs, so there are some made specifically for moths, others for beetles, etc. This can seem daunting, especially if you’re not sure what type of pantry bug you’ve found is living in your home. In that case, you can contact your local pest management company to see if they can recommend the next best steps for you to take or come out and handle the problem for you.