How to prevent an infestation

Pests can cause health hazards, contamination of food, safety risks, various unpleasant odours as well as damaging buildings and fittings. But by following the simple steps set out below you can 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
    • Food stuffs should be properly stored and held in sealed containers
    • Ensure spillages are cleaned up immediately
    • All bins should be emptied and cleaned regularly 
    • Seal any holes and gaps around windows and doors. 
  • Bedbugs
    • Store any suitcases and bags off the ground and away from your bed when staying in any multi-occupied establishments abroad or in the UK
    • If you have travelled and stayed in public accommodation then store your suitcase in an isolated area until you or a qualified pest technician can thoroughly inspect it
    • When buying second-hand furniture inspect it thoroughly looking 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. The vacuum needs to be emptied outside into a sealed bag and disposed of in the outside bin. This will not prevent bedbugs but will help control numbers
    • Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperatures
    • Eliminate clutter in your house to give bed bugs fewer places to hide.
  • Cluster flies
    • Prevent access into buildings by blocking access into cavity walls - for example, replace missing bricks and seal around windows and doors.
  • Cockroaches

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

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


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

    • Gaps beneath external doors - draught excluding brush or bristle strips can be attached to the door or the threshold can be renewed or raised
    • Holes surrounding pipes - these can be blocked with wire wool and then filled with cement or expanding foam
    • Air vents - damaged or old-style vents with holes over 2.5cm can be replaced or covered with fine mesh (do not block air vents)
    • Prevent access into buildings by blocking access into cavity walls by replacing missing bricks and seals around windows and doors.


    You can make your home and garden environment less attractive by using the following tips:

    • Ensure your house is kept clean
    • Keep food (including pet food) stored inside and off the ground. Keep opened packages in sealed containers
    • Outdoor pets - prevent your pets creating a food source by attaching a board to the front of their cage to catch discarded food and removing dog fouling on a daily basis
    • Bulky waste - remove any collections of materials (such as old furniture and carpets) kept close to your house as rodents may use these to live in
    • Avoid the build-up of domestic refuse outside your property. Use suitable containers such as wheeled bins and ensure they are regularly emptied and stored away from vertical surfaces where possible
    • Cut back tree branches so they do not overhang your property. Wall-climbing plants should be trimmed and not allowed to reach from ground to roof level
    • Ensure your garden isn't overgrown.

    Bird feeding

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

    • Use suspended wire feeders with trays for waste
    • Not put bird food directly 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 squirrels, such as fallen fruit and spilt pet food
    • Don’t put bird food directly on the ground
    • Feed birds responsibly 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 property (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.

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