How to safely remove pests in the home

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Image of a rat trap.

We'll discuss how to get rid of:

It can be difficult to keep pests out of the home entirely – especially older properties with lots of cracks and crevices. Read on to find out how to get rid of them and how to prevent them.

How to get rid of rats and mice

Having rats or mice in your home can be potentially dangerous for your health and should be taken seriously.

Rats, in particular, spread diseases through their urine and droppings as well as causing other damage by gnawing and chewing food, wires and wooden surfaces.

It’s important to know what to do if rats are inside your home to minimise the health risks.

If you believe you have a rat infestation, you'll be protected for damages under our Home Emergency Cover - you'll be covered for up to £500 for any call-out charges, labour or parts needed due to a rat infestation.

If you’re renting, your landlord or landlady should always be informed of any potential infestation as soon as possible.

With mice, it’s possible to keep them under control using either traps or poison (or a combination of both) which you can buy in most large hardware stores.

If you choose this option, don’t skimp on price and ensure you buy a recommended brand.

How to get rid of house flies

Why are there so many flies in my house?

Houseflies are incredibly common, and often more of a nuisance than a health risk. However, they can carry viruses and bacteria, which could lead to illness if they bite. So, while it’s difficult to rid your home of flies permanently, it’s best to keep them under control.

Common flies are attracted to decaying material. This includes most food waste such as fruit, vegetables and meat – which is why they’re attracted to bins. They’re also drawn to animal faeces, so it’s good to clean out litter trays straight away.

Other flies found around the house include fruit flies, which are much smaller. These are attracted to sugary materials such as fruit (especially when overripe), alcohol and soft drinks. You might also get drain flies, which lay their eggs in moist areas.

The fly most likely to lead to a big infestation is the cluster fly. These are more common in rural areas and are mostly drawn to attics and roof areas in the autumn.

Home Emergency cover doesn't apply to house fly infestations as they aren't classified as pests.

How to keep flies out of the house

Paul Blackhurst, Technical Academy Head at Rentokil Pest Control says: “Taking preventative measures to keep your home pest-free is key.

“Shut insects out by keeping doors and windows closed, and by sealing up or repairing cracks. Household pests, including domestic flies and cockroaches, typically thrive in dirty environments, where food and drink waste may be found lying around – so make sure you stay on top of spring cleaning.”

To help exclude flies from your house, make sure all windows, doors and vents are properly sealed, and fix any damage or cracks.

You can prevent attracting them by keeping food in the cupboard or fridge. While it may be nice to have a fruit bowl, it’s better practice to make sure all food is properly sealed in airtight containers. Don’t leave dirty dishes or glasses on the counter. Also keep bins sealed and empty, disinfecting them regularly.

In addition, regular cleaning will stop flies from developing breeding spots. This includes frequent cleaning of your drains and guttering, to prevent drain flies.

Flies are also attracted to light, so turn off outdoor lights at night if you can.

If you still have too many flies after taking these steps, there are a few DIY fly traps you can make easily yourself. Alternatively, you could invest in an insect light trap, although it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy.

Paul Blackhurst says: “If you do encounter an infestation, it’s often advisable to call in professionals to deal with it rather than trying to do it yourself.”

How to get rid of ants in the house

Ants are very good at identifying food sources and spreading the word among their colony. If you see a trail of ants in your home, it’s likely they’ve found a good source of food.

Again, the best way to avoid attracting them is keep food in the cupboard or fridge. Follow the steps outlined for flies above, and be disciplined in the kitchen.

Ants are easier to identify than flies and you can see where they’re going to and coming from. Just follow the trail to find out what’s attracting them, and where their entry point is. When you find it, you can seal it up to stop them coming in.

You can also use natural repellents at these entry points, such as peppermint or lavender oil. Mix these with water, and spray liberally around the points where they’re getting in – such as windowsills or doorframes.

Home Emergency cover doesn't apply to ant infestations as they aren't classified as pests.

How to get rid of slugs in the house

While keen gardeners may disagree, slugs don’t pose much of a threat. They are, however, experts at getting into houses – leaving trails of slime as they go. Being unfettered by bones or hard shells means that they can squeeze through surprisingly small cracks and gaps.

If you have a dog, you certainly want to keep slugs out. While both the slugs and the trails they leave taste foul, your dog might still eat them anyway. Though not poisonous, both the slug and the mucus can contain the lungworm parasite, which can be extremely harmful to your dog.

Home Emergency cover doesn't apply to slug infestations as they aren't classified as pests.

How to keep slugs out of the house

Again, you want to seal all windows and external doors properly. Try to fix any gaps or cracks. While they can squeeze through the tiniest of spaces, their entry points are often easy to identify due to the trails.

The simplest way to stop them coming in is by putting down copper tape in strategic spots. This reacts with their mucus, causing them a small electric shock. For these to remain effective, you need to clean them regularly with vinegar, and stop them from tarnishing.

Certain plants are also considered to be natural slug repellents. These include astrantia, wormwood, rosemary, anise and fennel. Aromatics such as peppermint oil are also found in natural slug-repellent sprays.

You can also make your garden more friendly to the slugs’ predators by putting up bird feeders. Not only does this mean the birds will also pick off the slugs, but also help improve garden’s biodiversity.

How to get rid of spiders in the home

In the UK, spiders are harmless to humans, and help keep other pests under control. Their diet comprises pretty much any insect which flies or crawls, which means they can help you get rid of flies, ants and mosquitoes, among other creepy crawlies.

Spiders tend to venture into the home during autumn, looking for somewhere to while out the winter. Although the best advice is to leave them be, this isn’t very comforting for people who are genuinely scared of spiders.

The best way to limit spiders in your home is to limit their food sources. You can do this by regularly hoovering, including surfaces which are higher up. Get into sheltered spots, such as behind and underneath furniture, cupboards and shelves. Remove any webs that you see.

Also, follow the tips above for keeping flies out of the house, as spiders are particularly keen on them. Avoid using bright lights at night, as these attract flies and moths.

And if you do have a spider you want to get rid of? The most humane way is to catch them under a tumbler, slide a piece of card under to seal it, and dispose of the spider safely outside.

Home Emergency cover doesn't apply to spider infestations as they aren't classified as pests.

How to get rid of grey squirrels

Generally, we recommend deterring grey squirrels instead of getting rid of them.

Try methods like:

  • safely sealing entry points
  • trimming overhanging branches, ivy and other climbing plants
  • using cayenne pepper and chilli or a commercial anti-squirrel spray
  • making noise
  • removing food sources

If you’re struggling, contact a professional.

Don’t go straight for a lethal response when dealing with a squirrel infestation. A professional should do this, and will only take that step if necessary.

Some extermination methods are illegal. For example, you can face prosecution for drowning a rodent. It’s inadvisable to use things like spring traps as an untrained person, too.

If you’re a Home Emergency cover customer, we can sort this out for you.

How to get rid of cockroaches

Cockroaches are notoriously tough insects. Thankfully, they aren’t as common here in the UK, but infestations can still happen.

Deterrence is the best method to get rid of cockroaches. We recommend:

  • sealing all food away, including pet food
  • fixing leaky taps and other water sources
  • use home remedies like lemon juice, baking soda, coffee grounds, and borax
  • trying older solutions like chemical bait and glue strips and traps. You can also try liquid concrete on cracks.

For serious infestations, contact a professional. We can sort this out if you’re a Home Emergency cover customer.

How do I get rid of other pests?

We have a whole guide dedicated to getting rid of fleas in the home.

We’ve also got a guide on what to do if you have a wasp infestation, or problems with bees or hornets.

Other pest control tips

You can also speak to people in your local area for non-rodent infestation (bedbugs, ants etc).

Making sure you’re covered in case of a pest infestation can reduce hassle and worry if it happens to your home.

With Admiral’s Home Emergency Cover, your home will be made safe and secure during an emergency.

Our cover includes getting rid of rats, mice, wasps, grey squirrels, cockroaches and hornets, if there's evidence of an infestation in your home.

Making a Home Emergency claim

If you’re an Admiral Home Emergency customer and need to make a claim, check your policy details and cover limits on MyAccount.

If you’re confident your situation is covered, you can call our 24-hour emergency helpline on 0345 609 4375. Alternatively, you can register your claim via our make a claim page or through your MyAccount.

We can only provide cover for Home Emergency incidents reported within 48 hours of discovery and claims up to the value of £500. We can’t cover infestations found outside your home, such as in gardens, outbuildings, garages and sheds.

Flexible home insurance from Admiral