Six Natural Ways to Keep Your Home Clean

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Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Learn how to get rid of fruit flies and 5 other household tips like getting rid of mold/mildew, reducing pet dander, and keeping pollen out of the house.

In getting ready to move, I’ve been looking at a lot of houses. Some are small and cute, some are huge and airy. All of them have one problem or another to deal with and some can even damage your health. Here are a few of the things I’ve seen.

Six Natural Ways to Keep Your Home Clean

Some problems with homes can be minor, such as bad paint colors and ugly curtains. Some are major, like a leaky roof or an old furnace. But the problems you often don’t see can be the worst.

1. Get Rid of Fruit flies

This year seems to be especially bad for fruit flies. One bad banana and they’re all over. Combat them by keeping all the fruit and vegetables that you can in the refrigerator. Anything left out, such as bananas and tomatoes, should be used within a day or two of bringing them home. Make sure your potatoes and onions aren’t rotten, it seems to happen often. Empty and clean recycling cans and keep your compost covered (make your own kitchen compost container or purchase one like this) or take it out right away. Do your dishes right away and keep your sponges/dishrags clean. Check the water dispenser in the refrigerator. I’m not sure how they got there, but I saw this at one home. Eeewww! You can pour tea tree oil down drains to help keep them out of it. You can also make several types of homemade vinegar traps.

2. Mold and mildew

Many of the homes I looked at had basements, but they weren’t finished. If they are not waterproofed, mold and mildew can occur. Mold is one of the major causes of respiratory problems and can lead to other things such as infections. I have a mold allergy, and while it’s not bad, it can be irritating. Mold spores can become airborne and land on carpets, curtains, and clothes, not to mention messing up walls and floors.

One way to combat mold is to lower the humidity. You can read my article regarding household humidity here. You can also put several drops of tea tree oil in some water in a spray bottle and shake it well. Use this to spray on mold and mildew. (Find 100% pure tea tree essential oil here.)

Try hydrogen peroxide (3%) to remove mold or mildew stains on fabric and further disinfect. It’s gentle and won’t destroy fibers like bleach will.

3. Dust Mites

Dust mites live in bedding and carpets. They can also live on curtains and under beds. Vacuum frequently to keep numbers to a minimum. Try leaving your bed unmade a few times a week. Dust mites thrive in the dark, so leaving your bedding exposed can help in eliminating them. Spray your mattresses and pillows with lavender essential oil in water (like I described above) to kill them. (Find 100% pure lavender essential oil here.) You’ll also benefit by sleeping better from the scent of the lavender. Don’t forget the curtains, rugs, couch, and chairs too!

4. Pollen

I love having the windows open, but that’s an invitation for pollen to just come right in and set up on whatever surface it lands on. Try opening your windows from the top to slow down the pollen drift. Clean your curtains and vacuum often. Cut your grass before it blooms and that will cut down on much of the pollen. Know the seasons when certain plants bloom. Another thing I’m allergic to is white pine and there are plenty around here. When they’re blooming, I amp up my intake of stinging nettle tea and keep the windows closed for the most part.

The thick layer of yellow dust on my car is a tell-tale sign that pollen is in the air. You can run the AC or heat pump on “fan only” to capture some of the pollen. Be sure to change out your filter more than just once a year. And speaking of filters, if you switch to a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you’ll catch more pollen there too. Can’t afford a new vacuum? Throw some food grade Diatomaceous Earth on the floor and suck it up with the vacuum. (Find it here.) This will clog the filter just enough to capture smaller particles like pollen. Be careful not to inhale DE and use only food grade powder.

5. Old Carpets

If your carpet is old, the fibers are more prone to breakage and these particles can cause breathing problems. Consider replacing your carpet, or at least pulling it up and going with a hard surface like tile.

6. Pet Dander

No matter how clean you keep your pet, dander will occur. Most breeds will lose dander from time to time. Vacuum often and keep your pet brushed and clean. Try adding an oil supplement to their diet if dander seems to be a constant problem. You can also add olive oil or egg to their diet to aid in reducing the amount of dander they produce. My Border Collie, Joker, loves to roll in the grass, so I need to remember to brush him before he comes back in.

There can be other things that may bother you in a new home, or at least new to you. New carpet can have odors to it as well as new paint. Be sure to thoroughly check your home before you move in. Existing homes can have many of these same problems, so even if you are not moving, you might want to look around the home you’re living in now.

Have you dealt with any of these issues?

Share any natural solutions you’ve found for them in the comments section below!


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Lisa says

    I too found that the Apple Cider Vinegar trap worked well. I visited my son and he had fly paper hanging around the fruit, and it was always getting stuck to something and was very gross. Most of the fruit flies were gone, but there were still some buzzing around, and he wanted the fly paper GONE. So I took a jar, put an inch or so of APV in it with a drop of dish soap and a couple slices of apple. I snipped a tiny piece off a corner of a sandwich bag, put the bag around the top of the jar with a rubber band, and pushed the corner of the baggie with the end cut off into the middle of the jar so the cut off corner was just inches from the vinegar. Within a short amount of time, we had 16 fruit flies and no more problems.

  2. Iris Weaver says

    I had fruit fly problems too. I found the vinegar worked fine, but I rubber-banded a paper towel with little holes poked in it over the jar with a little vinegar in the bottom. The holes allowed the fruit flies in, but they couldn’t get back out and drowned in the vinegar. Being vigilant about keeping the lid on the compost bin helped a lot as well. Fruit flies have been minimal this year.

  3. Carie says

    To keep fruit flies off of my fresh fruit and veggies I wash them in water with several drops of lemon essential oil. This also kills any unseen bugs on the produce and keeps it fresh longer. After I washed fresh strawberries they lasted a week!

  4. L says

    I have allergies and found a product just at Home depot that is essentially furnace filter material that you can cut to size. When the allergens get going – I cut them to size for all vents in the house and it helps quite a bit – it’s amazing to see what they catch when I go to change them!
    Suggestion for those with allergies – when removing and replacing the filters – wear a mask, otherwise you’ll be a sneezy, stuffy mess 🙂

    • Debra Maslowski says

      I use about 6-7 drops in a 24 ounce spray bottle, Alex. I add a teaspoon or so of alcohol ( use vodka since it has no smell) to help break up the oil. Shake it every time you use it.

  5. Taylor Nash says

    I just LOVE your columns! I also had a huge fruit fly problem this summer. The apple cider vinegar jar worked some but I guess word spread and fruit flies ignored it. I accidentally found something that worked for me….my son left a little orange juice in a cup on the sink. The FFs loved it but the didn’t dive in, only drank from inside cup! So I kept a plastic cup on counter with a bit of orange juice in it and every couple of hours, slapped a piece of cardboard on top, trapping them inside, then released outside. Got rid of over 50 FFs in 2 days! With only one cup too so minimal grossness and no spillage. Just another suggestion….

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Thanks for the idea, Taylor! I was actually thinking about wine. They got into a bowl of balsamic vinegar once so I thought the fermented taste might get them.

  6. lydia-jane says

    Yep, terrible fruit flies this year – plus I move to a house with just a small patio where I compost, right outside my kitchen windows. They seem to be able to get thru the screens! Only two remedies have worked for me:
    1) put a saran wrap cover over the pint yogurt container I use for daily fruit / veggie matter collection, punch some small holes in the wrap – the flies get in and can’t get out. I take the container out first thing every morning and let ’em go outside.
    2) go on vacation – leave everything really clean, and when you get back, they’ll be gone! Now that the weather’s getting chilly they shouldn’t be back until next summer!

  7. Rose says

    The ACV did nothing, didn’t even attract the fruit flies. They flew over it and laughed! I was able to cut back on my fruit fly problem by wrapping the banana stem in wax paper and putting a rubber band tightly around it. That is where the eggs are.

  8. mary knight says

    We tried ACV fruit fly traps and were assiduous in keeping fruit out of sight. Finally we purchased the fly paper (sticky) and have it in the bathroom (where our toothbrushes were breeding grounds!), above kitchen sink, and alongside our trashcans (which are covered). It’s the only thing that really worked. The ACV traps were taking up space and always getting bumped and spilled, were not very effective considering our fruit fly population.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      I finally turned to the fly paper too, Mary, so thanks for that suggestion. Some of the hardware stores have a sticky tower now that has an attractant. I might give that a try too.

  9. Susan says

    Perfect timing on Fruit Fly article, Thanks Betsy! There are a couple I haven’t tried.
    Anything on Silverfish (appeared after our remodel) and spiders?
    We’ve been using some traps from but would love to get your feedback.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Safer is one of the best ones I’ve found Susan, so I’d go with that. You can try glue traps, but be sure to keep them where kids and pets can’t get into them. I forgot I had one on the floor in the bathroom and the new kitten we got a few months ago found it. He didn’t get into it, but could have gotten very stuck if he had.

  10. Carolyn says

    I have had a TERRIBLE time with fruit flies this year. They are just EVERYWHERE!!!! I don’t know how they got in there, but they were all inside my freezer. They really grossed me out 🙁 I made an apple cider vinegar trap and it has worked pretty good. I used a half-pint jar and put about 1/2 inch of ACV in the bottom then a couple of drops of dish detergent and a piece of near-rotten fruit sticking out of the top of the ACV, punched holes in the lid and just left it sitting. It attracted the flies really well and now they are much less. I still think they must be breeding somewhere and I just cannot find where!! Hopefully they will die off as the weather gets cooler.