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Some fortunate people have never experienced pantry pest infestations. They probably never think about pantry pests at all. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. We think about pantry pests too much. The first time you see a larva writhing around in your cereal bowl, it changes you.

Let’s just say: you don’t want pantry pests. Seriously. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to make sure you never get them. In fact, you can even clear away some infestations before they get started. You just need to know how. Here are the DIY steps you should take to prevent home pantry pest infestations.

Clearing Out an Infestation

1. Clear Your Pantry

Clear all the food out of your pantries once a month. As you remove each item, examine it for signs of infestation thoroughly. Make sure you open any packaged food and check inside. Look for damage on the packaging, silk secretions on its surface, or feeding tunnels gouged into the food itself.

After looking it over, lay out each food item in as organized a manner as possible. If you notice damage on anything, take it outside to throw it away immediately. Leave the rest of the food out for now. We’ll come back to it in a minute.

2. Clean Your Pantry

Before you replace the food, take this opportunity to do some deep cleaning. Vacuum up all the crumbs on shelves and crevices inside the pantry. Get the corners especially thoroughly.

Next, use a washcloth and ammonia water to scrub down the inside of the pantry. Reach into the corners and crevices to really clean things out. Dust and grime builds up in pantries just like everywhere else. Dry off the pantry thoroughly when you’re finished cleaning, but don’t replace the food just yet.

3. Transfer Packaging

Transfer all your pantry into plastic containers as you put it away. Take cereal out of cardboard boxes and transfer it into plastic tubs. Consider storing pasta boxes in plastic containers, too. You should even foods like cookies, chocolate, flour, and sugar in pest-resistant containers.

Hard plastic won’t just help prevent pantry pests, either; it’ll help keep all kinds of pests away. Airtight plastic will also help preserve your food longer. Just make sure you always keep the top of the packaging fastened when you’re not using your food.

Preventing future infestations

Prevent Future Infestations

1. Watch Your Garbage

Stored food pest infestations don’t always start in your pantry. Garbage is a very attractive food source for many pests. Given the opportunity, pantry pests can and will infest and reproduce in your garbage.

Pay attention to the status of the garbage in all of your indoor bins. Keep garbage in sealable plastic bags, and close them whenever you aren’t using them. Rinse out food containers after you’re finished with them and before you throw them out. Take your garbage out as frequently as possible. Ideally, you should take the garbage to the outdoor dumpster every night.

2. Inspect Your Groceries

This is probably the most important way to prevent pantry pest infestations. Pantry pests infiltrate homes by accidentally hitching rides inside on groceries. Adult pantry pests inside a grocery store lay eggs in the grocery’s stored food. You go to the store, buy that food, bring it home… and put it in your pantry. When the larvae inside the food grows up, they lay their eggs in the other food in your pantry. Suddenly, you have a full-blown infestation.

You should check all the food you buy twice: once at the store, and once when you get home. At the grocery store, inspect it for signs of damage carefully before you purchase it. If it looks damaged at all, don’t even put it in your cart! When you get home, check your food again before you put it away. This time, open up the packaging and check the food over. If you see any signs of infestation, throw it out right away. If you don’t, transfer the food into a clean, airtight, hard plastic container. Then you can put it away in your pantry.  

3. Keep an Eye on Dates

We’re not judging. Everyone does it. You buy a lot of food with every intention of using it. Maybe you’re going to make a big meal for your family. Maybe you’re hosting a party. But then, your whatever-it-is doesn’t happen. You have all this food and nothing to do with it. So… you don’t do anything with it. It just sits in your pantry. And sits. And sits.

Unfortunately, even if you can’t find a use for all that food, something will. Namely, pantry pests. The longer you leave food sitting in your pantry, the more vulnerable and attractive it becomes to pests. About once a month, you should look through your pantry for old or expired food. Ask yourself if you’re ever actually going to do anything with that food. If the answer’s “yes,” ask yourself when. If you can’t answer that, you’re better off disposing of it.


Following these directions is a great way to prevent future pantry pest infestations. In fact, by cleaning out your pantry, you may stop an infestation while it’s still getting started! Unfortunately, however, ending an infestation that’s already underway is harder.

If you’re dealing with an ongoing pantry pest infestation, you should call in the pros at Plunkett’s Pest Control. We’ll wipe out your pest infestation and help make sure it can’t happen again. Never be afraid to eat a bowl of cereal again!

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