How To Avoid Pantry Pests
By John Voket
We’ve all been there: we’re reaching for an ingredient from a box in the cabinet only to find a few things in there that weren’t part of the original contents.
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to keep pesky critters out of your flour, oatmeal, crackers and more.
Barbara Dahl, Consumer and Family Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension, assures that these unwelcome guests can even be found in a spotless home because they crawl through cracks, fly through open windows or hide in groceries.
Dahl’s advice for keeping bugs out:
• Don’t buy more grain products than you can use in a short time.
• Look at food from each package under a bright light.
• Get rid of packages that have insect webs or insect pieces.
• Place the good food in airtight glass, plastic or metal containers, or in the refrigerator.
• Do not buy opened or crushed packages. They may already have insects or be easy for insects to get in.
• Clean up any spills in cabinets right away.
• Clean food storage areas well, at least once a year.
Erin Huffstetler of thebalance.com says if you have pets, check their food, toss any infested items that you find, and wipe down any affected cans with undiluted vinegar.
Remember, infested items should go straight to an outdoor trash can – placing them in your kitchen trash will only spread the problem.
Once you’ve removed the problem items, Huffstetler says to give your pantry a thorough cleaning:
• Pull out shelf liners (and wash or replace them).
• Vacuum the shelves, paying special attention to corners, undersides, shelf brackets and mounting hardware.
• Vacuum the walls, baseboards, trim, floor, ceiling and door (including the inside edge, hinges and knob).
• Wipe down pantry shelves with hot, soapy water or vinegar and mop the floor.
When you’re done with your clean up, Huffstetler says to remove the vacuum bag, and take it out to your outside trash bin. If you have a bagless vacuum, wash out the dust compartment.