How to Rid Your Home of Stink Bugs

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September is stink bug season in western North Carolina. Specifically, it’s the time of year when it seems you can’t throw a brick without hitting a Brown Marmorated Stink bug.

Brown Marmorated Stink bugs are an agricultural pest native to China and Japan; a foreign eco-invader introduced to the Americas through the shipment of food products from Asia. And while they do enjoy laying waste to orchards and crops, they don’t seem to care for limiting themselves to farmland. In fact, they seem to be much more fond of infesting people’s houses.

If you live in an older, drafty home, or keep your windows open to take advantage of this lovely, early fall breeze, chances are you are playing host to an army of stink bugs. As infestations go, it’s not that bad. Stink bugs do not bite. They don’t get into your stored food, and they aren’t particularly destructive. They just kind of sit there—on the floor, the wall, the ceiling fan blades, the arms of the couch, the kitchen counter, the bathtub, and inside of your shoes, in an unassuming way. But if you step on them or disturb them, they are likely to emit a foul-smelling odor (hence the name). And even the stink part of the stinkbug isn’t that bad, as far as bad smells go. It’s pretty mild and dissipates quickly. But still annoying!

At this point in the blog post, you can probably tell that I am somewhat of a stink bug veteran. It’s true. They move into my home every fall, without fail. Armies of them. So I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for evicting them—all without the use of insecticide, which as you probably know, is extremely toxic to humans and pets, and not something I want to keep around the house.

Prevention is, of course, the best way to keep the stink bugs at bay, and there are ways to prevent them from getting into your house in the first place. However, I’ve found that, at least in my neighborhood, prevention doesn’t completely eliminate the problem. So you’ll need secondary procedures for those few errant stink bugs that still find a way to sneak in past all of your preventative barriers.

1.    Seal up access points. If you keep windows open during the fall, make sure that all of your windows have screens and that the screens are without holes or tears large enough for a stink bug to slip through. Then go around your house with a tube of sealer and fill up any cracks and gaps around door frames, windows, exhaust fans, and plumbing pipes.

2.     Use stink bug deterrents. A spray made from 16 oz of water and 10 drops of peppermint oil will repel these wily pests. Spray it around doors and windows, and anywhere you find a proliferation of stink bugs.

3.    Try pheromone traps. These traps do not contain chemical insecticides, and are not harmful for people or pets. They work by attracting stink bugs with a synthetic version of their own naturally-occurring pheromones. Once the stink bug is trapped, it eventually dies of dehydration.

4.    The vacuum is your friend. Probably the most effective method of fighting a stink-bug infestation in progress is just to vacuum up the stink bugs. You’ll probably find them on predictable places like the floor and walls, but don’t forget to target their other favorite hiding places: in the folds of drapes and curtains, behind furniture, and on the ceiling. You will have to do this frequently, though, as they seem to have some sort of magical repopulation properties. The other problem with vacuuming is that if you are using a bagless vacuum cleaner, it can make your vacuum stink. This is why I purchased a small, cheap, bag-style vacuum just for combatting stink bugs.

5.    Use neem oil for eliminating stink bugs from your garden. If stink bugs have invaded your home, they’re most likely making themselves comfortable in your garden, as well, and snacking on your vegetables. For this, you can use a solution of neem oil and water. Neem oil is non-toxic to plants, but stink bugs hate it. In a spray bottle, combine two tablespoons of neem oil with a half cup of water. Spray the solution on your garden plants and the soil around them.

 

Good luck with your stink bug elimination efforts!

Green Home Cleaning Voted Best Cleaning Service in WNC for the Third Year in a Row!

We are so pleased and honored to announce that, for the fifth year in a row, we have placed in the Mountain Xpress Best of WNC contest! This year our valued clients and community voted us #1 in Asheville, just as you did last year, AND the year before!

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all of your support over the years. You are the best customers a small local business could ever ask for. We love you and appreciate your business. We couldn't have achieved the success we have without you!

8 Tips for Speed-Cleaning a Room

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You just got home from work, picking the kids up from school, and stopping for groceries, when you receive the dreaded call. You have relatives popping in for an unannounced visit—tonight!

It’s Friday, and you haven’t touched a mop or dust rag since the weekend. Looking around your home, it seems like you’ll never get the place whipped into shape and still have time to make dinner. So what do you do?

You speed clean! Remember the tips below, and the next time something like this happens to you, you’ll be prepared.

  1. Enlist help. The kids. The husband. The Roomba. It’s crunch time, so make sure everyone is pulling their weight.
  2. Gather your supplies. You need a sturdy utility apron for just such occasions as this. If you don’t have one of those, a compartmentalized bucket will do. Put every cleaning product and tool you’ll need in the apron or bucket, apart from larger tools like mops, brooms, or the vacuum.
  3. Make each move count. As you’re cleaning, carry your supplies around with you, and always put each spray bottle and tool back in the same spot. You can’t waste time making trips back and forth to find the thing you need, or rummaging around in your toolkit.
  4. Don’t bother with the rooms your guests won’t go into. In fact, since this is an emergency situation, we give you permission to temporarily store any clutter in the laundry room.
  5. If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it. Don’t fuss with upper baseboards, vertical surfaces, or anything else that does not look dusty or grimy.
  6. Make one circuit around the room. Don’t skip over things. This is an extension of “Make each move count.” Instead of zigzagging from one end of the room to the other and back, start at one end of the room and work your way around.
  7. Clean from top to bottom. As you clean, dust and dirt get knocked off of surfaces higher up, and onto surfaces lower down. So start high, and gradually work your way down. Do the floors last.
  8. Focus on what you’re doing. If you’re thinking about that TV show you want to catch up on, or what your boss is going to say about x project, or where you’d like to go for vacation, you’re going to miss things and have to waste time coming back to them. Give your attention to the task at hand, and things will go much quicker.
  9. Order a pizza. Your relatives can’t really expect you to whip up a home cooked meal on such short notice, can they? Order a pizza with their favorite toppings. While you’re waiting for the delivery guy to arrive, take a nice hot shower. You deserve it!

 

 

The 6 Worst Laundry Myths

1.    Apply stain treatments to the front. It seems counterintuitive to treat a stain from the back. Logically, it makes sense that if the you spill something on the front of a garment, you should remove the stain from the front of the garment. But, actually, applying stain treatment to the back of the stain pushes the stain out of the fibers from underneath, whereas treating the stain from the front can push the stain deeper into the fibers.

2.    Hot water kills germs. Not really. In order to kill most germs, water must be heated past the boiling point. Your washer may be awesome, but it doesn’t boil your clothes. In fact, any germs that are on your laundry when you put it in the washer are probably just going to be swirled around onto all of the other laundry in the load. So be especially conscious about washing clothes and bedding when family members are sick. What does kill laundry germs? Vinegar, of course! A half cup of white vinegar in your wash cycle will sanitize the clothing, and the smell should dissipate in the rinse cycle.

3.    The more detergent, the cleaner your clothes. This is another one of those myths that seems perfectly sensible, but it’s not true! The truth is that excess detergent can fail to dissolve properly in the wash cycle, leaving your clothes with a sticky, filmy residue, and not getting them any cleaner. This is especially likely to happen with cold water washes. Never fill your detergent measuring cup past the top line. In fact, most of the time, it’s probably okay to use less detergent than the manufacturer’s recommendation.

4.    Wash your clothes after each wear. Not only is this completely unnecessary most of the time, but it’s also terrible for your water bill and the environment. Most types of clothing—jeans, t-shirts, pajamas, towels, etc.—can be used two or more times before washing. The only types of clothes that really need to be washed after every use are underwear, socks, and clothes that are worn for sweaty manual labor. Save yourselfthe stress of constant laundering, and save a few bucks at the same time!

5.    Use more detergent for a heavy load. Even though the manufacturer’s instructions tell you to use more detergent the larger your load is, this is not absolutely necessary. You can probably get by using the “small load” amount for larger loads, unless they are particularly dirty or smelly. But even if that is the case, never fill your detergent measurer past the top line!

6.    Dryer lint is no big deal. Okay, if you want to be broke and have a fire in your laundry room, then dryer lint is no big deal. The more lint is clogging up your air filter, the longer your clothes will take to dry, the more energy will be used in drying them, and the more money you will spend on your electric bill. And, even worse, a neglected lint filter can pose a serious fire risk. So clean the lint out of the filter after every load!

 

Best of the GHC Blog!

The Green Home Cleaning blog has been bringing you great, helpful cleaning tips and green lifestyle ideas for just over four years! We thought we'd celebrate this month with a round-up of some of the best blog posts we've published over the years. From fighting stinky smells to getting your office organized, this list of articles has something for nearly any house cleaning headache! Click on the linked titles to view the full blog posts.

1. Eleven Habits of Highly Organized People

In this post, we offer tips and tricks for how to get more organized, feel more productive, and get more done, without losing your sanity. Check it out!

2. What to Look For in a Home Cleaning Service

In "What to Look For in a Home Cleaning Service", we share pointers for researching and interviewing cleaning services in your area. Use this checklist to ensure that your final selection is a company that will behave professionally, do a great job, and treat you with respect!

3. Tips For Getting Kids to Clean Their Rooms

Tackle the perennial parental struggle of getting your kids to take responsibility for their own belongings with the creative tactics in this blog post!

4. How to Erase the Rings From Your Toilet Bowl

If you have mineral-heavy water in your home, you NEED this post. In it, we share a simple, stress-free way to remove the unsightly rings from your toilets, leaving them bright and clean, without any need for toxic cleaning products!

5. Eight Green Cleaning Tips for Cats and Their People

Are you a cat owner? The tips in this post will help you control cat fur and dander, litter messes and odors, and other cat-related problems in your home.

6. Five Green Ways to Prevent and Eliminate Bad Smells in Your Home

From the garbage disposal to the shoe rack, use the ideas in this blog post to combat unpleasant odors in your home, without harsh chemicals!

7. Organize Your Office and Increase Productivity!

This post covers six ways to eliminate entropy in your office. Restore your sanity and see your productivity skyrocket with these tips!

8. A Busy Mom's Letter to Santa

Here's a fun holiday post we published a couple of Decembers ago. It's cute and funny, and it sheds light on what busy moms really want for Christmas.

9. Green Cleaning With Dogs

If you're a dog lover, you'll definitely benefit from the pointers in this blog post. Learn green and effective ways to tackle muddy pawprints, dog hair and dander, and even the dreaded "dog smell"!

10. Houseplants for a Clean, Green Home!

Learn how houseplants can help keep your home green and clean by purifying the air. This post also includes a list of the 12 best houseplants for home air purification.