Humane Ways to Get Rid of Pests

in Health & Safety on by

Anyone who has spent a few years living in an apartment has a pest story to tell. Whether your home has ants, roaches, mice or even (gasp) rats, having an apartment pest is practically a right of passage. When you see something scurry across the floor or into the kitchen cabinet, your first priority is to find a way to get rid of it, whatever it is. However, if minimizing animal suffering or keeping toxic chemicals out of your apartment is important to you, you may want to consider some humane pest control alternatives. Not all of them work well or reliably. On the other hand, if you have had problems with pests before, you’ll know that even conventional products frequently fail. If you are thinking of getting rid of your pests in an environmentally friendly, humane way, consider some of the following tips.

Conventional Methods

Conventional pest control methods rely on pesticides, glue or spring traps. If you have pets or small children in your apartment, you may be reluctant to use pesticides. Not only do pets or children run the risk of poisoning, they may also come upon dead or dying rodents and insects.

Glue traps consist of a sheet of plastic or paper covered with a sticky substance. Mice and rats become stuck when they run across the trap. Glue traps are common because they are easy to use and inexpensive. However, rodents usually die a slow, painful death from dehydration, suffocation or starvation. The dying mouse may be hard to ignore: the saying “quiet as a mouse” does not always apply to a mouse stuck on a glue trap. Traps also present an unpleasant cleanup problem. While your Super may be willing to put down a trap, he may not be willing or available to take it and the mouse out of your apartment. For these and other reasons, many people turn to alternative, more humane methods.

Seal off all cracks and holes

If you have rodents or insects in your apartment, the other units in your building are likely infested too. Even if your neighbors share your problem, you don’t have to share mice and rats with them. To keep rodents from traveling into your apartment from nearby units, physically seal off your apartment. Identify any holes greater than ¼ inch in diameter in your floors or walls and plug them with plaster or steel wool. Even if a crack looks too small to accommodate a mouse, plug it anyway. Mice can flatten their bodies to slip through extremely small openings.

Keep a clean house

Make sure food is stored in closed containers. If you have mice in your cabinets, make sure food is stored in sturdy plastic storage bins rather than plastic bags, which rodents can chew through. Of course, avoid leaving food out on counters when you are out of the apartment and keep garbage bags closed tight. These same methods are the most effective way to control insects. Make sure that window screens do not have any holes and there are no cracks in the sill that allow insects to enter.


If cleaning your apartment and sealing holes is ineffective, you can try a humane mousetrap. You can buy these at most hardware stores or online with a quick Google search. Humane traps lure rodents with bait, but instead of killing them, trap them inside an enclosed container. You can release the mouse outside without having to touch it. Bait the traps with chocolate, peanut butter or crackers on a day when you will have a chance to check on them periodically. Mice cannot spend more than a few hours without water.

Many companies advertise machines that emit noises that are too high for the human ear to hear, but annoy rodents and many insects. There is some debate over how well these “sonic pest repellers” actually work. While many people claim to have success with them, others report mice, spiders and other pests actually building nests and webs under the repellent device. These creatures may be initially repelled by the noise, but eventually tune it out when they learn that it doesn’t represent a threat. Before you invest $30 on this kind of pest repellent, ask family and friends for recommendations, or check out reviews from other customers on sites like

Natural Repellents

Many natural products you have in your home can also be used in your fight against infestation. Ants are repelled by paprika; sprinkle it in front of areas where they enter your apartment. Lavender and garlic may also be effective against ants. Mice and rats also have an aversion to peppermint oil, which can be found in the baking and spices section of your local grocery store. Saturate cotton balls with the oil and place them in cracks and other areas where you’ve seen mice. The oil will also give your apartment a clean smell. There are a number of websites that give tips about how to get rid of pests using herbs and other natural substances.

Have you had any luck with other humane or environmentally friendly methods? If so, let us know!

22 Responses to “Humane Ways to Get Rid of Pests”

  1. March 29, 2007 at 3:30 pm, Guest said:

    don’t bait traps with chocholate, the cocao is toxic to most animals.


  2. April 02, 2007 at 11:17 am, Guest said:

    Peanut butter works well in humane mouse traps. I had a couple mice and caught them in one of these traps, then released them in a field a half-mile down the road from my place. I had maintenance plug up the crack in the baseboard I thought they had come in from, and I never saw a mouse in that apartment again.


  3. April 06, 2007 at 3:15 am, Guest said:

    Chocolate isn’t toxic to mice and rats in reasonable quantities.

    In fact, chocolate is used to calm pet rats experiencing stress and the effects of repiratory infections. It can be toxic in very large amounts(it’s only toxic to dogs in large amounts as well, so Lassie stealing a cookie off the table won’t kill her), but just avoid baiting anything with a piece larger than the actual mouse.


  4. April 08, 2007 at 9:14 pm, Guest said:

    OMG I read it as “Pets” … taking them too is nice.


  5. April 26, 2007 at 7:23 pm, Guest said:

    I’m glad I saw this post! Although I’m a “house” person and not an apartment person I’m still having problems with “pests” and now that the weather is getting warmer there seem to be more of them. Fortunately I have a cat that takes care of the mouse problems – thank goodness!



  6. April 29, 2007 at 7:12 pm, Guest said:

    I have a concern, how to clean duct work after mice have been in it for about a month? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  7. July 22, 2007 at 4:01 pm, Guest said:

    oh well


  8. July 27, 2007 at 9:38 am, Guest said:

    Thanks guys! I’ve got mice in my house, and conventional mouse traps and glue traps were out of the question for me, as I’m an animal lover, and I really don’t want to hurt or kill the little guys. Your humane mouse trap suggestion sounds like the perfect solution.


  9. November 23, 2007 at 8:37 pm, Guest said:

    how do you get rid of fruit flies? help….


  10. January 12, 2008 at 9:52 pm, Guest said:

    I have had to throw out three bags of food and we have caught up to six mice a day! I think our apartment complex needs to combat the problem head on along with us trying to catch our own. Should we report this to our city health center? We keep a very clean house and don’t understand why we have so many pests,and it is just not our apartment.
    thanks for any suggestions.


  11. February 08, 2008 at 7:31 pm, Guest said:

    I live in an apartment complex in southwest florida.When I first moved in the apartment it was very clean and I was impressed because I am a clean freak. I have asthma and allergic to mold, grass and dustmites. Soon My apartment was full of cockroaches and eggs and everyone knows anyone with asthma this is like the worst thing for your breathing and will set any asthmatic off. Well my apartment has been sprayed three times and I even had my apartment boomed from the professional people, but I am still loaded with cockroaches. When my refrigerator and stove was pulled out there were so many cockroaches and eggs that the professional bug people said that they were there for a long time. I thought it was the responsibility of the apartment complex to get rid of the bugs for the tenants. What else can I do?? The guy next to me that shares our patio is a smoker. I have been so sick and rushed to the ER twice and hospitalized once for 3 days. Since my health is at risk and there is NO solution about the cockroaches can I legally get out of my lease? I have asked for another unit and the manager said no because they would have to do this for all the tenants. What can I do? Any suggestion? I am so desperate. I have been sick since July 2007 and still sick as of Feb 2008.


  12. March 05, 2008 at 2:56 am, Guest said:

    I had a friend in a similar situation. By law if you can prove you are allergic to the apt. (which it sounds like you can, with your medical records) you have a right to break your lease w/out penalty. Also you can call the health inspection dept. and file a complaint about roaches in your apt. I bet if you threaten your landlord you were going to the health dept. I bet he would let you out of your lease without a hestitation. But you do have rights. Look into them.


  13. March 26, 2008 at 4:10 am, Guest said:

    I know how, humanely. You make a cylinder with a piece of paper and tape, small hole on one end, big on the other. Then you need a jar or large cup, clear preferably. Place a piece of fruit, or banana peal in the jar and put the paper cylinder small side into the jar. Leave for a while in the place where the fruit flies are. After a few hours, the jar will be filled with the little guys who just cant seem to get back out of this trap. Then, take it outside, remove the cylinder and let it sit for a bit, they will fly away. This took me a few trips but they were eventually all gone from the kitchen. Then just make sure to take out trash and other food items that were feeding the little guys, and where there might be baby eggs left over. All gone! And you did not harm a single one. =)


  14. March 26, 2008 at 10:59 am, Guest said:

    Take a glass or empty jar and fill it with about 1/2 inch of vinegar. Secure a piece of plastic wrap over the top with tape or an elastic band. Punch a few very small holes in the plastic big enough for the flies to crawl through (try a sharp pencil) be careful not to make them too big or they will just fly out again. Place it in the area you see them most. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar and will be trapped in the jar, eventually they will fall in and die.


  15. March 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm, Guest said:

    You have to put vinegar in a bowl near the area infested. You can also add a few drops of dish soap to the vinegar. This will attrack the flies and they die.


  16. April 23, 2008 at 8:18 pm, Guest said:

    I live in Florida. We have lived in our apartment for FOUR months and for FOUR months we have had rats. I have begged and pleaded with management to do something and they ignored us COMPLETELY.

    I emailed the STATE Health Department with all of my documentation AND photos of 6 rats that my husband caught and they came out within two days!

    Today is the day AFTER the inspectors came….. we had an air conditioner guy come out to fix our air ducts (the rats chewed through them) Pest Control was also out. It’s sad, but if you get the Health Department on their tails, Management will JUMP to fix things!

    Word of advice: You MUST file a complaint with the health department yourself. Residences are hard to inspect because you must be home, the one who filed the complaint must be the owner/renter. Once they inspect your home (show them EVERY problem!) they go up to the management office and give them notice that they are to fix everything within 2 weeks or they will be fined.


  17. June 05, 2008 at 7:36 pm, Guest said:

    I used a plastic humane mouse trap to get rid of the mice in my apartment even though I also have two cats. I didn’t want my kitties to get themselves into a mess (literally) or sick from the rodents. My apartment management placed a glue trap under the kitchen sink which was NOT OK with me–the cats could get stuck to it, the mice would suffer a slow death… I used peanut butter as bate inside a little plastic trap similar to the picture, caught two mice the same day, released them by a lake a mile away, and haven’t had any other mice problems for seven years now. Yay!


  18. August 14, 2008 at 12:25 am, Guest said:

    Cedar oil is a natural bug repellent. All kinds of bugs. For roaches, catnip is also a repellent. Boil the catnip like a tea. Combine 1 part cedar oil with 1 part catnip tea in a spray bottle and spritz around the perimeter of your house/apt. It is amazingly effective.

    The only downside, is that this combo is also an effective human repellent. It really, really reeks. But if you are trying to avoid spraying chemicals around your home, this is a good way to go. Just plan to be out of the home all day.

    I live in NYC and had a huge roach problem. Now, no more problem.


  19. April 05, 2010 at 4:40 am, guest said:

    For mice i used CAYENNE PEPPER sprinkle it around the house, the cracks or even better if you know where they are hiding. Mice hate this they will go elsewhere, you might want to let your neighbours know though as this might be their next place to go! It worked in my house anyway and i haven’t had sight or heard them since.


  20. May 06, 2010 at 10:45 am, Olivia said:

    another humane way of getting rid of mice and rats without much effort is using sonic deterents which get rid of the existing ones and prevent others from wanting to nest in your house or department, this is the best one ive found at


  21. June 09, 2010 at 4:18 am, Brianna said:

    i have a mouse in my house that i’ve named Mickey. my mother is scared to death of mice and wants him out of the house like anybody else would, but i can’t imagine seeing him die at the hands of her. i just have to know if the plastic live traps really work because my mother said she’d get a cat if i couldn’t get rid of him. he’s the cutest little mouse so i want him to live a nice little happy mouse life…away from my mother and her cats


  22. August 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm, Ranjit said:

    Brianna, beautiful! The world would be a heaven if there are humane people like you. I am a Vegan for the last five years and reached this page to find a humane way to get rid of the cockroaches. There are cockroaches allover my home-in the kitchen sink, bed, cup boards and ask where not! They creep allover, but I hesitate to harm them….looking for a humane method to get rid of them. Suggestions please…. :)


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