There are several effective methods of eliminating spiders from the inside of your home, as well as ways to keep them from returning.
The first method is the simplest: get rid of spiders and their webs with brooms or vacuums. Most spiders aren’t tough enough to live through the experience of being sucked up into a vacuum cleaner, and you can get rid of their webs at the same time. Of course, this will probably only be effective on its own if the infestation is small, but it’s a good first step.
Unfortunately, fogger insecticides are usually ineffective against most spiders. Instead, spider traps, which contain chemicals that attract spiders and a sticky coating to keep them there, are the better choice. They’re generally flat sheets of heavy paper with no raised sides. Place these glue traps in out-of-the-way spots around your home, like in corners, by baseboards, and behind furniture.
Traps will kill the spiders that get stuck on them, but they won’t wipe out infestations that already live in hidden places. For this reason, traps are usually a better way to identify the type of spider you’re dealing with and the exact location of the infestation than a method of elimination.
There are plenty of indoor insecticides that will kill spiders on contact. However, you need to pay close attention to the kind of insecticide you purchase and how you use it. If you purchase a spray that kills on contact, remember that it won’t take care of any spiders you don’t see. You also need to make sure that it’s safe for indoor use, and if you have children or pets in the house, that it won’t be harmful to them. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for using the product.
There are also residual insecticides that allow you to put down a barrier around your home. Generally, you apply these pesticides around the baseboards and corners of your home, or anywhere else you suspect spiders may be living. Any spiders that walk across this barrier will be killed, though the chemicals may only remain effective for a short time. Again, check the packaging to determine how best to use these products and how long they’ll last.
Repellents alone may not be enough to drive spiders out of your home, but they can help keep them out. Some of these repellents will use synthetic chemicals, so make sure they’re safe to use inside the home. However, also ensure that any “natural” repellent is safe — just because something is found in nature doesn’t make it non-toxic. There are also plug-in devices that claim to use ultrasonic sound to repel spiders and insects.
If you look online, you’ll find dozens of recipes for home-made spider repellents. In fact, you’ll see claims that nearly every essential oil will repel all manner of bugs. Results for these recipes seem to vary, but here are some of the most effective and least toxic.
- Mix 15–20 drops of peppermint oil (not peppermint extract used for baking) with water in a spray bottle and spray along floorboards and in corners. Other essential oils that are also reportedly effective include eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, tea tree, and citrus.
- Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Some sources say this is effective as an on-contact spider killer, while others say it’s an effective repellent when sprayed around the home.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in thin layers in hard-to-reach places like cracks and corners, and around windows and baseboards. This material causes many household pests, including spiders, to dehydrate and die, but make sure not to use it near food preparation areas.
- Use cedar hangers, blocks, or shavings in your closet or in drawers.
- Some people swear by setting citrus peels or horse chestnuts along window sills and floorboards.
In general, however, natural and homemade remedies are short-term solutions which need to be reapplied every two to three weeks to remain effective.
Once you’ve eliminated or repelled the spider infestation from your home, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t reoccur. The first step is usually sealing up any cracks or holes spiders may use to enter your home. Use caulk where appropriate around doors, windows, wires, cables, and faucets. Patch holes in door or window screens, and make sure your vents and chimney are covered with insect-proof screens, as well.
To help prevent spiders, make sure you clean your home regularly, picking up clutter that may serve as hiding places. Vacuum thoroughly and often. Also ensure that you keep food in airtight containers and clean up crumbs and dirty dishes as soon as possible. While spiders don’t tend to feed on human food, the insects that spiders eat often do.
Finally, if you have a recurrent infestation, you could consider getting a pet cat or frog. Both of these animals will hunt and eat spiders.