Challenge #45 ~ Pest Control

Read the blog post on the January Theme – GREEN CHEMISTRY

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

The desert heat has attracted us to live here. We are not alone. With heat and humidity come a few more residents we share our homes with. In October we discussed Gardening for Climate Action and encouraged everyone to observe and keep beneficial bugs for healthy soils. This month’s focus on Green Chemistry offers alternatives to the many toxic chemicals in consumer products, like those used to reduce disagreeable insects.

This week’s challenge is about keeping our homes free of the unwelcome guests that can invade our homes. We focus on preventative measures and safe options for pest control management, when needed. For the case of accidental exposure to toxic chemicals, we introduce the Qatar Poison Center for swift action.

“The best solution to a cockroach infestation is never to have one. (As they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of roaches.)”

Umbra at Grist

Prevention is the best pest control! 


  • Be proactive and keep the kitchen clean from food scraps
  • Use a sieve or strainer over the drain of the sink to prevent food from washing down the drain. 
  • Wash the dishes and don’t leave unwashed dishes in the sink.
  • Always clean up kitchen counters of all crumbs. 
  • Clean grease and spilled over food from under the stove.
  • Regularly mop up condensation that collects under the fridge.


  • Eliminate or minimize moisture, food sources, and entry points for any insects. 
  • Drain sinks, tubs, and showers of standing water.
  • Refill pets’ water bowls in the morning and leave it empty at night, when roaches are most active.
  • Frequently empty the trash.
  • Sweep and vacuum frequently
  • Caulk around faucets, sinks and drain pipes to eliminate gaps to prevent the pests from entering our homes.


We like these preventive measures that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends to keep bed bugs at bay:

  • Look. Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation, before bringing them home.
  • Cover. Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs which eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Take care when traveling. In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor. Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping. Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.

Pest Removal

If ants or cockroaches have moved in, there are a number of natural tricks including cinnamon powder to interrupt ant streets and catnip or peppermint oil to keep roaches at bay. The naturally occurring chemical in catnip repels cockroaches 100 times better than DEET, the basis for commercial bug repellents, according to Iowa State University scientists.


Go Non-Toxic First. Once you’ve identified an infestation, don’t immediately reach for the spray can, because you might not need it. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests you do these non-chemical treatments first:

  • Clean. Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures to kill bed bugs.
  • Heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 ºF (45 ºC) for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
  • Cool. Cold treatments (below 0 ºF (-19 ºC) for at least 4 days) can eliminate some infestations. Again, the cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill bed bugs.
  • Cover. Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.

Qatar Poison Center

In case of an accidental exposure to a toxin or poison immediately call the Qatar Poison Center at 4003 1111. 90% of all exposures involve children below the age of 5 and are best dealt with while at home and do not require a visit to a clinic.

Exposure could be anything from an accidental overdose of medicine, taking the wrong medicine, skin or eye contact with household cleaners or pest control chemicals, smoke inhalation, substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), or natural toxins from snakes, scorpions, spiders, or jellyfish.

Exposure to Botox skin treatment or when formed from improper canning at home can be deadly.

Mothballs, when ingested, especially by children, are very dangerous.

Calling the Qatar Poison Center at 4003 1111 is the fastest access to medical professionals, first aid response and instructions from specialists in toxicology. Calling from home and staying home until instructed otherwise is the safest response because we have the resources and information about the product exposure at our fingertips.


  • Call Qatar Poison Center at 4003 1111
  • Do NOT vomit
  • Water, water, water! “Dilution is the solution to pollution!”


  • Read the labels!
  • Know the retailers, labels, brands.
  • Follow directions when self handling cleaners and pest control.
  • Use protective gear (long sleeved clothes).
  • Always keep spaces well ventilated.
  • Never let anyone spray any unknown substance in your home.
  • Always store cleaners and pesticides in proper containers and label them properly.
  • Never store cleaners and pesticides in food containers.
  • Do not mix household cleaners or pesticides.
  • Do not dispose of expired medicine in toilet.
  • Advocate for a medicine-take-back campaign at your local clinic. Until this is in place mix old meds with cat litter and safely dispose with household waste.

Yes, you, too, can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.