Where pests are concerned, nothing is a sure thing. You can do everything right – keep your house spotless, store food correctly, de-clutter – and still have a cockroach or two. That said, the following are some steps you can take to minimize the presence of some bugs and mice in your home.
If you feed the birds, keep your feeders as far away from the house as possible. Do not use window feeders – seed and hummingbird feeders that attach to the window with suction cups. As much fun as it is to watch birds up-close, having food that close to the house is an invitation to bugs and mice. Seed dropping from feeders attracts cockroaches and mice. Nectar dripping from hummingbird feeders attracts ants.
While even the neatest house can experience pests, the cleaner and less cluttered your home is the better. Vacuum regularly; keep kitchen counters crumb-free; don't leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter; avoid collecting "junk"; don't allow things like laundry to accumulate on the floor (roaches love to hide under objects left untouched).
If you maintain a compost pile, be sure to keep it and any transport buckets as far away from the house (and your neighbors' houses) as possible. Turn the contents of the pile frequently. Compost, especially when allowed to sit undisturbed, can attract cockroaches, mice, and other bugs and small animals.
All food should be in airtight containers or in the freezer. Keep on the shelf only the flour and grains you anticipate using regularly. The rest should go in the freezer. Any grain can attract weevils, moths, roaches, and mice. Don't take chances. Flour, meal, rice, and other grains freeze very well and can be used straight from the freezer with no thawing needed. Open pet foods should be stored in airtight bins.
Use plastic bins to store books, Christmas decorations, knick-knacks, and so forth. Do not use cardboard boxes. Cockroaches love cardboard and will often nest in boxes that are not disturbed for long periods of time. Bugs can arrive at your home in cardboard boxes and cartons, so if you have home deliveries, unpack the contents immediately, then dispose of the boxes.
Keep pets and pet areas clean. Dog beds should be covered, and the cover routinely washed. If you have small animals, like rabbits, hamsters, and birds, be sure their pens or cages are kept clean. Rotate food regularly, and watch for spills and thrown food.
If your trouble is with bugs in your home, see our Dealing with Bugs page for some specific suggestions.
If you have unwanted critters in the yard and garden, see our What to Do About Yard Animals page.