What to Do After Pest Control Sprays for an Infestation

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated October 7, 2021
Interior of a living room with plants and furniture
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While you can look forward to returning to a pest-free home after the exterminator visits, take a few extra steps to ensure the treatment is a total success

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A visit from the exterminator can be a huge relief—for one, no more late-night sightings of mice or roaches sprinting across the floor. But how do you comfortably settle back into a newly treated home without erasing the progress of your pest control team? Here's a full rundown of what you can expect after your exterminator sprays and how to keep pests away for good.

Difficulty: 2/5

Time: Over the course of 1 to 2 weeks

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Broom or mop

  • Cleaning rags

  • Paper towels

  • Bleach

  • Water

  • All-purpose cleaner

  • Food storage bins

  • Spackle (for sealing cracks)

1. Wait to Return Home

A girl holding her cute cat
Linda Raymond/Moment via Getty Images

One of the most common questions that pest control specialists receive is: When can I return to my home after a treatment? The answer will completely depend on the type of pest treatment and which pests you were dealing with in the first place.

The EPA specifies that you and your exterminator should only use pesticide solutions approved for indoor use. Your exterminator should also provide an EPA registration number so you can look up more details about the specific treatment.

In most cases, your family, including children and fur children, should be able to return home between 30 minutes and a few hours after spraying. In some cases, your exterminator may recommend keeping pets and small children away for a few hours longer.

2. Optimize Airflow

An open window in the bedroom
ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson/PhotoAlto Agency RF via Getty Images

In the initial hours after treatment, keep natural air flowing throughout your home by opening windows and switching on fans. Not only can this help with any lingering smells, but it could lower the rare chance of an allergic reaction to the products used.

3. Plan Your Post-Visit Clean

So, when can you break out the bucket and mop and rid your home of these pest-control products? In most cases, it's best to wait. The treatment often needs time to reach all the potential critters hiding in your home—especially if the exterminator used baits before spraying. 

Let's take a look at the two main categories of pest control.

Insect Treatment

If the exterminator sprayed a pesticide that dries on surfaces—typically for cockroaches, ants, spiders, and other insects—it's often recommended you leave it undisturbed anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks. 

Feel free to lightly sweep or clean off counters after the initial waiting period, but hold off on that deep clean for one to two weeks—it’s the perfect excuse! 

When deep-cleaning day arrives, spend extra time in areas where insects may have hidden before treatment. For example:

  • Behind appliances

  • Clothing, blankets, and other soft goods

  • Area rugs and carpets

  • Pet food bowls and beds

  • Your basement and attic

  • Pantry and cupboards

Rodent Treatment

In complete contrast, do not sweep or mop if the exterminator left traps or baits for mice or rats. Rodents and small animals can carry a hefty list of viruses and bacteria, many of which live in the feces and urine of these animals. Sweeping them up could release airborne pathogens.

If you find either of these, the CDC recommends spraying the area with a solution of water and a strong disinfectant like bleach. You'll then need gloves, a mask, and protective eye gear to clean up the area. Always discard urine or feces-covered paper towels in a sealed bag.

4. Discard of Exposed Food

Perhaps you called the exterminator in a hurry and didn't get to clear everything off the counter before they arrived. If there was any food hanging out on the kitchen or dining room table when the exterminator sprayed, toss it just to be safe.

Insects such as fruit flies, cockroaches, and pantry pests may have spent some time crawling over the food as well. Take this moment in your long-term pest control tactics to seal all food away in airtight containers, such as plastic or metal food bins. Silverfish, termites, and a few other common nuisances love to nibble on paper, so they can still get through common food packaging when determined.

5. Close Up Entryways

Back up your exterminator's work by sealing up all possible pest entryways in your house. Common trouble areas include:

  • Cracks along your baseboards

  • Windows

  • Doors

  • Eaves

  • Attics

  • Basement and foundation

  • Pipes and plumbing

  • Vent and HVAC systems

  • Dryer vents and small other entrances to your home

Even mice and rats can squeeze into holes as small as a quarter, so pay extra attention to the unassuming entryways.

6. Peruse Your Perimeter

An infestation outside your home can be just as large an issue as one indoors. And in some cases, pests find their way inside because they've built a nest just outside a door or window.

Keep an eye out for areas that a pest would love to set up shop, such as woodpiles, open garbage or recycling bins, compost piles, or even unruly landscaping. Areas with too much moisture can also encourage pests to breed. 

When the weather drops and pests look for a space to hide out for the winter, they may turn to your home for shelter. Be sure these areas are as far from your home as possible or that you scrap them altogether.

If you're on the hunt for a natural pest remedy to discourage critters from crossing your home's border, materials like diatomaceous earth and boric acid will kill many insects. However, only place these substances in spots away from children and pets.

7. Stay Vigilant

Now for the most important phase of post-exterminator care—scaring future pests away for good. Now that you've sealed up the edges of your home, removed any tasty temptations, and discouraged outdoor infestations, keep your eyes peeled.

By the time you see pests in the light of day, it often means there are more than meets the eye. Alert your local pest control team as soon as you sense their return—many companies will offer follow-up services either for free or at lower cost. 

Getting ahead of potential problems not only keeps your home safe, clean, and comfy, but also keeps the overall cost of pest control lower in the long run.

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