Get the Green Light on Green Pest Control

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated April 4, 2022
Woman cleaning in sunny room with plants
Photo: Oscar Wong / Getty Images


  • Green pest control is an integrated pest management approach that removes and deters pests with a focus on reducing harmful environmental impacts.

  • Organic ingredients set green pest control apart from conventional pest control methods.

  • Green pest control costs between $200 and $600 per application.

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When those dark winter days are a thing of the past and spring has finally sprung, one thing that puts a damper on warmer weather is pests. Whether it’s ants crawling in after a rainstorm or roaches sneaking around in the depths of the night, one thing’s for sure: You want them gone. But you also want to do it in a safe way for your family. Green pest control offers a safer way to keep out the pests and keep them gone.

The 411 on Green Pest Control

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, integrated pest management (the formal phrase for what people refer to as “green pest control”) is “a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.” The approach includes preventive measures homeowners can take to reduce pests in the home. 

Green pest control is an umbrella term that describes a slew of practices. Defining it is akin to a Google search that pulls up many differing results. “Green pest control,” “eco-friendly pest control,” “organic pest control,” and “chemical-free pest control” are a few names that might come up when you’re on the hunt for green-friendly exterminators.

The goal is to implement safe pest management practices with minimal impact on the environment while also keeping pests out of homes. At the same time, different companies have different practices, so no two green pest control companies are identical. 

Green vs. Conventional Pest Control

Both green and traditional pest control work to remove and control pests around the house, but standard pest control uses synthetic or man-made pesticides to get the job done. Green pest control uses a combination of organic ingredients and preventive measures.

Conventional Pest Control Ingredients

Conventional pest control ingredients most commonly contain permethrin, a lab-made synthetic insecticide. A few common types of permethrins include:

  • Bifenthrin

  • Permethrin

  • Cyfluthrin

  • Beta-cyfluthrin

Organic Pest Control Ingredients

When it comes to organic pest control, you’ll find a greater variety in the ingredients used, depending on the type of pest you’re trying to deter. Some organic pest controls use pyrethrin, a popular organic insecticide comprised of mixtures from the Pyrethrum plant genus, including chrysanthemum and Tanacetum flowers. 

Other organic pest controls use any or a combination of the following:

  • Natural minerals, like borax 

  • Essential oils 

  • Vinegar 

  • Baking soda 

  • Garlic 

Benefits of Green Pest Control

Green pest control doesn’t just sound friendlier than conventional pest control—it often is! Check out these pros to using green pest control:

  • Better for the environment

  • Safer for pets and children

  • Insects are less toxic for wildlife

  • Safer for landscaping

  • More preventive measures around the home

  • Less resistance in pests

  • Less likely to irritate airways

  • Less odor

With traditional pest control, infected pests may crawl out of the house to die, where wildlife can then consume them and get ill or die from the toxins, too. Synthetic pesticides might also enter the soil or waterways, affecting plant and animal life. Green pest control helps prevent that cycle by offering safer alternatives. 

Green pest control tends to use a gentler yet effective approach that’s safe for the family, less odorous, and less likely to enter the environment. This type of pest control looks beyond pesticide use to identify how and where pests are entering your home and what you can do to prevent their return.

Disadvantages of Green Pest Control

Even though green pest control comes with many advantages, it does have a few drawbacks. These include:

  • Might not take immediate effect

  • May need an expert for success

  • Fewer options and companies that offer services

  • Not effective in certain circumstances

Green pest control is currently a niche, making it harder to find a local pest control company offering these services. Since this service is less “mainstream,” it may also cost more. But there’s a lower risk of insect resistance over time, so you may need less of the product in the long run. And unlike traditional pest control products—which kill bugs almost on the spot—natural pesticides can take a few days to start working.

Organic Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safe

Though some pest control options are organic, that doesn’t mean they’re actually safer than synthetic pesticides. 

Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension stresses the importance of identifying which naturally occurring chemicals are more harmful to the environment than their inorganic competitors. For example, nicotine sulfate comes from the tobacco plant, but it’s toxic if you inhale it or have skin exposure.

Green Pest Control Cost

Green pest control services cost between $200 and $600, depending on the type of pest and severity of the infestation. For serious cases, you may need a pest control pro to make a handful of visits to eliminate the problem. This can cost up to $1,200.

DIY Green Pest Control

You can deter or prevent a problem with a few DIY tricks for some types of pests. These include:

  • Scoping out openings in your home that allow roaches and ants to enter and sealing them

  • Applying borax, essential oils, and other over-the-counter natural pest deterrents around the house

  • Keeping surfaces clean of food particles and water

  • Reducing humidity in the bathroom since it attracts roaches and other thirsty pests

  • Removing boxes and newspapers from storage spaces

  • Keeping the exterior perimeters free of trash and pest-attracting shelters

Finding a Green Pest Control Company

If your DIY approach isn’t enough to eliminate those pesky pests, you’ll need to call in the experts to tackle the job. But before you embark on a search for a green pest control company near you, make sure you know what exactly you’re looking for in a product and company to avoid pest control scams

Ask these questions to determine if your pest control company is really green:

  • What makes your company’s approach greener than your competitors’ approaches?

  • What kind of preventive measures do you take when inspecting a house for pests?

  • What’s in the pest control products you’ll be using?

  • Are these products pet- and kid-friendly?

  • Will we need to leave the house after you’ve applied the product?

  • Can you provide me with a few references?

Vet for an Integrated Pest Management Approach

One of the most important aspects of green pest control is an integrated approach, which inspects the area, identifies the pest problem, and then controls it. The goal is to manage pests with minimal impact on people, property, and the environment. 

As such, it’s essential to make sure the company you choose is on the same page as you since it might not have an integrated pest management approach and simply spray pest control products and then leave. A green company with integrated pest management will determine why the pests are coming into your home and make long-term changes to keep them out.

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