Essential oils to combat pantry bugs

8 Essential Oils to Get Rid of Pantry Moths & Other Insects

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There’s no need to turn to dangerous and caustic pesticides when you’re trying to scare bugs out of your pantry. No matter if it’s a pantry moth, a weevil, or an ant, Essential oils will make quick work of them. The strong scents these oils put off is enough to make most insects flee, as most of the oils are toxic to bugs.

To us humans, these oils will bring a breath of fresh air into the house, Making everything smell great in the process.

Here are the top 15 best concentrated essential oils for removing and scaring away various pantry and kitchen pests.

1. Citronella Oil

Out of all the essential oils on the list, this one might be the only one that pops out to you the most. That’s because it’s incredibly effective at keeping away insects. It’s often found in most anti-mosquito products. It’s earned the top spot on this list because of its large adaption and solid provable repellent results.

It’s also very adaptable in how it can be used. From candles to oils, lotions, and sprays. There are many ways to use this oil.

What is it?

Citronella oil comes from the distillation of dried or fresh stems from a plant called Cymbopogon grass. This perennial plant is often found in subtropical and tropical locations, and as such, has evolved a distinct and powerful odor which it uses to protect itself from insects.

Some countries outlawed the use of Citronella in insect repellents, however, it remains widely used and accepted in the United States and Canada.

The reason for this is possible complications to human health when used in large amounts. However, there wasn’t enough evidence to justify a ban in most countries. In fact, it’s shown to have far more health benefits than negatives. Use caution never the less, as you may be allergic.

How to use it

There are several ways you can employ this oil, such as candles. But since that requires fire, and your likely intention if you are reading this article is to place it in an enclosed pantry, It’s best used in a spray bottle or as is.

Here are the instructions for mixing citronella oil into a spray bottle. (Note: You should use a glass bottle for all oils)

  • Mix 1/4 oil to 1 water (20 drops of oil for every 200 ml of water)
  • If you intend on blending with another oil, adjust levels to compensate
  • Shake glass to mix
  • Depending on the oil, You may need to add an emulsifier such as Polysorbate so it stays mixed with the water.

You may also dip cotton balls in this oil and hang them from a string in your pantry. This is the advisable method as it’s much easier to deal with, with the same results.

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is fantastic for getting rid of our uninvited creepy crawlies. Not only is the scent excruciatingly strong, but many insects will also outright die on contact as it’s highly toxic for them. This includes pantry moths.

What is it?

Eucalyptus oil comes from the eucalyptus plant which is part of the Myrtaceae family. It grows wild in Australia and has since been cultivated in many regions of the world for its precious oils.

There are over 700 varieties of this tree/shrub that can produce various types of oils. They grow incredibly quickly and are easy to grow in plantations.

This oil is very strong and can cause irritation and burns if it comes into direct contact with the skin. Care should be provided not to come into contacts, such as gloves and goggles. Small trace amounts are generally harmless, But you should not use the spray bottle method with this if you are highly sensitive to this type of oil.

If you find you aren’t sensitive to this oil, the spray bottle method is highly effective.

Eucalyptus is toxic to animals and potentially children.

How to use it

If your looking to kill smaller insects rather than just deter them from entering your kitchen or pantry, a glass spray bottle with 1/4 teaspoon of oil to 1 cup of water will do just fine. Remember to add an emulsifier, or shake very well before every use as it will separate with time.

Spray bugs directly for death and destruction, Or simply spray around the walls and corners to repel the insects. If they walk over it, they may die quickly, or avoid the area altogether.

You may also consider the cotton ball method with this oil, however, given it’s caustic and toxic nature it’s unadvised to hang concentrated eucalyptus without diluting it beforehand.

This is good for keeping away pantry moths, ants, weevils, centipedes, bedbugs, and any other little critter. It’s very toxic.

3. Frankincense Oil

The most common way to use frankincense was to burn it. The smoke would keep a variety of pests away, such as grain moths, flies, and mosquitoes. Today we have access to super-concentrated oil and no longer need to burn it in order to get these effects.

What is it?

Frankincense is actually a resin derived from Boswellia trees. A special knife is used to wound the tree, taking special care as to not kill it. This causes resin/sap to flow out of the tree, crystallizing on the way out.

It takes a considerable amount of expertise and cares to do this job without destroying the tree. This is done to ensure the tree can produce frankincense for as long as possible. The concentration is produced via steam distillation for the tree’s sap.

How to use it?

For oil: Place small drops of oil in the corners of the pantry walls. This should be plenty to keep those insects away. You can also hang cotton balls lightly dabbed in oil with twine from the top of the pantry.

4. Arborvitae Oil

Arborvitae Oil, or as some call it, the “tree of life” oil, comes from the arborvitae tree. These are coned shape trees very popular as ‘hedges’ that surround peoples houses, and you have no doubt seen in the past.

The oil is created via steam distillation of the tree.

It’s fairly strong, although not as strong as other oils on this list. It’s woody and earthly and has been shown to prevent and keep out pests. For humans, it’s very calming and peaceful to be around and will liven your home with a nice fragrance.

The best way to utilize this oil is to clean your entire pantry by using arborvitae as the cleaner. Simply mix water and oil together and wipe down with a cloth. This works wonders as a bug repellent against pantry moths and weevils, and the like.

5. Angelica Root Oil

Angelica root is very popular in certain countries for its pest-fighting capabilities. For example, In India, it is one of the most commonly used essential oils for this task.

It comes from, as you probably guessed, the root of the angelica herb. But not just the root. In fact, almost the entire plant can be used in the distillation process, from step to flower to seed.

6. Peppermint Oil

Mint oil is a tried and true form of pest control. It’s one of the most popular oils on this list for that task, as well as just handy to have in the house. Almost everyone loves the smell of min, except insects.

So it should come as no surprise that it made it onto this list. It’s effective and removing and repelling insects and animals, and is easy to use.

You can add it to the 4 corners of the pantry as with the other methods and oils, Or the cotton ball method.

It can also be placed in a spray bottle with a mixture of water, shaken well. The ratio isn’t as important as other oils, mix until you get the smell you desire. It’s very powerful so start small.

You could also grow mind herb plants to combat insects, however, their smell is not as potent as the concentrated oil and you may need to crush up dried leaves to gain the full effect.

7. Vetiver Oil

Vetiver oil blends well with other oils and should be used in combination with others on this list. Notably lavender.

It can be added to a diffuser, much like all these oils, or added to a water-oil mixture. The smell will repel most insects quickly, and some may even die.

It comes from a type of grass native to India and has been used as medicine for a variety of ailments and relaxation.

8. Manuka Oil

Most known for its use by New Zealand tribes, it’s an incredibly effective bug repellent. This includes species such as pantry moths, weevils, beetles, and fruit flies.

Combining this with other citrus-based oils, such as lemon eucalyptus will increase its potency by a lot. It’s good for keeping many types of insects away and smells great in the home.


Keep essential oils away from children and pets!

Some people are very allergic to different types of oils on this list. If you have an allergic reaction to any of these essential oils, Discontinue use immediately. Side effects of allergic reactions include:

  • Nausea
  • Tight chest
  • Swollen throat/scratchy throat
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Can’t catch your breath
  • Rash

Depending on the oil, there may be more signs of an allergic reaction. Some of these can be very serious depending on the severity of the reaction. If you have any signs you should discontinue use and see a medical professional. We are in no way shape or form medical professionals and our advice is purely for informational purposes.

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