You want to get pests out of the house without harming yourself, but pesticides can be toxic. Bombs release pesticide sprays into the air for several minutes in aerosol form, which then end up on floors, counters and other surfaces. Proper preparation before bombing limits cleanup afterward.
You don't necessarily need to do a ton of clean-up after using a bomb, or fogger, as they're also called. The pesticide residue in foggers loses most of its power once dry. The first step in ensuring a clean house after using a bomb is to read the bomb's package instructions. Those provide information on covering surfaces where food is prepared and eaten, covering fish tanks, and removing pet bowls and plants before bombing begins. Food items should be put in cupboards or refrigerators and toys stored away or removed from the house. If a member of your household has a respiratory condition and you're worried about a bedspread, for example, put it in a sealed plastic bag. Don't use more bombs than necessary. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, you need no more than 1 ounce of product for every 1,000 cubic feet of living space.
Clear the Air
Leave your house after the bomb is activated for the time its instructions recommend, which is typically between two to four hours. Upon your return, throw open the windows to clean the air. Staying in the house to clean without ventilating it can make you and your family sick, particularly anyone with a respiratory illness. When you have ventilated the rooms and there are no areas still wet from pesticide, uncover the covered surfaces.
Focus on Eating Surfaces
The bomb's instructions will tell you what to focus on cleaning afterward. Typically, you should at least clean food preparation and eating surfaces with soapy, warm water. You can use soap and water at the strength you normally use for household cleaning chores, such as 4 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap per gallon on water. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation also recommends wiping down other exposed surfaces, but particularly floors and other surfaces children tend to come into contact with. Cleaning inside drawers and closets isn't necessary, because foggers can't penetrate those spaces. You'll want to vacuum carpets and sweep floors and other areas where you find dead insects.
To avoid any use of chemicals to kills pests, it's best to prevent them from gaining access to your home. Inspect your home indoors and out, looking for pests and their possible entry points, such as torn screens or missing cement. Then fix all of those, even the smallest holes, with the proper material, such as mesh, cement or caulking. Remove or repair sources of water, including leaky hoses and faucets. And always wipe up and sweep away food crumbs and other household debris that attracts pests. The National Pesticide Information Center also recommends keeping the relative humidity in homes under 60 percent, with dehumidifiers, ventilation or air conditioning.
- Michigan State University Extension: Selection and Use of Household Insecticides, If Needed
- California Department of Pesticide Regulation:Pesticide Info -- Don’t Drop the ‘Bomb’ Without Safety Check
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Limitations of Home Insect Foggers (“Bug Bombs”)
- Washington State Department of Health: Pesticide Safety -- Bug Bombs -- Overkill Can Be Dangerous
- National Pesticide Information Center: Household IPM
- Photo Credit sUs_angel/iStock/Getty Images
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