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The One Thing in Your Spice Cabinet That Can Keep Bugs Away, Experts Say

This everyday spice smells great and is a powerful repellent of multiple unwanted visitors.

Keeping unwanted visitors out of your home can be a challenge. Many bug repellents have harsh chemicals or strong scents that you don't want lurking around your home. Thankfully, experts say that there might be a harmless solution to your bug problem in your spice cabinet. Read on to find out which spice works as a natural bug repellant, and for signs that you're already dealing with an infestation, If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs.

Cinnamon can repel bugs.

Cinnamon powder and sticks on wooden table
amphaiwan / Shutterstock

Put away your sticky bug traps and stop spending money on bug repellent spray. Experts say cinnamon can keep a variety of different creepy crawlers away. "Ground cinnamon is a natural repellent to carpenter ants and other bugs that may roam the kitchen," says pest control expert Jordan Foster.

Cinnamon is considered a natural bug repellent because "insects and other pests don't like the smell of cinnamon, nor are they fond of its powdered texture," explains pest control expert Natalie Barrett. "You can use cinnamon on any indoor or outdoor space as protection against pest infestations." Cinnamon doesn't only scare away ants, but also cockroaches, spiders, fruit flies, rats, wasps, earwigs, silverfish, mosquitoes, and even bed bugs, according to Barrett. And for a swarm that could be coming your way, If You See This in Your Yard, Prepare for a Bug Invasion, USDA Says.

You can use cinnamon in multiple ways.

Essential oils

Foster suggests sprinkling some cinnamon around the kitchen to prevent cockroaches from breeding. President of WikiLawn Lawn Care Dan Bailey recommends using cinnamon sticks as opposed to ground cinnamon "because the sticks have a higher concentration of oil and thus a stronger scent."

Bailey adds that if you want to "ramp up the effectiveness, you can steep your sticks in the microwave with about a tablespoon of water. Heat for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Many insects have a very pronounced sense of smell, and the sharp scent of cinnamon is a big deterrent." If you don't want to have raw cinnamon lying around your home, you can also try cinnamon essential oils or strongly scented candles. And for dreaded insects making a big return, These Awful Bugs You Forgot About May Soon Come Back, Exterminators Warn.

Cinnamon also contains a chemical found in insect repellent.

cinnamon sticks

Not only do bugs dislike the smell of cinnamon, but the spice also contains eugenol, a chemical compound commonly found in other insect repellents. "Eugenol is a naturally occurring aromatic compound derived primarily from cloves and used as a flavoring agent. As a pesticide, it has many uses," per the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. "The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] allowed eugenol to be used as an active ingredient in minimum risk pesticides because of its long history of human exposure and safe use as a food ingredient." Eugenol is also found in cloves, nutmeg, and basil. And for more useful information delivered straight from your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

While cinnamon is helpful, it's not a permanent solution.

exterminator spraying window
Shutterstock / hedgehog94

Putting out cinnamon could be a good trick to help keep the bugs at bay until you find a more permanent solution, but you shouldn't lean on it forever. Professional cleaner Nick Wilkesmann said that while cinnamon will keep the bugs away from certain areas, they'll likely migrate to another part of the home devoid of the repellent smell. "It's simply not practical to put cinnamon everywhere," he points out. If you're experiencing a significant insect issue, you should call an exterminator. And for bugs that are soon emerging in droves, If You Live Here, Prepare for a Major Bug Infestation, Expert Warns.

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