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  1. Blog
  2. How to get rid of woodlice in the home naturally
Add value to your home
28 July 2023

How to get rid of woodlice in the home naturally

Kimberley Taylor
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. What are woodlice?
  2. 2. What do woodlice eat?
  3. 3. The causes
  4. 4. How to get rid of woodlice naturally
  5. 5. Natural repellents
  6. 6. Amp up the oil
  7. 7. Traps and baits
  8. 8. Use your vacuum
  9. 9. Regularly clean
  10. 10. Avoid damp conditions
  11. 11. Lock up!
  12. 12. Preventing woodlice
  13. 13. Pest control
  14. 14. Summary: Keeping it NATURAL

Woodlice can be an unfortunate problem for homeowners in the UK. Though woodlice aren't necessarily harmful, they can be a real nuisance, especially if you find yourself stuck with an infestation.

Some people may be reluctant to use chemicals to kill woodlice in the house. They can be hazardous to other pets, children and just generally less pleasant for homeowners to deal with. Besides, woodlice are actually great friends in the garden, acting as living dustbins for your debris, rotting plants and natural clutter.

So how can you get rid of woodlice in the house naturally?

What are woodlice?

It's a common misconception that woodlice are insects. Though they may appear similar to insects, the woodlice species (also known as pill bugs) are small pests that belong to the crustacean family.

The one difference? You won't find woodlice swimming with their fellow crustaceans in the ocean. Despite being able to adapt to a variety of habitats, they thrive best in dark, damp places. A woodlouse's skin isn't fully waterproof, but this oval shaped crustacean does need a film of water covering their skin to survive.

What do woodlice eat?

Woodlice feed on decomposing plants and rotting natural matter, which is why the garden is the perfect home for a woodlouse. Woodlice are actually considered beneficial to gardeners as they help break down plant material into compost which improves soil quality.

Woodlice aren't harmful pests to humans or animals. They don't bite, transmit diseases or destroy household items. They can however be a nuisance if the infestation gets out of control.

The causes

If you find yourself stuck with a woodlice infestation, chances are it's caused by excessive moisture or very humid climates. In the winter or early spring months, they'll often enter homes to escape the unfriendly conditions. Because they feed on decaying matter in the home like mould, fungi and decomposing plant material, you'll usually find them in kitchens, bathrooms, wall crevices or along roof gutters.

How to get rid of woodlice naturally

Natural repellents

There are plenty of natural home remedies to get rid of woodlice, such as:

Citrus peels: Place citrus peels like oranges or lemons in areas where the woodlice are active. The citrusy scent will deter woodlice from infesting the space.

Coffee grounds: Similarly, the smell of coffee grounds will deter woodlice from the area.

Cucumber slices: Cucumbers contain a natural compound that will keep woodlice away from the targeted areas.

Bay leaves: These will also act as a repellent for the woodlice.

Spiders! These eight-legged creatures are a natural predator of the woodlouse and can be great protectors for your garden or outdoor porch area.

Amp up the oil

Essential oils are another great way to get rid of woodlice effectively. All three of these natural remedies are great in dealing with a woodlice infestation.

Peppermint oil: diluted peppermint oil acts as a great natural deterrent for woodlice.

Lavender oil: lavender oil mixed with water is another remedy that will keep woodlice away.

Tea tree oil: diluted tea tree oil works in a similar way to peppermint and lavender oil to deter the woodlice from the targeted areas. Dilute the oil with water and spray it in areas prone to woodlice infestations.

Vinegar paste: This is a simple home remedy made from vinegar and baking soda. Simply apply it to the infested areas, leave the mixture for a few hours and wipe away.

Traps and baits

As with any pest infestation, traps and baits are a great way to get rid of woodlice. Here are some really useful pest management techniques:

Damp newspaper: woodlice will seek shelter in moist newspaper which will make them easy to dispose of.

Potato trap: this is a handy home trap that can help a woodlice infestation. Cut the potato in half and place it in the infested area cut-side down. The woodlice will be attracted to the decaying food and moisture, after which you can get rid of the trap and the woodlice along with it.

Yeast bait: mix yeast, sugar and water together to create a paste. Pour the paste into shallow containers around the house and place them in areas of high infestation to attract them. The paste will then kill the visible woodlice.

Other possible baits include cut strawberries and grated cheese wrapped in newspaper. As long as the food parcels are placed in damp areas, this will attract the pill bugs, trap them and make them easy to get rid of.

Use your vacuum

The simplest way to get rid of woodlice is to use your vacuum. Vacuum the infestation and empty the contents of the vacuum bag into the garden or rubbish bin. You could also use a dust pan and brush to remove your infestation.

Regularly clean

As much as we don't want to hear it, regular cleaning is one of the best natural ways to get rid of woodlice naturally. Pay particular attention to areas woodlice are attracted to such as basements, bathrooms and kitchens. Cleaning these areas will remove debris and potential food sources for woodlice, so they'll be less inclined to nest there.

Because woodlice thrive in damp areas, it's important to reduce moisture levels in your home as well. One of the best ways to do that is using dehumidifiers. You should also fix any plumbing leaks as quickly as possible and make sure you have a good air flow in moisture-prone areas.

You should also remove any decaying wood, dead plant matter and rotting leaves from your surroundings as they can attract woodlice.

Avoid damp conditions

We've said it 100 times, but woodlice perform best in damp or moist conditions. That means you need to check for moist environments in your home, particularly damp wood. Rotting wood is a woodlouse's bread and butter (literally!) so make sure you're checking walls for damp, mould or mildew and deal with it ASAP.

Lock up!

Keeping your home well-sealed is one of the best ways to prevent woodlice from entering your home. That includes cracks around doors, windows, and any other outside areas.

You should also seal any gaps around outside drains, pipes and wires that lead into the home. And check any firewood you bring in from the garden that might bring in pill bugs and other insects.

If you have any other areas vulnerable to woodlice access such as a basement or crawlspace, make sure you keep it dry and well-ventilated to avoid a woodlice infestation.

Because the bathroom is a prime damp space for woodlice, you can prevent an infestation by placing a fine mesh screen over the vents or other openings that lead outside.

Preventing woodlice

Though having a good knowledge of what can kill visible woodlice is useful, it's also important to know how to prevent a woodlice infestation before it happens.

Many of the above methods can be used as preventative measures as well as removing an infestation. Inspect the damp areas of the home: damp basements, leaky pipes or other rooms with high humidity levels. Especially if these rooms have wooden floors or other organic matter that woodlice might be attracted to.

Next you should seal any points of access; walls and crevices around windows, door frames, outside walls and other open areas, especially if they're near wooden objects. Make sure to keep your gutters clear as well to avoid another easy point of access.

And to top it off, make sure you reduce debris and clutter like firewood and stacks of old newspapers. This discourages pill bugs from coming into the home.

Maintain dry conditions inside the house and in the garden. One of the best woodlice killers is pouring salt barriers across doorways as it causes them to dehydrate.

Pest control

Because woodlice aren't usually harmful and are useful to our natural ecosystems, most people try to avoid pest control methods if they can.

If the infestation is really bad, natural remedies may not be enough to get rid of house woodlice. In which case, your next port of call would be using pest control methods or contacting a pest control company.

These methods include commercial chemicals that kill the woodlice outright. They're usually either powders or chemical sprays that will get rid of the pests really quickly.

If the infestation is out of control, you may have to pay for a fumigation service, especially if the woodlice are hidden in crevices that are hard to reach without specialist equipment.

Summary: Keeping it NATURAL

If you've been paying attention to this blog post, you may have spotted an acronym in our home remedy section: keeping things NATURAL.

Natural repellants.

Amp up the oil.

Traps and baits.

Use your vacuum!

Regularly clean.

Avoid damp conditions.

Lock up!

Following these steps are a great foundation to both get rid of woodlice and prevent a woodlice infestation in your home. And remember: decaying matter like dead leaves and rotting wood need to be avoided at all costs. Clean out your gutters, get rid of decaying leaves, and above all: keep your house dry!!

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