How to Prevent Pests in Your Kitchen Pantry

Your pantries are always fully stocked with delicious food, although lately, you’ve found something unwanted in there, pests. Insects and other critters have somehow invaded your kitchen pantry. You have no idea how they got there, but you’ve got to get them out. How can you prevent pests in your kitchen pantry?

These methods will keep your custom pantries pest-free:
  • Start cleaning your pantry more often
  • Never put opened, unsealed, or unclipped food in the pantries
  • Use airtight storage containers for food
  • Clean up spills and messes as they happen
  • Add a few bay leaves to the pantry
In this article, you’ll learn more about which deplorable critters invade kitchen pantries the most. Keep reading for more detailed information on the above tips as well, so you can keep your custom pantries clean and bug-free!

Which Pests Might You Find in Your Pantry?

Kitchen Pantry System

Kitchen pantries are dark, room-temperature environments full of endless (well, to a bug) supplies of food. If you were an insect, you’d be in heaven.

Certain species of pests gravitate more towards pantries than others. Once you know them, you can identify them in your kitchen and quickly eradicate them. Here’s an overview.

Fruit Flies

The fruit fly earned its name because of its preference for decaying vegetables and fruits. This microscopic insect loves other sources of sugar as well. They’re also great at hiding. Fruit flies can sneak into your egg cartons or your grocery bags, where they’ll get in your house and reproduce, making your life harder.

Anything with wine, pepper, and salt will send fruit flies packing.


If the sight of a cockroach sends a shiver down your spine, then get to checking your pantries stat. Cockroaches will attach to boxes or bags or even crawl in through the drain or sewer. Then voila, they’re in your home, where they’ll hang around your wooden custom pantries.

Wood is a cockroaches favorite, so while they may not want to eat your food, their presence is still seriously unwanted.

Merchant Grain Beetles

Unlike the fruit fly, which does indeed enjoy fruit, the merchant grain beetle doesn’t care much for grains. They will however, happily eat any chocolate, cookies, macaroni, cake mix, or cereal you happen to have stored in your pantry.

You’ll know it’s a merchant grain beetle due to its brown body and long teeth-like appendages, of which the bug possesses six.

Flour Beetles

You may have never heard of a flour beetle, but you’ll want to familiarize yourself with it quickly. These beetles are very tiny, under five millimeters apiece. They have a brownish-red hue and love to eat pet food, cereal, and flour. Due to their size and color, it’s nearly impossible to detect them in anything but flour, especially if they start burrowing.

Unfortunately, with time, it becomes easy to tell if flour beetles have been hanging out in your flour. The food product will begin to stink, not to mention its color will change.

Grain Weevils

Wheat weevils, granary weevils, grain weevils, whatever you want to call them, they’re a nuisance. These pantry pests live for seeds, beans, and whole grains. They’ll burst through your plastic and paper packaging due to their lengthy noses.

Black pepper might be able to keep these brown or red bugs at bay, so keep some in your custom pantry if you suspect grain weevils.

Indian Meal Moths

If you do have a problem with pantry pests, more than likely it’s the Indian meal moth’s fault. These insects don’t discriminate much about what they’ll eat. Their wide appetite encompasses processed foods, cereals, nuts, dried fruits, and grains.

Indian meal moths, as a type of moth, are winged. Their colors include red and rust-like copper.


Another common culprit in many a kitchen is the humble ant. Ants can get in through your windows and door seals, and they tend to bring a lot of their friends with them. Once that happens, more and more ants can accumulate, making them hard to get rid of without an exterminator.

Pepper and talcum powder may be able to combat some ants, but with roughly 700 species, these solutions may not work for all.

How to Get Pests Out of Your Custom Pantries

You probably have the heebie-jeebies after reading about all those bugs, but it was necessary. Now, here are some expanded tips from the intro on how to get rid of these kitchen pantry critters for good.

Keep Your Pantries Clean

Woman Cleaning Kitchen

If you’re like most homeowners, you leave your custom pantries closed unless you’re using them, right? In the meantime, critters can get in there, reproduce, and cause quite a significant problem. At least every few months, you want to open your pantries wide, take out everything in there, and clean the shelves from top to bottom.

Don’t just use soap and water when cleaning. Fruit flies, one common insect found in kitchen pantries, hate any cleaners with vinegar in them.
Before you put your food back in, inspect each item for tears and other signs of packaging damage. That’s one common sign of infestation for the pantry pests that can break through packaging.

Don’t Leave Open Food in Your Pantries

Assorted Snacks

You’re always very cautious about which foods go in the pantry, but perhaps your spouse or kids aren’t. They leave open containers without clips, which is just inviting bugs to come in and invade your kitchen.

Make sure that anyone who opens food containers, packages, and bags have some means of sealing them back up. Clips work, as do twist ties.

Upgrade to Airtight Containers

Mason Jars Containing Food

What’s an even safer option is switching to glass, plastic, or metal containers with airtight lids. Remember, grain weevils can break your food packaging, so even if the top of the bag is clipped, if the weevil gets in through the bottom, then it doesn’t matter.

Labeling your foods or putting them in translucent jars and containers will allow you to easily identify everything in your pantry.

Clean up Messes Right Away

Spilled Wine

This is an obvious tip, but it’s one worth mentioning anyway. If you or another member of the family happens to spill something (and hey, it happens), these messes cannot be left to sit. Sure, the insect species on the list above will hide in your pantry, but they don’t have to live there exclusively.

They’ll go wherever the food is. If that’s right on your kitchen counter, then hey, it’s a lot easier for the bug to eat than having to go all the way to the pantry. Whether it’s a liquid mess (remember, fruit flies love sugar), crumbs, a few pieces of cereal, or some errant popcorn kernels, it’s got to go right away.

Use Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves

You can also try the bay leaf trick. Bay leaves are sizable leaves, with an aromatic flavor that makes them perfect for cooking garnishes. You can place a whole fresh leaf or add a few sprinkles of dried bay leaves to your custom pantry shelves.

If you use your pantries for storing grains especially, then add a package or two of bay leaves. Leave these packages open. Ants are especially averse to bay leaves, mostly because the smell is so strong to them.


In your kitchen pantries right now could live a multitude of pests. From ants to Indian meal moths, flour beetles, grain weevils, and more, these bugs will vigorously eat whatever are in your pantries. Sometimes you don’t even notice them until their numbers are huge.

You can prevent custom pantry pests from infesting your kitchen in a variety of easy ways. Switch to airtight containers with lids, clean up messes as they happen, and use a few bay leaves as a natural repellant. Good luck!