Have you ever gotten bugs, rodents, or other pests in your home? Instead of waiting to take defensive action once a pest has entered your home, go on offense to prevent pest problems before they occur. There are several ways to eliminate conditions both inside and outside your home that appeal to pests, which should reduce the chance of them ever bothering you.

Here are tips to keep pests out of the house.

Seal Doors and Windows

Pests can wiggle through tiny cracks and gaps, so you should regularly inspect and repair any warped or broken doors and windows, as well as those that simply don’t fit well. Also, promptly repair any rips or tears in screens. Use screen mesh sizes with at least 200 holes per square inch; these are commonly available at home and hardware stores.

Check for Cracks and Gaps

Doors and windows aren’t the only places that can have tiny openings. Routinely inspect the entire exterior of your home for other cracks, crevices, and gaps through which pests could enter. Check for foundation cracks, loose siding, missing roof shingles, and gaps around utility lines, including pipes, electric wiring, and cable wiring. Seal any openings with copper mesh, coarse steel wool, sheet metal, or mortar. Expanding caulk is not ideal to use because many pests can chew through it.

Properly Dispose of Trash and Litter

Most people know that household garbage can attract pests, such as ants, roaches, and rodents. But yard waste also can draw in pests that might see it either as a nest or a food source. Make sure that all of your trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and clean the cans and area where they sit regularly to remove debris and spills on which pests can feed. Plus, keep yards, patios, decks, and garages free of leaf litter, plant clippings, and standing water, all of which can provide ideal environments for pests to create a home.

Rinse Recyclables

Just like with trash, it is preferable to store recyclables in a bin that has a tight-fitting lid. However, some municipalities provide open bins to their residents. If this is the case for you, thoroughly rinse all the food from your recyclables before putting them in the bin. Taking a little extra time to do this should keep your bin pest-free. And if possible, store the bin outside rather than in your garage or home.

Use the Right Light Bulbs

To reduce flying insects around doors and windows, replace standard mercury vapor lights with high-pressure sodium vapor or halogen lights. Bulbs that have pink, yellow, or orange tints will be least attractive to the insects. You also might want to change the location of your light if possible. While it is common to place lights on exterior walls near doors, it is better to position the light farther away from your house on a pole. This will keep most of the insects by the pole and not your house. Just make sure the light still reaches the door to keep it illuminated for safety purposes.