How to Get Rid of Spiders – DIY Methods that Keep Houses Spider-Free
There’s just something about spiders that drains the blood out your face. These eight-legged creatures are hard enough to look at but having them inside your house where they can creep into your bed at night is a nightmare no one wants to have. That’s why you should learn how to get rid of spiders. Having a spider-free home is not only convenient. It also keeps the family safe.
Common Kinds of Spiders
In order to kill or repel spiders, you have to identify them first. You have to know what you’re dealing with so that you can tailor your removal methods to the specific spider inside your house.
To help you with that, here’s a short list of the 7 most common spiders – their identifiable traits, usual hiding spots and bite toxicity.
Common House Spiders
This first arachnid in our list is such a common house intruder that it ironically has the words “common” and “house” in its name.
The Common House Spider or American House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) is a small species that’s often seen inside human dwellings.
Female American house spiders can grow up to 6 millimeters in length while the males are small, about 4 millimeters or less. They both sport variations of the color brown. The males are often reddish while the female’s color is a mixture of pale gray and brown.
Additionally, the three most recognizable traits for this species are the dark and spotted Rorschach-like markings on their circular abdomens, the tiny brown stripes on their legs, and the longitudinal bands on the back of their cephalothorax.
These arachnids can live just about anywhere in the house, inside some furniture, holes and gaps and on the ceiling, creating those annoying cobwebs that catch on to your hair.
The common house spider is generally non-aggressive, but it’s not completely harmless either. You can touch its web, and you may not get any hostile response. It may also shy away or intentionally drop down to scurry off. However, grabbing the spider and squeezing it will force it to bite you. And even though it’s not that poisonous, the bite will still be painful, causing swelling and terrible headaches.
This unusually long arachnid isn’t just one species. It’s a whole family of spiders called the Pholcidae.
Daddy long-legs have different looks. Depending on the species, their body measurements can range from 2 to10 millimeters, and their legs can extend up to 50 millimeters in length. Their brown color can be bronzy, yellowish, grayish or clear. Their body shapes include round, cylindrical, elongated or peanut-shaped. And they have either chevron or spot markings on their backs.
Because of where they like to live, daddy long-legs are also commonly known as Cellar Spiders. They lurk inside dark cellars, caves, warehouses, roomy storage units and garages. If left alone, they can multiply and create a large population in one area. They can also prey on smaller species of spiders in the same living space.
Though the daddy long-legs look menacing with their signature overly extended limbs, they’re actually more fragile than they appear. They’re not known to bite people. That’s because their mouthparts are too weak to inject venom into the skin.
Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown Recluse Spider or the Loxosceles reclusa is a common spider that’s feared by a lot of people. It’s also tricky to classify since many of its known characteristics are often absent on some of its own kind. Nevertheless, here’s what you should know.
Loxosceles reclusa can be in many shades of brown, musty, light or caramel, but it has never strayed from that hue. It’s very small, sometimes no bigger than a penny, and it has an upside-down violin-shaped mark on its back. Additionally, the brown recluse only has 6 eyes compared to a spider’s usual eight.
This spider thrives in undisturbed and dry places. They prefer building disproportionate and disorderly webs inside woodpiles, rotting tree barks, dressers, sheds, garages, cardboard, cellars and even inside closets. However, they can also be found creeping their way into dangerous territories like on top of the bed.
Bite results from this arachnid can range from mild irritations to devastating bodily damages. Depending on the bite’s location and the amount of hemotoxic venom injected, the results can vary from small skin irritations to convulsions, fever and nausea to necrosis and permanent cell injury. Of course, all of these symptoms are not exclusive and can occur one after another.
To get a sense of how dangerous this spider is, here’s an interesting report about a famous singer who was bitten by a brown recluse and left with a gaping hole on her face.
The next arachnid in our list is the Wolf Spiders or Lycosidae. According to WolfSpiders.org, they got their name from the Greek word Lycos which means wolf. They’ve been labeled with this term because they were thought to hunt in packs just like wolves. However, it was later found out that these stealthy creatures are actually solitary. They hunt alone without using their webs.
Wolf spiders can grow from 0.4 to 1.38 inches long, not including the legs. They’re slightly hairy, and they sport different shades of brown with no distinct markings. They also have eight eyes, 4 small ones at the bottom, 2 large ones in the middle and 2 medium-sized ones at the top.
One tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with a wolf spider (a female wolf spider) is its unique way of caring for its young. It carries its eggs on its back, storing them inside a transparent egg sack. And when they hatch, the tiny spiders stay clinging to their mother’s back until they reach a certain age.
Wolf spiders live underground. They hide under stones or inside burrows and can survive in a wide range of environments, be it grassy meadows, sandy beaches, gardens or forests. Typically, a wolf spider would first stay in your yard before it invites itself inside the house looking for prey.
These spiders are not aggressive. A bite from them wouldn’t cause severe problems. You’ll just experience mild pain, swelling and itching for a while.
The Jumping Spiders or Salticidae are the largest family of spiders on earth, and they are undoubtedly one of the most colorful arachnids out there. Species from this family sport such a wide range of colors, shades and sizes that some of them almost look cute. It’s no wonder that a boatload of internet memes are dedicated to them.
The most apparent characteristic of this arachnid is its eponym, the habit of jumping from one place to another. It does this with its very powerful hind legs. And using its web as a bungee cord, it can leap 50 times its own body length.
The jumping spider’s other identifiable characteristics have something to do with its feet, face and eyes. Its feet follow a crablike formation. The larger ones are positioned at the front while the smaller ones are at the back. It also has a flat and box shaped face which holds 4 eyes. The eyes are arranged in a way that 2 large ones rest in the middle while 2 medium-sized ones stay on each side. On top of the spider’s head are 4 more eyes. These ones are smaller, and they’re tucked in each corner of the square head.
These arachnids can live in a wide variety of environments like forests, deserts and grass lands, but they typically prefer to stay outdoors.
A bite from this creature doesn’t do much. It doesn’t have a lethal venom. So aside from an irritated skin, some pain and itching, you’ll be fine. That is, if you’re not allergic to it.
The Hobo Spider or the Funnel-Web Spider comes from the species Agrestis. Agrestis is a Latin word, and often, it’s misinterpreted as “aggressive”, labeling the spider hostile even though its true meaning is really “in the fields”.
Hobo spiders come in brown, which makes them part of the long list of arachnids that appear in the same color. However, they do have a few traits that can help you set them apart from the others.
First off, these arachnids are fast runners. They can run across the floor if they feel threatened. They’re also quite big, growing up to 2 inches in length. They have a herringbone or chevron pattern on their abdomen. And they have two dark longitudinal lines on their cephalothorax which can sometimes be blurred out and become Rorschach-like.
There are a lot of behavioral clues from this spider’s names. They’re called hobo spiders because they’re solitary. They dwell alone in dark areas of the house, along the foundations and underneath rocks, woodpiles and flower beds. Additionally, they’re called “funnel-web spiders” because they build funnel-like structures from their webs and wait the bottom to catch their prey.
Even though it’s heavily debated on, the US has labeled the funnel-web spiders as dangerous. This is due to a published toxicology study that reported about the spiders’ tendency to cause legions after a controlled biting experiment. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention even claims that the hobo spider causes necrosis without sufficient evidence backing them up.
In any case, a bite from a hobo spider isn’t easy. You won’t die, but you’ll do get headaches, hardened skin, a red welt, pain, temporary memory loss, vision impairment and fatigue.
Lastly, we have one of the most sensationalized arachnids out there. The Black Widow or (Latrodectus) is a group of spiders that’s heavily embedded into today’s pop culture despite being incredibly dangerous. There’s even a superhero named after them.
Black widows are small, only measuring up to 10 millimeters in size. But they’re famous for their ominous appearance, a jet black body and a bright red mark on the abdomen that’s oftentimes (but not always) shaped like an hourglass.
Aside from the traits mentioned above, there are black widow species that are not completely black. The Latrodectus geometricus, for example, is light brown with black stripes while the Latrodectus tredecimguttatus has yellow bordered red spots on its back.
Latrodectus are often found inside human houses. They’re solitary, and they thrive in dark places like dimly lit rooms, attics, basements and garages. They like holes, wood piles and crevices, and they can get very comfortable inside dressers, closets and even shoes.
Contrary to popular belief, black widows are neither aggressive nor deadly. They only bite when they need to defend themselves. And so far, only a Mediterranean species has been fatal. The rest of the Latrodectus have seriously painful and uncomfortable bites, but deaths caused by them are rare.
In fact, according to an interview done by Live Science, there simply aren’t enough cases to label black widows as killers. Back in 2013, a total of 1,866 cases of bites were reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, but none of them died and only 14 of them had severe symptoms. Those severe symptoms are muscle pain, a rapid heartbeat, muscle spasms, extreme sweating in some regions of the body and abdominal cramps.
How to Get Rid of Spiders
Now that you know more about the spiders that might try to creep into your house, here are some of the most effective ways to either repel or kill them.
Seal up your home
Play on the defensive. Since spiders are drawn to houses looking for prey and dark secluded places to dwell in, sealing them up is one of the best options out there.
Start the sealing process by inspecting your home’s foundations and walls. Then patch up the cracks and holes with caulk. Cover the air vents, sun roofs and chimney with fine screens, and install screens on your windows too. These will keep the house protected even if you prefer to have the windows open most of the time. Lastly, attach cinch door seals at the bottom of your doors so that no spider can use that bottom gap as an entry route.
Keep a tidy house
In your quest in learning how to get rid of spiders, you have to remember that even the most mundane and normal things can be used against these arachnids.
So aside from sealing your home, you should also focus on reducing clutter. Garbage, leftover food, crumbs as well as disorganized, old and unclean objects that are bunched together provide spiders a thriving place to live in. Not only does this predicament give them great hiding spots, they’ll also have plenty of food with other pests like ants and roaches coming in.
You can avoid all of this through regular vacuuming, cleaning and organizing. Vacuum your rug regularly to get rid of all the food crumbs. Wipe down your furniture once a week to keep the dust and grime out. Avoid leaving dirty dishes on the sink. Buy storage containers for organizing your things, or donate/ sell rarely used clothes, furniture and other stuff. And finally, get rid of other pests like roaches.
According to Natural Living Ideas, to keep the spiders out of your home, consider using cedar wood. Cedar has a reputation for deterring a wide variety of insects because of its natural acids. In fact, Clemson University from South Carolina mentioned cedar oil as one of the many less toxic alternatives to store-bought insecticides.
With this, think about buying closets, dressers, cupboards and other furniture made from cedar. You can also keep cedar wood shavings, mulch or blocks inside dark rooms and rarely used storage spaces.
Trim the greens
Vegetation around your house means plenty of homes for insects. And that leads to a lot of spiders moving in to prey on them. Unfortunately for us, leaves, vines and branches that have reached the walls of our homes might eventually lead those spiders indoors.
So yank out the vines, trim the bushes and cut down some tree branches from time to time. You should also clear out the mulch around your house’s perimeter and keep the greens about 1 to 2 feet away from the walls.
Keep the lights off
Outdoor and indoor lights, garden lights and even street lights don’t actually attract insects and arachnids. Instead, they disorient the insects and cause them to hover towards the light in the midst of the confusion. And when there are insects flocking near a light source, opportunistic spiders looking for prey are bound to appear. Most of them may prefer to live in the dark, but there are species that don’t mind being near literal brightness to catch their food.
You can stop this chain of events by doing a few things. First, you can enforce a schedule on using the outdoor lights. A few hours a night should be fine. Turning them off after midnight, for example, would be practical since nobody’s going to use them anyway.
Another thing you can do is to cover your windows with opaque blinds or thick curtains to block the light from escaping.
Lastly, try lowlighting or sodium vapor lights. Flying insects are said to ignore these. And less of them means less spiders to deal with.
For a more detailed take on this subject, check out our post here.
Reduce the moisture in your home
Everyone loves water, including pests. Water is such a precious resource that it attracts house pests like roaches, hornets, ants and termites just to name a few. And spiders are no different. By carelessly neglecting the moisture and humidity level of your home, both insect prey and spiders can flock into your living space.
To prevent this from happening, buy a dehumidifier. Use it so that the air inside the house isn’t saturated with water. Open your bathroom windows just slightly when you take a shower. Keep the sinks dry, and regularly clean your basement and crawl space. You should also fix leaking pipes, shower heads and faucets. And if possible, wrap those pipes with insulation to reduce the condensation that forms around them.
Make a vinegar spray
Vinegar can come in handy when it comes to repelling spiders. According to SF Gate's Home Guides, it can get rid of pests because of its natural acidity. Insects, in particular, are said to hate the vinegar’s strong odor and would avoid making contact with it.
To make this spray, here’s a quick recipe from Tips Bulletin. All you have to do is combine 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1 cup pepper and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. Mix them in a spray bottle, and you’re done.
For great results, use this spray on known hiding spots like window sills, cracks and holes. And if you don’t have apple cider vinegar in your kitchen, you can use white vinegar as a substitute.
Mix and match essential oils
Essential oils are one of the best natural pest treatments out there. They capture all the beneficial qualities of a particular plant in their most concentrated form. Additionally, spiders smell and taste through their feet, so stepping on essential oils makes them recoil back. Think of it as the equivalent of humans eating or smelling something incredibly nasty.
Some of the best essential oils that fight against arachnids are tea tree, citrus, cedar, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus and lavender. To use them, just add a couple of drops of those oils in a spray bottle that’s filled with water. Experiment with the effects by combining several oils together. You can also soak cotton balls and stuff them inside cracks and holes to keep the spiders out.
Just be careful with using this method when you have pets and children around. Designate a “no entry treatment zone” inside the house and block everyone from entering it until the spiders have been duly controlled.
Use spider-specific insecticides
If you find mixing oils a little tedious, then a straight-up store-bought solution is what you should focus on. However, with the massive array of insecticides out there, it’s easy to get confused and buy the wrong one. So if you’re not keen on going back and forth to your local hardware store to get the right sprays, we recommend buying these:
Our first pick is the Terro T2302 Spider Killer Aerosol Spray. We’ve tested this out personally. And with the brand’s effectiveness against ant infestations, it should work against spiders too.
You can use Terro indoors and outdoors, against common arachnids like hobo spiders. It kills right on contact, but it also leaves residual control up to 6 weeks max. So you won’t have to keep spraying corners all the time. The spray also kills roaches, ticks, bedbugs, scorpions and crickets. With this, you won’t have to go through the trouble of buying other kinds of pesticides.
But if you’re looking for a long-term solution, try the Wet & Forget 803064 Miss Muffet's Revenge Spider Killer. This spray is designed to provide a barrier between your house and the spiders, providing residual control for a whopping 12 months with just one application.
Keep some tobacco around
Somtimes, learning how to get rid of spiders means using a lot of unconventional materials. In this case, it's that packet of cigarettes lying around the house.
Tobacco is rich in lectin, an insecticidal protein that’s used by a lot of plants in their defense against pests. It’s so effective that it’s even an important ingredient in many commercial insecticides.
But as a DIY spider killer or repellent, what you should just do is dismantle some cigars to make a spray. Soak the tobacco in some water and vinegar, and then spray the mixture into the spider-infested corners of the house.
Use dish soap
Unlike a lot of the methods we’ve mentioned, dish soap doesn’t repel spiders. It down right kills them on contact.
Dish soap is lethal to both insects and arachnids. That’s because it’s a surfactant, an agent that decreases the surface tension between the water and anything it hits. As it does this, it makes the water wet enough to penetrate through any grease or oil barrier.
So combining a generous amount of dish soap and water and spraying them unto unsuspecting spiders damages the arachnids’ thin waxy coating on their exoskeletons and allows the water to enter their bodies. That and the toxic effects of soap will kill them.
Call pest control
Calling for pest control to save the day is usually done when the infestation is particularly bad. However, the rule of thumb is to call the professionals when it comes to deadly spiders. Yes, you can deal with common house spiders, jumping spiders and a bunch of daddy long-legs, but you should never take chances with brown recluse spiders and black widows, especially if children, the elderly or pets live with you.
Spiders are a regular part of our nightmares because of their weird multiple eyes and hairy eight legs. Having them outside is one thing, but catching them creeping around the house and lurking along the halls is horrifying. So the next time you come face to face with this creepy crawly, you’re ready to end its reign of terror with this DIY guide on how to get rid of spiders.