Dealing with an insect problem? As a seasoned professional in the field of pest control, I understand the convenience of addressing a variety of pests with a single solution. That’s where general-use insecticides come in — versatile formulations that combat various insect species, effectively safeguarding your home from these unwanted invaders.
Below, I delve into the array of home insecticides, guiding you through the essential factors to weigh when selecting the right one. This guide provides an understanding of their mechanisms, their effectiveness, and the fundamental principles of application.
Stay with me as I discuss everything you need to know to pick the best insecticide for your home.
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What Are Different Types of Insecticides for Your Home?
There are four basic types of insecticide formulations on the market:
- Ready-mixed sprays
- Insecticide dusts
Each of these different types of insecticide have the potential to be the best for your home. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
A concentrate is a type of insecticide that comes in liquid or powder form. As the name suggests, these bottles of insect killer contain highly concentrated formulations of insecticide that you mix with water before use.
The advantage of concentrate is that you get a lot more for your money. The small bottle shown contains 16 ounces of concentrate, which makes 16 gallons of insecticide spray.
One bottle costs as much as one or two gallons of ready-mixed sprays. By supplying your own water and pesticide sprayer, you save a ton of money in the long run. These products are also very fast-acting.
You apply most bug spray insect killer products in the form they are in — hence they are called ready-mixed or ready-to-use. No mixing, measuring, or math required.
Many ready-mixed products also come with their own spraying wands, while others are poured right into a separate spray bottle or pump sprayer. Though these ready-mixed sprays are slightly more expensive (especially pet-friendly bug sprays), they save you the hassle of mixing the insecticide to the proper concentration.
Some general insecticides on the market come in the form of very fine, dusty powder. These insecticide dusts are either all-natural, or they contain a powerful synthetic bug killer insecticide.
The natural powders, like diatomaceous earth, work by damaging the insects’ exoskeletons as they roam around your home. On the other hand, dust laced with insecticides, rapidly attacks the insect’s nervous system and quickly kills any insect that wanders into the area.
Most dusts are best applied with “bellow duster”. I recommend wearing a mask while applying them to avoid inhaling any particles. The bottle of CimeXa shown above is applied straight from the bottle. In my experience, it works against any crawling bug type, such as fleas, ants, spiders, caterpillars, cockroaches, and silverfish.
Though there are a small number of “general-use” insect baits on the market, most are formulated to target a specific species or group of insects, such as roaches.
Baits work by hiding an insecticide inside of a tasty treat. Insects find the bait, eat it, and quickly perish. There are few general-use baits on the market simply because insects prefer different food sources.
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How to Choose the Right General Insecticide for Your Home
There are several important considerations homeowners should make before going all-in on one product. Here are the most important questions you should ask yourself before purchasing:
Where Is Your Insect Problem?
Certain insecticides are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Outdoor pesticides are often much stronger and can have a strong odor.
If you use an outdoor-rated insecticide inside your house, you risk exposing your family and pets to toxic fumes or odors that irritate the nose, mouth, throat, or lungs. So, be sure that the insecticide you choose is appropriate for where you are planning to apply it.
Are There Any Sensitive Animals Or Ecosystems You Need To Protect?
Certain pesticides can have off-target effects on other animals and ecosystems. In other words, you need to check if the pesticide you want to use will be dangerous to your pets or the wild organisms that visit your yard.
For instance, some insecticides have very high aquatic toxicity — killing everything from fish to tiny invertebrates in aquatic ecosystems. If you live near a river, drainage, or other body of water, be mindful of the toxicity of the active ingredients in your home pest control products.
If you have cats in the house, avoid using permethrin. It’s highly toxic to cats, but not to dogs or humans.
Does the Product Label Match Your Problem and Intended Application Method?
I’ve also explained how different products may target different insects. Application methods are another factor. If you plan to spray your basement, for example, you shouldn’t select insecticide dust that is intended for application without water. Mixing dust with water ruins the product, and it will not work, so areas prone to moisture are not ideal.
What are The Best Insecticides for General Home Use?
The best insecticides for general home use vary from home to home, as each home has different pest issues and levels of severity.
Below, I break down seven of the best choices for general-use insecticides to employ in your DIY pest control battle:
1. Bifen IT (Best Overall Value)
Bifen IT is a great general insecticide. The active ingredient in Bifen IT is bifenthrin, one of the most effective and heavily-studied insecticides on the market.
- Kills: Spiders, Mosquitoes, Cockroaches, Ticks, Fleas, Pillbugs, Chinch Bugs, Earwigs, Millipedes, and Termites (over 75 species total)
- Type: Concentrate
- Uses: Indoor/Outdoor (excluding fruit and vegetable Gardens)
- Toxicity: Generally safe for people and pets after dry (about 30–60 minutes). Toxic to aquatic ecosystems, bees, and non-target insects.
Bifenthrin is effective against almost all insects. The Bifen IT label recommends spraying cracks, crevices, baseboards, and any other entry points that insects use. The product works as both an insecticide and a repellent — killing insects quickly enough that they cannot show their friends the way into your home.
2. Suspend SC (Great for Long Lasting Killing Power)
In general, deltamethrin is considered one of the most powerful synthetic pyrethroid insecticides on the market. Plus, it is slightly less toxic than bifenthrin, so its uses are less restricted indoors.
- Kills: Ants, Beetles, Fleas, Gnats, Midges, Centipedes, Millipedes, Silverfish, Bees, Fleas, Ticks, Flies, Cockroaches, Crickets, Moths, Lice, Mosquitoes, Scorpions, Sowbugs, Spiders, Yellowjackets, Wasps, and more
- Type: Concentrate
- Uses: Indoor/Outdoor (excluding Fruit + Vegetable Gardens)
- Toxicity: Generally safe for people and pets after dry (about 30 minutes). Very toxic to aquatic ecosystems, bees, and non-target insects.
Suspend SC uses the synthetic pyrethroid deltamethrin as an active ingredient. This product is safe for pets and families after it has dried — though it will harm bees, non-target insects, and aquatic wildlife if not used carefully.
Suspend SC is labeled for use “in and around residential buildings including kitchens and food/feed handling establishments.” This means that Suspend SC can be used pretty much anywhere, as long as you let it dry before using the area.
As a professional exterminator, I often rotate between Bifen IT and Suspend SC. Alternating between Bifen IT and Suspend SC on a monthly (or bi-monthly) basis ensures the insects don’t become resistant to either insecticide.
4. Taurus SC (Best for Outdoor Use Only)
Taurus SC’s active ingredient is fipronil. Fipronil is a phenylpyrazole insecticide, first developed when insects started becoming resistant to pyrethroid insecticides.
- Kills: Slightly fewer species but best-in-class for bugs like Ants, Termites, Ticks, Crickets, Cockroaches, and Pillbugs.
- Type: Concentrate
- Uses: Outdoor only (the ONLY indoor use is for termites or carpenter ants sprayed directly into wall voids — not safe in living areas)
- Toxicity: Slightly more toxic to pets and humans, no direct contact. Incredibly toxic to aquatic wildlife, bees, and non-target insects.
Fipronil is a non-repellent insecticide. Social insects like ants and termites can cover themselves in the product, and carry it back to the colony. This insecticide typically causes the entire colony to die off in a relatively short amount of time.
The downside to Taurus SC is that it is incredibly toxic. Studies have shown that fipronil is toxic to almost all non-target species, and can take years to break down in the soil. That means you shouldn’t use it on flowers that bees frequent or near any body of water.
The upside is that Taurus SC is extremely good at getting rid of ants, termites, cockroaches, and wasps — all species that live socially. This product is great at curbing their populations before they come inside.
5. Essentria IC3 (Best Natural/Safe Insecticide)
The main benefit of an insecticide like this is it’s natural ingredients. It’s much less toxic than others. Essentria IC3 can be used near waterways since it has almost no effect on aquatic organisms — unlike most synthetic pesticides.
- Kills: Aphids, Ants, Bees, Centipedes, Cockroaches, Crickets, Beetles, Firebrats, Fleas, Mites, Millipedes, Silverfish, Sowbugs, Spiders, Ticks, Wasps, and more
- Type: Concentrate
- Uses: Indoor/Outdoor
- Toxicity: Safe around family and pets, as well as aquatic ecosystems. Be careful, though, this product still may harm bees and other non-target insects.
Essentria IC3 uses botanical active ingredients such as rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and geraniol. Essentria IC3 has proven effective when applied directly to insects, though in the field essential oils are not as powerful as synthetic insecticides.
The only real downside I’ve found to Essentria IC3 is that it can have a very strong odor. While the newest formula of the product does contain substances to mitigate the strong odor, people with asthma or those sensitive to strong smells may become irritated.
6. CimeXa (Best Insecticide Dust)
CimeXa works as a desiccant that dries out insects that come in contact with the powder. The active ingredient, silicon dioxide, sticks to the exoskeleton and dehydrates the insect.
- Kills: Ants, Cockroaches, Firebrats, Silverfish, Spiders, Mites, Bed Bugs, Lice, Fleas, Ticks, Beetles, Moths, Termites, and most crawling insects
- Type: Dust
- Uses: Mostly Indoor (though dry outbuildings may also be treated)
- Toxicity: Very low if used as directed, though an irritant if inhaled
Silicone dioxide is minimally toxic to most mammals, though you should still avoid getting it on yourself or pets directly. The great thing about insecticide dusts like CimeXa is that they can last up to 10 years if properly applied in areas with low-moisture conditions.
Though you should not directly dust areas that your pets or family will be using, this is a great way to protect attics, crawlspaces, and other areas where insects gain entry into your home.
7. Baits (Best for Specific Insects)
There is really no “one-size-fits-all” approach to baits. Baits are formulated to attract specific insects, so they often fail to eliminate more than one insect pest at a time.
- Kills: Ants, Cockroaches, Silverfish, Spiders, Mites, Fleas, Ticks, Slugs, and most other crawling insects
- Type: Combination
- Uses: Mostly Indoor (and dry-places outside)
- Toxicity: Very Low if placed properly, out of the way of curious pets and children
For insects that share a nest or hiding place, baits are extremely effective. For ant and cockroach infestations, this makes baits a must-have as part of your elimination strategy. Over the years, I discovered that, for most minor to moderate pest issues, a combination of foggers and baits is all you need for home pest control.
How Do You Apply Insecticides?
Though you should always follow the directions on the product label, I can give you a few general tips to help you apply insecticide more effectively:
Start Where You See the Most Insects
It might sound like common sense, but this is one reason many DIY exterminations go poorly. Think like an insect — cover every crack, crevice, and pathway you would take if you were trying to invade your home. If you know where the nest or colony is, apply insecticide directly to that area. This approach gives you the best chance of ending your infestation.
Apply Dust into Wall Voids, Cracks, and Crevices
Think of insecticide dust as a barrier. Though they don’t instantly kill insects, the insects that walk through them all eventually die. Apply dust in any cracks, crevices, or wall voids that you have access to. If you dust properly, no insect should be able to enter your home without first walking through the dust.
Thoroughly Spray Where Dust Cannot Go
You don’t want dust covering the inside of your home. Thankfully, you know all about sprays now. Spray around foundations, along window seals, around door frames, and any other places where insects squeeze their way into your home. Some sprays work directly in living spaces, and these spaces are safe to enter once the spray dries.
Use Baits and Sprays Separately
Most insect sprays contain insecticides that are also insect repellants. If you use bait in the same areas that you have sprayed, most insects will avoid those areas and few will take the bait. In general, you place baits in areas where it’s unsafe to use a spray. Many baits come in family- and pet-safe containers that only insects can access.
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
You may not get it right on your first application of an insecticide. Don’t give up. Instead, analyze where you went wrong and try again. Maybe you selected the wrong insecticide, or maybe you didn’t cover the right areas. Figure out what happened, develop a new strategy, and try again. Trial and error is the best way to find the insect control method that works perfectly for your situation.
Final Thoughts About the Best Insecticide for Your Home
A reliable general-use insecticide makes all the difference in maintaining a pest-free home. These versatile solutions offer effective protection against a variety of common invaders, from cockroaches to fruit flies.
By selecting the right product for your needs, following safety guidelines, and considering natural alternatives, you can confidently create a pest-free environment and enjoy the comfort of your home without these unwanted guests.
FAQs About Home Insecticides
What types of pests can a general-use insecticide control?
General-use insecticides are formulated to target a wide range of pests, including cockroaches, ants, crickets, stinkbugs, and more. Their versatile nature makes them an effective solution for various common household invaders.
Are general-use insecticides safe for indoor use?
Yes, most general-use insecticides are designed for indoor application. However, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage and precautions. Keep pets and children away from treated areas until they’re safe.
Can I apply a general-use insecticide outdoors as well?
While general-use insecticides are primarily for indoor use, some formulations work in outdoor spaces around the perimeter of your home to create a barrier against pests. Make sure to choose a product specifically labeled for outdoor use if you intend to apply it outside.
How do I choose the right general-use insecticide for my home?
Consider the specific pests you’re dealing with and select an insecticide that lists them on its label. Look for reputable brands and products that have positive user reviews. Additionally, consider whether you prefer a liquid, spray, powder, or fogger formulation based on your convenience and the area you need to treat.
How often should I apply general-use insecticides?
The frequency of application depends on the product’s residual effectiveness, the severity of the infestation, and the targeted pests. Some insecticides provide long-lasting protection, while others may require more frequent treatments. Always refer to the product label for guidance on reapplication intervals.
Can general-use insecticides be used as a preventive measure?
Absolutely, general-use insecticides can serve as a preventive measure by creating a protective barrier against potential infestations. Regular treatments, especially during peak pest seasons, can help maintain a pest-free environment.
Is professional pest control a better option than using general-use insecticides?
Professional pest control services can offer tailored solutions and expertise, especially for severe infestations or hard-to-reach areas. While general-use insecticides are suitable for minor infestations, consider seeking professional help if the problem persists or if you’re dealing with complex pest issues.