How to get rid of pests on your houseplants – the five steps

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Houseplants that are 'impossible to kill'

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Mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies, fungus gnats, aphids, scale and thrips are just a few of the bugs that want to make their home on your precious houseplants. It’s vital to control these pests as quickly as possible to prevent them from spreading all over and causing damage to your plants. chatted to the experts at Essential Living to find out the five ways to ward off these critters.

Isolate and clean

As soon as you identify pests on your plants, isolate the infested plant.

This will prevent it from spreading to your other houseplants.

You should also make sure you monitor your other surrounding plants closely for signs of indoor plant pests for three to four weeks.

Then, thoroughly clean the area where the plant was sitting using soapy water.

For extra precaution, you can also sterilise the area by rubbing it with alcohol. Just be careful not to touch your eyes whilst doing so.


Wash the infested plant with insecticidal soap, or you can use a mild liquid soap, as soap can kill houseplant bugs on contact.

The experts stressed that natural soaps are key here because some other soaps contain degreasers and detergents that can harm sensitive plants.

Try dabbing the soap lightly on your plant before washing fully to double-check it won’t cause any harm.


Next, use a cotton swab soaked in alcohol and dab it on the bugs to kill and remove them from the plant.

You should also wash the pot and plant tray with soapy water too.

This is important because houseplant pests can easily hide under the rim of the pot or tray without you noticing.

If you don’t get rid of these sneaky pests, they could spread and ruin your hard work.

Pest-control prevention

Your plants should be fully disinfected by now, but you’ll need to take a few more steps to make sure they can restore a healthy condition and avoid an infestation going forward.

The team at Essential Living recommended treating the plant with neem oil, which works as a long-term indoor plant pest control and prevention.

Alternatively, you could use horticultural oil or a hot pepper wax concentrate, which can protect up to two weeks per spray.

Trap them

For flying pests, try using yellow sticky fly traps to capture and kill tiny bugs.

This can prevent them from flying to nearby plants too, so keep your eyes peeled and trap them as you see them.

For a larger number of indoor flying bugs, use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up.

Getting them under control as quickly as possible before they spread even more is the best idea – just be careful not to vacuum your plants in the process!

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