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How To Keep Bugs Out of Plastic Storage Bins

Plastic Storage Bins

I might have been more excited than the kids to find out that our new home had an attic. It meant that I finally had a place to store away things that we didn’t use regularly but were too good to throw away.

So, we stored away belonging such as seasonal clothes, holiday decorations, old books, memorabilia, and old yet important stuff in the attic as soon as we moved into our new home.

Recently, a bug crawled out when I opened the lid of one of the storage bins in the attic. I hurried down screaming, and all I could think about was the things of value we had in there.

So, we had to spring into action and get all the bugs out of the attic, and that’s precisely what we did over the next couple of days.

Luckily, we found many ways to keep bugs out of plastic storage bins, including preventing and repelling methods. Then it was only a matter of routine inspections and maintenance. We had an attic full of clean, pest-free storage boxes a few weeks later.


Most attics and basements are perfect environments for bugs to thrive in. We were late to realize everything we had done wrong, so we had a lot of work. Luckily, we caught them before turning into an infestation with serious consequences.

We started by checking our belonging for bugs so that we weren’t putting any existing bugs into our new storage bins. It was then time to clean up the attic and make it a pest-free environment.

Finally, we ensured that we carried out routine checks, maintenance, and pest-repelling activities to keep bugs out of our plastic storage bins.

Although it was scary to come across an insect residing in one of our storage boxes, we managed to get things under control and make the plastic storage bins and our attic bug-free storage areas.

Let’s walk through the steps we followed to keep bugs out of plastic storage bins.

Getting Everything Ready

Pest-free storage requires a lot of groundwork, and that’s where we started. This includes thoroughly checking the items being stored, choosing the best storage options, and prepping the area where the plastic storage bins will be placed.

Check the Items for Existing Bugs

Existing Bugs

We skipped this step when we stored plastic containers with our belongings in the attic. The items were stored in the plastic bins at our previous house, so there is a good chance that a few bugs hitched a ride to our new home.

This time, we put everything out in the sun and carefully inspected each item for any bugs. We disposed of any item with any signs of insect damage or sheltering their eggs. Then we cleaned each item before taking them inside.

Inspect the Storage Space

Storage Space

Thoroughly check the space where the plastic storage bins will be placed. We carefully inspected our attic for any signs of pests. We then cleaned it deeply and sprayed Citronella spray, which repels pests using its sharp scent.

Check for Leaks

Silica Gel Packets

Remember to check the storage area for leaks. Wet and moist conditions attract pests, so we ensured there weren’t any leaks in our attic. Luckily, we didn’t require any work in that department.

Basements usually have a lot of moisture. Therefore, anyone planning to store belongings in their basement needs to ensure that there is no extra moisture around to avoid bug problems.

Buy High-Quality Storage Containers

High-Quality Storage Containers

A great plastic storage box should be airtight and watertight. We had to remove most of our old plastic boxes and replace them with new ones. Airtight and watertight containers can easily keep everything nice and dry while keeping out any insects that try to get in.

Never use cardboard boxes to store items in attics and basements. Cardboard absorbs moisture and turns into cozy homes for all kinds of pests.

It’s straightforward for bugs to enter cardboard boxes even when they are dry. Plastic storage boxes are more expensive, but they are worth the investment, considering all the trouble that cheap cardboard boxes cause.

Tips To Safely Store Items in Plastic Bins

Now that we had checked our belongings and the attic for insects, it was time to carefully store everything in our new plastic storage containers.

This might sound like a straightforward job, but it needs to be done carefully so that pests won’t be attracted to the bins later.

Avoid Storing Edible Items

Storing Edible Items

Storing anything that insects see as food is asking for trouble. Therefore, avoid storing food items. Also, remember to thoroughly wash any items that might have been used to store or serve food before.

Add Protective Layers With Vacuum Storage Bags

Vacuum Storage Bags

We never realized the sentimental value of some of the items we had stored away until we had a bug scare. Therefore, we were hellbent on never taking a chance with them.

We used vacuum storage bags to protect valuable items such as documents, heirlooms, and memorabilia. We could now breathe easily since there was ample protection against bugs alongside our new high-quality storage boxes.

Wrap Cloths and Furniture

Wrap Furniture

Items such as mattresses, pillows, cushions, couches, and wool clothing are prime targets for insects, especially moths. As a result, they can easily attract and shelf bugs leading to pest problems in storage areas.

The solution was to place clothes and furniture in plastic bags and secure them with plastic wrap to eliminate any chances of bugs getting near them.

How To Maintain a Bug-Free Storage Space

Carefully packing our belongings in plastic storage bins and placing them in a pest-free area was only half the job. We had to ensure that the attic remained pest-free with routine inspections and maintenance to keep it free of bugs.

Regular Checks

The biggest mistake we made was storing our belongings and forgetting about them. Inspecting the storage area at least once a month is essential to ensure there aren’t any bugs. Even if insects settle in, catching them earlier saves a lot of trouble.

Setting bug traps and checking them regularly is an easy way to detect bug problems early.

Clean Regularly

Clean And Tidy Attic

We finally realized that preventive pest control saves so much trouble and money. So we made it a point to keep the attic sanitary through routine cleaning.

This included making it a no-food zone while regularly removing any bug-attracting debris such as dust, dirt, dead insects, and cobwebs.

Keep Things Cool and Dry

A cool and dry storage area is less likely to attract bugs. Therefore, we checked the attic for leaks in the rainy and winter seasons.

Anyone who uses the basement to store belongings should prioritize this step since basements can quickly build moisture that insects love.

Use Bug-Repellant Compounds and Sprays

Bug-Repellant Compounds And Sprays

Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and placing scented soaps and cedar blocks are great ways to keep bugs out of plastic storage bins.

Another great way to repel insects from storage spaces is by spraying vinegar or essential oils.

We combined equal amounts of water and vinegar before mixing them well and spraying the mixture all around the attic.

Essential oils such as Citronella, Peppermint, and Geranium have excellent pest-repelling properties.

Below are some recipes to mix essential oils with one cup of water before spraying in storage spaces.

  • Citronella Oil – 20 to 30 Drops
  • Geranium Oil – 30 to 40 Drops
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – 30 to 40 Drops
  • Lavender Oil – 30 to 40 Drops
  • Peppermint Oil – 30 to 40 Drops
  • Rosemary Oil – 20 to 30 Drops

Although natural, essential oils can cause side effects in some humans and pets, so wear a mask and gloves when spraying essential oil mixtures and keep children and pets away from the area.

Ingestion of some essential oils can be dangerous. Therefore, store them securely and away from the reach of children and pets at all times.


Finding bugs in our plastic storage boxes gave us a real scare. It later turned out that we were fortunate to catch the problem in the early stages, so the insects hadn’t done much damage to our belongings. However, we did not take things for granted because of that.

Keeping bugs out of plastic storage bins revolves around how good the storage boxes are, how well belonging are packed in them, and maintaining the storage area clean, dry, and cold so that it does not attract pests.

We worked hard to ensure our attic and storage boxes ticked all these boxes. So far, we’ve had great success keeping bugs away from our belongings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Make My Storage Bins Bug-Proof?

Start by making sure that items stored in storage bins don’t contain bugs, to begin with. Investing in airtight and watertight storage boxes is also a good idea.

Avoid keeping any food in storage boxes that attract pests. Finally, maintain a clean, dry, and cool storage area to make it unattractive for bugs.

How Do I Keep Roaches Out of My Storage Bins?

Avoid any food in the storage bins and surroundings to stop attracting roaches. Maintain clean, dry, and cool surroundings and spray the area with peppermint oil to repel roaches.

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