7 ways to get rid of earwigs and keep them away from your home

Earwig on a leaf
Earwig on a leaf (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve spotted these creepy crawlies around your home, you’ll probably want to know how to get rid of earwigs quickly.

Contrary to its name, earwigs are really known as pincher bugs (and have nothing to do with our ears!). This is due to their two long pincers protruding at the end of their body, which makes this a distinct pest.

Although not harmful to humans, earwigs feast on plant leaves, rotting vegetation and decaying wood — causing potential damage to your home and yard. Worst of all, earwigs will find a way into your home looking for food and shelter to lay their eggs. That’s why it’s vital that you learn how to get rid of earwigs immediately to avoid a possible infestation. What’s more, since earwigs will eat just about anything organic (live plants, flowers and fallen fruit from trees), these can also become a gardener's nightmare.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to get rid of earwigs, and stop them from coming back. And unlike commercial repellents, they won’t cost you a fortune, and are safer for the environment. 

So, from homemade bug sprays to a soy sauce trap, check out these 7 quick ways to get rid of earwigs and keep them at bay.

1. Vacuum all areas 

A cordless vacuum cleaner being pushed through the living room with a sofa behind

A cordless vacuum cleaner being pushed through the living room with a sofa behind (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you spot earwigs in the home, it’s best to thoroughly vacuum clean those areas often. Using one of the best vacuum cleaners, suck up as many earwigs visible, as well as any egg clusters that might be there. You want to eliminate the growth of an earwig population. It’s worthwhile giving household furnishings a good shake, as earwigs tend to hide in items — where we least expect them!

After vacuuming earwigs, experts advise to either dispose of the vacuum bag, or empty the vacuum into a bucket of soapy water. This will ensure any earwigs you have sucked up are killed. 

2. Make a soapy solution 

Soapy water

Soapy water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

One effective, non-toxic repellent is a homemade, soapy solution spray. Simply add a few drops of dish soap to warm water in a spray bottle. Shake the solution until it’s soapy, before spraying any areas/corners around the home and yard where you've spotted pesky earwigs. This soapy substance will stop them from returning to the area.

Since they love to munch on vegetation, you can spray the leaves of your plants or bushes. In fact, you could use this homemade bug spray around the home  to deter most common pests. They won’t like the unpleasant taste of this solution, and will steer clear of it. 

3. Rubbing alcohol and water spray 

Rubbing alcohol on paper towel

Rubbing alcohol on paper towel (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another homemade solution is by mixing one part rubbing alcohol to one part water in a spray bottle. Once mixed, spray directly on the earwigs each time you see them.

The alcohol is strong enough to penetrate the earwig's waxy coat, and kill these pests instantly.  Just keep this away from young children and pets. 

4. Sprinkle boric acid in cracks 

Boric acid in scoop

Boric acid in scoop (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Earwigs usually make their way into homes through cracks or crevices, where they tend to hide in high levels of moisture. Typically, these are areas in the bathroom, kitchen, windowsills or in gaps at the baseboards. 

If you find infested cracks or crevices, carefully sprinkle boric acid power in those hard-to-reach areas. Boric acid is an insecticide that will kill earwigs on contact, and stop them from crawling anywhere near the powder. Before handling boric acid, always wear protective gloves, follow instructions, and never use it around children or pets. 

In addition, check around the perimeter of your home for any entry points they could come through. And block points of entry by sealing small holes or crevices in your foundation, siding, and doorway with caulk or weather-stripping such as Foam Insulation Tape, Weather Stripping Door Seal Strip ($13, Amazon), as a barrier. The aim is to make it extra difficult for earwigs to squeeze through tiny holes into the home. 

5. Remove excess moisture 

Gutter filled with leaves

Gutter filled with leaves (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Much like silverfish, earwigs thrive in damp and moist conditions. Go around the home and look out for any pipe or drain leaks that might be providing the ideal environment for earwigs. 

Ensure you fix any drips or leaky faucets, and also look out for any warping or bulging siding, as this indicates possible water damage within that wall. If you come across this, you’ll need to remove the source of the problem. This might also be a good opportunity to clean your gutters, and make sure no leaves are clogging it up to create damp/wet areas.   

If you do have a humidity problem in the home however, you could invest in one of the best dehumidifiers to dry up some moisture. While this may not get rid of earwigs completely, this will do a good job of improving the conditions, and keep them at bay.

6.  Tempt them into a soy sauce trap 

Soy sauce being poured into bowl

Soy sauce being poured into bowl (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since earwigs are not fussy eaters, why not lure them into a sweet, soy sauce trap? Simply, take a small plastic container and mix equal parts vegetable oil and soy sauce inside. Then create holes in the lid that are about 0.25 inches in diameter before covering the plastic container.

The idea is that these pests will be attracted to the smell of the salty condiment and crawl into the container. Once they go in to sample the recipe, they’ll end up being trapped in the oil and instantly drown. Then dispose of the sticky solution (with earwigs) into a trash bag. 

7. Repel them with strong scents 

Essential oil bottles

Essential oil bottles (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similar to most pests such as rats, wasps, mosquitoes and more, earwigs hate the whiff of strong scents. There are specific essential oils or aromatic plants that may be fresh-smelling to us, but offensive to earwigs. Scents include peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, garlic and basil, which can mostly be found in our kitchens. Simply dilute a few drops of essential oil into water in a spray bottle. Then spray around areas in your home or yard where you have seen earwigs.

Not only will the scents keep earwigs away, but you’ll also have a sweet-smelling home to banish odors. It’s a win-win! 

As with any pest problem, if none of the above tips work, or you have an infestation, it’s always best to call in the professionals. They will be best equipped to help with the solution, and carry out necessary treatments. 

Can earwigs pinch you? 

Earwig on wood

Earwig on wood (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Despite their scary-looking pinchers, earwigs will only pinch if threatened. Typically, these pinchers are used for defence against predators, hunting smaller prey or play a role in their mating competition. 

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!