The Halloween season is in full swing. Hocus Pocus, Edward Scissorhands and other Halloween-movie favorites play continually at my place while an orange, candy-filled bowl sits at the ready for those with a sweet tooth. Though ghouls, goblins, zombies and vampires frequently haunt the night, what really gives me goosebumps are things of the creepy-crawly variety: spiders, cockroaches, ants and rats.

Inspired by the movie heroes gracing my television screen, I decided to explore some simple steps to protect my household against these intruders. In doing so, I found out that toxic poisons are not always necessary. There are many non-toxic options that are easy to implement. These tips can help you keep pesky intruders at bay without compromising your health.

1. Dry off. Keep typically wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, as dry as possible. This means fixing leaky faucets and drying up standing water.

2. Use the fridge. At my place, I refrigerate anything that can’t be tightly sealed. This includes bread, chips, fruit and open beverage containers. If there is no room in the fridge, use airtight containers, and choose snap lids over screw-tops.

3. Vacuum. Not only will you pick up crumbs that might entice pests, but you may also pick up bugs and their eggs in the process.

4. Block them out. Seal entry-ways by caulking cracks and crevices, and fix or replace torn screens and any other exterior holes.

5. Pick up. Piles of magazines and newspapers make for nice nesting spots for many critters inside your home. Outside, stacks of items against the home can serve as easy ways for pests to crawl up and in.

6. Shake it up. Combine 3 tablespoons of liquid castile soap with 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle and shake to mix well. Spray directly on ants and spiders. You can also use this mixture as a repellent by spraying the path you see the ants travel.

7. Set bait. Cockroaches in particular love flour and sugar. Mix two parts borax powder with one part flour and one part sugar. Sprinkle in areas cockroaches may enter (in drawers and cabinets, along baseboards and behind the fridge). Just remember to avoid places with frequent human or animal contact. Borax is relatively low toxic (it’s been compared to baking soda), but has been cited as a mild skin irritant. Still, erring on the safe side is always better.

Opt for professional pest control for more serious infestations. Locally owned Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions can help. With proper pest control, you too can protect your health and home from creepy-crawly critters.