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Keeping Bugs Out of Plastic Food Containers

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I am getting pantry moths and those little bugs that burrow into pasta. Maybe the same bug at different stages? I have resorted to cleaning the pantry every two weeks and I try to put everything in plastic containers. Clearly they are not sealing properly since some of them are STILL being infested.

I just had to throw away 8 pounds of pasta. It was SO infested I stopped trying to pick out the un-infested ones and tossed it all. They are destroying my pasta and cereal. I buy bulk and store it. I sometimes get great deals $1 a box name brand cereal, etc..

Does anyone have suggestions? I am thinking of putting a heavy "bead" around the top of the inside of the lids with HOT glue, screw it on a tiny bit take it off and let it dry. Would this provide an airtight seal to keep the bugs out and is it food safe?

Also, I heard some people "replace" the air in their containers with CO2. I have paintball stuff so getting CO2 is easy and I found I can get a "nozzle" fitting. CO2 is heavier than air so as long as I fill slow, give the O2 a place to escape from and keep them upright the CO2 should stay inside the containers. Will this work?

Chris from Levittown, PA

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Recent Answers

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By neuroticmom [9]12/08/2011

When I moved to the house we are in now I suddenly was faced with bugs in my pantry. I use the freezer method freezing everything possible - rice, oatmeal, pasta, flour, sugar, etc.

Every couple of months I take everything out of my pantry wipe it down well with vinegar water and then scatter bay leaves on my pantry shelves and also cotton balls dipped in peppermint go in each corner (I read that somewhere else on Thrifty fun) have not had a problem since.

I also for some thing that I don't think has a real good seal I place a coffee filter over the top before placing the lid on. Not sure if that helps but it doesn't hurt.

By Chris Taylor Jr [1]10/08/2008

We tried Cedar and Eucalyptus no joy for these specific bugs at least (they work great for some bugs)

These bugs "IGNORE" the cedar. They even land and gather on it (no more or less than anything else)

I ordered some bay leaves off ebay (is green or dried any different?) The next time I get cereal and pasta I will definitely do the Freezer trick!

I will report back on the results.

By SunshineRose (Guest Post)10/07/2008

I have an elderly friend who has a set of shelves and the whole thing is made of cedar. I thought she was crazy until I read your letters. She did have the right idea.

You people are talking of storing the kind of things that get bugs in the freezer for days. I just made a place in the freezer for permanent storage. Also you don't have to dig through the cupboard to find these things.

By Diane09/25/2008

I have a large cedar lined closet which is so deep that there was a lot of wasted space so I moved the clothes rod toward the door and built shelves behind to use as a pantry. I have had NO bugs in anything since I started using this to store flour, rice, pasta, etc. in there. (I have been using the closet now for a couple of years.) I was thinking if you had a piece of cedar you could put on your cupboard shelves this might solve your problem.

By Chris Taylor Jr [1]09/23/2008

I so appreciate all the feedback. I have already moved things around so I have 1 whole shelf in the big freezer that will be dedicated to "temp freezing" anything I buy for the pantry.

As for the bayleaves? why not inside the jar? I was going to hotglue a bay leave right to the inside of the lid of the jars? Is that not good or not safe or something?

By Grandma J [46]09/22/2008

Additional info:
The bayleaves do not go into the jar, the go on the shelves and drawers. Make sure little fingers and pets do not access to them. Not poisonous, but the sharpness of them make them not swallowable. They can perforate inside the body.

By Grandma J [46]09/22/2008

When you find one, throw out everything Then start fresh, do the freezer thing, I put everything into tupperware or sealed jars when I get home from the grocery or food coop. I keep in the spare fridge what I can, other stuff is shelf stable. Transfer all right away, even cake mixes come out of boxes, tape instructing to it, throw into large sealed container on the shelf. I have not had bugs in years. Don't forget those things you would never think about. My rice cakes were the bug catchers for me. Any grain will be able to be fodder. So I made money for the tupperware lady, but I saved money in the long haul. Everything--and I buy in bulk, is put away. You can get industry sized containers with lids, such as mayo, dressings, etc and they have nice skrew on lids. All my sugar goes into glass gallon jars--buy once a year. Stays nice.

And I do the bayleaves, but freshen those up a couple times a year.

By Gina (Guest Post)09/22/2008

I put bay leaves and it keeps out the bugs.

By Coll (Guest Post)09/22/2008

I bought a bottle of Bay Leaf and took the top off, placed it into the pantry and totally forgot about it. I will replace it when I come across it. I've not had any bugs in any of my packaging.

By Leah Jones [4]09/22/2008

How long are you keeping your bulk buys? I used to own a Health Food Store and we packed all our own grains ourselves. I used to have people returning things like wheatgerm, bran and rice after about a year and a half saying they had little maggoty things in them, and moths too. These are weevils, and though quite harmless, not very nice. ALL grains and such contain weevil eggs - don't know why actually, but they do, and if you buy bulk stock that has been marked down it may well be because the store owners are aware of the age and realise that it's about time for weevils to appear. Bad Trading ! ! ! ! For my own use I put all grains and grain products in the freezer for about 24 hours, and then you won't have any problems, though the eggs will still be there, but you won't see them.
Regards, Leah from Down Under

By Shirley Darby [7]09/22/2008

Freezing overnight immediately upon bringing the groceries home will kill eggs. The next day put the food in your plastic containers. The bay leaves and CO2 will be peace-of-mind insurance!

By Frances [4]09/22/2008

For years I have stored flour, cake mixes, rice, oats, etc in my big freezer. No insects! I've lived miles from any grocery store all of my 79 years so I try to keep staples on hand to be ready for feeding visitors, grandkids, etc whenever they pop in. My mother used bay leaves and spearmint gum sticks on the shelves of her cabinets. That works too.

By Chris Taylor Jr [1]09/22/2008

Be wary? You kidding it's a frelling invasion :-) Thats why I started cleaning up once a week to try and keep up with them but they just move from container to container if they can gain access and they are pretty darned good at gaining access :-) I am going to hunt down some bay leaves today and also try CO2 Oxy replacement since I have Paintball tanks which are filled with a convenient source of CO2 :-) I am also going to do the freezer thing since that's super easy :-)

By Robin [10]09/22/2008

You need to find the source of the infestation. One or possibly a few of your foods are infested. Find them and throw them out. Check your other pantry items carefully. Then buy some "pantry pest" containers (find at your local hardware store) to prevent further trouble. They are triangular cardboard containers you place in your cupboard. The problem are those small moths. Be wary if you see them flying about!

By Chris Taylor Jr [1]09/21/2008

Oops forgot to log in. Hopefully it will get approves soon enough it was a lot to type :-) Anyway I guess bulk might not be the right word. I buy bulk of "non" bulk items. I will not buy a box of cereal I will buy 20 boxes of cereal :-) When there $1. to $1.5 a box I buy as many as I have cash in my pocket :-)

Same with pasta when its on sale 50cents a box or something like that I buy a bunch and transfer it to plastic containers. So I am not buying bulk as in a 20 pound bucket of cereal etc. Bulk as in lots of consumer level items in quantity :-)

By (Guest Post)09/21/2008

Oh trust me not gross I am well aware that bugs come WITH the food (in fact its a government regulation since you can NOT feasibly prevent bugs from getting in I think cereal they are permitted 1.5 insect pieces per some amount of cereal or something like that (I looked it up somewhere). But a few bugs coming with it and "dozens and dozens" chowing down is another thing.

The dry ice won't work well since I am not storing "that" way though I would definitely use that if I did. Is it the COLD or the CO2 that kills them? or both? I was not aware "freezing" would kill them I will definitively do that from now on. I have a large full size freezer I will put all grain products in there for a few days before putting in the pantry from now on.

I though eggs could survive freezing and that freezing only killed "mobile" ie larvae adults etc.. insects. I hope that works as it would be a very simply solution (I like simple). I have seen the glass jars but they are so insanely prohibitively expensive. $17 for the small ones and they only get more expensive from there. For now I will continue with the trial and error on the 4quart $1 plastic containers :-) I just need to get a good "seal" so they can not get in and if I fill with CO2 that the gas will stay inside.

I am going to try the freezing and the bay leaves (why not there cheap worth a shot) maybe a single leaf in each container will be enough combined with the freezing. Thank you so much for the feedback I will be sure to report back on success failure etc.. Keep the info coming! Its appreciated! I am going to check out those google links too.

By bavomom (Guest Post)09/21/2008

My mother-in-law told me to put a bay leaf in each container and on each pantry shelf. When she started doing this, no more bug problems. And I have never had any bug problems because I followed her advice.

By Cyinda [214]09/21/2008

When you buy in bulk, the easiest & best way to make sure any eggs won't hatch that are already in your grain is to go to a place that sells dry ice. (Bring a Styrofoam cooler) & buy some dry ice in the smallest amount you can buy... Next just pour you grain into any container that seals well & leave several inches to put the dry ice in. After you put the dry ice in, seal the top of the container with a strong lid, then duct tape. As the dry ice melts it removes the oxygen & kills any bugs that may hatch. This is how all the "Survival" web sites say to do it... You'll need dry ice for EACH container you store.

Check out the top 4 URL's in this Google search:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en& ... ;btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=

By Christine Biernat [5]09/21/2008

I know this sounds gross but have you considered that some of the product you buy has already been infested? I have heard of people often freezing their foods as soon as they get home for a couple days to a week and that will ensure that any bugs or eggs that were in there are dead.

If you can store your stuff in the freezer that would be ideal but if not, I would invest in good glass jars with an airtight seal.

By Terri [7]09/21/2008

I put bay leaves around my cereal boxes, pasta boxes, and flour bags. I'm certainly not a good housekeeper and I'm sure I don't get the "bugs" because I use the bay leaves. Good luck.

By MsSpot (Guest Post)09/21/2008

When you seal them in jars make SURE to pop them into the freezer overnight. This kills any moth eggs that are in your grain products. That should ultimately take care of your problem.

Also, when you buy cereal, flours, or grains like rice or oats, pop THEM in the freezer overnight as well for the same reason.

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