Trash Talking Important Reasons Not to Leave Food in Wastebaskets and Other Integrated Pest Management Tips

With many cafeterias and snack bars closed, bringing food into the workplace has become a necessity for many NIH staff.  It's important to consider, however, that because so many workspaces are locked, items left in wastebaskets and other places may not be accessible for collection.

As a result, the smell of food on items such as wrappings, yogurt containers, beverage cans and napkins, becomes even stronger over time and attracts pests including mice, ants, flies and cockroaches to the workspace. 

What Can Be Done?

To decrease the likelihood that anyone will enter your workspace to find an active pest infestation, a pile of chewed papers, or a desk littered with mouse droppings, please follow these simple steps:

1.  Remove All Food from Your Desk, Breakroom and Locker!

  • If you eat at your desk clean up any leftovers before you leave
  • Don't store food in desks – remember, mice can enter closed desk drawers from behind the desk and will shred items such as: important papers, candy wrappers and tissues to make nests
  • If you choose to store food items such as tea, sugar packets, etc. in your workspace make sure they are placed in air-tight containers constructed of heavy plastic, metal, or glass or, better yet, stored in a refrigerator
  • Clean and disinfect breakrooms; remove crumbs from counters and microwave areas
  • Don't leave dirty dishes "soaking" in the sink – wash your dishes
  • Don't leave food in your locker

2. Take Out the Trash Daily!

  • Remove all food and wrappings from waste baskets – or get into the habit of bringing a trash bag and taking it with you when you leave work for the day
  • Rinse out recyclable items so the residue in the containers does not attract pests, or pool in the bottom of the recycling bin

3. Minimize Clutter!

  • Remove boxes, unused equipment, and stacks of paper from the floor around desks and elsewhere in the workspace so pest problems don't go undetected 
  • Remove unnecessary items from desk drawers and cabinets to allow detection of mouse activity

Make Daily Cleanup a Habit!

Take full responsibility for your work area. Before walking out the door at the end of the day make sure you have removed or refrigerated any leftovers and taken out the trash.

Don't forget, the housekeeping staff doesn't have a key to your office, and mice don't need a key to get to the food you left there!

Need Help?  Call the Integrated Pest Management Program Office at 301-496-4294. 

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