You had a disgusting pest situation in your kitchen which made you pull your hair out in frustration. Many tears later you managed to exterminate your problem. Congratulations! But this is not all you have to do. What you need now is to maintain your kitchen after pest control. Why you need to put in more work when you went all the way already, you ask? It’s so the tear-inducing, anxiety-causing problem known as pest infestation doesn’t return because pests breed like crazy and the kitchen is the one place in the house that contains both of their favorite things: food and water.

To make sure that your pest-free kitchen remains pest-free, here are 5 simple things you can do:

1. Do the dishes as soon as possible

The one thing that happens a lot in any household is the use of dishes and utensils. One second the sink is blissfully empty and the next it’s overflowing with dirty plates. It’s a tiring task to do the dishes frequently and to load the dishwasher regularly, but it’s one that you absolutely have to do. If you leave dirty dishes in the sink the food residues will attract pests like cockroaches like a magnet. Dirty dishes in the sink will give them food, and the moisture in the sink itself will give them water, and they will likely make their home somewhere close by, ruining all the work you put in to control your pest problem.

And under no circumstances leave dirty dishes overnight. Such a long exposure of the food residue will result in it going bad, inevitably leading to a pest infestation (in addition to a germ problem and bad odors). Don’t be surprised if you enter the kitchen in the morning and see a bunch of cockroaches feasting on the remains of last night’s dinner!

2. Air-tight storage is the way to go

Whatever food that you store in your kitchen should be stored securely in air-tight packaging. A lot of times people keep their cereal in the cardboard box that it comes in, which is really bad since cardboard can allow rodents to chew right through it. This means that if you have food lying around in paper/cardboard packaging, you are basically inviting pests to a feast. What you should do instead is store all eatables in air-tight containers (e.g. tupperware) to make sure that pests don’t have access to sustenance.

3. Keep the kitchen dry and crumb-free

Water is the very foundation of life, and therefore a moist and humid place is very inviting for pests. Just like a watering-hole sees a lot of animal traffic, any area of your kitchen with standing water will see a lot of pest traffic. If left for too long, it will invite all kinds of pests like insects and rodents. Make sure that you wipe/mop up any spilled liquid and that your kitchen remains dry at all times.

Also, make sure to wipe down the countertops and the kitchen table so no crumbs remain lying around. The scent of food will, without a doubt, attract pests and you don’t want that.

4. Cover your trash cans and throw the trash out regularly

Many people keep uncovered trash cans in closed cabinets so there won’t be any problems with pests. But, the darkness and isolation only lead to attracting pests and you will not achieve your goal. What you should do to ensure pests aren’t drawn to your trash cans is to keep a lid on them. Get yourself covered trash cans so that the scent emanating from the garbage won’t entice cockroaches and rats into feasting on your apple cores and banana peels.

Also, make sure that you throw the trash out regularly. Don’t be lazy when it comes to putting those black bags out every night because most of the kitchen waste is organic in nature and decomposes very quickly. Not only does it lead to bad smells, but it also attracts pests.

5. Treat your kitchen to a monthly deep-cleaning

Once you’ve gotten rid of the pests after a thorough pest-control operation, the least you can do now to ensure the problem doesn’t come back is to give your kitchen a thorough cleaning once a month. In this thorough cleanup, you’ll need to get down on all fours, and stand on chairs to reach the top shelves, to make sure every nook and cranny gets the proper treatment. Clean behind the cupboards, under the sink, behind the dishwasher (if it’s not an under bench model), the insides of the cabinets, etc. If you see any place that appears to have the potential to house an infestation, whip out the cleaning supplies and destroy this potential.