The ick factor of a pest infestation is understandable—who wants ants crawling all over the kitchen counter? But pests can also cause substantial damage to property that costs time and money to fix. If you want to prevent these unsavory guests from moving in and taking over, try these three basic steps.

Lock Them Out Forever
Pests won’t be a problem if they can’t gain access to your house. Eliminating all entry points takes determination and hard work, but the reward is worth it. Pay special attention to areas like gables near the rooftop and any holes through which wiring comes in. Cable wires should fit snugly in the hole and there should be no extra space around the wires. Make sure each window closes completely and exterior doors don’t have gaps. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home, and install screens over chimney vents and openings.

Don’t Let Them Find Food
Pests have a keen sense of smell. Eliminate all food sources that attract pests as they will grow and multiply where food is readily available. Keep all food in the kitchen sealed and put away when not in use. Dishes, wrappers, and trash should be dealt with promptly, with outside trash sealed in a container. Make sure floors are swept and vacuumed; keeping the house tidy will eliminate small crumbs that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Remove Their Water Sources
Water is the most sought-after resource by humans and animals, including pests. If water is available, they will find it. Fix any dripping faucets and make sure that your pet’s drinking water is changed daily. Water promotes mold growth and becomes stagnate when left sitting too long. This is an open invitation for most pests, no matter the season.

The best approach to pest control is to stop them from entering your home. Once pests have taken over, it’s too late for prevention—you’ll need to call in a professional.