How to Keep Spiders Out of the Sandbox (and other critters)

Sandboxes are amazing for kids

Nothing is better in the warm weather months than watching our children explore the joy of digging in the sand. I love their carefully cultivated sandcastles.

It’s even better to watch in their very own sandbox from the comfort of your own back yard. Undertaking a task of setting up a sand box can be time consuming. But after you do all that work, you come to find that other critters find your sandbox as cool as the kiddos do. And suddenly you are searching for how to keep spiders out of the sandbox.

Sandboxes are awesome….sort of

Every parent is becomes quickly aware of the problems that come with owning your own little slice of beach.

(Aside from getting sand all over your house and car)

When you get started, you have to decide if you’re going to use plastic store bought or do it yourself wood. The rules of making sure it’s covered from the large critters and buy your sand from a reputable dealer seem logical. What many parents fail to realize is that your dark and cool covered box become a haven for spiders.

Americans suffer from three million spider bites every year. The last thing we want to do as parents is set up our kids to get bit.

Spiders in the sandbox is a challenging problem. The market is flooded with chemical solutions that come with serious warnings about keeping it out of children’s reach. Further, the area you spray can remain toxic for children for a long time.

Many times, these products are best for areas children and pets don’t often access. This is less than ideal. Luckily, harsh chemicals and expensive pest control services are not the only way to keep your child safe from this eight-legged annoyance.

Do you have a green thumb?

Do you have a green thumb? Maybe you desire to turn the area around your child’s sand box into an oasis? Another option is to plant spider repellent plants near the edge of your child’s box. This option is particularly appealing if your child’s box is stationary.

If you choose to put in plants, make sure that you plant them on all sides of your box. Otherwise the spiders will come up from the backside. You also want to make sure that your plants are as close as possible to the box itself.

Having plants close to the walls may shorten the lifespan of wooden boxes (water/moisture).

If you use herbs in cooking, Basil and Dill are duel use plants. Not only will they keep the eight-legged critters away, but they also taste good in your garlic and herb chicken.

Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon Grass also make the top ten spider repelling plants. It is recommended to be cautious with this method as in some rare cases parents have found that the spiders hid from the plants in their child safe areas.

What about essential oils?

If you don’t have a green thumb or the time to care for multiple plants there is another option that many parents are turning to more and more. Essential oils have found their essential niche in our parenting culture and they can help here as well. Lavender and Peppermint Oil are well known to keep spiders away. Peppermint in particular is a wonderful spider repellent and comes with the bonus of also being repellent to ants as well.

Prep your space with vinegar

Regardless, spray your box with white vinegar before adding the sand. Spiders also hate vinegar. Soak it down until you can see that the wood is wet or the vinegar is beading up on the plastic. Then let it air dry on a warm sunny day in a spot that gets as much direct sunlight as possible.

If you’ve already set up your sandbox for the year then do this to the lid and outer facing sides while covering your sand with plastic.

Applying essential oils

For the essential oils, choose which ones you’re going to use. Combine them in a bowl with your base oil. You can experiment with the potency, but I like to err on the strong side.

Take a rag twice a month and oil the inside of your sand box cover. The oil will repel spiders from crawling on the cover and creating their webs. Use a liberal amount of oil because you want the scent to permeate the sand. This makes the sand unappealing for them to crawl into. Close up the box for the oil to dry. If you leave it open to the air while the oil dries, the scent will escape and possibly make it too weak to actually repel the spiders.

For extra protection, leave a line of the oil on the edge of the box or the ground next to the box.

Alternately you can use white vinegar as your base and add essential oil to it. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and shake well before spraying the ground around your sandbox. Use this method as extra protection when you oil your sand box rather than your repellent method as it isn’t as strong nor does it last for an extended period of time.

Other options…

Don’t have a green thumb? Aren’t fond of finding the perfect amount of oil to use for your space from trial and error? An eco-friendly brand called Earth Kind has a store-bought solution for you. Their Stay Away Spider Repellent is reasonably priced and has excellent reviews.

It uses the same concept to repel the spiders as oils and plants by combining Citronella, Lemon Grass, and Rosemary in a self-contained pouch for easy use. You can close the pouch up in your sandbox when not in use and remove it during play.

The package says its can be used for 30-60 days. I did notice that the few negative reviews it has says it only lasted two weeks so that might be a safer span of time to rely on it. It will leave a vague pleasant scent and isn’t harmful for your child.

Whether you’re a green thumb gardener, a devoted follower of essential oils, or an on the go parent who likes easy to use solutions you don’t have to fret over stinky endangering chemicals.

As a parent we have enough on our plates during the warm seasons without worrying about common pests in our child’s fun space. The best part of each of these solutions is that they’re not mutually exclusive. You’re welcome to combine two or use all three.  

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