How To Keep Bugs Out Of Your Sandbox: 8 Simple Methods

A sandbox that you need to keep bugs out of

Sandboxes can be a great addition to your backyard. Kids absolutely love them!

But unfortunately, so do bugs.

This guide will teach you how to keep bugs out of your sandbox using hassle-free methods.

1. Use Lining In The Sandbox

Some plastic sandboxes have a built-in bottom barrier that can provide moderate protection against bugs. But if you have a traditional wood sandbox, you’ll need to create that barrier yourself. It may even pay off to add another layer to plastic sandboxes for more peace of mind.

A sandbox liner serves a valuable purpose when it comes to keeping bugs out of your sandbox. It prevents burrowing bugs like ants from invading through the bottom. Burrowing insects can be some of the most problematic.

You rarely see them until they establish a colony in or beneath the box.

Liners provide a physical barrier, and they can make a noticeable difference. There are a couple of liner materials worth considering.

Plastic liners are a good choice. Not only are they cheap and easy to access, but they’re largely impenetrable by even the toughest pests. You don’t have to invest in a specialty liner. Paint drop cloths or cheap plastic shower curtains work well.

Spread the liner onto the bottom of the structure before dumping sand into it. Then, poke a few holes at the bottom to facilitate water draining.

Another option for keeping bugs out of your sandbox is to use landscaping fabric. Like plastic liners, this material is cheap and easy to find. It’s more permeable thanks to its fiber-based construction.

But the good news is that the fabric is strong. It helps inhibit weed growth and does a fine job of stopping pests. Plus, it lets water flow through it, so there’s no need to poke holes.

2. Clean Up The Space Around The Sandbox

Have you ever considered how the area around the sandbox affects your risks of a bug infestation?

If you have tons of overgrown weeds or yard debris outside the sandbox, you’re making it easier for bugs to get inside. Insects use weeds, leaves, branches, and other yard messes to their advantage. They are a food and shelter source.

An untidy yard around the sandbox brings more insects closer to the play space. It’s only a matter of time before they make their way into it.

The best thing you can do is tidy up and maintain a mess-free yard. The cleaner your property, the better it is. Fewer bugs will hang out in your outdoor spaces.

But even if you can’t clean up the entire yard, focus on the area around the sandbox. Remove weeds, pick up debris, and trim plants as needed.

Create as much empty space around the sandbox as possible. Not only does that deter bugs from getting too close, but it’ll also keep the area safe for your children.

3. Don’t Bring Food Into The Sandbox

Letting your kid enjoy their snacks and drinks in the sandbox is tempting. They’re already getting messy in the sand, so why not let them eat as well? Unfortunately, doing so will only result in bugs entering your sandbox.

There’s nothing better to a hungry bug than food crumbs and sugary liquids. It’s the ultimate attractor for roaches, ants, and more!

Create a “no food or drinks” policy for your kids. Remind them frequently and ensure they don’t take any snacks out there. Extend the rule to several feet around the sandbox, too. Attracting bugs to the box’s perimeter can be just as bad.

Don’t stop there. Take extra precautions to keep the sand as food-free as possible. If you have pets, move their food bowls far away from the box. If there are nearby bird feeders, remove them to ensure that strong gusts of wind don’t cause those seeds to fall into the sand.

Food is a major attractant for bugs. Keeping the sand clean and not allowing any edible substances makes a difference. It doesn’t matter how benign the snack seems. If it’s food, it has enough odor and allure to bring bugs in.

4. Switch To Sanitized Sand

Here’s a great tip that can keep bugs out of your sandbox. Instead of using regular old beach sand, invest in sanitized sand!

As the name implies, this is a cleaner sand specifically processed to minimize bacteria and bugs. Regular sand can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and bugs.

Even if you buy it from a big-box store and dump it straight from the bag to the sandbox, there’s a risk that there’s already something nasty in there. It’s a common misconception that bagged sand is perfectly clean. While it is more hygienic than what you’d get if you collected sand yourself, there’s still a chance it could have bugs, seeds, and other unwanted bits.

That’s not something you have to worry about with sanitized sand. Manufacturers put this sand through the wringer to remove as much as possible. It’s ultra-clean and can dramatically improve the chances of keeping your sandbox bug-free.

You can find sanitized sand at some big-box home improvement stores. Usually, it’s labeled as simply “play sand.” But don’t assume it’s sanitized.

Read the packaging and understand the cleaning processes used. Typically, sanitized sand is very light-colored. Some brands also bleach it white.

5. Use Repellent Around The Sandbox

Of course, you can always use repelling products to deal with bugs in the sandbox. There’s no shortage of bug repellents at your local home improvement store. You may see aisles of the stuff!

But before you pick up any old repellent, you must ensure that it’s safe and kid-friendly. Many pesticides and bug repellents use harsh chemicals that could pose a health and safety risk. The chemicals are harsh and come with strong vapors.

While these products are effective, you don’t want your kid breathing any of those chemicals in or getting the repellent on their hands. Instead of chemical-based repellents, go for all-natural alternatives.

Plant-based repellents use essential oils and other naturally derived ingredients to keep bugs out. They can be just as effective as the chemical stuff. However, they’re much safer for you, your kids, and your pets.

Spray the repellent around the perimeter of the sandbox. Don’t apply it directly to the sand itself. Focus on the border.

It’s also a good idea to apply the spray several feet out. Create a radius of bug protection to increase your chances of keeping the sandbox clean.

6. Add Some Cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon is a powerful bug repeller? Many of the natural sprays you’ll find on the market contain cinnamon or other similar ingredients.

Believe it or not, you can use cinnamon to keep bugs out of the sandbox! The best part? You don’t have to get anything special. The cinnamon spice you can pick up at your grocery store will work!

Many bugs detest the taste and smell of cinnamon. That includes ants, mosquitoes, ticks, silverfish, and more. Thanks to its powerful aroma, these pests can detect cinnamon from far away.

When used correctly, it can keep these bugs out of your sandbox!

So how do you use it? The best approach is to mix it in with the sand. Don’t worry: Cinnamon is safe for your child.

That said, you have to strike the right balance. You want enough cinnamon to let bugs know that your sandbox is a no-go zone. But you don’t want it to be so saturated that it encourages your child or pets to start eating the sand!

Start with about a tablespoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle it onto the top of the sand before using a rake to mix it in.

How much sand you’ll need depends on the size of your sandbox and its depth. It may involve trial and error, but average-sized sandboxes may need as much as a cup of cinnamon to make a difference.

7. Don’t Leave The Sandbox Uncovered

If your sandbox doesn’t have a cover, you’ll need to purchase or build one. Some plastic models have a simple cover that will do a decent job of keeping moisture and bugs out. Use it every time!

The sandbox should be covered whenever your kid isn’t playing and having fun. That physical barrier makes it harder for bugs to infiltrate the sand. Furthermore, it keeps rainwater out to prevent your sandbox from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

It’ll also keep yard debris out and prevent animals from using it as their litter box.

If you don’t have an included sandbox cover, don’t fret. Many are available online. The accessory looks like a simple tarp, but it usually incorporates a fastening system to create as tight a seal as possible.

The best covers are easy to use and provide impenetrable protection. The more precise the fit, the better.

8. Swap Out The Sand Occasionally

Make a habit of regularly replacing the sand in your child’s sandbox. Generally, it’s best to swap out the sand every two years. But don’t be afraid to make it an annual task if bugs are a persistent problem.

Fresh sand starts your sandbox off new. Plus, it allows you to examine the box’s structure. If there’s rotten wood, replace it as soon as possible.

After you get new sand, rake it weekly. It doesn’t matter how often your child plays in the sandbox. Turning the sand over and raking through it will prevent burrowing bugs from establishing a home.            


Now that you know how to keep bugs out of your sandbox, it’s time to pick your favorite methods and get to work! Fortunately, the options above aren’t time-consuming, so you should be able to get this taken care of quickly.

If you have any questions about the tips above, let us know!

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