By: Jim Swanson - CC BY 2.0
By: Jim SwansonCC BY 2.0
My husband and I live in an area utterly teeming with bugs. We also have cats, which means our window screens have little tears here and there. Whenever we try to open the windows at night to cool the house down, we get eaten alive with mosquitoes slipping inside!

Short of buying new window screens, how can we mosquito-proof our windows on a budget? All I can think of is duct taping a layer of cheese cloth over the screens.


Comments on How can we mosquito-proof our windows on a budget?

  1. Unless the screens are well and truly fucked you probably don’t need to cover the whole thing in cheese cloth or anything else for that matter. The fastest and cheapest solution is to get some clear tape and tape over just the little holes, I would put tape on both the inside and the outside of the window, any hole that is larger than a normal screen hole. The better option is to go to a hardware store and buy a window screen repair kit or just a length of the material they make window screens out of. You can cut patches and sew them over the holes. Take the screens off of the window to do this repair well.

  2. I don’t know how important looks are to you or how fucked your screens are– repairing the screens will probably more cost effective than replacing them, (you could also temporarily use expandable screens, I suppose, in front of the old ones) and you can pet-proof your screens by getting some wire meshing…they call it “hardware cloth” at Lowes, and put that over the screen. They have it in different sizes and grades, so you can select what’s best for you. We did that with our chameleon so his claws wouldn’t get stuck in the wire cage.

    There’s also these:

  3. Instead of buying entirely new screens, what about replacing the screen in your existing screen frames? I think there was a tutorial on OBH once but I can’t find it. There’s a bunch on youtube. A roll of screen (like, a LOT of screen – 100 feet) is about $50 at Home Depot. You could probably get a type of screen that’s more resistant to kitty claw (metal mesh instead of cloth).

    You could also use window-insert style fan turned so it exhausts air out of your rooms. Mosquitos and flies have weak wings so they don’t fly well against the wind. Also, pulling hot, still air *out* of your living space can make it feel just as nice as bringing cool air in.

    • METAL MESH! It sucks to work with putting it in there but it kept my 45 pound dog in when she wants to scratch at the windows low enough for her to get at. Seriously it’s very very effective and it’s cheap as borscht. Mesh, cheap tool, and spline (I love that word) and you’re set. Under 50 for the entire house if you have lots of windows.

    • Super bonus (though not always available) my Home Depot ran a tutorial, so all we had to do was buy the screen and spline. No tools needed, and a supervised pro. Because our screens were in bad shape because our landlord hadn’t fixed them for us since we moved in (over a year ago…), the home depot man ended up doing the work for us on the worst of them. While you may not end up with a man angry at bad landlords, these seminars are pretty common and helpful!

  4. A lot of people around here just sew through the holes.

    I would encourage you to find ways of getting the kitties away from the screens. Preventing this behavior in the future will save you more money! Some suggestions:
    – if you tape over the holes, double-side the tape so that when the kitties start to climb, they touch exposed tape. Cats usually hate that. There’s also stuff called Sticky Paws that you could use.
    – put crushed pinecones in the windowsill–cats usually hate the texture. Still, set up a cat perch near the window so the cat can see out and enjoy the view.
    – spray them with a spritz bottle if you catch them climbing/clawing
    – set a scratching post nearby
    – if your screens move, push them up when not in use
    – if your cat is repelled by it, use a cotton ball to apply citrus oil around the screens

    • Cats also LOATHE the smell of vinegar- I used to dip some paper towels in vinegar and put them outside my door so the cats would stop throwing themselves at the door at night to get in and snuggle with me. It worked perfectly, even after the vinegar dried because the smell still remained.

  5. We have used this sticky mesh that is actually drywall mesh. We had a fairly good sized hole (2″ square) in our bedroom screen and it has held up for a couple of years. The bonus is that it still lets air in!

    • I was also going to suggest a net. This is how my family in South Africa deals with the problem as they don’t have screens but keep the windows open at night. Somehow whenever I woke up in the morning (late morning, ahem) the mosquitos were always gone on their evil way back outdoors anyway.

  6. Mosquitos are so small and lightweight that they have trouble flying in a breeze. You can set up some box fans in whichever room(s) you’re occupying.

  7. This really only works for screen doors, but as a method to keep the cat from climbing up the mesh (and getting caught!) my dad bought and cut a 1-2 foot high piece of plexiglass that’s as wide as the door to drill into the bottom of the frame. It goes just high enough that the cat can’t climb up the screen door anymore and we don’t have a pitiful kitty meowing for help anymore!

  8. There are plants that repel mosquitos – lavender and lemongrass are two that I’ve read about.

    Also, if you have the ability, I’ve read that a still water feature with goldfish can really help control mozzies – they are drawn to the still water to lay their eggs, and the fish are drawn to the mosquitos for dinner!

    • I can attest to the Pet Screen. It’s so worth it. Have had it on my sliding patio doors for 12 years. My cats can’t ruin it. It’s indestructible, still looks new and remarkably even stays clean on its own, not attracting fuzz like the old wire screens do. I highly recommend it.

  9. I would highly recommend getting the screen kit to repair your screens (it costs less than $25 and it’ll be enough to fix a number of windows) at Home Depot (or any hardware store). You might also get away with not buying new spline if you reuse the old one. So all you would need is the screen material and a roller, which would costs like $15 at the most.

    I recently fixed an insect screen in my bathroom that didn’t even have the bottom portion of it LOL The spline is more than 20 years old and it’s still in perfectly good condition so I reused it. You can see the before and after and see the instructions to replacing your insect window screen. It’s really really easy.

    Hope this solves your problem!


  10. Needle and thread to sew the screens if you have the patience.

    Something I once did in the complete absence of screens was buy a cheap roll of screen from the hardware store and staple it all around the edges to the wooden window frames. We had an old victorian apartment and it looks and worked perfectly nicely.

  11. If you’re in the south and near any body of water, I definitely feel your pain. My grandmother had some tricks that help us have many a night porch sittin’ and enjoying it. She’s rub dryer sheets on us to protect us from gnats, planted tons of lemongrass, and sprayed a little bit of a mixture of vinegar, water, and peppermint oil on the screens and we usually never had an issue. Check out Farmer’s Almanac online for other tips that’ll help.
    lol I’m having more issues with love bugs than anything else right now. I live in a opportune spot for them and last year we had them literally crammed in every door and window sill, it was like an invasion. hahaha

  12. To fix the small tears in your screens apply a couple coats of clear fingernail polish to each damaged area. It works like a charm. To stop your cats from climbing or clawing at your screens put some lemon juice and water (2L-1W ratio) into a spray bottle and mist your screens with it. Cats hate hate hate lemon. Spritz every couple weeks to keep the lemony smell strong enough your cats will avoid them like a plague. Quick easy fix using what you probably already have on hand.

Join the Conversation