How do you get rid of ants naturally?
You’ve just cleaned up the kitchen, placed the apple you’re eating and a can of soda on the countertop, started the dishwasher, then your phone rings. You answer and spend a few minutes talking to your sister. Looking out the window at the spring morning as you talk, you prop yourself up with your free hand on the countertop. Then you feel them… hundreds of ants trailing in from the window, down the wall, across the counter, and around your hand to get at your snack. Hordes of them race to engulf your apple and the rest are climbing up your soda can to get at all the sugary goodness. Repulsed, you shake several off of you as a chill runs down your spine; you open the cabinet under the sink and fumble around for the ant spray. The container is empty. You look back at the ant invasion on the countertop.
We’ve all been there. They’re relatively harmless, but what a bunch of pests! Invading ants can contaminate stored food, damage plants, and even damage property.
When spring abounds and temperatures outside rise, added moisture in the air after a long winter cooped up underground encourages hungry ants to create new colonies. This means ants are constantly on the lookout for food and water sources, and kitchens are the perfect target. You need some potent ant killer!
Your first impulse might be to spray the ants you see with insecticide or a household cleaner so you can wipe them up but make no mistake. If you eliminate only the visible ants, they will be back, and perhaps in greater numbers.
You have taken matters into your own hands, but you want to take a more earth-friendly approach.
A Simple Indoor and Outdoor Inspection
If you notice ants inside, try to figure out what is attracting them in (more than likely it’s food, or a sugary spill of some sort) and remove it. It is also worth taking a little time to walk around your home to see if you can find any possible entry points where the ants are getting inside so you can treat them. The best times of the day are early morning and early evening when ants are foraging for food and their movement is easy to spot.
It is always a good idea to try to identify the ant species you are dealing with to assist you in controlling them; some treatments work better on certain species than others.
Common Ant Invaders
Here’s a list of ant species you’ll commonly encounter at home.
Prevent Ants in the House with these Tips
Here are basic quick tips on putting ant controls in place:
- As always, keep things clean around the house, especially in the kitchen; promptly wipe up spills and crumbs.
- Place food-based garbage in a sealed bin.
- Run the dishwasher every evening, to get rid of food particles on your dirty dishes (you don’t want to leave a sink piled full with dirty dishes!)
- Make sure you cover food items tightly, seal them, and store in the pantry.
One bonus benefit of keeping things clean is that it acts as a natural ant deterrent by getting rid of their food sources, which means they’ll either leave or go elsewhere, or they’ll head for whatever bait you set out for them.
Can you kill ants indoors with common household products? You may have heard of some of these do-it-yourself home remedies:
- Artificial Sweetener and Apple Juice
You can go full “James Bond villain” and battle ant invaders by mixing packets of artificial sweetener with apple juice. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are a lethal neurotoxin for ants (might make you think twice before consuming it!).
- Powdered Sugar and Borax
One common natural indoor ant killer used to control sugar-loving ants such as Odorous House ants is to mix some powdered sugar with borax. A little sticky, even messy, but simple.
You will have a good chance of this one working, but there are more effective ready-to-use options that are less messy and more convenient. And you won’t have to store a big container of borax that you only use now and then, one teaspoon at a time. Save yourself lots of time and headaches by using our convenient Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective No Spill Ant Kill™ gel bait stations!
- Spraying Ants and Their Trails with Vinegar
Vinegar (with or without lemon juice) is an effective natural ant repellent, though it won’t kill them (unless you spray them with enough so they drown).
Yes, the vinegar will repulse the ants already in your home and they will avoid it. And yes, you will mask the pheromone scent of their trails, throwing off the ants trying to find them. But when you disrupt their workflows, like when you spray them with a cleaning product, they will move to another part of your kitchen or home. Remember, ants have countless disposable workers to sacrifice, and they'll keep coming at you.
If you spray a half vinegar/half water solution (or for even better results, straight white vinegar… ants hate the smell of it) around windowsills, door stops, entry points, corners, underneath appliances, on baseboards, etc., it can help keep new crowds of ants from entering your home.
- Chalk Dust/Talcum Powder
Ants don’t like to cross through powdery materials such as chalk dust, talcum powder, or diatomaceous earth, because these powders interfere with the ants’ ability to follow scent trails left by other ants. Baby powder made with talc works well, too.
But again, the ants already indoors will move elsewhere, unaffected by the powder. And honestly, do you want your countertops covered with white dust as your family and visitors track it all over your floors?
If you use chalk or talcum powder as an outdoor barrier, it will be at least somewhat effective, but over time the powder barrier will get wet and blown around, until the ants can cross the area again unaffected.
- Coffee Grounds
This tip might be too enjoyable for use indoors because you may never be able to sleep with the aroma of coffee wafting around the house. The tempting smell might always have you thinking it’s time to wake up and start the coffee pot!
But if you use coffee grounds in the garden or around the perimeter of a structure, it serves not only to repel ants (they hate the smell of coffee!) but as a good fertilizer for the garden. Unfortunately, the aroma will not last that long, but even if it did, you’re probably learning by now that when you deter ants, they’ll find another way to get what they’re after.
- Herbs/Spices, Citrus Peels, and Essential Oils
How about spices like cinnamon (full sticks or dust), chili/cayenne pepper, or garlic? As with the chalk/talcum powder, you may not want herbs and spices scattered around your kitchen and home for ant control. But they make a great barrier around the foundation of your home, at least until the wind blows them away, or they get rained on.
Citrus peels, left near window sills and sinks work well to keep ants away, at least until they dry up. Citrus oil contains the d-limonene, which is lethal to fire ants and other ants.
Essential oils work well (e.g., thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, wintergreen, etc.), but only when you use the right combinations of oils, like our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Ant and Roach Killer™ or our Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray™.
What are your favorite natural ant removal remedies to get rid of ants at home? Share with us below!
Order Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective No Spill Ant Kill gel bait stations for delivery to your home or business.