How to get rid of ants in the house naturally
Invasion of the Little Ants
Little Black Ants
Ants Inside Your Home
Ants in the House!
Several years ago, we were invaded by little ants. They are everywhere. We get rid of them in one area of the house and they show up in another. We can't leave anything out, or they attack it in force. The darn pests have been in our beds, in our computers, etc. I would appreciate any tip that will help.
Ants in the House: Try Terro Bait
We had a terrible ant problem. After many months of exterminators, we finally found a safe product called Terro Bait. It's a sugar and borax mixture in a trap. It draws the ants. For a few days, it is really gross, but then they are gone, because they take the food back to the queen/nest.
Susan in Livermore, CA
Ants in the House: Cinnamon Does the Trick
When my husband and I moved into our apartment 3 1/2 years ago, we found ants all over our kitchen. I did some research and found a non-toxic repellant that would not bother our two cats. Put cinnamon at doorways and anywhere you repeatedly see ants. It has worked wonders. No more ants!
Ants in the House: A Natural Product That's Sure to Work
I have used Diatomaceous Earth around our house for a variety of insect problems, such as ants, fleas, crickets, wasps, etc. It's a natural product made of finely milled fossilized shells of tiny organisms called diatoms. When an insect comes into contact with the stuff, it sticks to the insect and literally shreds its exoskeleton. The insect dehydrates and dies within hours. Since it's a natural product, it's safe to use inside the house. The bad side to it is that it can be a skin irritant. Also, don't breathe the dust. It can be a bit messy to use, but it's safe to use even around food.
I use it both inside and outside. I dust it all around the foundation, since insects have to crawl through the stuff to get inside. Just reapply after it rains for as long as the problem exists. Inside, put it in cracks, crevices, behind the refrigerator, and anywhere you see insects coming in. Set a trap for the ants. Mix the Diatomaceous Earth with something they will eat. It's guaranteed to work. Also, sprinkle it around the yard on any nests you find. It'll kill all the insects, but it is totally safe around pets. I even brush a small amount of it into my cat's fur to keep fleas away.
You can get diatomaceous earth at pet stores and at lawn and garden stores. It's inexpensive and safe to use anywhere, and insects cannot develop an immunity to it as they can with commercial chemical pesticides.
Ants in the House: Some Like It Hot!
I have always found cayenne pepper useful. Sprinkle ground cayenne pepper around the points of entry and ants won't cross over it
Ants in the House: Work from the Outside In
I don't know where you live, but I live in the Northeast so we really only have to deal with them a few months out of the year. However, I think everyone in my family has had an ant problem at some point and these are some of the things that have worked.
I usually start on the outside. Home Depot has ant pellets and sprays that create a barrier around your house. (I prefer the pellets that you sprinkle because they are triggered by water. Every time it rains they continue working.) I sprinkle a line around my house and scatter them across the lawn. Then I use the ant trap stakes that you press into the ground. I place one every ten feet or so all around the house, making sure to press them down good so they do not get caught in the lawn mower.
Inside, I first do a little investigation to see if there is something attracting them. An accidental sugar spill that I didn't know about was the culprit one summer. Ants love sweets. Make sure you have everything sealed in containers and your fruit stored in the refrigerator. Check for any spills and clean them up.
After cleaning, I then fill a spray bottle with half lemon juice and half water and wipe down all of my cupboards, stove, countertops, and windowsills. Ants hate the smell of lemon. I've heard that you can use lemon-scented cleaners, but I clean with my usual cleaner and then simply wipe down with the lemon juice. And that usually does the trick.
There is also a plant often called the mosquito plant that gives off a citrus scent that you might try. I usually have some outside on the patio but they will do quite well inside also.
Andrea in Maine
Ants in the House: Win the Victory with Vinegar
When we lived in Florida, we had problems with "sugar ants." They were tiny critters that invaded our kitchen constantly. With three cats and a dog, we were hesitant to use pesticides. I found that white vinegar worked wonders. I filled a spray bottle with white vinegar, and every night before bed, I would liberally "mist" the countertops, floor around the garbage can, etc. and let it dry. (I suppose you could just wipe it on with a rag if you preferred). The vinegar smell disappears quickly, and it's non-toxic and cheap.
Becki in Indiana
Shop the web's most popular pest control store at DoMyOwnPestControl.com
Ants in the House: No, It's Not Breakfast!
Sprinkle cinnamon or cornmeal around the house and under cabinets. Ants don't like cinnamon, and if they eat the cornmeal and then drink water, the cornmeal swells up and kills them. They also carry the cornmeal to their nest, so the ants there will die as well. You can put cornmeal around outside, but you will have to replace it after it rains. Cinnamon won't hurt anything in the house and will help your house smell good. You can just vacuum and reapply as needed.
Ants in the House: Tried-and-True Methods
I, too, have invasions of those tiny ants, usually for a few weeks in the spring. I have tried the little bait traps you can buy and it's possible that they are destroying some nests, but I still have ants. Other methods that have worked for me:
- The most effective solution for me has been to find out where the ants are coming in and create a barrier. The best barrier, by far, has been clear dishwashing liquid. (I use Ivory.) Pour a little in a paper cup and dab it on the surface with a Q-tip. The detergent is invisible and you don't have to worry about using it on surfaces in your kitchen. Ants absolutely won't walk across it. This worked well in my mailbox (they were nesting in the door hinge) and when ants were coming in a tiny gap under the hinge side of my back door.
- If I'm not sure how the ants are getting in, I scatter around some granules of uncooked Malt-o-Meal where the ants are. When my house was being remodeled, one of the workers told me he had heard about this on one of the nature channels. The ants love the granules and take them back to the nest and feed them to the queen, but the ants can't digest Malt-o-Meal and they eventually die. I don't really know for sure if this is working, just like the bait traps, but I do seem to have a lot fewer ants since I started doing this.
- The ants need moisture to survive. I cleared several years' worth of leaf mold away from the foundation of my house outside of the wall where they seemed to be entering and found two or three big nests of the ants, which I cleared away. This really decreased the number of ants coming into the house. I have also had them attracted by potted plants and a vase of flowers, so during the worst months, I keep these away from outside walls.
- The ants also love warmth. I've had them get into the recharger unit of a flashlight that was mounted on an outside wall. I unplugged it and let it cool so the ants would leave, and then moved it to another location on an inside wall. When they were attracted to the warmth of the clock radio next to my bed and started raising their babies under it, I got rid of them with a damp paper towel and then sprinkled a lot of dry boric acid powder under the clock and they never came back. You can buy boric acid in the first aid section of any store, and it is very inexpensive.
Ants in the House: Make the Ants a Sweet Treat
My mother-in-law shared this trick with me and it really works! Make a 50/50 mixture of powdered sugar and borax. Put it in a lid or on a paper plate. The ants are attracted to the sugar and take the borax back to the nest with the sugar. We had landscaping done and it must have disturbed a nest of carpenter ants. They were everywhere, inside and outside. One plate for the inside and one for the outside cleared our problem up in about a week. Be sure children and pets cannot get at the mixture. Borax is harmful if ingested. You can find borax in the laundry soap isle of your grocery store.
Ants in the House: Cut Back Tree Limbs and Shrubs from House
To avoid ants, you must be sure that you have no tree limbs touching your house. Cut back all tree limbs and large shrubs so the ants can't climb up them to enter your house. Be sure to keep leaves away from your foundation. Again, the ants use the leaves as a thoroughfare to your house. We have had two ant invasions. All the ant traps and sprays in the world did no good. But, cutting back limbs and raking leaves away from the foundation have kept us ant free for years. Also, since ants won't cross a chalk line, keep some chalk on hand if you see that they have begun a convoy into your house from a window or doorway until you can take further action.
JD in St. Louis
Take the Next Step
- Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar!
- Visit our "Handy Household Tips" board today!
See "Getting Rid of Ants" in The Dollar Stretcher Community
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor and tell us what's on your mind.
More Tips & Tools to Help You
Live Better...For Less
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Top 10 DIY mistakes made by home 'handymen'
- How to hire an affordable, reliable housesitter
- Helping your adult children with housing
- 10 ways to cut the cost of cleaning
- Installing bathroom in-floor heat
- Natural homemade laundry soap recipes
- How to reduce heating bills this winter
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Should I borrow from my home equity?
- How much can additional payments save me on my mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?