Don’t wait until ants have overrun your kitchen to find out how to get rid of ants. These easy, non-toxic steps will get them out of your home and keep them away for good.
I get asked a lot of cleaning questions, with one of the most common being how to get rid of ants. (The very most common is: “Will you come clean my house?”) If ants have ever invaded your home, you know they’re unsightly and seem to appear out of nowhere. Plus, after you see the first ant it seems like there are suddenly dozens all over your house.
Now, while I won’t come clean your home, I’m happy to share with you these tips about how to get rid of ants without having to call an exterminator.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Indoors
1. Destroy the scent trail. Ants you see crawling on your counters or floors are there in search of food. As they forage, they leave behind a trail for other ants — those outdoors, along with others already nesting in your home. Destroy this trail by cleaning with a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. (My homemade disinfecting wipes will destroy the scent trail on counters, while my homemade floor cleaner will kill it on all hard flooring surfaces.)
2. Clean their feeding grounds. Crumbs on the floor, spills near the stove, and open containers of food in the pantry or cupboards are all-you-can-eat buffets for ants. Once you’ve started seeing them in your kitchen, it’s time to get out the serious tools. Sweep or vacuum your floors, paying particular attention to the base of appliances, cabinets and walls. Do a thorough weekly kitchen cleaning routine and a full pantry cleaning, too.
3. Clear out their hiding places. Toss or recycle any stacks of newspapers that have piled up in your home, as ants love to hide in them. Put away pet food between feedings and wash pet bowls after each use. (A thin coat of petroleum around the base of the bowl will keep ants from climbing into it.) Sort through clutter under your kitchen sink and wipe up any spills there with a microfiber cloth, then clean your kitchen and bathroom trash cans.
4. Use other deterrents as needed. There are a few scents that ants cannot stand, lavender and peppermint being two that humans often find very pleasant. Turn these into your allies by adding their essential oils to your homemade cleaning mixes. You can also leave an opened package of sugar-free peppermint gum on pantry shelves to keep them ant-free, or grow pots of lavender and peppermint near your doors to keep the ants outside.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Outdoors
Ants enter the home through cracks and crevices, so it’s important to address outdoor sources and entry points if you want to control them indoors.
1. Find the colony. Ants enter your home scouting for food. Once they find it, others from the colony will follow their scent trail to the buffet. To stop them, you need to locate the colony and destroy it. Look in your yard and along your home’s foundation. You can often recognize the colony by the soft, fresh soil on top of it. Carpenter ants build nests in damaged or moist wood. Places to look include your home’s siding, wood piles, damaged trees, and rotting stumps.
2. Destroy their homes. The easiest way to destroy the colony or nest is by pouring boiling water on it. Obviously, this requires a bit of planning and care. You’ll want to make sure you have enough water to soak the area. If you’re working solo, move a beverage cooler close to the area and pour boiling water into it, then close the lid while you heat another pot. Once you’ve got enough water, open the cooler and tip it onto the ant colony.
3. Make them unwelcome. To keep ants from re-establishing colonies or nests in your yard keep your lawn mowed and foundation plantings trimmed. Don’t grow ant-attracting flowers (like peonies, clematis, lilies) or vegetables (artichokes) near your home’s foundations. Pick up fallen wood, keep your trees in good condition, and extract stumps rather than letting them rot in place.
4. Create a barrier to entry. Ants enter homes through any available crevice. Keep them out by using caulk to seal gaps around doors, windows, and window casings. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth below washer/dryer vents and other openings; it cuts through their exoskeletons so ants won’t walk through it.
Clearly, how to kill ants naturally is a bit more involved than placing a call to a professional exterminator, but it DOES work. Plus, once you get into the habit of using a peppermint-scented cleaning solution year-round, you’ll find your home isn’t invaded by ants every time the seasons change. Putting an end to that aggravation is worth the effort!