Kitchen

Expert Tips: 22 Natural Ways To Get Rid of Ants

Looking for ways to kill ants naturally and keep ants out of your house without harmful chemicals?

With these 22 natural ant control methods and ant repellent recipes, you can effectively ward off pests and keep your space ant-free.

Our guide to home remedies for ants in the house contains everything from using essential oils to creating DIY ant traps. Below, there are plenty of easy and eco-friendly options to choose from. So say goodbye to ants and hello to a bug-free home with these expert tips!

First, let’s learn about why you may have ants.

3 Things That Attract Ants to Your Home

  1. Food Sources: Crumbs, open containers, dirty dishes, or pet food.
  2. Water & Moisture: Standing puddles, home leaks, general moisture.
  3. Shelter: Small nooks, easy-access holes in walls, window sills, leaves in gutters.

If you have easy access to those three things, ants will come parading in. So, if you can disrupt any of those basic needs you can effectively repel ants from your land and home.

How Do I Keep Ants Out Of My Home For Good?

Many of the natural solutions below are mitigation techniques that will buy you time to seal your house and stop future invasions.

Once you’ve deterred the ants from moving into your home or killed the ants that have already moved in, it’s important to seal the source.

So, let’s get started. How do you get rid of the ants and stop them from invading your home?

Here are 21 natural ways to deter or eliminate ants, along with instructions on how to use each method.

1. White Vinegar Solution

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Disorient

What smells do ants hate the most? Sour and citrus smells.

So, one of the easiest ant repellant sprays you can make is by mixing equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray this solution directly on ants and their ant trails.

Be careful, however, as some surfaces are sensitive to vinegar’s acidity.

Why It Works

The strong scent and acidic quality of white vinegar erases their scent trails which are created by ant pheromones. This disorients the ants, making them lose track of their ant parade and it’s planned location.

It’s important to note that white vinegar does not kill ants, it only slows them down from invading your home. If the ants you’ve discovered are relocating into your home, a white vinegar spray is a great way to delay their migration.

This delay will allow you to get your hands on a natural ant killer, like Borax.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

2. Cinnamon

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Disorient

Another scent that ants hate is cinnamon.

Make a spray with water and cinnamon leaf essential oil or cinnamon essential oil. Reapply the cinnamon powder if it gets disrupted. If you’ve used a cinnamon oil spray, reapply daily.

Why It Works

According to this 2022 study, cinnamon repels ants due to its strong scent and the presence of an essential oil called cinnamaldehyde. Of the choices of cinnamon essential oils, cinnamon leaf porves to be the stronger choice.

This compound is the main active ingredient in cinnamon which gives it its distinctive smell and flavor. According to this 2019 study, ants rely heavily on their sense of smell to find food, communicate with other ants, and navigate their environment. The powerful aroma of cinnamon can disrupt ants’ scent trails and their ability to communicate. Scent trails are vital for ants to find food and guide other ants to it.

The overwhelming smell masks the pheromone trails ants leave behind, making it difficult for them to find their way back to their food sources or the nest.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

3. Lemon Juice

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Disorient

One of the easiest ways to deter ants from entering your home is to block their way with lemon juice.

Simply squeeze a lemon along and around an active ant trail to disrupt their plans.

It’s important to note that lemon juice does not kill ants, it simply distracts them from moving into your home. The next step is to kill off the entire ant colony. Once they’re distracted due to losing their pheromone trail, pick up some borax to completely get rid of the ants.

Why It Works

According to this 2020 study, lemon juice repels ants due to its strong acidic nature and the presence of limonene, a natural compound found in lemon and other citrus fruits.

Like white vinegar, the acidity of lemon juice can disrupt ants’ pheromone trails, which are essential for their navigation and communication. Ants use these scent trails to direct other members of their colony to food sources and back to the nest.

When lemon juice is applied to these trails, it erases the pheromones, causing confusion and disorientation among the ants.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

4. Peppermint Oil

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Disorient

Place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls and position them near entry points. The strong scent repels ants.

You can also create a peppermint essential oil spray to use on entry points and along an active ant trail. When sprayed on the pavement, ants will avoid that area for as long as the scent lingers.

Use peppermint oil to buy yourself time to get an ant colony killer, such as borax. Tea tree oil is also a good substitute for peppermint essential oil.

Why It Works

This 2020 study shows that peppermint oil repels ants because of its strong scent and the presence of menthol, a natural compound that provides the oil with its cooling and refreshing aroma.

Ants, along with many other pests, are highly sensitive to strong smells, which can overwhelm their olfactory system.

This is used for detecting food and danger, as well as for communication within their colony. The potent aroma of peppermint oil can mask ants’ pheromone trails, disrupting their ability to navigate, find food sources, or communicate effectively with each other.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! This ant deterrent works!

5. Borax & Sugar Bait

Solution Type: Ant Bait, Ant Killer

Once you’ve slowed down your ant infestation, or if ants have already built ant colonies inside your home, it’s time to attract and kill them.

On a small plate or shallow bowl, mix 1 part borax with 3 parts sugar and a little water to form a watery paste.

Place this paste near ant trails or the source of your ant problem; the sugar attracts ants while borax eliminates them.

This method is very effective for killing an entire colony, as ants will take the bait back to their nest, where all the ants will consume the poison.

We chose Borax because it’s safer to use than boric acid. This method works so well to get rid of ants, in fact, that it’s the base for many commercial ant traps, such as Terro.

Why It Works

Borax and sugar bait effectively kills ants by combining the attractive properties of sugar with the toxic effects of Borax (sodium tetraborate).

Ants are drawn to the bait due to their need for sugary substances for energy. When they ingest the mixture, they also consume the Borax, which disrupts their digestive system and interferes with their energy production.

Similar to using boric acid, this ingestion leads to a slow, toxic death. Moreover, ants share food within their colony through a process called trophallaxis. Through this, the poison is distributed among the colony members, including the queen, which can lead to the collapse of the entire ant colony.

This solution kills all ant species, including indoor ants, outdoor ants, carpenter ants, fire ants, and black ants.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

6. Diatomaceous Earth (DE):

Solution Type: Ant Killer

Diatomaceous Earth is our favorite chemical-free, eco-friendly ant killer.

Simply sprinkle food-grade DE around the perimeter of your home and near ant entry points. This can also be used around the perimeter of your garden to stop wingless bugs from invading your plants.

It’s important to apply DE when the ground is dry, as moisture decreases its effectiveness.

Why It Works

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) kills ants through a physical process that is both effective and non-toxic to humans and pets when food-grade DE is used.

DE is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Their skeletons are made of silica, a natural substance that, under a microscope, looks like tiny, sharp shards. When ants come into contact with DE, the sharp edges of the silica particles cut through the ants’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate and die.

7. Coffee Grounds

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Disorient

If your compost pile is full, coffee grounds have a great use as an ant repellant.

Sprinkle used coffee grounds around your garden and the outside of your home. Similar to white vinegar, ants dislike the smell and acidity.

Why It Works

Coffee grounds repel ants due to their strong smell and potentially acidic nature, which ants find unpleasant.

Ants are highly reliant on their sense of smell to navigate, find food, and communicate with each other through pheromone trails. The potent aroma of coffee grounds can mask these pheromone trails, disrupting the ants’ ability to navigate effectively and deterring them from crossing areas treated with coffee grounds.

However, be sure to consistently change out the coffee grounds weekly untiul you’re able to put your ant killer in place.

8. Chalk Lines

Solution Type: Disorient

Draw chalk lines at entry points, and draw longer lines perpendicular to their active path.

Why It Works

Have you ever seen A Bug’s Life?

Much like that leaf that falls in the path of the ants, chalk lines are thought to act as a perceived physical barrier that ants are hesitant to cross.

This will disorient the ants for long enough for you to implement an ant killing method.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

9. Cucumber Peels

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Place cucumber peels in areas of ant activity.

Why It Works

Cucumber peels are believed to repel ants due to compounds they contain that ants find distasteful or toxic.

One theory suggests that certain substances in cucumber peels, especially those from bitter cucumbers, may interfere with the ants’ natural aversion to certain chemicals. The specific compounds involved are not well-documented, but it is thought that the cucurbitacins in cucumber peels, which give them their bitter taste, play a key role in deterring ants.

10. Cornmeal

Solution Type: Ant Killer

Scatter cornmeal where you see ants.

They eat it, cannot digest it, and eventually die.

Why It Works

One theory suggests that once ants eat the cornmeal, it expands inside their stomachs and causes them to dehydrate or starve because they are unable to process the grain.

Another version of this theory hypothesizes that the cornmeal will expand within the ant after it drinks water, causing internal distress or rupture.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

11. Citrus Peel Spray

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Blend citrus peels with water, strain, and spray the mixture around your home. You can also use any citrus essential oil and water to make your own citrus spray.

Why It Works
Citrus oil repels ants due to the presence of d-limonene, a natural compound found in the oil extracted from the peels of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. D-limonene is known for its strong citrus scent and has insecticidal properties, which make it effective in disrupting ants’ pheromone trails and acting as a natural deterrent. The strong citrus scent of these oils masks the ants’ pheromone trails, making it difficult for them to find their way back to food sources or their colony.

Additionally, d-limonene can act as a solvent, which may degrade the protective waxy coating on the ants’ exoskeletons, leading to dehydration and death in some cases.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

12. Essential Oil Barrier

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Create a barrier around your home using diluted essential oils like clove, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus by applying them along entry points.

Why It Works

When applied around your home, these essential oils create a scent barrier that ants are likely to avoid as the strong odors mask the ants’ scent trails. Additionally, the potential toxic effects of these oils’ active compounds can pose a direct threat to ants, further enhancing their repellent properties.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! This ant deterrent works!

13. Baking Soda & Sugar

Solution Type: Ant Bait, Ant Killer

While not as effective as Borax and sugar, we’re willing to bet that you’re more likely to have baking soda and powdered sugar on hand.

Mix baking soda with powdered sugar in a 1:1 ratio and place it near ant trails.

Why It Works

Similar to the Borax and sugar method, the sugar attracts ants, while baking soda is toxic to them. The ants will take each grain back to their nest, and when any ant eats the baking soda, it will dehydrate and kill the ant.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works! It’s great if you don’t have immediate access to Borax or boric acid. However, it’s not as effective for migrating carpenter ants.

14. Soap & Water

Solution Type: Ant Killer

Mix dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spray directly on ants.

Why It Works

Soap and water kill ants by targeting their physical structure and breathing process. The soap breaks down the oily layer on the ants’ exoskeletons, which is crucial for their hydration and protection. Without this protective layer, ants rapidly dehydrate and die.

Furthermore, the soap can clog the spiracles, small openings on an ant’s body used for breathing, leading to suffocation. This method is effective because it physically disrupts essential life-sustaining processes in ants, making it a quick and non-toxic way to deal with these pests.

15. Mint

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Plant mint around your home. The strong scent repels ants and other pests.

Be sure to contain your mint in pots and planters, because it is an aggressive grower and can take over your entire yard. We like mojitos, but not that much.

Why It Works
Mint plants repel ants due to their strong aroma, which is overwhelming to ants and other pests, effectively masking the pheromone trails that ants use to navigate and communicate. When the mint’s strong scent interferes with these trails, it disorients the ants, making it difficult for them to establish routes to food sources or back to their nest.

Additionally, the essential oils in mint may have repellent properties that are intrinsically unappealing or toxic to ants, further discouraging their presence.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

16. Bay Leaves

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Place bay leaves in cabinets, drawers, or areas where food is stored. The scent deters ants.

Why It Works

Bay leaves repel ants due to the potent essential oils and compounds they contain, which emit a strong fragrance unappealing to ants. These compounds include eucalyptol, cineol, and pinene, that can mask ants’ pheromone trails and disrupt their ability to navigate or communicate effectively.

17. Cayenne Pepper or Black Pepper

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Sprinkle cayenne or black pepper at entry points or ant trails. Ants will avoid these spicy barriers.

Why It Works

Pepper repels ants due to its strong, pungent odor that overwhelms the ants’ sensitive olfactory receptors.

Both black pepper and cayenne pepper contain potent aromatic compounds that can interfere with ants’ ability to communicate and navigate.

18. Clove Oil

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Ant Killer

Place a few drops of clove essential oil on a cotton ball and wipe across entry points. The eugenol in clove oil is a natural ant repellent and a potential ant killer.

Why It Works

Clove oil repels ants due to eugenol, a powerful compound it contains, which has a strong aroma and insecticidal properties. Eugenol interferes with the ants’ pheromone trails, which are crucial for their navigation and communication. Also, eugenol in clove oil can act as a contact insecticide, causing lethality to ants upon direct exposure. However, high potency is required, which can also be harmful to surfaces and skin.

19. Garlic Cloves

Place lightly crushed garlic cloves near areas where ants enter.

Why It Works

Garlic cloves repel ants due to their strong odor, which is a result of allicin, a sulfur-containing compound produced when garlic is crushed or chopped.

In fact, commercial ant killer, such as Ortho Orthene, utilizes sulphur as its main ingredient to kill fire ants.

20. Sulfur Powder

Solution Type: Ant Repellant, Ant Killer

Sprinkle sulfur powder anywhere ants live or travel. You can even sprinkle sulfur powder directly onto ant beds and plant soil, if ants have made their nests inside.

In fact, commercial ant killer, such as Ortho Orthene, utilizes sulphur as its main ingredient to kill fire ants.

Why It Works

Sulfur powder kills ants through a combination of toxic effects and by disrupting their physical environment. When ants come into contact with sulfur, it can act as a poison, affecting their physiological functions. Sulfur, when ingested or absorbed through the exoskeleton, can disrupt the normal functioning of an ant’s cells and organs. This disruption can lead to the ants’ death due to the toxic properties of sulfur.

Additionally, sulfur can alter the conditions of the habitat that ants live in. For instance, sulfur can change the pH level of the soil, making it inhospitable for ants.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

21. Neem Oil

Solution Type: Ant Killer

Dilute neem oil with water and spray it around the house. It acts as a natural insecticide, so this is also a natural insect repellent!

Why It Works

Neem oil affects ants through its active component, azadirachtin, which disrupts the hormones and feeding behavior of the ants, acting as both a repellent and an insecticide. Azadirachtin interferes with the regulation of hormones necessary for growth, development, and reproduction. This disruption can prevent ants from molting properly, leading to their death or significantly reducing their population growth over time.

Additionally, neem oil has antifeedant properties that discourage ants from eating treated surfaces.

Have We Tried It?

✅ Yes! It works!

22. Tansy

Solution Type: Ant Repellant

Plant tansy near your home. Its strong aroma repels ants and other insects.

Why It Works

Tansy repels ants due to its strong aroma and the presence of certain compounds that are toxic or unpleasant to many insects, including ants. The plant contains volatile oils and substances such as thujone, camphor, and borneol, which contribute to its insect-repelling properties. These compounds can interfere with ants’ sensory receptors, making the area around tansy plants unattractive for foraging and nesting.

What Is The Best Homemade Ant Killer For Ant Nests?

Through our testing, we’ve found that the best homemade ant killer is Borax and sugar water! The ants get attracted to the sweetness, gather around it like a seance, take it back to their nest, and then we never see an ant again!

Home Remedies That Don’t Repel Ants

We’re sorry to say that water, flour, cornstarch, unblinded citrus peels, plain sugar water, and whole or ground cinnamon or cloves will not repel nor kill ants.

Also, as you noticed for the baking soda and powdered sugar ant bait, each method may work slightly differently for each type of and.

For best results, identify and target the ants’ entry points. Then, use the methods above while removing the cause (entry points, attractants like food crumbs, pet food, etc.). Regular cleaning and proper food storage are key in preventing ant infestations. If you have a massive ant infestation with thousands of ants in your walls, professional ant removal or pest control may be necessary.

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Aurora Moone

Aurora Moone is a beautiful, kind-spirited, loving, motivating, and exciting Witch of 21 years. Having traveled all over the United States, Aurora has close friends of every religious background and spiritual path. She believes, whole-heartedly, in the power of coexistence through love, respect, and growth. She feels that we have responsibilities that involve everyone, no matter what path they walk. “No matter what group you commit to, no matter what spirituality you align with, no matter what religion you follow, no matter what political party you fall under, and no matter what your gender or race is, we are all citizens of Earth, and we all have a responsibility.” – Aurora Moone During her time in Hattiesburg, MS, Aurora founded Coexist at Southern Miss and Southern Miss Spell Casters. She specializes in mindfulness, Usui Reiki, Ascension Reiki, Wicca, meditation, extra-sensory perception, instant magic, and tarot analysis and reading. She is a 4th rank Temple Tradition Priestess.

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