If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ants invading my home! Ants don’t have to be invited to come in; they just show up. It doesn’t matter if your house is twenty years old or just been built. They like them all the same. They can get in the darnedest places, too! I’ve felt like Sherlock Holmes before, investigating where the little boogers were coming in. Chemical sprays and insecticides stink and half the time they don’t work anyway. Plus, I have pets, and don’t want to take a chance on one of them slithering through poison. (Did I mention my pets are snakes?) ANYway, I’ve found a few natural ways to get rid of ants instead. So, without further ado, here are 10 natural remedies to get rid of ants.
#1- ESSENTIAL OILS
I absolutely love essential oils, candles, tart burners, anything that makes my home smell nice. So, this is one of my favorite ways to get rid of ants. There’s several you can try; there’s a scent for everyone. Or you can mix them for an awesome smelling ant-repelling spray. (Recipe below)
• Peppermint Essential Oil
Ants mark a path using pheromones from their nest to food so other ants can find it, too. Peppermint Oil disrupts their trail, so they are unable to find it or follow it. They’ll go in the other direction.
To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball (or Q-tip for hard-to-reach cracks) and wipe down entry points and baseboards. You can also soak cotton balls and leave them inside cabinets and other high-activity areas. Repeat every two days until you don’t see anymore ants. Your house is going to smell great, too.
Can also be used to make anti-ant spray. (Recipe below)
• Citrus Essential Oils
Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit are my faves. Something in citrus oils is toxic to ants, in addition to interfering with their scent trails. Plus, all of these smell so good! You’ll think you’re living in some tropical paradise full of citrus trees! (Only with ants…but not for long!)
To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball (or Q-tip for hard-to-reach cracks) and wipe down entry points and baseboards. As with the Peppermint, you can also leave citrus oil soaked cotton balls in cabinets and high-activity areas. Repeat every two days until ants are gone. Can also be used to make ant-be-gone spray. (Recipe below)
Clove Essential Oil
This oil also masks scent trails, but it also kills on contact. This super-duper bug-zapping oil can kill a number of different households pests in addition to ants, such as roaches, flies, spiders, fleas, dust mites, wasps, and crickets. It’s like a kill-all oil, so it’s definitely handy to have around.
To use: This oil works best when mixed with others, so check out the recipe below for the handy-dandy ant spray. Also, don’t use much of the Clove oil; it’s super strong.
ANT AWAY SPRAY (Or whatever you want to call it)
1/4 cup purified water
1/4 vodka (this keeps the oil better mixed with the water, but if you’ve already drank all the vodka, just add another 1/4 cup of water. You’ll just have to shake the mixture a LOT.
25 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
12 drops of Citrus Essential Oil OR 1-5 drops of Clove Essential Oil
Pour all ingredients in a squirt bottle and shake well. Spray around baseboards, windows, doors, and any other entry points. Spray it everywhere you’ve ever seen an ant. Repeat every two days until no more ants. *Don’t forget to shake it before every use.
#2- CITRUS PEELS/CUCUMBER PEELS
We’ve already established that ants don’t like citrus, so here’s just another way you can utilize citrus if you don’t have essential oils.
• Save peels from oranges, lemons, or grapefruits and dry them. Once dried, grind them and spread them near entry points, in flower beds and potted plants, and around the perimeter of your house. Repeat as often as needed until you’re ants are no longer a problem.
• If you choose to try cucumber peels, just put them out fresh instead of dry and ground. Place the peeling pieces in spots you’ve seen ants. Replace daily as they dry out quickly. Repeat until ants are all gone.
There are several ways to use cinnamon, another great-smelling ant-repelling fragrance.
• You can place cinnamon sticks in window sills and under door frames to discourage the uninvited guests from entering. If you want to boost the fragrance, just add a few drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil to the stick.
• Which brings us to the second way you can use cinnamon, with it’s essential oil. Spray Cinnamon Essential Oil all around doors, windows, known entry points, and anywhere else you’ve seen ants.
• The last way you can use it is actual powdered cinnamon. It might be a bit messy, but you can use it outside if you’d prefer. Sprinkle it all around the exterior base of your house and around entry points. If you know where the little pests are coming in, smother them with it.
Again, ants do not like citrus and it disrupts their pheromone trail. You can use pure lemon juice to spray around windows, doors, and entry points. Lemon-scented cleanser works, too, and you can use it to spray your sinks, cabinets, table and counter tops, even the microwave. This will help remove any lingering food smells that may have been left behind. So far, you’re house is going to smell terrific! Once you’re neighbors find out how great your house smells you may have a pest of a different kind. I’m kidding, I’m kidding…really…I am.
#5- COFFEE GROUNDS
Instead of dumping your coffee grounds when making a new pot, keep them to help get rid of your ant problem. Apparently, ants don’t need coffee to stay awake. Sprinkle the coffee grounds along the edge of flower beds or garden, all around the exterior base of your house, and at entry points to create a barrier that ants won’t cross. You can also use your used coffee grounds to scatter over any known ant hills you can find and ants will get out of there. They really don’t like coffee!
It may not smell very good, but there are several ways of using it. If you don’t like the smell, add one of the above mentioned essential oils. Not only will it smell better, but it will give it a boost, too.
• First, you can use it as is. If you know where the ant nest is, pour a half to whole liter of undiluted white vinegar in it. You won’t have an ant problem anymore. You can also spray it around the exterior base of your home, under windows, and around doors.
• Another remedy is wiping down your kitchen and mopping the floor with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Ants don’t like the acidic nature of vinegar and will stay away eventually.
• If you don’t like the smell of straight vinegar, you can mix it half and half with lemon juice in a spray bottle. Shaking it well, spray around doors, windows, and other entry points. You can also use this to spray directly on ants already in your house to kill them instantly. As mentioned above, you can also add essential oils to your vinegar for better smelling spray; use it the same way.
• The last choice you have with vinegar is to make a mixture of vinegar, dish detergent, (preferably an orange, anti-bacterial) and peppermint oil. This method was referred to me by an elder neighbor and she couldn’t remember quantities of each. I’d say 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 dish soap and 5 drops of peppermint per cup. I’m just guessing, so you might want to experiment with this one, but my neighbor swore by it.
#7- DISH SOAP/WATER
These two can be used in combination with each other or separately. I love when you have choices!
• If you know where the ants are coming in, squirt the hole full of an orange, anti-bacterial dish detergent. I personally used this method and it works! I generally use Dawn, but Palmolive works, too. Cheaper dish soaps may also work, but I think the thicker they are, the better they work. Cheap brands tend to be watery and thin. You can also squirt some around the exterior base of your house and under windows and doors.
• You can mix the same orange dish soap with water and spray directly on ants to kill them instantly. In addition, you can also spray this in hard to reach places if you don’t mind a little dried up soap residue later. (It kind of helps to clean later.)
• You can also use plain, boiling water if you know where the ant nest is. You won’t have anymore problems if you drown their nest with boiling hot water. It will also get rid of weeds sprouting between cracks in the sidewalk or in the mulch.
#8- BAKING SODA/BORAX AND POWDERED SUGAR
The Borax remedy is definitely an old one. If you don’t have Borax, which is powdered laundry detergent booster, you can replace it with baking soda.
• Mix equal parts Borax and powdered sugar. Place some of the mixture in plastic lids or little bowls where ants are commonly seen. The sugar will attract them and they will take the mixture back to their nest. The fatal mixture will then be eaten by the queen, as well as the worker ants, killing out the entire nest.
• You can also mix equal parts of baking soda with powdered sugar. Place the mixture in lids or small bowls where ants are most often seen. Again, the sugar will attract them, but this time, it’s the baking soda that will react inside the ants, setting off a tiny volcanic reaction. Okay, they may not exactly explode, but it will kill them.
• Another way you can use Borax and powdered sugar is by adding just enough water to make a paste. Apply this to thin pieces of cardboard or some other type of stiff, thick paper material. Stick the pasty cardboard pieces in window sills, around doors, and other entry points. The ants will take the mixture back to the nest, killing them all. The paste dries out in a few days and will have to be replaced.
IMPORTANT TIP: Keep Borax away from children and pets. It’s toxic if ingested. You can use the baking soda mixture if you have kids or pets. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What? Yes, chalk! For some reason, ants won’t cross a chalked line. Weird, huh? Just draw a line around windows, doors, and other entry points and ants will stay on the other side. If you try home improvement stores, you can find powdered chalk that comes in a squeeze bottle for easier application. You can also draw a line around outdoor tables and chairs to keep ants at bay when you’re having a cookout or just chilling outside. You can even get your kids in on it! Buy a big box of sidewalk chalk and let the kids go to town. The ants will get the picture!
#10- DIATOMACEOUS EARTH/DE
Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is a food-grade bug killer you can actually eat. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s good to know it’s safe to be ingested by humans and pets. DE is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of silica, which is a natural substance that is also microscopically razor sharp. The way it works is, it causes the ants to dry out and die, the process being sped up by the sharp, cutting edges. Sprinkle the powder directly on ant trails or nests. You can also use it in flower beds if you avoid getting it directly on the flowers. It can also be used inside the house if needed. Just don’t get it wet; if it gets wet, it won’t work anymore.
Certainly at least one of these 10 natural remedies to get rid of ants WILL get rid of your ant problem. Just to be sure, here’s a few tips for keeping them out for good.
• Clean your kitchen often, especially the floors, counter-tops, and cabinets. Keep clutter cleared away.
• Clean the rest of your home often as well, especially furniture surfaces and window sills.
• Keep sweet foods such as sugar, honey, and syrup tightly closed and clean on the outside. Also keep any foods left out covered tightly as well.
• Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.
• Don’t allow moisture to gather on kitchen or bathroom counters and other surfaces.
• Make sure all garbage cans, inside and out, have tightly fitting lids. Wash them periodically as well.
• Look for cracks and crevices around doors and windows as well as around plumbing. Fill any holes with caulk or other type of sealing compound.
• If you’re having a problem with ants getting in your dog’s or cat’s food, make a moat. Place the food bowl in a larger bowl or tray of water. Since ants can’t swim, they won’t cross to get in the pet’s food.
• To keep ants out of your houseplants and potted plants, either sprinkle powdered cinnamon around the container or stick a cinnamon stick in the soil.
• Don’t stack firewood near the house or in it until it is needed. Also, get rid of rotting trees, limbs, and stumps. Ants love making their home in these.
• Last, plant tansy. It’s a pretty yellow following herb that can be planted all around the exterior of your home to repel ants. They hate it! You can even place dried tansy in window sills to keep ants out.