Ants are a fact of life, and they seem to know how to make their way into just about anywhere. There are over 12,000 different types of ants in the world, and many ant colonies contain over a million of these pests. They work in large, synchronized groups, which means that if you stumble across one or two ants in your home, there are probably a lot just around the corner. I am going to show you how to get rid of ants naturally, and keep them away from your home.
Getting rid of ant colonies in your house using commercial products can be expensive and dangerous. Most commercial ant deterrent products contain harmful chemicals that pose a range of different health risks, and extra caution should be taken if you have young children or pets.
Luckily, getting rid of ants can be done naturally with a range of different products that you likely already have lying around your house, or can be easily purchased online or at a supermarket. Here are some of the most effective and natural ant-eradicating methods out there.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants
Chalk Lines Stop Ants
Chances are you never would have guessed that those broken pieces of sidewalk chalk you have lying around your garage could be so useful for warding off ants. The calcium carbonate in chalk works by disrupting their ability to pick up on the scent trails of other ants.
Essentially, ants won’t cross a line of chalk, and it causes them to become confused and lose their trail. This method works best as a temporary solution and with a fresh, thick line of chalk that is drawn directly over an existing ant trail.
This method is most effective by locating the point of entry into your home and drawing a line of chalk through it that disrupts the ant scent trail. Of course, once it rains, it will wash away the chalk and you’ll need to reapply.
Here is how to effectively use this method:
- Find a piece of white chalk.
- Follow an ant trail as close to their point of entry as possible.
- Use the piece of chalk to draw a thick line blocking their path.
- Repeat as needed. As mentioned above, this method only works to temporarily disrupt an ant trail, but does not eradicate colonies of ants from finding their way into your home altogether.
Tip: If you don’t have a piece of chalk, grab a bag of powdered chalk from your sporting goods store. Rock climbers use it to help keep their hands dry.
Citrus and Vinegar Smell Bad to Ants
White vinegar works wonders for repelling ants. If you are dealing with an ant infestation in your home, try using white vinegar as a cleaning agent for hard surfaces, floors, and countertops. After the vinegar dries, you won’t be able to smell it, but the ants will and it will continue to work by keeping them away long after it dries.
To use this method:
- Place a handful of citrus peels into a pan on the stove set to medium heat.
- Add enough white vinegar to cover the peels.
- Let the citrus peel and vinegar mixture heat but do not let it boil.
- Allow the mixture cool, remove the peels, and then add the infused vinegar to a glass spray bottle.
- Identify the ants’ entry point to your house and spray that point with a hearty dose of the vinegar and citrus mixture. This works by blocking the pheromones and the scent trail for the ants, which causes them to be confused and uninterested in proceeding past the vinegar-laden area.
- Continue spraying the area every few days until the ants give up and move somewhere else. This method may require quite a few reapplications before the ants have fully surrendered.
Ants Hate the Smell of Pepper
Ants happen to hate the smell of pepper, as it acts as an irritant to their systems, causing them to avoid anything peppery-smelling like the plague. Both black and cayenne pepper act as effective ant deterrents.
Here’s how it works:
- Locate the source of entry of the ant trail.
- Sprinkle some pepper at that point.
- You can also sprinkle pepper around the wall-edges of countertops. It will help keep them off of your counters and cupboards. It is more important to keep them out of your house altogether, but this is a quick way to keep them away from your food.
Diatomaceous Earth Kills Ants
Diatomaceous earth is an extremely effective natural ant killer. It is safe to use around kids and pets and it is also environmentally friendly. It is made from silicon dioxide and the fossilized remains of underwater organisms.
This is razor-sharp to small organisms like ants, and kills them as they lose the oil from their skeletons, essentially dehydrating them to death. Morbid, right?
This is best sprinkled around the known entry points, both inside and outside the home.
To use this method:
- Identify areas where you have seen ant trails coming into your home.
- Apply a thin layer of diatomaceous earth to these areas, extending out at least one foot.
- For ants inside the home, spread a small layer along baseboards, floors, windows, and cracks where you have seen ants enter.
- Wait 24-48 hours, remove the diatomaceous earth and carefully wash those areas. This will rid the surface of the pheromones that attract more ants.
- You may need to repeat this process a few times as they will try to find alternate ways into your home.
Best Plants As a Natural Ant Repellent
Certain plants act as natural ant deterrents, so this method is like a double whammy, as you’ll be warding off ants while at the same time adding all sorts of lovely greenery around your home.
Here are some of the best plants for warding off ants:
- Mint – I love this natural ant repellent. Ants are not fans of the smell of mint. I planted some mint around the perimeter of my home and it definitely helped to keep the ants away. Just a word of warning though: mint spreads quickly and will try to take over your whole yard, so be cautious and read up on ways to prevent this before planting it. Fresh sprigs of mint in small jars can be placed on your countertops to keep them away. It really makes the kitchen look great too!
- Tansy – This commonly found plant repels sugar ants. Those are the ones most commonly found in your kitchen. It is considered an invasive species, but it grows extremely well. Just make sure to trim it back before it goes to seed, otherwise it will spread everywhere.
- Sage, catnip, and pennyroyal – These herbs basically make ants run in the opposite direction. Keep small jars or vases of these herbs around your countertops to repel ants and plant some around your home.
- Marigold – Ants can’t stand these lovely flowers. Plant some of these around areas of your house or garden where you want to ward off ants. Marigolds, unlike mint, have the advantage of not spreading and will basically stay put wherever you plant them.
Cinnamon Repels Ants
Inhaling cinnamon causes ants to suffocate and die. Again, morbid, right? This makes cinnamon an extremely effective and safe ant deterrent. Plus, it makes your house smell great!
- Sprinkle ground cinnamon on an ant trail or around an anthill opening. They will find another place to live.
- Make a cinnamon essential oil spray. Simply mix 5-10 drops of cinnamon essential oil with water and spray on ant trails, around doors, cracks, windows, and countertops to avoid ant infestations.
Tip: This is a safe option to use inside your home and helps your home smell nice at the same time.
Borax, Sugar, and Water Attracts and Kills Ants
This recipe is basically fool-proof for keeping ants away. Just be sure to be cautious if using this method in a household with young children or pets. It works by baiting the ants with sugar. The added borax interferes with their digestive system and kills them.
This method works especially well because it doesn’t result in an instant death, which means they have time to bring the borax back to their home helping to eradicate the ant problem at the source. It actually takes a few days for the ants to die, so be patient throughout the process. Also, be sure to lock your pets up before placing the cotton balls out just to be safe. Ants are not attracted to borax by itself, so you will need the sugar for this method to work.
Here’s how to make it:
- Mix one cup of water, ¼ cup sugar and 1 tbs of borax in a saucepan.
- Heat the mixture ever so slightly. Don’t let it boil. Stir until it is completely combined.
- Soak cotton balls in the mixture.
- Place the cotton balls near the ant trail or anywhere that ants are present.
- The ants will be attracted to the sugar, but will bring the borax back to their home in the process. Some ant species will be drawn to peanut butter, so you can add that to the cotton balls as well.
Preventing Ants From Coming Into Your House
What are some of the most effective ways to prevent ants from invading your home?
- Cut off their food source.
- Clean the kitchen well. Don’t let crumbs linger.
- Use tight fitting containers for sugar and sweets.
- Locate the source where they are entering your home and seal the cracks. Add natural repellents to those areas.
- Pick up pet food when pets are done eating.
Let us know how they worked for you and if those pesky ants finally went away! Sometimes, they are determined and we have to call in the pest control but I prefer to go through all of these methods first!