Ants are smart little insects that act together with a collective group mentality. They work very well as a team to ensure their hive’s survival. Some people even think they are cute, with their little antennas and six tiny legs. Errr….well…maybe. If those little bugs are a problem in your home, there are both friendly and not-so-friendly ways to get rid of ants.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of eliminating ants from your home, we need to deal with the reason why they are there in the first place.
Locate the Source
Before we go through getting rid of the ants, we need to know why they are here. What is attracting them? Once upon a time, I came home from the grocery store to find a long line of ants from my front door all the way to my office! Apparently, one of my guests from an entire week ago had spilled a drink behind my desk and didn’t tell me. Welp, I may not have noticed it there, but the ants sure did.
Whether it’s an old sticky juice spill on the floor, or some honey dripping down a jar in your cupboard, there is always a source. Clean up whatever is attracting your new tenants.
Stop Ants from Coming Back
After you have cleaned up the mess and swept away the ants, you might think the problem is solved. Maybe. Maybe not. Ants scout for food and leave behind a trail of pheromones for other ants to follow. To ensure they can’t be traced back into your home, clean the trail scent using a mix of one part vinegar to three parts water. Then, spray wherever you spotted ants.
Keep Ants Out
Seal any cracks into your home to keep ants and other unwanted critters from getting inside. This includes crevices around windows, doors, torn screens, window air conditioners, and foundations. Use caulking, tape, or a sealant.
Repel Ants the Gentle Way
Whether it’s because you don’t want poison around your home or because you hate to kill cute little ants, there are non-lethal ways to get rid of them. Here are a few safe ways to get rid of ants:
Spices and Coffee
The solution to your ant problem may lie in your kitchen pantry. Ants really don’t like the strong smell of cinnamon, black pepper, chili powder, and cloves. So grab any one of these spices and sprinkle it on all entry points to your home. Cinnamon has worked wonders for me in repelling both ants and wasps safely and harmlessly. The same rule applies to coffee grinds.
Lemon and Peppermint
Use lemon to repel ants naturally by squeezing some juice from a lemon and sprinkling it near baseboards and doorways where ants may be spotted. Using the lemon rind also works. Ants dislike the smell and taste of lemon, plus the scent masks their pheromone trail.
Mixing lemon essential oil with water in a spray bottle is also an easy way to spray entry points to your home. The same solution will work with peppermint essential oil. The best part, these solutions work to repel many other insects, too, including mosquitoes and wasps.
It won’t hurt or kill the ants or other insects. They will simply avoid the area.
If you have a bottle of baby powder kicking around your house, you have yourself an ant repellent. For whatever reason, ants don’t like the texture of the baby powder. It’s possible that the strong smell also throws off their scent trail. Either way, baby powder will keep ants from coming into your home when sprinkled at entry points. However, if they are already inside your house, it won’t make them leave.
As with baby powder, no one really knows why ants don’t like chalk. It won’t kill them or hurt them, but they refuse to walk over a chalk line for some reason. So, if you know where they are entering the home, draw a line in chalk across their trail. They will avoid it. You should really seal that entry-point, though, too.
Eliminate Ants the Ugly Way
If you don’t mind being the harbinger of death to ants, here are three effective ways to kill them.
Borax is a useful ant killer. Sprinkle equal parts borax and sugar anywhere ants could be entering your home. The bugs will carry the “food” back to their colony and won’t be back! If you have young children or pets, use caution, as borax is poisonous if ingested.
To kill Ants without poison, use straight white vinegar. It not only kills them, but vinegar, when diluted, will repel them too. Mix equal parts water and vinegar, and add lemon or peppermint essential oil for an extra boost, to keep them away for good.
WATCH: 5 Amazing Vinegar Hacks
This is a bit of a messy solution, but you can use cornstarch with water to smother large numbers of ants. Liberally pour cornstarch over the entire group of bugs, and add water on top. They will get stuck in the gooey mess and die.
You can also cover the ants with cornstarch to trap them while you vacuum them up into a sealed vacuum bag instead of using water. Be sure to dispose of the sealed bag outdoors immediately.
Year-round ants can be a nuisance. They are most active in the spring and sometimes again in the fall. In warmer places, ants love to come searching for food inside your home in the winter. Whether you choose the friendly way, or the deadly way, to rid your home of ants, I hope you find that one of these solutions works well for you.