These 7 natural home remedies will get rid of ants in your house without harmful, toxic pesticides.
If you stumble upon ants in your house, don’t panic. It is common for ants to find their way into your house, especially in the warm spring and summer months. They typically appear in your kitchen since they are in constant search for food and water. There are things you can do to reduce the chances of getting ants, but there’s no way to completely prevent them from ever invading your house.
The other day, I went to pick up a fork from my kitchen floor when I saw a line of ants about two feet long, making their way towards a tiny potato chip that had fallen beneath our island. When I saw the ants, I immediately went into research mode. My question was simple: how can I get rid of ants without using harmful chemicals or toxic pesticides?
I discovered some good news; there are several safe, natural remedies that are incredibly effective at getting rid of and preventing ants from making a home in your house. This article covers the 7 natural remedies that work the best.
How to Prevent Ants From Invading Your House
The first step to getting rid of ants is to understand why they showed up in the first place. Like I mentioned before, ants are always in search of food and water. They are particularly attracted to sweet, sugary, and greasy foods (much like humans!). They are also attracted to moisture, standing water, and dampness. The more often and thorough you clean your house, the lower your risk of ants. Wipe spills immediately and clean up crumbs and grease left behind from cooking.
Find Out Where Ants Are Entering Your House
Ever heard the saying, “where there is one, there is many.” Well, unfortunately, this applies to ants in your house. Ants leave a scented path wherever they go that other ants will follow. Often you can follow the trail to the exact crack they came through, but other times, you know only the general area. If you can find the crack or hole, patch it, plug it, or caulk it. No house is vacuum sealed with zero possible entry points, but if you can find out where they are coming from and block it, you’ve made it much more difficult for more to enter.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Your House (7 Natural Home Remedies)
Now that you’ve cleaned up the moisture and food that is attracting the ants and you’ve blocked the entry point to prevent more from invading, it is time to deter them from ever coming back.
After hours of thorough research, these are the top natural home remedies that will keep ants out of your house for good.
How white vinegar prevents ants: White vinegar works for two reasons. First, ants despise the smell, and, secondly, vinegar destroys the scent trail that other ants use to find their way into your house.
How to use it: Add equal parts of white vinegar and water into a spray bottle, shake well, and spray the area. Wipe away the dead ants and continue spraying for a few days to prevent new ones from entering. The downside is that after the vinegar evaporates, it won’t have the same prevention effect.
Lemons or Oranges
How lemons and oranges prevent ants: Similar to white vinegar, ants hate the smell of lemons and oranges, and the acidic nature of the juices clear up the scent that ants leave behind. The sour and bitter smell should keep ants away and prevent them from coming back.
How to use it: Squeeze lemon or orange juice into a bowl and use cotton balls or a soft cloth to wipe the juice around your baseboards, doors, window sills, and any other places you think ants could be entering. Some people recommend scattering pieces of the lemon peel around the houses, but I’m not a huge fan since it’ll look like you just forgot to clean up.
How peppermint prevents ants: Peppermint has been used as an insect repellent for years, and it is also an effective deterrent for ants. Its strong smell stops ants in their tracks and disrupts their ability to smell altogether. Without the ability to smell, ants can’t find the food they came looking for in the first place.
How to use it: Add 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil to a spray bottle filled with a cup of water. You can buy peppermint essential oil on Amazon for a very low price. Spray the mixture in the areas that ants are entering. Instead of the liquid mixture, you can also sprinkle dried peppermint around the house. You can buy a peppermint plant from stores like the Home Depot and grow it in your kitchen. A pleasant smell for us, a wicked ant repellent. Win, win.
How chalk prevents ants: Chalk is another way to deter ants. Chalk is made from calcium carbonate, which is mostly ground-up seashells. Similar to the vinegar and lemon, chalk disrupts ants’ ability to follow scent trails.
How to use it: This may sound crazy but, when you draw a line with chalk, ants will not cross it. This is much more practical to do outside your house than it is inside. Draw a thick line of chalk around the deck, patio, plant beds, and any other outdoor borders that ants would need to cross to enter your house. Use regular chalkboard chalk and not “miracle insecticide chalk” or “Chinese chalk,” which contain toxic chemicals.
How cinnamon prevents ants: According to this study conducted by the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, “solvent extraction shows an effective method on cinnamon essential oil extraction with positive insecticidal and repellent activity on ants.”. There you have it, scientific proof that cinnamon effectively repels ants. Much like the other natural remedies, it’s the smell that detracts the ants.
How to use it: Add a half teaspoon of cinnamon essential oils to a cup of water and wipe it on the areas of your house where ants are entering. The smell is pleasant to us, but it is strong, so don’t wipe it everywhere. Instead of the oil/water mixture, you can sprinkle cinnamon powder in the same areas.
How salt prevents ants: Salt is one of the best natural remedies to prevent ants because it is already in your house, affordable, and highly effective. Salt absorbs moisture, which, as we mentioned before, is one of the main reasons ants are attracted to your house in the first place. Besides that, no one knows why salt deters ants, we just know from our first-hand experience and the experience of hundreds of homeowners, it does. We know salt causes slugs to shrivel up and stings when rubbed on a wound, can you imagine what it feels like for a tiny ant to step on top of it? Anyway, it’s so cheap and easy; there’s no harm in trying it yourself.
How to use it: Dissolve a large amount of salt in water by mixing and bringing it to a boil. Make sure to use table salt, not Himalayan or sea salts. Once cooled, put the solution into a spray bottle and spray away. Be careful not to spray it on wood or any other sensitive surfaces that could get damaged from salt.
How borax prevents ants: Borax is a product that you can buy in stores or on Amazon at this link. It’s a white mineral powder made up of sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. It is most often used as a laundry booster, similar to OxiClean (see my comparison). Unlike the other remedies I’ve covered in this article, Borax is not just ant prevention but also an ant killer. When ants eat Borax, it messes with their digestive system and eventually kills them. If you have small children or pets in your home, do NOT use this method. Borax, while generally safe, can cause skin irritation and vomiting, diarrhea, and even death if ingested, according to the National Institutes of Health.
How to use it: In a jar or bowl, mix a half cup of sugar with two tablespoons of borax and two cups of warm water until the sugar and borax are completely dissolved. Dip several cotton balls into the mixture then set them on top of paper towels near the location of the ants. The sugar is the bait that attracts the ants, and the borax is the poison (again, natural and safe) that kills them. After a day or so, check the cotton balls and see if the trap worked.
Which Remedies Work Best for You?
We hope these methods work as well for you as they have for us. Please let us know if there are other remedies you’ve tried that work well, and we will continue to update this article so we can help more homeowners. You can contact us directly or leave a comment below.
If you found this article helpful, you should also check out: 3 Easy Steps to Get Rid of Fruit Flies With Apple Cider Vinegar
6 thoughts on “7 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Ants in Your House”
I didn’t have any essential oils, but did have Formby’s lemon oil treatment for furniture. Half white vinegar half water a couple a good little squeezes. Could not believe the results, there was only 1 ant that kept going, all the others didn’t make it more than a 1/2″ before dying, most moved very little. It was amazing, it worked better than the pesticide I was using.
Hi Kerry – That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing.
Coffee grounds, as well cayenne or black pepper can also be used to keep the ants way. Good list btw 🙂
Thanks for the tip, Stefan!
You didn’t mention if it is safe to use soaks cotton balls of borax or essential oils on the floor when you have a cat or dog. I’ve heard that essential oils are dangerous to cats especially and I’m really worried about our cat getting sick.
I would avoid Borax if you have pets or small children as it can cause skin irritation, vomiting, and even death, according to the National Institutes of Health.