12 Home Remedies for Ants

When it’s warm or wet outside, ants really like to make their presence known. While common garden ants don’t pose a health hazard on their own, they do crawl through dirty places. Bacteria and contaminants on their bodies can make their way into your food. Getting rid of a whole colony is never easy, and commercial pest killers contain very harmful chemicals. Luckily, there are home remedies for ants that have been used for centuries and are all-natural and safe for humans.

Whether you want to kill or merely deter, there’s an ants home remedy here for you.


Get rid of ants in your house and garden using our recommended home remedies for ants.


1. Cedar Wood Oil

The strong smell of cedar is enough to deter ants, but also very safe for everyday use. One study published in the Oxford Journal of Environmental Entomology found that even when presented with sugar water, ants avoided the food due to cedar wood oil placed around it. Because cedar wood oil is very safe for both people and pets, it can be used liberally both in the home and outside. The fresh scent also makes it suitable for in-home use.

Instructions

  • Add 10 drops cedar wood oil to 1 cup water.
  • Wet clean washcloth in mixture.
  • Wipe down counters, baseboards, window casings and other points of entry.
  • Repeat once a day.

2. Lemon

Lemon extract or fresh lemon juice are great home remedies for pests like mosquitoes and also ants. They don’t kill them, but they do disrupt the scent trails that ants leave. When their scent trails are covered up, it becomes difficult for ants to remember the way to their favorite treats. One study outlined in the International Journal of Bioassays reported that when mixed with other extracts, the ant-repelling power of lemon extract is as high as 100%. Lemon is absolutely safe for both pets and children, and good for both indoor and outdoor use.

Instructions

  • Add 1 part lemon extract to 9 parts water.
  • Pour mixture into spray bottle.
  • Spray lemon mixture around all points of entry and wherever you have seen ants.
  • Repeat every other day.

3. White Vinegar

Vinegar is another ants home remedy that works by covering up the scent trails left by the pests. It does have a very strong smell, so while it’s safe to use in the home, many people prefer to save it for outdoor use. One other way it repels ants is they do not like the acidity. If you do decide to use white vinegar, it works fast, so you won’t have to put up with the smell for long. This is a fantastic remedy for ants in the garden, as vinegar can be sprayed on leaves and stems with no adverse effects.



Instructions

  • Mix 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part water.
  • Pour mixture into spray bottle.
  • Spray around baseboards, windows and everywhere you have seen ants.
  • Repeat once a day.

4. Wood Ash and Salt

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If you have a fireplace, barbecue or fire pit, you’re in luck. A mixture of wood ash and salt is a traditional pest control used in the Himalayan region for centuries. An article in the International Journal of Bio-resource and Stress Management found that the technique really works. This is an ant killer for use in the garden or on the sidewalk. The wood ash dries ants out, killing them by desiccation. Be sure to use home remedies for ants containing salt well away from the base of plants, at least 1-2 feet.

Instructions

  • Mix 2 cups wood ash with 3 tbsp. salt.
  • Sprinkle liberally around perimeter of garden or across known ant paths.
  • Repeat every other day.

5. Cinnamon and Clove Oils

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Cinnamon and clove oils are fantastic home remedies for ants. They are more effective when used in the home, as their strong smell is quickly dissipated by the wind. However, for covering scent trails left by ants, they are very popular. One article published by the Georgia Entomological Society found that these spicy scents were effective up to four days after application, making them longer-lasting than other scent-based repellents. They are very safe to use in the home, and make it smell like Christmas.

Instructions

  • Mix 1 part clove or cinnamon oil to 4 parts water.
  • Pour into spray bottle.
  • Spray mixture around points of entry into the home, paying special attention to baseboards and window casements.
  • Repeat twice a week.

6. Borax and Sugar Paste

Many people think sprinkling borax around their home will kill ants, but they aren’t attracted enough to it to eat it. Because it’s toxic to ants when ingested, it must be made appetizing to them. By mixing borax, sugar and water together it entices them to eat it. It’s also a slow killer, so they have time to take some back to the colony and consequently, their queen. However, just as borax is toxic for ants, it’s also toxic for humans and animals. Never use borax-containing ants home remedies around children, pets or food-preparing areas.

Instructions

  • Mix ½ cup borax with ½ cup powdered sugar.
  • Stir in ½ cup water to make a paste.
  • Spread paste on cardboard and lay in an area frequented by ants.
  • Repeat when paste is dry (2-4 days depending on humidity).

7. Spearmint Extract

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Spearmint is one of the longest-lasting ant repellents. It’s suggested that one application of spearmint-scented ant repellent remains effective up to a week later. By disrupting the chemical trails ants leave, they cannot find their food sources, cannot communicate with other ants and cannot find their way back to the colony. It disorients them and they find somewhere else to go, making scent-based home remedies for ants the most humane and the safest. Spearmint is safe to use both in the home and outdoors.

Instructions

  • Mix 10 drops spearmint extract with 1 cup water.
  • Pour mixture into spray bottle.
  • Spray everywhere you have seen ants, including all entries into the home.

8. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a very effective ant killer. It isn’t a poison like borax. Instead, as an article in the International Journal of Pest Management shows, the microscopic shards create tiny abrasions on the body of the ants. The diatomaceous earth is also very absorbent, and it soaks up fatty acids and lipids, causing the ants to dry up. Diatomaceous earth is toxic when eaten by people or animals, so be sure to keep it away from children and pets. It is ineffective when wet, so this home remedy works best indoors. Clean up is very easy, as diatomaceous earth leaves no residue and can simply be swept or vacuumed up when ants are dead.

Instructions

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around baseboards, on ant trails and at all entry points of the home.

9. Cucumber Peel and Spray

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Many ants love to feed on certain types of fungi. Cucumber is toxic to these fungi. While it isn’t toxic to ants, they will instinctively avoid any area that smells of cucumber in order to protect their favorite food sources. While any type of cucumber will work, you can achieve the best results by using bitter cucumber. Because this treatment consists of just cucumber and water, it is one of the safest home remedies for ants.

Instructions

  • Peel 1 large cucumber.
  • Rub peels around points of entry, baseboards, door jambs and window casements.
  • Mash inner cucumber and mix with 2 cups water.
  • Pour mixture into spray bottle.
  • Spray mixture on floors, furniture and surfaces in home.

10. Garlic

While making your home smell like garlic may not be as enticing as lemon or cinnamon, one study found that placing cloves of garlic around doors and windows was excellent at keeping away ants. Whole cloves of garlic may not smell strongly to humans, but to ants they have a very powerful effect. However, if you have dogs or cats, do not use this home remedy for ants. Garlic is very toxic for pets.

Instructions

  • Peel 1 bulb of garlic.
  • Place individual cloves around doors and windows.
  • Replace garlic once a week.

11. Dish Soap

Regular dish soap is one of the easiest and safest ways to kill ants. It doesn’t act as a poison and when diluted, it isn’t toxic for animals or people. Instead, a mixture of dish soap and baking soda suffocates the ants. It can also be used as an on-the-spot ant killer, whenever you see the ants. Though the majority of dish soaps are non-toxic, once this remedy has worked you will want to wash the area thoroughly.

Instructions

  • Mix 1 tsp. dish soap and 1 tsp. baking powder with 1 cup warm water.
  • Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Spread mixture along entry points in the home.
  • Mix ½ cup dish soap with 1 cup water.
  • Pour into spray bottle.
  • Shake bottle and spray on ants to kill them within a few minutes.

12. Boiling Water

If you’ve tried everything and the ants still keep coming back, it may be time to destroy their colony altogether. If you know where the ant hill is, it will be easier. If you don’t you may have to do some investigation and find it. However, once you are aware of its location, you can douse them with boiling water. This will flood the ant colony and kill the queen. Any remaining ants will be forced to leave in search of a new place to call home.

Instructions

  • Locate ant hill.
  • Boil large kettle of water.
  • Pour boiling water over ant hill.

Conclusion

While ants aren’t dangerous on their own, they do pose some health risks due to their habits. If you have an ant problem, you probably don’t want to deal with the hazardous chemicals present in commercially available ant treatments. Instead, all-natural home remedies work just as well and most are very safe. Whether you want to kill the ants or merely divert them away from your home, be sure to choose home remedies for ants that are safe for the inhabitants of your home.

Do you have any other home remedies for ants that have worked in the past? We’d love to hear about them, so share your thoughts in the comments below!

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