The author has experience dealing with ants in the home and is here to share tips and tricks for eliminating your ant problem.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants in Your House
Everyone will have to deal with ants at some point, whether in their homes, workplaces, or garden. Between spring and summer, the nasty little critters build enormous nests and reproduce by the millions, swarming everywhere.
This article will help you remove the ants and keep them away from your home for good using all-natural, safe products that are suitable to be used around children, pets, and in bedrooms.
In no way does having ants in your home mean you are dirty; on the contrary, ants love different things, depending on the type of ant. I would also like to add a small disclaimer that I am not a professional exterminator; please be careful if you choose to use these tips and be mindful of people or pets with allergies. If your ant infestation is severe, then please call someone who can help.
In this article, I'll address the following topics:
- Why do I have ants?
- How to figure out where ants are coming from
- How to keep sugar away from ants
- 15 natural ant repellants
- Tips and advice for getting rid of ants
- How to remove an anthill
Why Do I Have Ants?
This is the question people continually ask regardless of how clean their house is or who they are. You have ants because it is their season to breed out of control and because you have something that is attracting them.
- Sugar, e.g., spilled cola, cane sugar, fructose (from fruits), and other sweets. Jelly is another one.
- Processed foods such as noodles, sauces, and many forms of junk food.
- The warm environment of your home.
- A hidden spot to nest.
Ants don't care who you are or how much your foam insulation costs; they may well nest in it and absolutely destroy it, not only causing you hassle but also a lot of money. Contrary to popular belief, the most common type of house ant is the carpenter ant, which does NOT destroy wood.
How to Figure Out Where Ants Are Coming From
First, you really need to figure out where they are coming in and where they are headed. There's no use trying to cure an ant problem if they are here, there, and everywhere, and you have no idea where they are from or going to in your home.
Their nest will be either in your walls, attic, basement, or even under the floor, or it may well be outside (this is actually the most common location for an ant nest or anthill). Ants commonly enter the home through cracks in the walls, gaps under doors, windowsills, and under the floor.
How to Block Off Their Entrances
When you have figured out where they are coming from, you need to start by blocking their entrance or entrances. Cement is a sure-fire way to block, and so is grouting the corners or cracks.
It is best to cover and seal all cracks and places. Just covering one will not stop them; they will find another way in and don't give up easily. Here are a few methods for keeping ants out of your home:
- Grouting cracks, gaps, and small areas
- Nailing wood across any gaps
- Using other strong sealants
- Even powerful duct tape can help to keep ants out
Even if you find their entrance, search for more possible access areas. Get all skirting boards fixed, any floor attachments tightened, and any window sills checked and filled with paint or seals to keep the ants out.
How to Keep Sugar Away From Ants
The ants want what you have, and they will take it by sneaky force. Here are some tips for making sure ants' beloved sugary snacks stay out of their grasp, keeping ants out of your home.
Don't Keep Food Where Ants Can Find It
If you are someone that keeps sugary drinks, sweets, and treats by your bedside, stop! If you leave food out of the fridge or don't seal packets of sweets, biscuits, or other treats, tape them up and put them in a cupboard. Remember, ants can climb. Store fruit in the fridge; this also helps to keep it fresh!
Properly Dispose of All Packaging and Leftovers
If you are eating somewhere, make sure you properly dispose of all packaging, leftovers, and drinks bottles. Especially if it's in your bedroom, throw them out, put them in another room, or even toss them out the window for now—just get them out of the room.
Once food is opened, the ants can smell it; that's how they find things, even from the outside—one tiny whiff of sugar, and they will be straight in with their army. Don't think "it will be okay until morning" or "I'll do it later"—get it out immediately.
Deep Clean All Surfaces to Remove Crumbs and Spills
Move furniture, wash the floors, vacuum the carpets and floor, and wipe every surface down thoroughly. It's easy to splash a small amount of a fizzy drink somewhere and not notice it.
Be sure you check any books or anything sitting around the food area. If you find a gap in the floor or the floor trimming is loose, stick the vacuum there, and put it on high power to be sure you suction those ants out.
Don't Leave Food Out at All
Keep all fizzy drinks, e.g., cola, lemonade, cherryade, and fruit juice, in the fridge—put all desserts, treats, sweets, and anything that can be put in there away. If it can't be put away, use a resealable container or baggie that you can put your cakes, biscuits, and other treats in where nothing can get to them, and store them properly in a clean cupboard. Take out the trash as often as possible or put food straight into the outside bins. Ants outside are far better than ants in the house.
15 Natural Ant Repellants
There are more ways than people realize to repel ants, and you can see results very quickly.
- Coffee: Sprinkle ground coffee around the area they are coming in or the areas you find them, e.g., the bathroom (they love the water), the kitchen cupboards, your bedside table, the skirting board of the floor, and even on the window sills. Not only will it make your house smell like a coffee shop, but it will also repel the ants very quickly. Ants despise the scent of coffee—it's like burning garbage bags covered in hot dog poop to you; it also blocks the scent tracks they use to get around.
- Mint tea bags: You can easily make holes in the top of mint tea bags and dangle them around your home. Tie a bracelet or a piece of string around your bedposts and dangle them there each night; dangle them from under a table, from a door handle, or even just toss them around on the floor. Ants hate the smell of mint, and they won't be interested in the tea leaves.
- Mint leaves: These also work, and you can sprinkle them around anywhere instead of or along with coffee. The more you use, the more repellent there is. Be sure to sprinkle it on the floor, around your bed, and especially where the ants are coming in, as it will stop them in their tracks!
- White vinegar: Mix white vinegar with water (or use it pure) in a spray bottle, and spritz it around the area they are coming in and anywhere you have seen them. Sure, it may smell a little strongly to you if you are close to it, but it isn't going to kill you, and it is also a great fungicide.
- Lavender: Some people like to hang a sprig of lavender above a door frame for protection; others like to use it to terrorize ants. Sprinkle some of it as directed with the coffee and mint, or have a bunch of lavender flowers, lavender toys, e.g., microwave plushies that contain lavender. Sit them on your bed, sofa, or anywhere on display; they can help deter the ants and look great in your home. Planting lavender outside may also help deter ants there too.
- Cinnamon: Sprinkle ground cinnamon as directed above with coffee, etc.; not only will your house smell of fresh cooking, but it will also keep the ants away. Ants hate spices, and cinnamon is a great example of ant repellent. You can also use cinnamon sticks.
- Candles: Now, these are hit or miss; burning candles that smell of lavender, peppermint, coffee, cinnamon, and even apple may help to deter the ants. Ants have an excellent sense of smell, and the scent wafting through the air may help repel them.
- Incense: Another hit or miss option—the sticks themselves are not necessarily healthy for us; however, the strong odor can help deter ants. You don't even need to light them (for health nuts); just leave the sticks on the floor, hidden in places, or even in a holder to help repel the ants.
- Garlic: Ants hate garlic; chopping up fresh garlic and using anything with garlic granules or powder can really make those ants run a mile. Wedge the cloves outside, sprinkle the powder around, and get the granules in the wall cracks.
- Salt: Ants won't cross a boundary of salt. Draw a thick line of salt—a heavy pile with sprinkles everywhere. You can sprinkle salt into your carpet, and it will hoover back up again in time. Leaving trails of salt around your home might seem annoying, but it will stop the ants.
- Chalk: Ants also won't cross a line of chalk.
- Baby powder: Ants hate baby powder nearly as much as they hate spices; however, they are more likely to go through this than a nice wall of cinnamon.
- Deodorant: One I personally found rather easy to use was body spray or deodorant. Spray it around where the ants come in, and it can help keep them away. They don't like strong smells, and this includes your perfume. This one is another hit-or-miss option.
- Toothpaste: I don't necessarily recommend this as a first option, but toothpaste has a strong mint scent that can help repel the ants. They hate mint (especially peppermint); however, some types of ant find toothpaste extremely alluring.
- Floor cleaner: Using this won't stop the ants for long; however, if you continually wipe the floor down and use floor cleaner on the areas you see them, it will remove their scent tracks. Ants rely on their sense of smell to get around and use tracks to find their way back to food sources.
These items are all great options and safe to use in the home (check for allergies), but try to keep pets away; most store-bought products are NOT safe to use in homes where you sleep, children play, or where pets can be around them.
Don't allow people to remove or play in the items, mainly because they will no longer be there to get rid of your ants. Please refresh and replace items and keep the floors and surfaces wiped down and vacuumed to get rid of any possible ants.
Tips and Advice for Getting Rid of Ants
- Clean spills right away: If you spill a bit of soda on the floor where there are ants and look back in an hour or so, there will be millions of them. Some people see an ant in their home and bash or step on it; although it seems cruel, it can be a much faster way to die (if you are determined to kill them) than being slowly poisoned by store-bought ant-repellant products.
- Always remove dead ants: If you are one of the people that steps and bashes, please be aware that you must sweep up or vacuum the ant debris away. Ants will use their dead as a food supply (which is why you see ants carrying one another) because they have no qualms about taking their grandmother home to devour her for breakfast tomorrow. Ants don't have the same emotional or logical capacity as humans. Once you remove them, wash the floors down. Having dead ants everywhere (whether you killed them or something else did) will attract more ants.
- Use an air freshener: Try plugging an air freshener in and switching it on to a higher setting that smells of any of the repellants listed above; this may help with the ant problem.
- Always read the directions: When dealing with repellents, please use the advice above and use plenty of them. Sprinkling a small dusting isn't going to cut it; you need to get that coffee right in there—get it everywhere. Hang those tea bags all over the place, and put the garlic cloves on full display. Ants usually come in from a low spot, so be extra careful to get your repellant in around doors.
- Keep surfaces dry: Ants love the moisture from bathrooms and sinks; it is their water supply, so be sure to wipe all surfaces and keep them as dry as possible.
How to Remove an Anthill
If you spot an anthill outside, you can use one of the following options to remove it:
- Store-bought anthill solution: Purchase a store-bought ant powder/chemical and use it as directed.
- Boiling water: Pouring boiling water under the paving, the slabs, onto the hill, or around their nest will eliminate them.
- Call a professional: In some cases, contacting a professional is necessary, especially if it is inside a wall, home insulation, under your floorboards, or if you just don't want to do it. It is important to ensure the nest is removed.
- Use ant powder: Sprinkle ant powder down around the whole perimeter of the home; get it in the cracks and against the walls. This will help stop the ants if their nest is against the house, in the walls, or if they are coming in from a more distant place. Usually, the nest is fairly close to you.
Your ants should have disappeared or been removed by now, and you are probably feeling excited. If one method hasn't worked for you, please try another; you can try multiple things simultaneously, which may provide faster relief.
If you really can't get rid of them, don't fret—ants are usually no longer a problem by June or July.
If you feel anxious about the ants, you can wash your bedding and clothes in lavender-scented or other scented items; if you feel brave, you can even sprinkle coffee on your bed, in your shoes, and around your clothing areas. Personally, I don't like the taste of coffee, but the smell is just fine with me, and it does help with the ants very quickly, the same as mint and all other ant-repellants listed above.
I hope I have helped you and you got all the answers you were looking for. If you have any suggestions or advice of your own, please leave a comment below.
More Ideas for Getting Rid of Ants
- 7 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants: How to Repel Ants Humanely Without Killing Them
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