How Do You Get Rid of Ants in Your Home?

By Staff WriterLast Updated June 24, 2020
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It happens to almost every homeowner: You wake up one morning and find that ants have invaded your kitchen or some other space in your home. The long, black trail of invaders parade across your counters carrying crumbs, garbage, pet food and anything else they can carry back to their hideaways. It doesn’t take long to feel like the situation is completely out of control.  

And once ants come to visit, they fully intend to stick around for a while. Getting rid of the pesky insects takes some determination, but it’s possible to live in an ant-free zone if you follow some simple steps. Take a look!

Clean Up Your Home

When ants enter your home, they are usually looking for food or water. Keeping the rooms in your home clean, particularly the kitchen where you store food, is the key to preventing ant infestations. If ants have already invaded your home, thoroughly cleaning the rooms where you see them is the first step in sending them packing. 

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Once your home is clean, be sure to follow simple practices to keep everything as pristine as possible. For example, if you spill something, clean it up immediately, especially sugary substances like sodas, fruit juices, honey and actual sugar. Take your trash out regularly and sweep up crumbs from the floor throughout the day. Wash your dishes or load them into the dishwasher immediately instead of letting them pile up in the sink. If you can’t wash them immediately, rinse all food debris from the dishes to ensure you don’t attract a colony of pests.

Disrupt Ant Trails

If you see ants crawling across your counters, floors and other surfaces, resist the urge to smash them. Instead, wipe them up with a substance that will disrupt their trails. When ants find a food or water source, they leave a trail of pheromones to attract and guide other ants. Household cleaners on a paper towel kill the ants you touch and remove the pheromones, disrupting the path that tells other ants where to go. If you’re concerned about using cleaners in a particular area, vinegar and paper towels can be used as a less toxic alternative for disrupting ant trails. 

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Get Rid of Ants in Your Yard

One surefire way to get rid of ants in your home is to get rid of ants outside in your yard. If insects aren’t building their own homes in your yard, then they aren’t likely to make their way into your home. You can use insecticide sprays and poisons to kill ants outdoors, but they can be toxic to pets and children as well as ants and other insects. In some cases, they could even harm the environment by killing creatures you want to have around.

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If possible, use a natural pesticide like diatomaceous earth instead. You can sprinkle the grains on an ant bed, and it will dry out the ants’ skin, eventually killing all the ants that come in contact with it. Trimming bushes, trees, shrubs and other brush away from your house can also make your home less appealing and keep ants at bay.

Make a Homemade Ant Bait

If you’ve tried these methods and you still have ants in your home, it’s time to make your own ant bait to attract and kill the ants that are already inside the walls of your house. To do this, mix one teaspoon of a powdery substance that kills ants — powder boric acid and diatomaceous earth are great options — with three teaspoons of powdered sugar. Sprinkle it where the ants are coming out of the walls or where you typically see them and vacuum it up the next day or when you no longer see ants. 

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You can also blend the powder with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. Place the mixture on a plate or in a bowl and put it in an area where you have ants. The peanut butter attracts the ants, and the boric acid or diatomaceous earth kills them. Keep in mind that these bait mixtures can’t be placed in locations where pets and children can reach them. Boric acid is toxic for both humans and animals if ingested. Diatomaceous earth is safe, but you still don’t want animals and kids making a mess out of the bait.

Place Deterrents at Entry Points

If ants always seem to persistently reappear in your home after a while, you need to find their points of entry and eliminate them. If you have holes or cracks in your window frames, doors, foundation or other parts of your home, purchase the appropriate products to effectively seal them. If that's not an option at the time, make the area around the point of entry deadly or inhospitable to ants to deter them from entering the area. 

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This could be as simple as spraying vinegar or rubbing petroleum jelly into cracks and holes, or you could frequently treat the surrounding area with pesticides or diatomaceous earth. Depending on the products you choose, you may need to reapply them daily until your ant problem is solved. You can also soak a cotton ball in highly concentrated cinnamon essential oil or peppermint oil and place it near the point of entry to repel ants.

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