How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:48:29 PM ET
Ants on a slice of watermelon

It happens to almost every homeowner: You wake up one morning and find that ants have taken over your kitchen or some other space in your home. There’s a big black trail of them parading off to your garbage, your pet’s food bowl or that puddle of soda mysteriously spilled and not cleaned up. And once come to visit, they fully intend to stick around for a while. Getting rid of them takes some determination, but it’s easy when you follow some simple steps.

Clean Up

When ants enter your home, they’re usually looking for food or water. Keeping your rooms clean, especially in the kitchen where you have food, is the key to preventing ant infestations. If you already have ants, thoroughly cleaning up the area can send them packing. When you spill something, make sure you clean it up as soon as possible, especially sugary substances like sodas, fruit juices, honey and actual sugar. Take your trash out regularly, wash your dishes instead of letting them pile up in the sink and sweep crumbs from your floor as often as possible. This ensures potential food sources don’t linger long enough to attract a colony of pests.

Disrupt Their 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 so other ants don't know where to go. As a less toxic alternative, you can use vinegar and paper towels to disrupt the trails.

Get Rid of Ants in Your Yard

One way to get rid of ants in your home is to get rid of the ants outside. If they aren’t hanging out in your yard, they’re less likely to check out the inside. You can use sprays and poisons meant to kill ants outdoors, but they can be toxic if you have pets and children. In some cases, they may harm the environment by killing creatures you want to have around. Consider using a natural pesticide, like diatomaceous earth, instead. You can sprinkle it on an ant bed, and it will dry out an ant’s skin, eventually killing it. Trimming bushes, trees, shrubs and other brush away from your house can also help keep ants at bay.

Make a Homemade Bait

If none of the above methods work, it may be time to make your own ant bait to attract ants already inside your house. To do this, mix one teaspoon of a powdery substance that kills ants (borax and diatomaceous earth are great options) with three teaspoons of powdered sugar. Sprinkle it where the ants are entering your home, and vacuum it up the next day or when you no longer see ants. You can also try blending the powder and sugar mix with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. Place it on a plate or in a bowl, and put it in an area where you have ants. The peanut butter and sugar attract the ants, and the borax or diatomaceous earth kills them.


Put Deterrents at Entry Points

To really stop ants from getting into your home, you have to find their points of entry and eliminate it. If you have holes or cracks in your windows, doors, foundation or other parts of your home, seal them. If that's not an option or won’t help, alter the area to deter the ants from coming inside. Spraying vinegar or rubbing vaseline in the area can help, but these products may need to be reapplied daily until your ant problem is solved. You can also sprinkle cinnamon or soak a cotton ball in peppermint oil and place it near the point of entry.