DIY Guides How to Get Rid of Ants – Complete Guide To DIY Ant Treatments

How to Get Rid of Ants – Complete Guide To DIY Ant Treatments

Learn how to get rid of ants with our info packed guide to the many products, both chemical and commercial, and home made and natural, that are effective at getting rid of and keeping ants at bay.

Tired with all those ants messing up your kitchen? You came to the right place! Fight Bugs is here to give you practical ideas and methods necessary to show you how to get rid of ants.

There’s really no reason to live with them if you can simply remove them. With the right methods, it’s easy to get rid of those pesky insects!

What Attracts Ants?

The short answer? Food.

Before knowing how to eradicate ants we have to find out what makes them invade our houses in the first place. And for that, we’ll tell you this: there’s really no grand master plan to destroy your home. Just like a lot of insects, ants only want to get food from your house. And they’ll eat just about anything.

In truth, many ant species build their nests outside, only entering your kitchen to forage for food. This is especially recurrent after they discover that they can get crumbs off the floor or eat leftovers from the trash.

But this doesn’t mean that ants can’t find shelter in your house. There are species that are particularly skilled in making nests inside buildings.

For example, we have the carpenter ants that like to live inside wooden structures and the odorous house ant that makes nests inside walls. They can invite themselves into your home looking to start a new colony. Flying ants or swarmers do this after selecting a suitable mate.

Ants also love moist and humid environments. So it’s no surprise that you might be able to find them at the bottom of your bathroom tiles. If your house has a crawl space, uncleaned gutters and a leaking roof, you’re bound to have a colony or two.

How to Get Rid of Ants Using DIY Treatments

Termites have many similarities with ants. One major thing that they have in common though is that they can be dealt with using a lot of treatments. Some of these treatments are store-bought, some natural and cheap. They can also range from effective repellents to potent killers.

Let us show you how to get rid of ants using a variety of tools. We’ll start with proven solutions that you can just order online.

Using Baits

Baiting is one of the most common treatments for termites and ants. That’s because these insects have a habit of foraging and sharing food.

This treatment works like how it’s named. You lure the ants with something that they eat, and you combine that food with a slow-activating poison that’s passed from one ant to another.

The idea behind baiting gives a steadier but sure solution on how to get rid of ants. You’re actually tackling the root of the infestation, the colony itself. Meanwhile, sprays can only kill small reachable populations.

Here are baiting tips from Do Your Own Pest Control that you can use if you’re new to the idea.
  • Remove all competitive food sources. Baits don’t work if other food is fine for the taking. These other food sources can be trash cans, dumpsters, dog bowls and aphids in your garden. Ants obviously won’t be interested in your bait if another meal is available.
  • Place the bait along clear ant trails, so ants can find them easily. Leave them in known entry points of the house as well as in ant-busy areas.
  • If you’re not sure that all the trails belong to the colony, set up baits for every trail you find.
  • When the ants are gone, you have to stop baiting in that location. They might have moved on, or if you’re lucky, they’ve all been eradicated.
  • Before you put up a bait, study what the ants really want to eat, protein or something sweet. You can also switch baits if nothing is taking it.
  • Don’t use repellents near baits.
  • Don’t bait on top of a mound. Ants won’t be able to find it anyway.
  • Only use fresh bait. Baits usually have 6 months or an entire year to remain fresh. Stale baits don’t attract a lot of ants.
  • Baits are most effective during days with temperature above 70°F.
  • Don’t use baits on wet or moist locations. This will make it less desirable.
  • And finally, broadcasting baits are more effective for fire ants.

Liquid Bait

Although store-bought products may cost more than homemade ant killers, a lot of them are very effective. They’ll get rid of ants fast. Here’s a quick intro on liquid baits by TERRO.

TERRO also gives us these five great steps to be successful in solving the problem of how to get rid of ants:

  • Identify the kind of ant in your house.
  • Perform a thorough inspection and note the trails and colonies.
  • Treat all outdoor colonies that you find during your inspection with TERRO® Ant Dust or TERRO® Ant Killer Spray.
  • Set up a barrier treatment around the foundation of the home with TERRO® Ant Dust.
  • Use TERRO® Liquid Ant Baits indoors to knock out ants that are infesting the structure.

Gel Bait

Another type of bait you can buy is a gel bait. Combat Ant Killing Gel, for example, uses a semi solid bait that ants can eat. It breaks down into smaller pieces that ants can bring back to their colonies.

Unlike liquid bait, a gel maintains its integrity for a long time. It has a potent pesticide that’s non-repellent and slow acting.

Sprays

This common pest control method is everywhere these days. A lot of homeowners keep a bottle or two in their basement or garage because it’s convenient.

As for the question on how to get rid of ants, sprays kill right on contact – no delays or waiting required. They’re also used to kill ants inside crevices, cracks and other hard-to-reach areas in your house.

You can use it indoors or outdoors, and it can kill other bugs too. Now, sprays don’t just kill ants, some are designed to kill roaches, spiders and even mosquitos.

Liquid Baits vs. Liquid Sprays

If you’re confused about your options, there are several advantages to using liquid bait over ant sprays. Here the benefits that you have to think about before deciding on a treatment:

  • Generally, baiting doesn’t have the potential to backfire and cause the ant nest to move to another location in the house.
  • Liquid baits are never in the air, so you, your pets, and your plants are not exposed to the diffusion of toxins let out by a spray.
  • Ants voluntarily ingest the bait, so less toxin is necessary.
  • Ants can go directly to you instead of you having to find them first.
  • Baits are easily eaten and digested by the ants.
  • Liquid bait is easy to clean up if it’s spilled. You just need dish soap.
  • Bait is also mobile and infectious. Not only will ants eat it, but they will bring it back with them to share with other ants inside their nests.
  • Finally, sprays only allow you to solve a symptom, but baits let you cure the entire disease.

The bestselling brand of liquid ant bait is TERRO. In fact, it controls most of the liquid ant bait market, like Kleenex does for tissues or Band Aid for bandages. You can find their baits and sprays in most hardware stores or other major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.

While using TERRO is not necessary for success, it does have a very high success rate.

Other Easy & Cheap Methods for Repelling and Removing Ants

So if you’re not in to using chemicals and toxins, maybe you should apply a more natural approach. Try these simple and organic ways on how to get rid of ants. The best thing about them is that they’re already available in your house!

Tape

All it takes is a regular roll of double-sided tape.

Create an impenetrable wall of tape at the places where ants usually line up. You can use this method to block the entryways ants use to get inside your house. You can also have the tape wrapped around trees to trap the insects.

So, remember that…

  • Tape can both kill and repel ants.
  • It can’t eradicate an entire nest of ants, just relatively small populations.
  • We recommend using only double-sided tape. Obviously, you’ll want the tape to stay put while it’s trapping the ants.
  • Regularly replace the tape because over a short period of time, it can lose its stickiness. It collects dust and other particles that float in the air.

Boiled Water

If you want something that gives you guaranteed dead ants, scalding hot water is the way go.

This method is done by pouring boiling water into an ant nest. You might make 2 or three trips into the kitchen depending on the size of your kettle and the colony you’re trying to eradicate. But, it works wonderfully in getting rid of a lot of ants without the use of any chemicals.

So, remember that…

  • For obvious reasons, this DIY treatment is for killing ants, not repelling them.
  • Some nests have tunnels that are dug deep underground. The hot water may not reach all the tunnels, so it might not be able to kill every last ant.

Chalk

Multicolored sticks of chalk on the floor
The humble chalk is a widely known non-toxic ant treatment.

The humble chalk is a widely known non-toxic ant treatment.

Ants don’t like chalk. While the reason remains unexplained, chalk is a popular contender for DIY natural ant treatments. This method is so common; there are even commercialized ant chalks in Asia.

But for you, all you really need is a piece of chalk to draw lines at the entry points of your house. Keep the lines thick and heavy with repetition.

So, remember that…

  • Regular chalk can’t really kill ants. It only repels them for a while. Soon, the ants will be able to mark the chalk with their scents. Like termites, ants leave pheromones when they crawl. These scent trails are picked up by their antennae. They help the ants communicate with each other. Eventually, ants will be able to leave them on the chalk making them able to cross over it.

Baby Powder

If you don’t have chalk, try baby powder instead. They have very similar qualities. Sprinkle the powder on ant entryways to stop them from infesting your house.

So, remember that…

  • Baby powder can’t exterminate ants. It can only repel them.
  • Ants hate the scented stuff.

Liquid Dish Soap

The ingredients that make up a dish soap are deadly to ants. According to Pest Kill, dish soap breaks away the waxy layers on their exoskeletons causing them to be severely dehydrated.

Just mix equal parts of soap and water in a bottle spray, and liberally spray the infested areas in your house.

So, remember that…

  • Dish soap is more of an ant killer than a good repellent. The soap-and-water mixture dries out eventually. It’s also hard to keep some parts of your house constantly wet.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is as deadly to ants as it is to termites. According to Den Garden, when consumed, this ant killer destroys the ant’s stomach, hurts its metabolism and affects its exoskeleton. The acid can also be passed from one ant to another.

For your boric acid treatment, combine it with sugar and water. Put the concoction in a plate, and place it where ants are usually spotted.

So, remember that…

  • Boric acid isn’t a repellant. It’s safe to say that it goes straight for the kill.
  • You can also use food jelly or cornmeal for this method.
  • Boric acid can harm pets and children, so keep the traps away from them.
  • The acid can also irritate your skin and kill plants.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one the life’s greatest gifts. This household item is seriously helpful in so many ways. It can even help you with your ant problem.

Just like the boric acid trap, mix equal parts sugar, water and baking soda. Put everything on a small plate, and lay it where ants are usually spotted. Baking soda disrupts the ant’s body chemistry and kills it. You’ll see the results of this treatment in a few days.

So, remember that…

  • Baking both repels and kills ants.
  • This trap also harms pets, so keep them away from it.

Cornmeal

Cornmeal works like baby powder. It drives ants away from your home, and it breaks up their lines.

Cornmeal, though, is specially tough for ants. Even though they do try to eat it, they can’t digest it. So they eventually die from this.

Sprinkle cornmeal in infested areas or over nests, and the ants will leave or die off.

So, remember that…

  • Cornmeal can both kill and repel ants.
  • It’s absolutely safe for pets.

Salt

A pot full of table salt with a spoon inserted
The simple table salt is one of the most efficient ant killers out there.

One of the most inexpensive ant killers is salt.

Pest Kill shows us how to get rid of ants using this simple trick. All you have to do is add salt to boiling water. Wait until the water is cool enough for your spray bottle, and start spraying the mixture to ants.

So, remember that…

  • Boiling salt water can eradicate ants while salt, alone, can somehow repel them.
  • It’s also one of the safest pest control methods with the only thing you have to worry about is handling the hot water.

White Vinegar

Vinegar gets rid of ants with its robust odor. It disrupts ant scent trails and communication lines with its strong smell. It can also kill them through direct contact.

Have 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray ant-busy areas in your house. These might be your countertops, windows, doors, walls and sinks.

You can also spray the concoction directly to the ants. Wipe off dead ants with a wet cloth, and repeat the process until every last insect is gone.

So, remember that…

  • Vinegar is more of a repellant. It’s not an insecticide because it doesn’t kill ants with its chemicals. Vinegar can only kill ants when you drown them with it.
  • Its smell dissipates over time, so you have to use the spray regularly, multiple times.

Essential Oils

If you’re looking for something with a more pleasing scent but is equally as powerful as vinegar, use essential oils.

The rule of thumb is that ants really hate strong smells. Essential oils do what vinegar does. They mask pheromones, causing the ants in total disarray.

The oils also suffocate them. Generally, insects don’t have lungs, they breathe through their exoskeletons. The essential oils block their breathing mechanisms and kill them.

The method is simple. Mix 10 or more drops of an essential oil in a spray bottle filled with water, and use this to get rid of ants.

So, remember that…

  • Essential oils are good repellants, but they’re slow ant killers.
  • Peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil usually work best for this treatment.
  • Like the vinegar, their smells dissipate over time, so you have to apply them regularly.

Using Plants and Fruits

If essential oils aren’t available, go to your kitchen for inspiration. It’s filled with regular meal ingredients that can be effective in keeping ants out of the house.

Lemons and Oranges

A wooden tray full of lemons and oranges, some with leaves still attached

Lemons and oranges can turn into very aromatic ant repellents.

Lemons, oranges and other members of the citrus family have citric acid and a strong tart fragrance. These deter and kill ants. Like vinegar, these fruits destroy scent trails and leave ants dead or unable to communicate with each other.

Combine equal parts water and lemon or orange juice in a spray bottle, and squirt ant infested places in your house. You can also rub the fruits’ juices into window sills, cracks, door frames, walls, and sinks. Another option is to leave peels on ant entryways.

So, remember that…

  • Lemons and oranges are repellents that can be deadly to ants if they’re used in large quantities.
  • You may have to spray a few times to make this treatment effective.

Mint

Mint is a great herb to have around the house. Aside from adding flavor to your food, it can also ward off ants.

Its unmistakable minty scent can also disrupt ant scent trails. So you can leave crushed leaves, mint infused water or mint tea in any ant-busy place in your home.

So, remember that…

  • Mint is a repellant, not a pesticide. It’s best to combine it with some other ant treatment.
  • You can also keep potted mints in your kitchen to keep those ants at bay.

Garlic and Onion

When it comes to scents and smells, the garlic is the king and the onion is the queen. Ants will jump out of a garlic and onion deterrent like they’ve hit an invisible wall. These pungent plants’ robust odors can even remain on surfaces after a good wash with soap and water.

Organic Facts shows us how to get rid of ants with this simple recipe. Mix 1 garlic clove, 1 whole onion and a tablespoon of pepper in a spray bottle. Let it sit for a few hours. To add more punch to this ant killer, squeeze a few drops of liquid dish soap. After that, you can now spray it all over your house.

You can also lay out garlic cloves and onion peels on ant entryways if you don’t like use the spray.

So, remember that…

  • These spices are only strong repellents, not pesticides.
  • Sprayed entry points, onion peels and garlic cloves can dry over time. Make sure to replace them regularly.

Cucumber Peels

cucumber peelings isolated on white
Cucumber peels have many doubters when it comes to getting rid of ants. You’ll just have to see for yourself if it really does work.

This interesting natural treatment has baffled the internet for a long time. So let us make this clear: ants DO eat cucumber, but they don’t like its skin.

Accordingly, that’s because cucumber skin has a compound that’s called trans-2-nonenal. This compound is generally used as an ingredient in a lot of commercial insecticides.

So if you want to try to keep ants at bay without breaking your bank, get the cucumber peels from last night’s dinner, shred them and scatter them in ant-busy corners of the house.

So, remember that…

  • Cucumber peels repel, not kill.
  • Pair this treatment with another method to get the best results.

Pepper

This spice is more than just a favorite condiment. It’s one of nature’s amazing solutions on how to get rid of ants.

Ants, as well as other bugs, hate the smell and taste of pepper. It’s a natural deterrent that can keep them from touching your house.

For this treatment, regularly sprinkle the spice directly into ant nests, and they’ll disappear within a few days.

You can also mix the pepper with water. And as usual, put the peppery concoction inside a spray bottle, and spray ant infested areas in the house.

So, remember that…

  • Pepper can’t kill ants. It only repels them.
  • You can either use cayenne pepper or black pepper.
  • Pepper can also ward off mice and other pests.

Lavender

A basket of lavender against a blurred background of the countryside

It smells great, and it’s convenient for ants. What’s not to love about this plant?

These flowers smell heavenly, but did you know that they keep ants out as well? Lavender is an organic ant deterrent that can be used in many forms, dried, fresh or as an essential oil.

According to eHow, you can try this treatment by, first, sprinkling dried lavender around your house in the crevices, window sills or kitchen. You can care for live lavender plants in your house to keep the insects out. And, you can try mixing one part lavender oil and 10 parts olive oil in a spray bottle to block out ant entryways in your home.

So, remember that…

  • Unless you drown them with oil, lavender can’t kill ants.

Catnip

Cats love them, but for ants? Not so much. Catnip is known to keep some bugs off gardens. That’s because it belongs to the mint family. So this plant can be a good substitute for the mint ant treatment.

Prepare your spray by boiling catnip leaves for a few minutes. Once cooled, you can have this concoction squirted all over your house to ward off ants.

So, remember that…

  • Catnip can’t eliminate ants. They can only deter them. Use this treatment in tandem with another one.
  • You can use catnip tea instead of fresh catnip it it’s not available.

Tansy

Tansy is a perennial flowering plant with roots and leaves that can drive away ants. It’s used as a solution on how to get rid of ants in gardens.

All you have to do is to sprinkle the tansy at the base of your plants to keep ants from touching them.

So, remember that…

  • This deterrent works best if you pair it with another treatment that can get rid of ants.

Cinnamon

cinammon sticks and powder on a plate shot from above

Cinnamon’s uses extends from being a flavor enhancer to a DIY repellent.

And lastly, we have a famous household item that can fend off ants as well as flavor our hot cup of coco… cinnamon.

This pantry ingredient has big a reputation for killing ants. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publication confirmed how it can both repel and eradicate the insect with its potent substances. It has 9 volatile compounds that are harmful to ants and other pesky bugs. Also, ants that bring traces of cinnamon back to a colony causes panic and evacuation.

Just combine about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon oil and water, and wipe them into ant-busy corners. You can also use a spray bottle to get the same effect.

Ground cinnamon doesn’t mix with water. It’s usually sprinkled into infested areas or on the nest itself.

So, remember that…

  • Cinnamon is a natural insecticide and repellant.
  • Cinnamon powder doesn’t work as well as cinnamon oil. That’s because the oil is distilled, so it has more of the compounds that are deadly to ants.

How to Keep Ants from Returning

Ants climbing an interior wall

If you’re serious about keeping ants out of your house, you have to do a lot of regular cleaning. We know that the number one reason why ants linger in houses is food. So it stands to reason that if you get rid of their food source, and you can solve the problem on how to get rid of ants.

Here are more things you can do to fend them off:

  • Vacuum a couple of times a week.
  • Clean spilled food and drinks immediately.
  • Take out the trash regularly. Thrown food attracts them.
  • After taking care of the garbage, wash and dry the cans.
  • Clear out food debris under the fridge and under other kitchen fixtures.
  • Wipe your countertop with a natural repellant every day.
  • Keep your pet’s food bowls clean.
  • Sweet or sugary food with open packages should be put in the fridge or inside an airtight container.
  • Always keep your sink clean. Wash your dishes shortly after eating. Don’t keep them piled up.
  • You should also avoid too much humidity in your house. Humid environments invite insects in.
  • Check for entry points in your house, and use repellants to block them.
  • Seal cracks and holes with caulk.
  • Clear away vines, shrubs and other plants from your walls. Ants can use this as a ladder to get inside the house.

Wrap Up

Ants can be a handful. But with the right tricks, you can stop them from invading your home. We gave out some store bought solutions and a lot of natural treatments to try, so give it a go.

Give yourself a break from these pesky insects. Try out these methods, so you can find the best treatment on how to get rid of ants. And you can finally eat and fix your garden without worrying about getting bitten or stung!

Managing Editor & CEO Jack has been writing as a contractor and for businesses for over 10 years. He owns his own home, and has been doing his own pest control since he bought his first house.

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