Ants getting into a house

Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants

If the arrival of Spring is ushering an ant infestation into your home and yard, don’t panic. You may not require toxic pest control products or a professional service to take get rid of these pesky creatures.

In fact, chances are good you already have everything you need to do it yourself. Or if you prefer a commercial product that is eco-friendly and really works fast, I’ve got that for you, too.

Ants getting into a house

Knowing how to get rid of ants around the house is important. But it’s also fun to know just how fascinating these creatures are.

Some ants can support up to 50 times their own weight while upside down on glass. Most of the ants we see are workers. They are female, but they cannot reproduce.

Queen ants, sometimes living for up to 30 years, give birth to millions of babies! Male ants’ only job is to mate with the queen. (You’re chuckling.)

Ants are found almost everywhere on Earth. The largest ant colony ever found was over 3,750 miles wide. And you think you’ve got problems?

Despite how fascinating ant facts may be, control and management are important for both health and safety reasons. If you suspect you have a serious ant infestation, consider calling a pest control professional.

However, most ant problems—especially those teeny tiny sugar ants*—are generally annoying and a problem you can solve quickly with ordinary items you have around the house and garage. Think of what follows as a kind of buffet to get rid of ants. You pick the solutions that meet your immediate need with items you have on hand.

Soap and water

If you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50/50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. Provided you really saturate those little critters, the soap actually breaks down their exoskeletons, and they die almost immediately. Cheap and easy cleanup, too.

Mop and vacuum

To get rid of sugar ants, start by mopping the floor at least once a day. Mopping and vacuuming help to remove the ants’ pheromone trails. Cleaning and mopping will also rid your home of the food and crumbs that attract the ants. Make sure you don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink and empty the trash bin regularly.

Black pepper

To deter sugar ants, sprinkle ground black pepper around the home’s entry points to keep the ants from coming inside.

 

Ants close up of a rock

Vinegar and water

A 50/50 ratio of water and white vinegar can also deter ants. Spray this mixture on countertops, window sills, and high traffic areas.

WD-40

Spray any areas where ants are feeding or accessing your house with WD-40. The spray will kill ants and also serve as a deterrent from further access as long as residue from the spray remains. Not sure where they’re coming in? Spray WD-40 along the outside perimeter of the house. They will not cross it because ants hate the smell of WD-40. (So do rabbits!) Repeat as necessary.



Chalk

Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around your home’s entry points using an ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The ants will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk.

Boiling water

If fire ants plague your yard or patio and you’re tired of getting stung by those tiny attackers, a flowerpot can help you quench the problem. Place the pot upside down over the anthill. Carefully, pour boiling water through the drain hole and you’ll be burning them and their house for good.

Citrus

You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First, squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.



Coffee

Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. Ants are repelled by the scent given off by the grounds and as a bonus coffee grounds are good for your soil and plants.

All-Natural Outdoor Bug Spray

A cup of beer on a table

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour the water, garlic, and onion into a 1-quart jar. Allow steeping for 1 hour.
  2. Next mix in the liquid soap.
  3. Then strain through a sieve.
  4. Finally, pour into a spray bottle.

This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only 1 week, so use it up

Hint: Scroll down to find a Printable Recipe Card for this spray.

Killer Ant Spray

If you prefer a commercial product to get rid of pesky ants, take a look at Harris Ant Killer Spray. It works fast, has no fumes, and super safe around kids and pets. I use this quite often without any worries because it is:

  • Eco friendly. Uses clove and cottonseed natural plant oils as active ingredients that are safe to use around children and pets
  • Quick kill. Proven to kill ants in 30 minutes or less
  • Non-staining. The formula will not stain when used according to label directions
  • Indoor & outdoor use. Can be used as an outdoor perimeter treatment as well as an indoor all-purpose spray
  • Pleasant scent. Essential oils emit a pleasant, light odor without the use of artificial fragrance

Since I had my bottle out just this morning to tackle a small ant invasion that I needed to deal with pronto, I snapped a photo for you. And yes, geraniums! They thrive in the glorious Colorado sunshine, even when temps soar—and armies of ants appear suddenly, looking for food and water.

A vase of flowers on a table

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is my first line of defense because it’s non-toxic, readily available and it just plain works! Make sure you’re using food-grade diatomaceous earth (NOT swimming pool DE, which has been chemically altered).

Sprinkle the food-grade DE outside around the perimeter of your home. You can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see the ants—as long as it is food-grade, it is totally non-toxic.

If the diatomaceous earth you select does not come with a powder duster, make sure you have one so you can strategically distribute the DE exactly where you want it.

Once the ants (or any kind of crawling bugs) walk in the fine powder they’ll die because the DE quietly destroys their exoskeletons.

Caution: DO NOT let DE get wet or it will not work. If that happens, let it dry, then reapply.

 

*Sugar ant is a common name that many people use to describe any small ant that is attracted to sweets.

A cup of beer on a table

All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray

Chances are really good you have on hand the ingredients to make this all-natural, potent, bug spray that is very effective on ants and other creepy crawlies!
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Course: Pest Control
Cuisine: Garden and Outdoors
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Cost: $.75

Equipment

  • one-quart jar with lid
  • knife
  • sieve
  • measuring spoon
  • 16-oz. spray bottle

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap

Instructions

  • Gather items: jar, water, onions, garlic and tools.
    onion
  • Chop and prepare
    choped onions
  • Pour the water, chopped garlic, chopped onion, and cayenne into a 1-quart jar. Apply the lid and allow to steep for one hour
    Jar
  • Add liquid soap, apply lid, and shake to mix.
    pure castile soap
  • Pour through a sieve into a spray bottle (or into a wider container first, then transfer to spray bottle.)
    A cup of beer on a table

Notes

Note 1: This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only 1 week, so use it up.
Note 2: Safe around pets and children!
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

 

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14 replies
  1. Sue says:

    Ammonia and water mixed 50/50 in a spray bottle works beautifully for getting rid of ants . It also destroys their trail. It is also good for cockroaches. It takes a bit of time, but if you spray everywhere at night, by morning, there’s LOTS of dead ones.

    Reply
  2. Brite says:

    I currently have an ant problem, that has turned into a flying ant problem. I have found a way to repel the crawling ants (I wipe a few drops of tea tree essential oil around the point of entry), but have not figured out the solution to the flying ones (apparently, they are mating in this stage). My issue is, I hate killing them! The thought of giving them something to take back to kill the queen, which destroys the colony, horrifies me! This is probably weird, but I would rather just keep them away, and live our separate lives.

    Reply
  3. Tracy Lang says:

    Two other things that I’ve found that works well is sprinkling used coffee grounds around your house, in particular where they are coming in. In the house I sprinkle cornmeal wherever I see them. Ants are gone!

    Reply
  4. Jane says:

    Any advice on flies outside the back door? We have a fly tornado that swirls outside the back door every summer. There’s no food there at all. I’ve been told they like it as there is no wind there. The problem is too many of them get inside the house. Some silly internet trick of hanging plastic see through bags of water with pennies inside did not deter them. Neither do fly strips (they catch some but not enough). HELP!

    Reply
  5. Beth says:

    The one problem I see with these solutions is that they only kill or repel ants that can be seen. You really need to get the products back to the nest to kill the queen and larvae. Borax with honey had word well for me. The borax trashed their digestive system and kills them. They also take it back to the nest and it kills the ones in there and the ones that will hatch later. Need to keep the borax and honey available for a couple months.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Get food-grade diatomaceous earth (see above). Applying diatomaceous earth for spiders is quite simple. It’s just a matter of applying an even coating wherever spiders may lurk or travel. The area where you are using Diatomaceous earth should be as dry as possible.

      Reply
  6. Maria says:

    Hi Mary,
    I recently had a very bad infestation of the big, red ants outside the perimeter of my house and some of them would find themselves inside the house at night. I was freaked out since my son is allergic. I tried several of your suggestions including diatomaceous earth and Dawn to no avail. I was ready to call the exterminator but someone suggested Amdro. I bought Amdro Ant Block and after about 2 weeks, they’re all gone! Even the little sugar ants that would sometimes come around in the kitchen have disappeared. Great stuff!
    Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Happy you found a solution, Maria. However … I’m wondering if you used the DE and or Blue Dawn as instructed. Both are highly effective against insects of all kinds.

      Reply
    • Mary says:

      Maria, I am also allergic to ants, but I found that immediately after I get bitten if I apply Peroxide to the ant bites there is no itching and very little swelling

      Reply
  7. Belle Mieloch says:

    Mary we have an ant problem every spring. I have two cats so nothing harmful. When I see ants I put down a tablespoon of corn meal. In a week or so it kills the whole colony. They take back to the nest where it kills the queen most sprays do not kill the queen. So ants come back. Safe for pets and people. Most of the time we only need to do this once a season

    Reply

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