How to Get Rid of Ants Quick and Easy Using Ordinary Stuff In Your Pantry

Knowing how to get rid of ants around the house is important. But it’s also fun to learn just how fascinating these creatures are. They’re industrious and super smart as insects go. Some ants can support up to 50 times their own weight while upside down on glass.

ants building a house

More Fun Facts

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. If a second-grader was as strong as an ant, he or she would be able to pick up a car.
  • Most of the ants we see are workers. They are female, but they cannot reproduce—that is the queen ant’s job.
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to death.
  • When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Queen ants have wings, which they shed when they start a new nest.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.
  • 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 ants may be, control and management around the home 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 buffet of methods to get rid of ants in your home, on your property and perhaps even in the garage. You pick the solution that meets your immediate need with items you have on hand.

1. Mop and vacuum

To get rid of 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.

2. 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.

3. Diatomaceous earth

This is my personal favorite way to get rid of ants because it is natural, quick, and sure. Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, harmless for pets and kids. Important: Make sure you are using food-grade diatomaceous earth—NOT swimming pool DE, which has been chemically altered and will be completely ineffective to kill ants and other bugs.

Sprinkle the food-grade DE outside around the perimeter of your home. You can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see the ants—along baseboards especially. Do not wet the DE or it will not work.

Once the ants walk in the fine powder they’ll die because the DE quietly destroys their exoskeletons.

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

4. Black pepper

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

5. All-Natural Outdoor Bug Spray



  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.

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

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


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


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


  • Gather items: jar, water, onions, garlic and tools.
  • 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
  • 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


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!

6. Vinegar

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

7. 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.

8. Chalk

Get rid of ants by drawing a line around your home’s entry points using ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The calcium carbonate repels ants.

9. 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. Pour boiling water through the drain hole and you’ll be burning them and their house for good.

10. Citrus

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

11. Coffee

Scatter 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. Bonus: Coffee grounds are good for your soil and plants.


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12 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Sarah Daniel says:

    Hi Mary,
    Love all your helpful hints.
    Just want to pass on what I do for bugs in my panty and kitchen drawers. I put a stick of spearmint gum, opened slightly on each shelf and drawer. I have never had a bug since. I am away for about 4 months a year, and always come home to a bugless cupboard/kitchen.

  2. Sheri Mathews says:

    I just wanted to make note that when you say some of your concoctions above are safe for pets, onion, garlic, and capsaicin are all dangerous to cats, use intelligently.

  3. James Borst says:

    I like your recommendation to use a mixture of dish soap with water in a spray bottle for any ants that you see. My wife and I have noticed a few ants in our kitchen over the last couple of days. This seems like a great option for our personal kitchen. Though, I imagine if I owned a commercial kitchen or something like that, that I’d want to contact a pest control service to take care of it.

  4. Dan Crosfield says:

    Great tips in this article! I love the All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray solution (will post about it on my site). Sealing up cracks to prevent the ants from coming in and making sure to store food in containers so the ants cannot feed still is the best prevention method te keep ants out of your home.

  5. Mary says:

    For outdoors in southern Arizona, oatmeal has done the job. I place it at the nest and along the trail and in hours they are gone.

  6. sue says:

    50/50 ammonia water works well too. Kills ants and destroys the scent of their trail so others can’t follow it. Also works beautifully on cockroaches. Spray directly on them. They don’t die immediately, but by morning, they’re dead. I use this mixture all the time.

  7. Luisa says:

    Thanks for the tips! Wanted to add that an exterminator told me to spray Windex to get rid of ants and to use peppermint oil to make spiders leave.

  8. Maria says:

    Hi Mary,
    I agree with you that the most effective, and fastest way of getting rid of those pesky sugar ants (and ALL sorts of crawling insects) is Diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle it on the entries around windows and doors where they enter (outside) I tried everything else mentioned before, settling on the DE. It’s fantastic and not very expensive on Amazon. Thank you!

  9. Robin L Meinicke says:

    Hi Mary,
    I have also found cinnamon to be effective for getting rid of ants. It doesn’t kill them but it does repell them. I put it in my grandson’s sandbox and in the landscape rocks. It really helps.

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