11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants - Public Goods

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11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Need to get rid of ants but don’t want to use harmful sprays in your home? Here are 11 all-natural ways to get rid of ants.

Image showing ants on a sugar cube

Nothing can make your house feel not so homey quite like an infestation. Ants are a common, unwelcome houseguest, made all the worse by the fact that they seem to multiply by the minute. They’re an insect you definitely want to get rid of as soon as you see one, because they can actually cause considerable damage for such a small pest. Ants carry bacteria, which they can transfer to food and toiletries. Carpenter ants can eat through building materials, and Fire and Harvester ants will painfully bite people and pets.

For many reasons, you should get rid of them quickly. It’s understandable, though, if you don’t want to spray products with intense chemicals inside your home. How can you get the job done efficiently without relying on toxic repellents? We’ve got some tried-and-true remedies. Here are eleven natural ways to get rid of ants.

1. Lemons

Our first DIY ant killer is lemons. It turns out that ants dislike anything sour or bitter, and they’re not too keen on the smell of lemon juice. If you only have a few ants, you can squeeze a bit of lemon juice or place lemon peels where they’re hanging out. You can also mix one part lemon juice and three parts water in a spray bottle and spritz the area. If you have a more widespread ant issue, you could also mop your floor and wipe down your counters with that solution so no part of your home is hospitable to them. Lemon essential oil will also work.

2. Mint

Forms of mint, like peppermint or spearmint, make for great insect repellants. You can plant mint around your home or keep it potted on your countertops. You can also soak a cotton ball in peppermint oil and wipe your door frames, window frames, counters, and any other surface you think ants are drawn to or using to enter your home.

3. Vinegar

White vinegar is a great natural way to get rid of ants. Mix a solution of half vinegar, half water in a spray bottle. Spray it directly on the ants, and once they’re dead, wipe them up with a damp paper towel. If you’re hesitant about having the smell of vinegar in your home, don’t worry. The smell only lasts for about half an hour.

4. Pepper

Ants hate both cayenne and black pepper. The smell of cayenne pepper in particular is especially irritating for them. Sprinkle a decent amount where they’ve set up shop. It may not kill them, but it will drive them away.

Image of Public Goods brand spices surrounded by raw spices in bowls

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a quick and effective DIY ant killer. Ants essentially suffocate and die upon inhaling it. You can sprinkle it inside or pour a large amount on an external anthill to wipe out a colony. Cinnamon leaf essential oil also works. It includes trans-cinnamaldehyde, which is especially effective at killing ants that bite. You can apply it around your home using a cotton ball.

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, or silicon dioxide, is a type of silica made of fossilized remains of aquatic organisms. Food-grade diatomaceous earth takes care of ants by cutting through ants’ exoskeletons with its microscopic, razor-sharp edges. It then absorbs their oils, drying out their bodies. You can purchase it online, but since it’s an irritant, do avoid breathing it in or getting it on your skin. It’s also a good idea not to use it indoors. Save this one for external ant hills that are giving you trouble.

7. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is great for clearing up many ailments. To use it to get rid of ants, mix 10 drops with two cups of water and spray it on affected areas. As with other oils, you can also apply it with a cotton ball, or simply keep soaked cotton balls in suspected areas. If you have pets, be mindful of leaving out tea tree or any other essential oil. Many pets, especially cats, are sensitive to highly concentrated oils and can become ill if they consume them.

8. Cornstarch

If you’re not afraid to make a mess, cornstarch is another possibility. If you have a large number of ants congregating together, pour on some cornstarch to smother them. Liberally cover the entire ant group, wait a few minutes, and then vacuum them up. Just be sure to dispose of the vacuum contents immediately after in case a few survived.

Image of Public Goods brand ground coffee and coffee cup

9. Coffee Grounds

Brewed coffee grounds are another way to keep ants at bay, though it’s not fully known why. Brew a pot of coffee, and then sprinkle the grounds on an index card or other disposable surface and leave them in problem areas. You can also sprinkle the grounds near doors and windows. Grounds do lose their potency once they dry out, so you may have to do this daily.

10. Boric Acid

Boric acid has been proven to kill large colonies of worker ants and their queen by eroding their outer shells and stomachs. You can use this recipe to make a homemade ant killer solution:

  • Mix half a teaspoon of boric acid, eight teaspoons sugar, and one cup of warm water.
  • Stir until the sugar and boric acid are completely dissolved.
  • Saturate cotton balls and place them around your home in areas where you’ve seen ants, or leave the mixture out in containers.

Since ants are highly attracted to sugar, this recipe may seem counterintuitive. However, it’s the sugar that will draw the ants to the mixture.

Note: If you use containers, be sure to either discard or thoroughly wash them before using them again. Boric acid is not a substance you want to get in your eyes or on your skin, but be careful when handling it, and keep kids and pets away.

Image of Public Goods brand salt & pepper

11. Salt

Our final natural way to get rid of ants is salt, which you likely have in your home right now. It’s one of the best and cheapest ways to solve an ant problem. Boil a pot of water and stir in a cup or two of regular table salt until it dissolves. Once it’s cooled, you can use it in a spray bottle as you would other spray solutions. Or, you can also simply sprinkle some around your home if you only have a few ants.

Keep Their Friends Out

Ants are drawn to other ants by catching a whiff of their pheromones. When ants enter your home, they leave behind a scented trail that attracts more ants. Cut this problem off at the head by getting rid of that trail as soon as you see an ant in your home. Mop your floors with a liquid soap or detergent so nearby ants aren’t alerted to where others have found food.

How to Prevent Ant Infestations

Speaking of food, that’s the primary reason why ants come inside. Prevent having an ant infestation altogether by making sure there are no food sources for them left out in your home. Keep your containers and food packages tightly sealed, especially in regard to sweet things, which ants love. Wipe up that bit of honey that dripped on the counter, toss out the half-eaten candy on the table, and make sure to put an opened bag of sugar in a sealable plastic bag. Also, be vigilant about crumbs. If you want to keep ants out, regularly wipe counters, sweep, and vacuum. Be sure to get under couches and appliances and to not leave food waste sitting in the garbage can for too long.

Another way to reduce ants around your home is to frequently clear your yard of debris. Trim back any bushes, trees, or other plants that lean against your house. These draw ants around your home’s exterior and give them an easier way to get in.

A homemade ant killer can work just as well, if not better, than any ant repellant you’d find in the store, but without all the chemicals. Try these methods first before turning to harsher products to keep your home free of potential toxins that could disrupt the health of you and your family.

For more health and lifestyle tips from Public Goods, check out our blog.

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