Why do ants suddenly bombard the kitchen? Ants are drawn to food sources, so anything from crumbs to sticky food surfaces create optimal conditions for an invasion. Ant colonies can be composed of thousands or millions of ants, and where you find a few little “investigators” checking the scene out—more are sure to come.

How do you get rid of an ant infestation, and when do you call a professional when you can’t DIY the solution? Below, we’ll discuss several approaches for putting a stop to your ant problem naturally, while weighing the pros and cons of each method.

Finally, we’ll trace the ants to their outside source and get rid of ants outside before they even consider entering your home with more conventional methods.

Natural Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Ants in the Home

If you prefer a DIY method that’s more down-to-earth and environmentally friendly, consider these 11 tips for getting rid of ants in the home naturally.

1. Diatomaceous Earth (Silicon Dioxide)

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a silica dust constructed from the fossilized remains of ancient aquatic organisms called diatoms.The remains are pulverized to create a fine powder and is not poisonous. It kills ants by pulling oil from their skeletons, drying them out. Use it by sprinkling the powder where you see ants traveling in your home.

Pros: Natural, effective, safe for people and petsEffective, natural, safe for pets and people

Cons: Messy, requires reapplication

2. Detergents

Ants rely on the pheromone trails they leave to navigate a much larger world, which is why you see them traveling in lines. Household detergents can block these trails and keep ants out. Scrub surfaces with soapy water.

Pros: Non-toxic, easy

Cons: Requires reapplication

3. Pepper

Many people tend to sneeze when they’ve been exposed to too much pepper, and similarly, pepper can also deter ants, which rely mostly on their sense of smell. Sprinkle ground red or black pepper around baseboards and appliances.

Pros: Safe, cost-effective

Cons: Requires reapplication, messy, irritant to kids and pets

4. Essential Oils

Natural essential oils like tea tree oil, lemon, neem, cinnamon and peppermint naturally repel ants. Mix a few drops of the chosen essential oil with a cup of water and spray baseboards, windowsills and entryways.

Pros: Easy, pleasing scent

Cons: Can sometimes irritate children and pets, particularly cats

5. White Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural ant repellant. Mix a 50-50 ratio of vinegar and water and spray it over ant trails.

Pros: Effective, easy

Cons: May damage some surfaces, vinegar scent may not be appealing

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda is known to kill ants upon ingestion. Mix confectioner’s sugar with baking soda into a shallow container, and let the ants feast.

Pros: Effective, easy

Cons: Not healthy for pets or children if it’s within their reach

7. Chalk

Chalk is composed of calcium carbonate, and when this compound is placed in a thick line, it can confuse the ant’s scent trail. Apply thick lines of chalk around areas you wish to protect, such as a barbecue spread.

Pros: Easy, cost-effective

Cons: Temporary solution

8. Lemons or Oranges

Orange and lemon rinds contain an extract called d-limonene, which is toxic to ants.

Discard the rinds into a gallon jar, filling it half with peels and half with water. Let the jar sit in a dark place for three to five days until the water has color. Strain the liquid and refill it into the jar, adding a squirt of dish soap and a teaspoon of molasses.

Mix the liquid and add it to a spray bottle. Spray the ants with the mixture and the citrus oil should kill the ants on contact.

Pros: Easy, non-toxic, reduces waste

Cons: Time to make, sticky residue

9. Epsom Salt

Salt is a natural ant killer since it annihilates them through dehydration. Mix one cup of Epsom salt into a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the ants directly.

Pros: Non-toxic, easy

Cons: Only works with direct application

10. Cornstarch

Eliminate ants by dumping cornstarch directly on the ant trail and vacuum them up.

Pros: Non-toxic, fast

Cons: Requires cleanup

11. Boric acid

Boric acid is capable of killing both worker ants and the queen within three weeks of exposure. Combine half a tablespoon of boric acid and eight teaspoons of sugar into one cup of warm water. Stir the mixture until the boric acid dissolves. Saturate a few cotton balls in the solution, and place them at points of entry for the ants.

Pros: Effective, affordable

Cons: Not safe for kids or pets, keep out of reach

Getting Rid Of Ants Outside The House

Now that we’ve discussed getting rid of ants inside the house, how do you deal with them at the source so they don’t come back? Here are a few of our best tips with the pros and cons of each.

1. Boiling Water

Boiling water is an effective and easy way to annihilate ants instantly. If you see ants coming out of a hole in the ground or a crack in concrete, pour boiling water into the crevice. It should kill the ants that are coming out. Do not pour onto plants.

Pros: Easy, effective

Cons: Requires reapplication, chance of possible burns if not careful

2. Barrier Sprays

Barrier sprays kill ants directly and is a long-lasting method for ant prevention. Apply barrier sprays along the foundation line of your home. You can purchase barrier sprays at your local garden store or ask us at Pest Control Unlimited to assist you with the application.

Pros: Long-lasting, kills on contact

Cons: Requires reapplication, not safe for animals and may harm beneficial insects

3. Ant Granules

Ant granules work as bait for ants who consume them and die on contact. Place the ant granules around the exterior of your home, especially close to potential entry points.

Pros: Easy, effective

Cons: Toxic, requires reapplication

More Conventional Methods To Get Rid Of Ants

Aside from these DIY methods, there are more conventional methods that you can employ when all else fails:

1. Ant Baits

Ant baits are covered pods that fit into small areas that ants frequent. The pods contain poison that’s concealed, much like other pest traps, and when the ants consume the bait, they die on contact.

Pros: Affordable, effective

Cons: Requires frequent checking and replacement, could be dangerous if opened by pets or children

2. Ant Traps

Ant traps work similar to ant baits, but the ants are trapped and not allowed to leave. Some traps may also contain poison.

Pros: Effective, affordable

Cons: Must dispose of dead ants, checking traps often

3. Ant Spray

Ant spray can be purchased for both indoor and outdoor use. The spray effectively kills ants on contact.

Pros: Fast, effective, affordable

Cons: Temporary solution, toxic chemicals and fumes if consumed

Tips for Preventing Ants From Getting Out of Control

Another important aspect of controlling ants in your home is preventing them from getting out of hand in the first place. Here are a few tips to prevent ants from overtaking your home:

  • Promptly clean all food spills and messes to prevent ants from entering the kitchen.
  • Store ripe fruit in the fridge, and keep sugar and other non-perishables in air-tight containers.
  • Keep wet surfaces dry by draining the sink and tub after each use. Plug the drain with a stopper.
  • Fix any moisture issues under sinks, and seal any possible leaks from pipes or other appliances.
  • Use air-tight jars inside your pantry. You can also seal items in a Ziploc bag inside the jar to be extra safe.
  • Clean up any spilled food or water from pet bowls often.
  • Inspect indoor plants for ants and other insects.
  • Remove brush, mulch, shrubs and other organic materials away from the foundation.
  • Rake landscaping materials at least a foot from the foundation.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent standing water.
  • Clean inside your toaster oven, toaster or air fryer regularly. Wipe away crumbs after each use.
  • Use liners inside indoor trash cans, and use a trash can with a tight seal. Clean the trash can with a little bleach diluted with water.
  • Store outdoor trash bins several feet from the house and regularly wash them with an ammonia solution.
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper or cinnamon in your garden to deter ants.

Ants seek out food and water to survive, just like any other creature. By using these prevention methods, you can control the conditions that cause ants to enter your home.

When Should You Call a Professional

During warmer weather, you’re more likely to see ants exploring your home. An ant infestation is not a welcome sight, but a few DIY solutions can help mitigate or eliminate the problem. Whether it’s diatomaceous earth or essential oils, a more environmentally friendly solution is preferred by man when it comes to getting rid of ants. It’s best if you can eliminate ants at their outdoor origin point, and sometimes you need to use more conventional methods, such as ant spray.

However, if your home is regularly infested with a large colony of ants that just seems to continually multiply, you need to call a professional—especially when the methods we discussed don’t seem to be working at all. Contact us at Pest Control Unlimited to schedule a consultation today.