10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Ants

by Lesly Gregory | Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Ants are one of the most common pests people encounter in their homes. The biggest problem when dealing with them is that there's never just one. “All ants are social...When ants are present, they occur in large numbers," says Dr. Laurel D. Hansen for Pestworld.

The size of an infestation can get so big that it can overwhelm residents, which is why home remedies for ants are so important. They can provide a quick, easy and affordable solution for people facing this pest problem.

What attracts ants

Unlike other bugs you're likely to find in your home, such as spiders, termites or cockroaches, ants don't hide. When you have them in your space, they're completely visible, simply going about their business.

The two primary things that bring ants inside are water and food. They prefer to live in areas with a lot of moisture, so your bathroom or kitchen may seem like an enticing home. They're also attracted to food — particularly crumbs — as well as sugar and items left out.

Two preventative measures you can take to keep ants from targeting your home are making sure you don't have any plumbing issues and cleaning up spilled food and dirty plates quickly.

Home remedies for ants

You may be surprised at how many items you already have to use as home remedies for ants. Ants are surprisingly sensitive to scents, so many all-natural ingredients you use regularly will turn them away.

1. Diatomaceous Earth

A scoop of Diatomaceous Earth is a great home remedy for ants.

While your initial approach to getting rid of ants may involve removing them from inside your home, some remedies work better outside. You can attack the ants from where they're entering your home by treating the outdoor area, as well.

Diatomaceous Earth is best for this strategy. Sprinkle it on a flat surface like the sidewalk or a patio. When an ant walks over it, the compound sticks to the ant and kills it before they can reach your home.

2. Calcium carbonate

The rest of the ant fight takes place indoors, where ants are obvious and annoying. Available in a pure form or as powdered chalk, calcium carbonate naturally repels ants. Sprinkle a little powder where you notice ants are entering your home, or draw a line with the ingredient.

This is an effective remedy because it disrupts the scent trail left by ants. It tells them how to get home once they've entered yours. They won't cross the over the chalk. If they do, they lose what's essentially their map back home to their family.

3. Glass cleaner and dish soap

A person holding a rag and glass cleaner.

Another scent trail disruptor is combining glass cleaner and dish soap to clean away the “anty" smell left behind. Ants stop coming back because they don't remember that they've been there before.

Spray the mixture on any spots where you see ants in your home. If you can find their entry point, hit that spot, too. After coating the area, wipe the spray away so only a light residue remains.

If you'd prefer not to use such a heavily-scented cleaning mixture, swap it out for liquid hand soap and water. It also cleans away the scent of ant pheromones to keep them from returning.

4. Vinegar

Similar to the effect glass cleaner has on ants, vinegar is another natural repellent. White vinegar in a 50/50 mixture with water will not only clean the surfaces in your home, but remove the ants' scent trail. The odor vinegar leaves behind is so strong that it also keeps ants from coming back.

Target ant trails and repeat spraying throughout the day to keep the odor at its strongest. Vinegar is safe for every surface in your home except natural stone countertops. If you've got ants walking along your quartz, granite or marble counter, try a different remedy to get rid of them.

5. Citrus fruits

A zested lemon.

Another scent disrupter for ants are citrus fruits. Lemons and oranges tend to work the best. You can place the peel from these fruits at points of entry to stop ants, or add a little citrus juice to your floor cleaner and give it a good wash.

If you want something with a little more staying power, make a paste by mixing one cup of warm water with a few orange or lemon peels. Spread the paste near your ants' entry point, then wipe away. The scent lingers and continues to do the job.

6. Spices

Your spice rack can provide multiple home remedies for ants. You can repel them without even having to make a trip to the store. Black pepper, cinnamon, salt, cloves or cayenne pepper are all good choices. Most of these work because of the strong smell they give off.

If you notice an ant trail beginning in your home, kill the ants that make it in and then sprinkle your spice of choice near their entry point to stop a future invasion.

You can also combine some of your preferred spice with water and load up a spray bottle for some homemade ant repellent that's always ready to go.

7. Cornstarch

A tablespoon of cornstarch.

A messy but effective solution, cornstarch is a great home remedy for ants that are already in your house within a large group. The cornstarch won't repel ants that haven't come in yet, but rather will smother the ants that have already arrived.

Coat the ants in cornstarch and then pour water on top. You'll have a bit of cleanup ahead of you, but know those ants are permanently stuck in the mixture.

To avoid the mess, skip the watering stage and just vacuum up the ants and cornstarch together. Make sure to quickly dump the vacuum bag outside, or empty the canister into a sealed bag immediately. However you dispose of them, don't keep your bag of ants inside the house.

8. Used coffee grounds

For those of you who still brew your coffee without the help of a k-cup, save the used coffee grounds to deal with your ant problem. Sprinkle some of the wet grounds on windowsills or index cards placed in strategic locations around the house.

They should help keep the ants away, but their potency decreases as they dry out. If you're using coffee to repel ants, replace the used grounds often, like every morning after you brew a fresh cup for yourself.

9. Aspartame

A small container of sugar packets sitting on a wooden table.

Another remedy that does more than just repel ants is aspartame. This is the chemical found in artificial sweeteners. You most likely have packets lying around your house. Make a few strategically-placed mounds and just watch the ants come running.

They'll think they've hit the jackpot in sugar, but instead will ingest an alternative that acts as a neurotoxin. It will cause their senses to stop working properly and eventually lead to starvation.

10. Borax

To stop an entire ant colony from thinking your house is their home, use Borax. When consumed, Borax slowly interferes with an ant's digestive system. It will eventually kill them, but not before they have time to go back to their colony and share the “food" with everyone else. Combine Borax with something sweet to attract the ants. It's fine to leave out sugar for this trap.

Get the ants gone for good

Ants can surprise us at any moment. No matter when or where they appear, you want to get rid of them fast. Having this assortment of home remedies for ants will make their removal from your home fast and easy. With the right combination of treatments, you may even say goodbye to ants for good.

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