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How To Get Rid Of Ants For Good

Lauren Nowacki10-Minute Read
September 18, 2020

Ants are little insects that can cause major problems. From infiltrating your home or stinging your skin to far more sinister acts, like messing up your electronics and causing structural damage, ants do a lot more than steal your crumbs.

Having ants in your home is certainly no picnic (they ruin those, too), but there are a few things you can do to get them out of your home and prevent them from visiting again. Follow these tips to get your home pest-free in no time.

How To Get Rid Of Ants In And Around The House

line of ants crawling across tile floor near plant

The first step in ridding your home of ants is making sure they have no desire to be there in the first place.

The key to keeping ants off of your property comes down to simply keeping your home area clean. Without crumbs or dirty dishes around, the ants lose their food source in the house.

After removing their main reason for being in the home, you’ll have to take a few additional steps to rid the ants you have and to prevent future invasion.

Let’s start with a few common places in your home that you may find ants and how to get rid of the infestation in those areas.

Kitchen

It may come as no surprise that the kitchen is the most common room where you’ll find ants. It’s where food is kept and prepared so, naturally, crumbs can be a common occurrence. Along with providing food, the kitchen sink also provides another important resource for ants: water.

Here are a few tips on the best way to get rid of ants in the kitchen:

Clean up after yourself and others. Clean up spills as soon as you can. Remember to wipe counters after preparing dinner and the kitchen table after each meal. You should also routinely clean appliances and trash cans, sweep the floor and wipe down kitchen surfaces. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.

Mind your food storage. Place sugar, flour and other pantry staples in sealed containers. You should also do this for such foods as chopped fruits and vegetables and leftovers. Once you fill and seal the container, wipe it to remove any rogue juices or oils.

Rinse before you toss. Always rinse out jars, cans and other food containers before you toss them in your trash can or recycling bin.

Make sure wet areas are dry. Make sure you wipe away excess water in your sink, ring out wet sponges and hang towels to dry when you’re done using them.

Use traps to kill the colony. Ant bait traps are filled with poison that ants take back to the colony to feed the queen. Place bait traps in areas of activity, including cabinets and under appliances, and at identified entry points, like cracks or outlets. If you have children or pets, make sure these traps are placed out of their reach.

Use a non-repellent spray. It may be tempting to use a repellent, but that will only deter the ants from the area and allow them to find a new place to infest. A more effective option is a non-repellent spray, which won’t be detected by the ants until it’s too late. Since it doesn’t initially repel them, they crawl over the solution without realizing it, then carry the toxin back to the colony. Spray this at various potential entry points, like door and window frames and along the baseboards.

Bathroom

Ants can be attracted to moisture, which is why the bathroom is another popular place for these and other pests. Bathrooms are particularly a popular spot for carpenter ants, which like to nest behind tiles and in damp wood areas, like under the sink.

To get rid of ants in the bathroom, take the following actions:

Get rid of standing water. Ants in search of water will find it in standing water. To get rid of this, wipe down sinks and showers after use. Inspect your drains to ensure they are properly getting rid of water and check your pipes for leaks.

Reduce moisture. If your bathroom has an exhaust fan, turn it on when bathing to reduce moisture and circulate the air. You can also crack the window or door to allow moisture to leave the bathroom. Always hang wet towels after use.

Caulk and repair tile. Inspect your bathroom for points of entry, like cracks in the tile or opening along the floor. Repair broken tile and caulk any spaces you see in the wall or floor to prevent ants from getting in or finding space to nest.

Inside Walls

Hidden from the homeowner’s sight and filled with dark nooks and crannies, the inside of your home’s walls is prime real estate for ants and other pests. Since you can’t necessarily see the infestation, look for these signs you may have a problem:

 

  • Ants coming in and out of electrical sockets
  • Sounds of activity within the wall
  • Hollow sound when knocking on a wall made of solid wood
  • Traces of sawdust or wood shavings

 

Once you discover ants inside your walls, follow these steps to get rid of the infestation:

Find entry points and block them. Inspect your home’s interior and exterior for cracks or other openings that could be entry points and seal them right away.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the wall. This naturally occurring substance is sedimentary rock that’s been crumbled into a fine powder. It kills several types of crawling pests, including ants, by cutting their exteriors and drying them out. If you decide to try this treatment, make sure you do extensive research on this substance as some diatomaceous earth is considered safe for humans and some is not.

Consider professional treatment. Since you’re unable to get behind your walls, getting rid of ants in this area of the home is especially difficult. If you’re having trouble exterminating the ants on your own, consider contacting a professional pest control company. You can’t ignore the problem as it can cause structural damage to your home.

Getting Rid Of Ants Naturally

herbs and oils to get rid of ants

If you want to get rid of ants without the use of pesticides or other toxic chemicals, there are some DIY repellents that are safer pest control options for homeowners and the environment.

While some of these treatments kill ants, the majority of them are used to destroy ant trails. Ants leave pheromone trails to guide the colony to food sources and back to the nest. By erasing their trails, you can confuse the ants, deter them from continuing on and prevent them from coming back.

Here’s how to get rid of ants naturally.

Clean With White Vinegar Or Lemon Juice Mixed With Water

Mix one part lemon juice with three parts water or equal parts white vinegar and water to create a solution that will wash away the trail and help remove the pheromone scents. Spray the solution directly on the trail.

Keep in mind, vinegar can damage natural stone, tile grout and vegetation, so be mindful of where you use it, both inside and outside of your house.

Essential Oils

After cleaning the trail, apply essential oils to the area, which will further remove the pheromone scent. Essential oils tend to have strong odors, which overpower the colony’s scent and also repels ants.

Especially effective essential oils include peppermint, tea tree and citrus. Mix 7 – 15 drops of these oils with ¼ cup of water and spray the mixture along the ant trail, along the perimeter of the home and around any possible points of entry. You can also dab the mixture on a rag or cotton ball and wipe the baseboards with it.

Some essential oils, like clove oil, can also kill ants. Simply dilute the oil in some water, then spray ants with the solution.

Cinnamon Or Cayenne Pepper

Cinnamon and cayenne pepper are spices you most likely already have in your pantry. These spices emit a strong aroma that covers the pheromone scent and also repels ants.

In addition to driving ants away, ground cinnamon can also suffocate ants when inhaled.

Types Of Ants And How To Get Rid Of Them

The best way to get rid of ants will depend on the ant species invading your home. It’s important to first identify the type of ant you’re dealing with, then use the best treatment for getting rid of that species.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant close-up

Carpenter ants are brown or black in color and about half an inch long. These ants are found throughout the U.S. and are most common in the northern states.

They’re known as structural pests because they can damage the wood in your home by excavating it for their nests. They’re commonly found in the roof, bathroom and inside the walls and especially love damp, decaying or damaged wood.

 

How to get rid of carpenter ants:

1. Fix leaks and other moisture problems in your home and remove any standing water to cut off their water source.

2. Inspect the perimeter of your home for any possible entry points, and seal these opening with caulk.

3. Spray non-repellent around the perimeter or use bait traps, which will trick ants into bringing poison back to the colony.

4. Remove their pheromone trails with the natural remedies listed above.

5. If you know where the entry points are, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the area. If you know where the nest is in your walls, you can drill small holes near the area and blow boric acid, which is deadly to the ants, into the holes.

Crazy Ants

crazy ant crawling

Crazy ants are brown, hairy and about one-eighth of an inch long. They have extremely long legs and antennae and run erratically, hence the name. They are considered an invasive ant species and are mostly found in the south, including Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

They love moist areas and are also drawn to electronic devices. You could find them basically anywhere, from under your carpet or in a potted plant to inside your TV. And if you have an infestation, you’ll find them everywhere.

While they don’t sting and don’t have a painful bite, they do invade homes and have no problem crawling sporadically all over people. They also have very dense populations and their swarms have been known to overtake beehive colonies, kill animals and even short electrical circuits.

How to get rid of crazy ants: Crazy ants are one of the most difficult ant species to control and kill. Therefore, it is recommended that you hire a professional to take care of the infestation.

However, you can take the following preventative measures to help:

1. Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.

2. Take your trash out daily.

3. Remove stones and woodpiles from your yard.

4. Seal any openings in your home and spray non-repellent spray around your home.

5. Seal openings to electrical and HVAC equipment.

Fire Ants

fire ant on white surface

Fire ants are about one-fifth of an inch and are reddish-brown. They are typically found in the southeastern part of the U.S. where the climate is more subtropical. However, they have been found in other parts of the U.S., including Kentucky, Maryland, Arizona and California.

The name “fire ant” comes from the burning sensation felt by their sting. Many times, multiple ants will sting at the same time. This sting or “bite” often leaves a welt. Painful stings are the biggest problem with this type of ant species.

While fire ants prefer to stay away from humans and usually only attack when their nest is disturbed, some fire ants enter the home in search of food and water or a place to nest, especially in colder weather. If you have fire ants in your home, the common places to find them near sources of moisture and warmth, like near a heater or bathtub.

How to get rid of fire ants: The most effective method for getting rid of fire ants is using bait traps and drenching their mounds.

 

1. Place bait traps wherever you see activity. The ants will take the poison back to the colony and kill the queen and other ants.

2. If the ants ignore the bait, spray a non-repellent where you see activity. This is another way for them to bring poison back to the colony.

3. To drench the mounds, you’ll mix water with insecticide (per the measurements on the insecticide) and pour it over the mound. You’ll want to have enough liquid to completely soak the mound and the area within about a foot of the mound.

 

When dealing with fire ants, especially their mounds, be careful not to agitate them before treatment. Not only do you risk getting stung multiple times; you also risk the ants moving the queen to a safer spot.

Prevention Is Key

One of the best ways to rid your home of ants is to prevent them in the first place. Along with keeping the inside of your home clean and crumb-free, there are some outdoor prevention steps to complete, too.

1. Routinely check the outside perimeter of your home for any new cracks, crevices or other openings.

2. Find ways to divert water away from your home.

3. Trim back bushes and trees, so they do not touch the home.

4. Inspect your yard, driveway and sidewalk for ant hills or nests. If you find them outside, you can pour boiling water or sprinkle boric acid over the top of the hill.

5. Follow basic lawn care procedures, like mowing your lawn, removing yard waste and properly watering your lawn.

6. Consider purchasing grub and pest control services from professional lawn care companies.

Bottom Line

When it comes to keeping ants out of your home, prevention is the first step. Once you notice ants inside your home, take action by removing their food and water sources, setting bait traps and removing their scent trails. This can be done with chemical or natural treatments that vary in effectiveness by the type of ant you’re trying to kill.

The Rocket HomesSM blog has everything you need to survive homeownership, including even more tips for controlling household pests like termites, spiders and fruit flies.

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Lauren Nowacki

Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.