What Is the Best Home Remedy to Get Rid of Ants?

Reviewed on 12/14/2020

Essential oils
Peppermint, tea tree, neem, and cinnamon oils are natural insect repellents.

Here are some efficient, safe, and natural ways to kill ants using products that are inexpensive and available at home or found easily in grocery stores:

  1. Combining glass cleaner and liquid detergent: A combination of glass cleaner and liquid detergent or dish soap can be sprayed directly on the ants or in the areas where they seem to commonly congregate or originate from. The areas may be wiped down after spraying, leaving a light residue to prevent them from entering. If the scent of glass cleaner is too strong for some, plain hand soap mixed with water may be used.
  2. White vinegar: White vinegar kills ants and repels them. A solution of vinegar (50–50 vinegar and water) or straight vinegar can be sprayed directly over the ants to kill them or into ant holes. Diluted vinegar may also be used to clean surfaces, including floors and countertops around the house to repel insects. Ants can smell vinegar even after the vinegar dries and humans can no longer smell it. Vinegar is also an effective disinfectant.
  3. Essential oils: Peppermint, tea tree, neem, and cinnamon oils are natural insect repellents. Mix 10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, or neem oil with two cups of water, and then spray it around the house and leave it to air dry. This can also be effective against other insects such as mosquitos. Peppermint oil may also be mixed with other oils. A few drops of peppermint essential oil and/or neem oil may also be mixed with body lotions and applied to the skin to prevent insect bites or soothe ant bites.
  4. Lemon eucalyptus oil: Lemon eucalyptus oil is extracted from the lemon eucalyptus tree, a natural bug repellent. Saturate a cotton ball with the undiluted oil and place it in areas where ants are commonly seen or outside the anthill. The cotton ball may be changed every few days.
  5. Boiling water: Boiling hot water can be poured into ant holes in and around the house to effectively and immediately kill ants. Anthills appear small, but the ant colonies beneath them are wide, so pouring boiling hot water one time won’t kill all the ants inside.
  6. Boric acid: Boric acid is a type of poison that can kill ants, including their queen, within three weeks of exposure by eroding their outer shells and stomachs. A solution can be made with half a teaspoon of boric acid, eight teaspoons of sugar, and a cup of warm water and stirred till the contents dissolve. Saturate cotton balls with this solution and place them around the house, especially in areas where ants are commonly seen. The solution may be poured into ant hills as well. An ant trap can be set up using boric acid by mixing the power with something sweet, such as maple syrup or corn syrup, which will attract the ants. This trap can be set up in areas where ants are seen. Boric acid should be kept away from pets and children and gloves should be worn while working with it.
  7. Eliminating their food source: Making sure no food sources are readily available for the ants will be helpful. This can reduce the number of ants entering the house, which also increases the success rate of completely getting rid of ants with home remedies and preventing the problem before it starts. Food should be tightly sealed in containers. Food crumbs should be cleaned from the house, and garbage should be disposed of every day or every other day. Ants are also attracted to pet food (including bird food); hence, pet bowls should be removed and cleaned as soon as the pet has finished eating.

If home remedies fail

If home remedies fail, pesticides and commercially prepared products to kill ants may be used, such as sprays and bait traps that contain pesticides. If everything fails, hiring a professional exterminator can help. There are many exterminators that also specialize in the nontoxic elimination of ants and other pests.

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References
eXtension. Are There Any Home Remedies That Will Kill Fire Ants? USDA. https://ant-pests.extension.org/are-there-any-home-remedies-that-will-kill-fire-ants/

Huffstetler E. How to Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally. The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/get-rid-of-ants-cheaply-and-naturally-1388157

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