5 Simple, Natural Ant Control Remedies

A few years ago when I was trying to sell my home, the realtor called and said a potential buyer was coming in fifteen minutes. As I raced around doing a last-minute pickup, I saw a ten-foot long ant parade marching across the center of my kitchen floor. I about died.

We know to keep kitchen sinks and counters clean and dry to prevent ants, and here are other natural ways to keep ants out of your home in this guest post.


Photo by Budzlife

With spring in full force, tiny ants across the country are building their ant farms and reproducing by the millions. Spring brings upon a feeling of renewal, but it also brings upon a feeling of fear as ants successfully make their way into homes. A few ants here or there aren’t a problem, and most people aren’t afraid of an ant or two. However, when the ants living in the anthills on your front walkway start coming in the front door, you’ll need to do something about it.

The good news is that there are many simple, effortless and inexpensive ways to naturally control small ants in and around your home — and they actually work. In fact, the ingredients for natural ant control can be found right in your pantry. Keep in mind that if you have a major ant problem (or ants other than small brown ants), then chances are these natural tips won’t help the problem go away entirely. In that case, you may need to hire a professional pest control expert to handle it for you.

If you notice ants coming into your home and they are bothersome, try following some of these tricks:

Cinnamon Sticks & Garlic Cloves

Place cinnamon sticks or garlic in areas where you have seen ants enter, such as in window tracks, by doors and in corners around your home. While garlic cloves aren’t as aromatically pleasing as cinnamon sticks, they work really well. Just peel and slice a few cloves and place them where you notice the ants. Last year we had some unexplained ants that kept invading my daughter’s dresser so we placed the cloves on the dresser. After a day or two, we replaced them with fresh cloves and the ants never returned.

You can also place cinnamon sticks around the pantry for extra protection. Once, I ran out of cinnamon and used cloves instead – it worked just as well. I actually witnessed ants crawling away from the cloves.

Vinegar

Place white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on areas where you have seen ants. The fungicidal and insecticidal properties in the vinegar help prevent ants.

Black Pepper

Sprinkle black pepper where you see ants. The ants will immediately scatter. Pay attention to where they run; chances are they will be exiting your house and you’ll be able to treat the entry area with pepper too.

Boiling Water

For serious anthill problems in your yard or walkway, pour boiling water over the anthills. It sounds a bit cruel, but pesticides can be equally, if not more, cruel.

Mint

Mint destroys the smelling capabilities of ants and prevents them from entering your home. There are several ways to use mint to prevent ant infestations. First, plant mint around your home, especially near doors and close to areas where you have seen anthills. Second, place mint leaves in and around windows. If ants are entering your pantry, place some mint leaves on the shelves and in the corners.

Other Plants

Here is a list of some other plants which have been known to be effective at warding off ants. The idea is the stronger the smell, the more likely the plant is to keep the ants away:

  • Basil
  • Chili peppers
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Persistence is the key when trying natural ant control remedies. If one of these methods doesn’t work for you, then try another. You may need to repeat it a few times.

How have you gotten rid of ants in your home?

Guest blogger Marcy Tate is a blogger at Networx, the Home Improvement Network. She has been working with ant control experts for over a decade on ways to naturally control ants.
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About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. This couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve seen a few ants marching across my coutner this week. Time to get to work!

    Nicole´s last post…spring weekend ~ part 2

  2. I have used powdered borax in my unfinished basement when ants burrowed in around the drain and were creating a large complex. We have used a commercial liquid borax compound in places the kids can’t reach (under the kitchen sink etc)

  3. Cucumber peels! Sounds strange, but I’ve used it and it works! Apparently ants have an aversion to them. You can also use cucumber slices, but I found that the peels work best.

  4. I had never heard any of these, except the boiling water – very good ideas to try! I don’t like to use the powders and ant traps, especially with kids around. We used boiling water on some of the nests last year, but then the grass would die in that patch. it came back this spring, but looked patchy all last summer :( do you think I could sprinkle enough pepper on a nest to make them all disappear? That would be excellent!!

  5. The best and only one that has worked for me is to just smash a bunch of them and leave them there for a few days. All the others will carry the dead ones away and never come back!!! It works like a charm.

  6. If you place some cornstarch out they will carry it back to their nest to share with the other ants. Ants cannot digest cornstarch and it will kill them. This works very well!

    • XXtanyaXX says:

      I used corn meal. It worked and also it may have decreased houseplant pests.

      Apparently it blocks the ant’s ability to digest. I don’t know if other insects have the same anatomy though.

    • Sandra Gonzales says:

      My daughter and I put cornstarch on an ant hill and watched as the ants took it in the nest. After a few days, there were no more ants in the ant hill. My daughter thought it was a cool science project.

  7. Borax! I have used the powdered kind you buy in the laundry aisle, sprinkling a little where they seem to be coming in. Works like a charm… which reminds me, it’s time to re-Borax a couple of areas.

    Kristianna´s last post…A Very Special Visitor

  8. Denise C. says:

    I DETEST ants. They gross me out. So if I see them, I usually call my husband in for help.

    • I live with 8 rescued pit bulls and they are all Terrified of ants! LOl.
      (So much for the Pit Bull ~Killer Dog Myths!) I have to be careful what I use because they have the run of the house and often are my vacuum cleaners when something drops to the kitchen floor!
      My mother told me about the Corn Meal and it does work, as long as you can keep the Bully’s from blowing it away with their noses! lol.
      This has been by far the best remedy I have used, I did use the smash and destroy method first -but it scared the dogs!

    • Kyle Caster says:

      Thanks, Denise. I find your comment to be the most useful. I too hate ants, and it’s interesting to see there’s more people who feel the same way. Keep up the good and productive work.

  9. I had a case where the ants were coming in from behind a cabinet. I put clear packing tape over the entrance. I took it down over the winter, and they did not try to come back the next year. I also used the sprinkled borax on a doorway with some success – it did take a little while to take effect.

    Lee´s last post…If you register your site for free at

  10. Great list! I’ve used the cornstarch one too and that seemed to work.

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Drinking Wine From a Dixie Cup

  11. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Lydia´s last post…Free Sample: Plackers Grind-No-More

  12. I’ve had success with vinegar in a spray bottle, but I’m glad to hear of these other methods too!

    Juice´s last post…Cecilia’s Not Feeling The Love

  13. The cinnamon sticks worked for me a few weeks ago when it warmed up quickly and I had ants coming in my kitchen. I place a few in the cracks between the dish washer and the cabinet and by the refrig and also in the track of my glass slider doors.

  14. What great tips that I never knew about! I just buy over the counter ant traps but really don’t like to have them laying around. So glad to have more tricks up my sleeve.

    Tina@RideOnToys´s last post…The Batman Power Wheels Will Keep Your Little Crime Fighters Busy

  15. We have a heap of ants that come out when it rains. If it rains really hard they vanish back into the walls. If it is dry they stay indoors! but when it is misty or a light drizzle they come out in their bazillions!!! We don’t mind them – we don’t really see them and they never come into the house. But why don’t they like a gentle spattering of rain? I would love to know? Is it some sort of ant thing?

    se7en´s last post…The Week That Was – 2.42

    • pathutch says:

      I had ants that would come and go like that and it turned out that thousands of them were building nests in my foam roofing insulation. I had to have all the insulation replaced. That was the most expensive ant hill I’ve ever seen!

  16. This is the first year we have had ants. My husband went out and bought some of those icky ant traps, which I wasn’t very happy about. Thankfully now I have some natural alternatives to try first!

    Lisa@Mom’s Green Shopping List´s last post…What Are Your Earth Day Resolutions?

  17. Jennifer says:

    I have found one of the best things is dried bay leaves, put in cupboards, just near where the ants are coming in etc. The bonus is the nice smell, I leave a couple of leaves in the pantry and have never been bothered with ants since.

  18. SALT! Ants generally invade the kitchen and living room right before it rains. Ants usually won’t cross a salt barrier – not sure why! This and vinegar have worked REALLY well for me but I’m glad to have the cinnamon and cornstarch back up plan!

    Great post! Thanks

    Jenn´s last post…Taking a Few Sick Days

  19. Andrea @ thetraintocrazy.com says:

    Perfect timing!!! This past week I’ve had 5-10 ants invade a day. I vacuum and mop after every meal and snack w/ vinegar and while it seems to be helping, they keep coming! I’m going to try garlic!

  20. Thank you, thank you! I had been searching for ways to get rid of ants but too lazy to do the extensive searching on google. This might save me yet. I don’t want to use the powder for killing ants due to have an inquisitive toddler on hand.

  21. I’ve used baby powder and that has gotten rid of them before too. I don’t know what it is about it but they don’t like it.

    Rana´s last post…Great Outdoor Challenge – Backyards and Playgrounds

  22. I can vouch for the cornstarch and the baby powder. Here in South Texas, our ants sting and many children are allergic to the stings. Worst case, treat stings with unseasoned meat tenderizer. I have seen nasty swelling on little feet go down in minutes. I make a paste and smear it on.

    • tracy coville says:

      use a wet aspirin to rub on ant bites it will take away swelling and pain.Try ginger ants hate it.cinnamon works well too!

  23. Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but my mom swears by this remedy: mix a batch of Borax & honey together – then just leave it out for them to come & eat it. They eat it & take it back to their nest & it kills all of them. It worked for a bit for us but eventually they just kept coming back – but they would always go to the bowl of Borax & honey. So, at least it contained them! :)

  24. Wow, baby powder, great idea. I am going to test it out here and see if it works for me too. Thanks for the other great ideas like salt, borax and cornstarch. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Cayenne pepper!

    Robbie @ Going Green Mama´s last post…In the wake of our Great TV Rebellion

    • hasn’t worked for me they just crawl through it (is my pepper too old maybe?)

  26. Thank you so much for this very timely post. I live in South Florida where ants are a constant nuisance. I was wondering though, if you have any suggestions for natural solutions to FIRE ants?

    Sofia’s Ideas´s last post…Happy Earth Day 2010

    • My dad taught me this one years ago, and its always worked w/fire ants: FIRST, stir up the mound, and get them running around, THEN sprinkle INSTANT grits generously over/around whatever fire ant mound you see, and in a few days, the mound will become inactive. I don’t know if they all die, but when you come back a few days later and stir the mound again, there are no more ants in residence! Good luck!

      • …sorry. “…it’s always worked.” careless typo!

      • Thanks Kyle, I appreciate you taking the time! My parents used grits on black ants when we lived on Long Island. I remember helping them when I was growing up. I had no idea they worked on fire ants too. From what I understood, they are virtually indestructable. We ended up calling the exterminator but whatever they used was a temporary solution as they always return if the queen remains! :(
        Sofia’s Ideas´s last post…{this moment}

  27. We have had great success getting rid of ants by using baby powder (the kind WITH talc). The ants usually clear up about 3 days after we sprinkle it around the edges of the counters, and they’re gone for the rest of the summer!

  28. This is perfect timing for me – my girls bedroom has been invaded and nothing seemed to be getting rid of them – will start trying out this list! Thanks

    Kirsty-Abu Dhabi´s last post…Early morning light * Abu Dhabi Maternity Photographer

  29. this was super helpful…thanks so much…as summer quickly approaches, i was beginning to cringe knowing that my little black 6-legged buddies would be back…i have tried vinegar and it works but i hate the smell. i am definitely going to try cinnamon and mint. thanks again…

  30. Love these ideas for when I manage to find where they are making their entrance, which can be quite difficult.

    I have fought ants on four continents now, and keeping everything clean with vinegar works well for us. I ran our of white vinegar and tried apple cider vinegar (ACV) one time – it attracted even more ants!! So I stick with plain white vinegar these days.

    Elisa | blissfulE´s last post…ode to eatmeal

  31. I have always used any talcum powder… sprinkle around their roadway and leave it there a few days, soon no more ants and you don’t see them for a long time afterwards. I have used this is several cities, and 2 countries (hot and temperate), always works. :)

    angelvalerie´s last post…dreaming your dreams…

  32. Found this via simple mom…and it is just what I need. Thanks for these remedies! I’m off to battle now!

  33. Joy Marshall says:

    I take the caps from 2 liter bottles of soda, fill them with corn meal, and add a wee bit of honey in the center. The ants take the corn meal back to the queen, and there is no more reproduction. The honey is a lure. This takes time, but it is safe if you have animals at home, which we do. Over time, it is a wonderful cure!

  34. Renee Wyatt says:

    I have heard that ants can not digest cornmeal. They will take it back to their nest and after they feast on it, they will die. However, I saw several responses in the discussion that mentioned cornstarch. Does anyone know if its cornmeal or cornstarch? Or both? Thanks.

  35. Borax and a little icing sugar mixed in.Works every time.

  36. I came to your site to look at your chocolate syrup recipe and have had an enjoyable browse. Really like the philosophy that shines through here.

    This year, I did something new about the ants that arrive with each spring in our second story apartment: Nothing! If they were completely in my way, I brushed them aside, but other than that I just let the little dudes hang out. No one got hurt, no one died. And I didn’t notice any more ants than when I sprayed like mad with gosh knows what in previous years.

    Living insect free is not a healthy goal, living pesticide free is.

    Kim – House Cleaning Howtos´s last post…Hand Washing Clothes – How to Wash by Hand

  37. I have not found anything that works, but I have not tried anything on your list, so I plan to try them all! Thank you so much!!!!!

  38. Cinnamon works amazing.. sprinkle it over the anthill or wherever you see them congregating. Works well in conjunction with the cinnamon sticks in the windows and doorways

  39. Does anyone know how to get rid of “CARPENTER” ANTS? They are terrible up here in Alaska. They come inside and make tunnels through the walls.

  40. I have used bay leaves. I crush them. They don’t like the smell or something, and it deters them.

  41. I found that by hanging several hummingbird feeders in the trees around my home that the ants crawl up to the feeders rather than into my house. The first year I thought it was coincidental, but I have lived in my home for almost three years and never a single ant in the house. Every time I fill up the feeders I have to wash out the ants, but Id rather them in there than on my kitchen counter. Try it this summer and see if it works for you.

  42. Thanks for the tips!!

  43. Apparently ants hate Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose cleaner too. (Has lavender in it plus made from botanicals) I have sprayed it in a panic and it does kill on contact. When I sprayed it on the counters and left it a while before wiping it up, it also kept them from returning for a while. I hate killing ants but if they’d just stay outdoors where they belong, I’d leave them alone. I’m trying the peppermint next since it is growing like wild in our garden and I can even transplant it to the place where I am seeing the outdoor colonies. There are def fewer of them now that we are seeing indoors and the traditional liquid bait my husband tried is not working as well. These ants seem to be too smart for that. I’m getting itchy now just thinking about ants…

  44. I mix a few tablespoons of liquid dish washing detergent (any brand.. for hand washing dishes) and about 16 ounces of water and keep it in a spray bottle on the counter. I use that for an instant ant killer. It is easier to spray a bunch and then clean them up , rather than running for a paper towel to smash each individual ant. Thanks for all these great suggestions. I am going to try the borax and honey where they are coming in my front door! I love your website……I read your words of wisdom and soak up the inspiration regularly. :)

  45. I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU to whoever it was that mentioned using CORNSTARCH! It worked like a charm. I’ve never used a natural method before.

    For the first time last year, I had a huge infestation of little black ants and they didn’t respond at all to the poison traps; they were around most of the summer. This summer they came back with a vengence! They were everywhere. I awoke with them crawling on me, that’s how bad it got. This went on for over a month.

    I sprinkled the cornstarch everywhere I saw them coming out and they were gone within a few weeks!

    THANK YOU! AND HOORAY FOR CORNSTARCH!

  46. Dennis Grover says:

    USE SSS (SKIN SO SOFT) BATH OIL. ANTS AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. IF YOU SPRAY THE ONES YOU SEE, IT KILLS ON CONTACT. RUB SOME ON OUTSIDE OF GARBAGE PAILS, ANTS WILL NOT CLIMB THEM TO GET TO GARBAGE. MAKE A SPRAY, OR USE FULL STRENGH TO USE ALONG BASEBOARDS. PETS (i HAVE 2 CATS) don’t seem to mind the ‘woodsy’ smell,
    BORAX, TALC AND CORNSTARCH, WORK ALSO; EVEN WITH COCKROACHES AND PALMETTO BUGS.

  47. I may be the only person on this page that feels this way, but I actually like ants. A lot of people don’t realize how beneficial the little critters are to plants all over the world, as they do things like ingest parasites off of them when they drink the dew in the morning, etc.

    Small dark ants have been coming into my kitchen, and instead of killing them, I have used a small hand held Micro Vac to suck them up and bring outside away from the house. I tried cinnamon powder as well as cinnamon oil but it didn’t turn them away. What did work for me though was smearing lemon juice around the area where they were coming in.

    • You may live ants, but a small colony of them came in and killed 12 of my pet geckos two nights ago.. :(

      • Wow, I know that mites can kill reptiles but I’ve never heard of ants killing them before.

        Since my post, I have to say that the ants built up a tolerance to the lemon juice. Pepper seemed to work, especially after being freshly sprinkled, but they got used to that too. Same for garlic. Nothing will stop these ants, they just keep coming. It’s gotten to the point that I had to recruit some spiders from other areas of the house and deposit them in antland. If they have to die, at least this way they are feeding something else and it’s natural.

  48. Sandy W says:

    I’m a bit late in this discussion, but have been fighting ants for almost a month now. I read your ideas last week and tried almost all of them. I loved how the ants picked up and moved the cloves out of their way. LOL! The crushed cloves drove them to another location, but did not stop the problem. We cannot find where they are entering and we have a dog who will lick the floor clean if given the opportunity, so natural is a must. I finally heard about FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth. It is fossils ground into flour and is used as a dietary food supplement for animals, BUT… it must be FOOD GRADE to be safe in the home. It is easiest to find at feed stores and you will get enough for quite a while, but it actually cleared out my problem in 2 hours!!! I put two tablespoons worth on one of the counters where I was having trouble. That’s it! I still have an ant here and an ant there, but where I could see thousands in 10 seconds, I now have to watch for at least 10 seconds to see one. I understand this is not a pleasant option, so please use it as a last resort.

    OK, now for what I hope is the perfect solution to FIRE ANTS. I tried this in Georgia and it was amazing! Instant grits. They must be instant because the idea is the queen eats the grits and eventually drinks water. The grits swell and kill the queen. I’ve actually found this to work on many, many different types of ants, but it didn’t do a thing (except maybe feed) the ones I had this month (in Arizona). Good luck everyone.

    • I have enjoyed reading all these comments on ant control. I just launched a new website called BugHelp.com If anyone would like to post their ant control ideas in our Do It Yourself area for ants we would love to have you share your experiences. Have a great day.

  49. I just now tried the pepper. So far the ants have ran like crazy and back underneath my windows screen that they are somehow getting through, but i put down a ton of pepper on my window sill and in the windows frame where the bottom of the window meets. So hopefully they will stay gone. THanks for the tip! :)

  50. Glad I found this! I just washed my floor with vinegar, and am now going to toss some garlic cloves around too!
    I am not sure where the ants are coming in but everyday I see 2-3 of them.
    Funny someone mentioned cucumber peels, I just peeled a cucumber and put the all the peels down the garbage disposal! OH well!

  51. Jennifer G. says:

    So glad I stumbled upon this article! I’ve had some pesky black carpenter ants (the huuuge ones!) hanging around for the past few weeks. I’m going to try the vinegar trick and also the cornmeal trick. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  52. I read your info on vinegar water & how it deters ants. I have tried that, but they kept coming. I just bought some Terro baits; put them out last night & they seem to be working. The area they invaded is my kitchen counter around the sink; makes it very hard to do any food prep. I will also try the cinnamon stick thing.

  53. pour vinegar on rag and wipe surfaces…ants gone in a day

  54. Jeromy Baker says:

    I am a backyard beekeeper. The ants attack the hives regularly. So far I tried the cinnamon and vinegar – very little help. I will go outside right now and will try black pepper and garlic. Cornstarch and boiling water are NOT humane – ants have the right on life no less than any human or any galaxy!

  55. sexyzombiekilla says:

    well, i tried the black pepper, they seem to be resilient towards it, and my dad grows natural mint in our yard, but they keep coming back. he had to spray an area of the carpet that they were coming out of with bug spray, but since we have a dog, that is not good for her.

  56. Well, when I felt something crawling on my across my forehead this morning, I thought “This is the day I get’em!” Last year I “got ‘em” with bay leaves. They really work, ladies. It’s very simple…..just put them in that area and they go somewhere…….and I don’t care. I got this tip last year
    from someone and here, in the St. Louis County of Missouri area,
    we have tiny, tiny ones this year…not the brown ones, but the black ones. They weren’t this small last year. This is a funny time of year for them…but this has been a strange year anyway. Thanks to all for the tips….just in case my bay leaves don’t work that I am going to the store to buy now. At least I have a new list to try. Last year they were great though.

  57. I removed white ant from my home by mixing Ant Rid with honey and placing between two pieces of wood secured by a rubber band and placed under the floor boards where their activity is no longer seen. The ants take the honey back to the Queen resulting in termination of breeding cycle. It works !.

  58. Started getting a few ants through an electric outlet, we tried one raid liquid bait but it was hit and miss. Now were using Terro and the ants really enjoy this brand of poison kool aid. But it has also brought in the rest of the colony they are streaming into our kitchen to die. We put up a chili powder barricade to keep them contained. I guess they are supposed to just keep coming til the entire colony is dead and the queen joins them in the ant-after-life!

  59. Diane Guthrie says:

    As a practising Buddhist, who really seeks an insect free home,
    I really appreciate all of the natural deterents. Also if you
    have tried just kindly removing individual insects ( not an
    infestation) to the outside…it feels great; and since I have
    been less reactive I haven’t had any of the completely crazy
    infestations…like the time ants took refuge in my dishwasher
    by the thousands. Same home…no more monthly insect spraying…no more ants…different girl! Peace with the critters!