We all want to make our homes nice and cozy for our guests… except if those guests are ants. Sugar ants, black ants, fire ants–there are 1,000 species of ants in North America, any of which might be getting ready to make your house their new home.
First, you’ll see one of them crawling around your windowsill and the next day… a whole team of ants is raiding your kitchen countertops. Ants are all kinds of nasty as they can go from contaminating your food to biting your skin, and the worst kinds can even wreck your technology!
If this happens to you, you’ll have to eliminate them. Okay, eliminate is a strong word, but it sounded good after eighteen and all-natural.
Normally, we’d think to grab the nearest pesticide to rid our house of these pesky invaders but having fumes of chemicals isn’t exactly ideal. Luckily, there are all-natural alternatives that are safer, cheaper, and just as effective!
1. Lemon Juice
Citrus can mask the scent of food and sugar; just what ants are looking for!
How to Use: Squeeze 2 big lemons into a spray bottle, mix with 1/2 cup of water and lightly spritz the solution wherever you have an ant problem: on your countertops, the base of your floorboards, or even on the roots of your vulnerable plants.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
If you don’t already know, Diatomaceous Earth is a miracle worker! It can be used as livestock feed, a non-toxic pesticide and of course, an ant killer!
How to Use: Sprinkle a light dusting of DE where ants usually gather. It’s safe for plants, human ingestion, and pets – so no worries here.
3. Ground Black Pepper
As much as ants love the smell of sugar, they absolutely hate the scent of spices!
How to Use: Sprinkle some pepper on entry points to stop ants from passing through. Bay leaves and herbs work just as well, too.
4. Table Salt
You don’t need to go all the way to the grocery to get your natural ant-repellant. It might already be in your pantry! An ants’ exoskeleton is delicate, and salt is notorious for soaking up moisture. Put two and two together and ‘bye bye, ants’.
How to Use: Sprinkle salt right on top of a trail of ants. Another way is to add a couple teaspoons of salt in boiling water, wait for the water to cool, then add it to a spray bottle to spritz in anty areas.
5. Baking Soda
An ant’s digestive system contains acid. When acids mix with baking soda… Well, it’s reminiscent of those 6th grade science experiments, just on a much smaller scale.
How to Use: Naturally, ants wouldn’t dive head first into a solution that’ll make them explode. So, mix baking soda with some powdered sugar, and let the ants bring the substance back to the colony for a long-term fix!
Ants, as foragers, are all about marking their trail with a pheromone scent. Get rid of the scent and you can get rid of their trail.
How to Use: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on ant trails, floor corners, or any place where you think the ants are coming from. Repeat this 3 times a week until the problem is gone. If you see large groups of ants, you can spray directly on them to kill them.
7. Coffee Grounds
Humans love the smell of coffee but apparently, ants don’t feel the same way (they don’t know what they’re missing).
How to Use: Coffee grounds are great for outdoor ant elimination. The best way to use them is to locate the ant nest or the hill itself and pour a generous amount of coffee grounds over it. It won’t kill the ants. Rather, they’ll move their nests somewhere else.
One of the more effective ways to kill ants is by using borax. The processed form of borax, boric acid, is pretty common in normal pesticides, so it’s no surprise that the base form works just as well. However, do note that borax isn’t ideal for areas with pets or kids.
How to Use: Mix the borax with powdered sugar and wait for the ants to start collecting. Another way is to boil one-part borax with three parts water. Once dissolved, soak some cotton balls in the solution and place these cotton balls in a small dish near ant trails.
9. Citrus Peels
Hold on! Don’t throw away those orange peels just yet! Ants hate the smell of citrus, and it just drives their senses crazy.
How to Use: Place a few fruit peels on doorways or wherever you think the ants are entering. You can use fresh peels, but dried peels are most effective.
Nature lovers and gardeners, this might just be the solution to your pest problem. Just like lemon juice and orange peels, the scent of peppermint interferes with ant navigation.
How to Use: Mix around 10 drops of peppermint essential oil in water, and spray or sprinkle around your house. Alternatively, you can grow Peppermint Plants in a small pot or in your garden to protect the surrounding plants.
Are we trying to get rid of ants or trying to make our house smell like Thanksgiving? Either way, ants hate cinnamon and will actively avoid it, whether in the powder form or the stick.
How to Use: Sprinkle cinnamon or place cinnamon sticks where ants gather. You can also just leave a stick in your cupboards or kitchen drawers as a precaution.
Ants are kind of like people in the sense that they love to eat food that isn’t necessarily good for them. They love to eat cornmeal but can’t really digest it, so they just end up dying off.
How to Use: Leave a small pile of cornmeal somewhere ant-accessible. You’ll notice in a few days that the cornmeal is gone and so are the ant trails.
This is where we draw the line, ants! Ants won’t ever cross a line of chalk for two reasons: the texture disrupts their pheromones, and the calcium carbonate in chalk keeps them away.
How to Use: Draw a thick line of chalk on your sidewalk, driveway and other places where you don’t mind a pop of color.
14. Fresh Garlic
If garlic can fend off vampires, it can certainly fend off ants.
How to Use: Peel a few cloves of garlic and leave them near ant piles or entry points. Once the garlic cloves dry up, replace them with fresher cloves until the problem is eradicated.
15. Cucumber Peels
Bitter peels are off-putting for anyone, even ants!
How to Use: Peel the skin off the cucumber and place it where you’ve got an ant problem. When the peels start to look wilted, replace them with new ones.
Molasses has all the same insect-killing properties as borax but more organic and child-safe!
How to Use: Add 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar with 1 ½ tablespoon of molasses. Place the mixture in a small container somewhere accessible in your house. Let the ants gather. Some will die here and some will bring the sticky substance back to their nest for an unfortunate treat.
17. Boiling Water
This is probably the simplest solution of all. If you see an ant hill in your backyard, pour some boiling water into it. This will kill hundreds of ants immediately and cause the nest to collapse. Some survivors will go off and start a new nest, but just keep your eyes peeled and pour boiling water onto every hill you see.
How to Use: Boil some water, and pour it. If it’s not as effective as you’d like, add some dish soap to the water.
18. DIY Ant Spray
Instead of buying bug killer at the store, you can make your own with just a few ingredients. It’s cheaper, and it’s all-natural. Spray this mixture directly on ants or anywhere you regularly see them.
How to Use: Mix together one cup of water, 1/4 cup of vodka, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil. Not only will this stop ants, it smells good!
It may seem like ants would eat anything, but you’d be surprised by how many natural deterrents there are! You don’t have to risk your kids or your own safety with those chemical pesticides. And the best part? Most of these items would leave your house smelling great, too!
Remember, ant-eradication isn’t always pretty. You may have some casualties lying around or some leftover cornmeal sprinkles. My favorite way to erase any trace of ant genocide is with a handheld vacuum like this one from Black & Decker.