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How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home and Garden

Ants are a nuisance, and an infestation can result in severe damage to your home and garden. 

Where there is one ant, hundreds more usually follow. This may not worry you as much if you’re picnicking in the wide outdoors, but if you’re experiencing an ant infestation in your house, you’ll want to address the issue immediately.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can get rid of ants without killing them. 

5 Things You Didn't Know About Ants x
5 Things You Didn't Know About Ants

The best way to start is by identifying how the ants got into your home or garden in the first place. 

This article will discuss exactly how to identify how the ants got into your house and how to get rid of ants (both indoors and outdoors for good).

There are several methods for eradicating ants and their nests from home. Several of them are natural remedies that will not contaminate your surroundings with chemicals or poisons.

How to Get Rid of Ants in the House

Getting rid of ants in your house can be a bit tricky at times since you, first of all, have to figure out where they entered your home.

getting rid of ants in the house

Ants can enter homes and buildings through small cracks or breaches in window frames, door sills, plumbing fixtures, wire penetrations, vents, foundation cracks, etc. Pretty much anywhere where there’s a tiny hole.

Sometimes they are just crawling around on floors when someone opens the door after being outside for a long time (especially if there was rainfall).

So how do we prevent this?

First, make sure that windows close properly and fix any gaps where light comes through outdoors. Make sure doors shut firmly as well without sticking at thresholds or jambs; replace weather stripping with wider strips that fit tightly against both sides of the door frame, especially around the door’s strike plate.

Another good practice is to caulk all cracks and holes in walls, floors, and ceilings.

1. Investigating the Infestation

You should start by investigating the infestation. Take a look at the situation – how bad is it? How many ants are there? Is this something you can handle yourself, or do you need professional help?

These are all good questions to answer before you move on in the process.

If possible, try to identify what ants have invaded your home as well. This will give you a better idea of what treatment you should use later on in the process.

Ants may roam around in your kitchen, cupboards, walls, or in your carpet. Make sure you locate them before starting treatment.

black ants nest

2. Remove What’s Attracting Them

In most cases, ants are entering your home and garden because there’s something they like. 

If you find that the infestation seems to be centered around a specific indoor area (typically the kitchen or bathroom), the ants have likely picked up on something. This can be any leftover food, crumbs, or a high level of humidity.

Once you locate this piece of attraction, remove it and clean up the area afterward. This is important to make sure the ants won’t return.

ant carrying food

3. Locate and Seal the Ants Entry Point

Now that you’ve cleaned up anything that might attract the ants, it’s time to figure out where they’re coming from.

Start by simply following the ants. This will likely lead you to their main entry point, or even the nest. Seal it off as best as you can. If they can’t enter your home, they can’t do any more damage.

ant nest entrance

Ants usually travel along walls and other surfaces, which makes it possible to follow their trails. If you find the source of an infestation, treatment is straightforward.

Sometimes ants leave small hints of where they’ve entered your home. Carpenter ants, as an example, usually like to dig into the wood a little bit. This can leave wood shavings. Look for clues like this.

Do you have ants in the walls? Check out this article.

4. Cut Off the Scout Ants and Their Trail

When you’ve figured out where they’re coming from, and hopefully shut off any entry points, you should eradicate any trails.

Ant trails are made up of pheromones. These pheromones act as a path for the worker ants to follow. The most common pheromone trails are the ones leading to food. You want to make sure, that you get rid of these.

This can be done by wiping it with a cloth or paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol.

In addition, if you have pets that go outside like dogs, cats, etc., then keep in mind how they might bring unwanted guests into your home even after all holes were sealed shut, so please remember to clean your pet’s paws before letting them indoors.

ant trails

5. Use an Ant Repellant

If you do not want to use pesticides to kill ants, natural repellents might help. 

These include things like mint oil (you can apply it on areas such as windowsills and doorframes) or even coffee grounds spread around the perimeter where they usually enter your home from outside. 

mint oil against ants

This is a good way to get rid of ants peacefully if done with care regarding how much is applied in specific locations. Too strong scents may drive them away but also attract bees & wasps.

It would help if you always remembered how no single strategy would work for all types of ant species – some have different preferences when it comes down to how they find food, communicate, etc.

6. Play the Waiting Game

Now that you’ve done all you can against the ants, you’ll have to play the waiting game. 

Wait a couple of days (1-3) to make sure no more ants will enter your home. If not, you’ve done your job correctly! If the ants do come back though, you might need to do the entire process again – or call for help from an expert.

How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen

We’ve covered how to get rid of ants in your home, but what if they’re specifically targeting your kitchen?

The best thing you can do in the first place would be to prevent them from entering. This should contain your problem.

The next step is to clean off your counters, the floor, and anything else that might have food exposed. Please make sure every food item is sealed properly and put away after use.

In addition, never leave dirty dishes overnight, which will attract insects like ants or flies that feed off bits of leftovers stuck onto plates or pots/pans. 

dirty kitchen with a lot of plates

If you prefer not to wash your dishes right away, at least always cover food items before putting them into the refrigerator.

Now that you’ve removed anything that might tempt the ants to venture inside your kitchen, it’s time to cut them off. You can use something like cinnamon essential oils (mixed with water – 1% oil to 99% water) to repel them.

This will not only make your home smell nice but also leave a thin film on ant’s bodies, making it impossible for them to stick on hard surfaces. This way, they can’t climb up walls or over kitchen counters where food is prepared.

How to Get Rid of Ants in the Bathroom

Next up: the bathroom.

If you have an ant infestation in your bathroom, it’s most likely the humidity that’s attracted them. Frequent bathroom invaders are moisture ants or carpenter ants.

The number one tip to get rid of ants in the bathroom is to keep it clean and dry. This is extremely important if you want to get rid of the problematic creatures.

In addition, never leave dirty dishes overnight, which will attract insects like ants or flies that feed off bits of leftovers stuck onto plates or pots/pans.

It is also important how frequently you clean your sinks and toilets. Wipe up spills immediately and make sure your bathroom isn’t filled with bacteria that might attract bugs like these.

This will help prevent ants from returning indoors since the presence of such messes will lead them straight back where they came from.

You should also make sure to check for:

  • Blocked drains
  • Sewer issues
  • Broken tiles
  • Cracks in the floor where water might drip down

Read more: How to get rid of ants in the bathroom

Ant Bait vs. Spray:

spray bottle to kill ants

We have already mentioned how you can use insecticides on their trails to kill them; however, there are other ways how organic pest control might also be used.

In most cases, using ant baits or traps (of any kind) would work best since they contain any chemicals used (if they even use any), which makes this a cleaner way to kill ants.

When using ant spray, you’re not always getting to the root of the problem. Make sure you’re very thorough if you go this route.

Insects are also attracted by how ant bait products smell, so please make sure you read how these work and where they should be placed (e.g., on counters next to windows or near drain pipes) before using this method for the first time. 

It might take some time until the ants pass through, so please be patient when using ant baits and traps.

How to Kill Ants in Your Home & Bedroom

As for how to kill ants, there are a few ways how this can be achieved.

First and foremost, using professional extermination services is one way that always works. 

Pest control technicians know exactly where these insects come from as well as how difficult it can be to kill them. They’ll make sure it’s done correctly, but also prevent more bugs from entering your home while you’re away.

Please remember that when hiring an exterminator the service fee can sometimes be expensive which is why we recommend investigating the infestation beforehand. 

You might be able to do it yourself, and here’s how.

Also read: How to get rid of ants in the bedroom

ant spray

Find the Source of the Problem:

The first step you need to take when trying to kill ants is to figure out what’s going on. 

How many ants are there, where are they coming from, and how are they getting in.

Take a look around your house. Identify where the ants are coming from and what type of ants they are. Different species require different approaches (if you have a fire ant colony on your hands, you need to be extra careful).

Once you’ve got an idea of how widespread the issue is, you’re ready to move on to the next steps, where you’ll start taking action against the small insects.

ant trails

Follow the Ants Back to the Nest:

If you want to kill the ants, you need to kill all of them – not just the ones you can see in your house. And for that, you need to find the nest.

The easiest way to find an ant nest is to follow the ants. They’ll eventually return home, either with food or for other reasons.

Ant will typically follow a trail. This trail is made up of pheromones that the ants can smell. This trail shows the way from their nest to their target (typically food). Hence, if you find the ant trail, you’ll find the nest.

Once you’ve located the nest, you’ll be able to start killing off all the ants. Once you get rid of the ants in the nest (most importantly the queen), the rest of the ants will disappear, as they’ll need a new home.

ant hill

Use Natural Remedies:

There are typically two ways to kill ants: the natural way or the chemical way. 

Most people will try out a natural way first (as it’s better for pets, kids, and plants). This doesn’t always work. If this is the case for you, you can move on to the chemicals (covered in the next part of the article).

There are plenty of natural ways to kill ants. Some of these include:

  • Diatomaceous earth (silicon dioxide)
  • Glass cleaner and liquid detergent
  • Hand soap
  • Drowning the ants
  • Pouring boiling water into the nest
  • A lot of salt

Try out what’s the most convenient for you. The most effective repellant of these has been reported to be diatomaceous earth, but it doesn’t always kill the ants. 

Natural remedies are not as reliable as the chemical solutions, that’s been produced for the only purpose of killing insects – so keep that in mind, if these don’t work.

Use Chemical Remedies:

At some point, someone wanted an effective way to kill ants. Hence the creation of bug sprays, ant traps, and other chemical solutions against pesky insects. Some of these solutions are filled to the brim with poisons and chemicals that aren’t very healthy for ants nor humans. Be careful when using these.

bleach cleaning to kill ants

When talking about chemical remedies to kill ants, Raid will typically be one of the first solutions people think of. They’re well known and definitely worth a shot. Just make sure that you clean up well (if using inside) and air out if you’re using a lot.

The only issue with using chemical solutions outside is, that the plants and flowers in your garden could take damage if you’re not careful. Make sure to only use the chemicals on the nest.

Also read: Can bleach kill ants?

If you’re worried about whether you can contain the chemicals, you should reach out to a local exterminator – they might be able to give you some guidance for the removal of the ant nest.

You should always follow the instructions that follow the chemical ant-killing solutions. Safety is important when using products like these.

How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden

Ants. Love them or hate them, it is undeniable that they are amazing creatures. With large, complex societies, fungus-farming techniques, and an empire that almost spans the entire globe, it is a blessing that they are so small and have not yet developed an overwhelming collective intelligence.

During the summer months, you may have noticed convoys of ants going to and from in your garden. Some may have even made it into your home in search of sugar or anything else they can get their mandibles on. 

If ants have infested your trees, it might be carpenter ants. You can read more about dealing with them here.

black ants invading a garden

Like most garden pests, ants will generally do their own thing without bothering anyone else. If they are becoming a nuisance, it is time to start figuring out how to get rid of ants in the garden.

Find tips on how to deal with ants in potted plants.

1. Locate the Ants Nest:

Before applying chemicals or setting traps outdoors, it’s important to know exactly where the ants are living and where they’ve built their nest.

The easiest way to locate the ant nest is to follow the ants. That’s pretty much it. Eventually, they have to go home, either to drop off food or to report back to the other workers. This is your chance to figure out how big the nest is and where it’s located.

black ants nest

2. Kill the Nest With Water, Chemicals, or Natural Means:

After you’ve figured out where the ants are living, it’s time to start getting rid of them. Now, there are different ways to do this. You can either go the natural or chemical way.

The first popular natural way to kill the ant nest is simply to drown it. Pull out your garden hose and start filling that nest with water. Eventually, the entire tunnel system that the ants built will fill up, forcing them out and even drowning some.

Some people swear by other means, such as diatomaceous earth, dish soap, or vinegar. These can work, but won’t always.

If you’re trying the natural way without luck, you can try using chemical solutions. You can pick these up at a lot of different stores.

a man with garden hose

3. Use Natural Remedies to Protect Your Plants

Now that you’ve killed the ant nest and stopped them from re-entering your garden, it’s time to protect yourself.

Since ants are such a big problem during the summer months, now would be a good time to start thinking about how to protect your plants by applying some kind of natural remedy around their roots or even on top of the soil itself.

This way, when the worker ants decide they want a piece of your prized produce, they won’t have an easy meal anymore – which will ultimately save both money for you but also helps prevent other insects from eating all the food before it gets ripe!

Using natural remedies to get rid of the ants, will also make sure that you don’t damage your plants during the removal of ants.

How Ants Benefit Your Garden

The number one way ants can benefit plants is through protection against other organisms such as fungi and aphids, which in turn helps protect vegetable and fruit crops from diseases and infections caused by these harmful pests.

The second important role that ants play is their ability to prevent soil erosion [1] because of their constant digging underground throughout the year!

ants and aphids

This provides an ideal environment for plant roots to grow well into the future while helping them get nutrients from deep within ant tunnels.

In fact, it has been estimated that over 30 percent of growing areas will suffer soil movement without anteaters present due to changing weather conditions!

In short, ants are definitely not the most loved of insects, but they do bring many important benefits to your garden.

Natural Ways to Kill Ants

There are several ways to kill ants using natural remedies. 

Since their body contains a certain amount of carbon, it is possible to use boric acid without worrying about its toxicity or environmental impact. This substance has been used for many years in household products like ant poisons and roach powders since all these require doing so carefully.

You also try dish soap and water. Make a dish soap or dishwashing liquid combination, pour it into a spray container, and shake it thoroughly. It should be sprayed on the ants. The ants will cling to the solution, and the dish soap will choke them to death.

Diatomaceous Earth (silicon dioxide)

silicon dioxide

Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be used as a natural ant killer. The fine powder known as diatomaceous earth will cut the exoskeleton of insects and cause dehydration. It can also absorb lipids from their body which results in the death of ants within two days, so it’s safe for pets and humans too!

The only drawback of DE is that the powder can be blown away by the wind, so it might need to be re-applied after rain or watering plants.

Borax (boric acid)

Borax is an effective natural ant killer. It contains the chemical compound boric acid which can kill ants by poisoning them or dehydrating their bodies.

boric acid

When it comes to killing ants, Borax must be used with caution because its dust particles are harmful if inhaled and on skin contact so gloves should always be worn when applying this powder.

Natural Ant Repellant

If you’re not looking to kill the little creatures, there’s a vast number of ways to get them out of your house (and keep them there).

For this, you’ll want something in the category of natural repellant against ants. You can find many of these natural remedies amongst your everyday household items – you might even be surprised by some of them.

Here’s a list of some of the most common household items that people use as ant repellants.

Hand soap

hands soap

This one is probably the most common, but it’s also very effective. This works because ants are repelled by grease and fats in soaps.

Simply put some liquid soap around your home’s entry points to keep them at bay!

Cinnamon

Spoon full of powdered cinnamon, with cinnamon sticks

You can mix cinnamon with water to make a solution that will block or repel an army of ants (and other insects) from entering your house.  

Be sure to sprinkle it on all surfaces where they might be trying to enter too – this includes doorways as well as windowsills. While this won’t kill any existing ants already inside, it’ll make future invasions much harder for these little creatures; making life easier for you again.

You can also use essential oils instead of using regular cinnamon.

Peppermint

peppermint closeup in wooden spoon

Peppermint is a natural insect repellent that can be used against ants.

It’s been known to repel not only ants but other insects as well, so it makes sense for an all-purpose ant deterrent!

You can use peppermint oil in place of cinnamon or mix it with water and spray around your home’s entry points – just like you would with the dish soap solution above this one.   

Cayenne Pepper Powder

ground cayenne chilli pepper on a grey ceramic plate

The capsaicin found within cayenne peppers contains components that are toxic to bugs (including ants). This means that using something containing capsaicin will act as an effective bug repellant.

Keep in mind though; if you’re using this ant repellent, you’ll need to avoid touching your eyes or mouth. Also, be careful not to inhale the cayenne pepper powder because it can irritate your lungs/throat if breathed in.

If you’re trying to keep ants away from a specific area (like food), then simply mix some cayenne pepper into something like honey and put that on the surface where they are invading. They won’t stay around long!

Coffee Grounds

Another way for keeping ants out of an area is by sprinkling coffee grounds around entry points or places you don’t want the ants to go – they find the scent unpleasant, which will drive them away automatically.

How to Keep Ants Away After They’re Gone

The most important thing is to avoid leaving food out in the open since ants like sweet and greasy foods.

Also, store cereals, grains, and sugary items in sealed containers to prevent these insects from entering your home; also, be careful using lemon juice since this can hurt some types of trees.

Do not leave any doors or windows ajar if there isn’t anything that needs immediate attention outside as well: make sure all these methods are said to repel these insects effectively when it comes down to getting rid of them outdoors & indoors.

What Not to Do to Keep Ants Away

ants on apple as bait

You should avoid leaving food out – especially sweets! Ants love a snack, especially if its filled with sugar. Make sure to clean up after yourself, if you’ve just had an ant infestation.

You should also avoid dragging ants in if you’ve got a garden. Sometimes the ants will follow you in, which can end up in another raid (especially if they also find some food laying around).

The last thing to avoid is ignorance. If you’ve just dealt with ants, remember to look out for them. Don’t lay back, but be observant. At least for the first few days.

Also read: How to get rid of sugar ants

How to get rid of ants permanently

The best way to get rid of ants is by removing all food sources, sealing up cracks and crevices, and cleaning with soapy water.

Be sure that you’re not leaving any doors open since these insects will only come back if they find a new source for food nearby.

After you’ve gotten rid of the initial infestation, there are some things you can do to make sure they permanently stay away.

Kill the ant queen

Black queen Carpenter Ant

Ants are organized in a caste system, which means that each ant has its own role to play. There’s the queen (the mother), soldiers, and workers.

In order to make sure there won’t be any future invasions from this colony you should kill/remove the queen as soon as possible!

If she remains alive, her offspring will come for your home again – so it’s important, for keeping ants out of an area permanently, to kill their leader.

Call pest control

As a last resort, you can call pest control if the infestation is really bad. They have all kinds of chemicals and pesticides that will kill off most bugs – including ants!

If they use these methods to get rid of them, then there won’t be any future problems or invasions from this colony again.

Having an ant problem isn’t something nice for anyone who lives in their home. Thankfully the professionals deal with these bugs on a daily basis. They know all about removing them permanently.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Rid of These Ants in My House?

You should kill the queen ant, or the entire colony will come back, and you’ll have to repeat this process.

The most important thing is to avoid leaving food out in the open since ants like sweet and greasy foods.

Also, store cereals, grains, and sugary items in sealed containers to prevent these insects from entering your home; also, be careful using lemon juice since this can hurt some types of trees.

If possible, contact your local wildlife management agency to see whether they have any pest control service that may be useful if you need assistance getting rid of these bugs inside.

What Kills Ants Instantly?

There are a bunch of remedies that kill ants instantly. For a natural killing method, you can use boiling water. If you want an easier method, you can buy bug spray, which will kill ants, flies, or other insects almost instantly.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants Overnight?

The simplest method to get rid of ants overnight (in your home) is to clean up your home where the ants are crawling around, wiping away the pheromone trails, as well as setting up ant bait. This should, in theory, prevent any further infestation, as well as killing the ones that already got into your home.

What Is the Best Homemade Ant Killer?

A lot of people swear by a dish soap and water mixture: Combine dish soap or dishwashing liquid in a spray container and shake vigorously. It should be sprayed on the ants. The solution will adhere to the ants, and the dish soap will suffocate them.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.