How to Kill and Repel Ants Safely

Janis

By Janis | Updated January 1, 2024

Dealing with ants can be a real challenge, especially if you want to repel them without resorting to toxic chemicals. Fortunately, there are safe and effective methods to eliminate these pests from your home and garden.

In this article, we will explore a range of natural remedies and solutions to help you combat ants in an eco-friendly way. Armed with these environmentally conscious techniques, you won’t have to worry about putting your family or pets at risk while still maintaining an ant-free space.

Are Ants Harmful to People?

Ants are usually harmless to humans. 

However, they may cause issues for individuals with bronchial asthma and respiratory allergies. Some species, like the pharaoh ant and fire ant, deserve special attention due to their potential to cause harm.

Pharaoh ants (monomorium ants) can carry and transmit pathogenic bacteria, posing a risk of spreading disease. To safeguard your health, take measures to prevent these ants from accessing food sources in your home.

Fire ants, on the other hand, deliver a painful sting, which can result in a burning sensation and itching. In rare cases, their sting may cause an allergic reaction. If you encounter fire ants, exercise caution and keep a safe distance.

Understanding Ant Infestations

Ant infestations occur when ants are attracted to your home for various reasons. One primary factor is the availability of food. Leaving crumbs, pet food, and other edible items on surfaces, countertops, and floorboards can attract ants.

Your kitchen, with its abundance of food sources, is a common target. Ants are drawn to sugar, water, and food residues, so clean surfaces regularly. Don’t forget about your garbage, either: a poorly sealed container invites ant entry.

Ants can enter your home through cracks, holes, or gaps in your walls and foundation. Check for any possible entry points and seal them to prevent invasion.

Outdoors, ants build nests in wood, soil, or other suitable materials. Carpenter ants, for example, prefer moist wood and can cause structural damage. If you notice ant colonies near your home, take action to eliminate them.

20 Natural Ant Elimination Methods

Ant infestations can be challenging to tackle, but numerous natural remedies can help address the problem. The following list offers 20 environmentally friendly methods to eliminate and repel ants without resorting to harmful chemicals. 

Safe for homes and gardens, these solutions prioritize health and sustainability.

Repellents You Have at Home

Your kitchen houses numerous natural ant deterrents that are non-toxic and eco-friendly. 

White Vinegar

Being versatile and natural, white vinegar is an effective ant deterrent. Its strong scent disrupts pheromone trails ants use to navigate, throwing off their coordination and dissuading them from infesting your spaces.

To use it, dilute equal parts of white vinegar and water. Spray the solution along entry points or the infestation site, ensuring safety since this homemade repellent isn’t harmful to children or pets.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice, with its acidic property, confounds ants and disrupts their trails. The strong citrus aroma can disorient their tracking systems, disrupting communication and deterring new invasions.

To use, mix equal parts lemon juice and water. Spray it on entrances and affected areas. Safe and naturally fragrant, it’s an eco-friendly ant repellent for homes with pets and kids.

Boiling Water

Boiling water acts as a straightforward, immediate solution to eliminate ant hills or colonies. It directly exterminates the ants and disrupts their nests, helping manage rampant infestations.

However, caution is mandatory while using boiling water to avoid hazards. Though effective, it should be considered a last-resort, due to its effect on beneficial soil organisms as well.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda is a popular non-toxic remedy against ants. Combined with an attractant like sugar, it lures ants and induces internal chaos upon ingestion, leading to their demise.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and powdered sugar, place it where you’ve seen ant activity, and wait. This harmless-to-humans solution can efficiently control minor ant problems.

Coffee Grounds

The strong aroma of coffee grounds also confounds ants’ scent trails and communication. It acts as a natural deterrent without killing the ants or damaging the environment.

Used coffee grounds can be sprinkled around the border of your house or directly on ant hills. This method utilizes waste effectively, providing an eco-friendly way to manage minor ant experiments.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper serves as a potent deterrent against ants. Its strong, pungent aroma disrupts ant signals, preventing them from choosing your home as their territory.

You can sprinkle cayenne pepper at entry points or make a solution with pepper and water to spray on affected areas. This spicy method, while safe for humans, helps control ant populations effectively.

Black Pepper

Black pepper serves as a non-toxic, natural repellent that interrupts ant pheromone trails, making it harder for them to navigate. 

Simply sprinkle ground black pepper around entryways and high-traffic ant areas for a deterrent effect.

Cornmeal

Cornmeal can serve as an effective, non-toxic method to control ant populations. Attracted to the taste, ants consume this but can’t digest it, which leads to their extermination.

Scatter a thin layer of cornmeal around areas where you’ve noticed ant activity. It’s worth noting that while safe for humans and pets, this method requires patience as it takes longer to produce results.

Cucumber Peels

Cucumber peels have a repellent effect on ants. It is believed that ants have an aversion towards bitter-tasting things, making cucumber peels an eco-friendly ant deterrent.

Lay the peels or slices of cucumber near the entry points of the ants. Preferably, bitter cucumbers are more effective. 

Replacing cucumber peels frequently is necessary to ensure their efficiency. This method is harmless to humans, making it an ideal choice for households with kids and pets.

Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar serves as an effective bait in ant control strategies. It attracts ants with its sweetness while acting as a vehicle for delivering a fatal substance.

Typically, powdered sugar is mixed with a potent, ant-killing ingredient like boric acid. Use this method with care around children and pets due to the harmful additives.

Essential Oils

Essential oils offer aromatic solutions that can deter ants from invading spaces. Their concentrated nature, derived from plants, proves potent against these unwelcome invaders, providing both safety and efficacy for households.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil provides a two-fold benefit. Firstly, it distresses ants, while filling your home with a refreshing aroma.

Secondly, its strong smell interrupts ants’ communication trails, preventing further infestation.

Dilute a few drops of this essential oil in water and spray along ant paths or crowded areas. Not only does the method repel ants, it also dissuades other pests, making it a natural and pleasant-smelling solution.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be an effective natural repellent against ants. Its potent aroma disrupts their scent trails, hindering their movement and deterring them from your home.

Mix several drops of tea tree oil with water and spray it around affected areas, making sure to target entrances and trails. Apart from this, the oil adds a unique, fresh scent to your home.

Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon, particularly in essential oil form, works well to ward off ants. Its strong scent interrupts ants’ olfactory markers, deterring them from crossing or marking with trails.

To use, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil to a cup of water. Spray on ant routes and entrances. This natural cure not only inhibits ants but also infuses your home with a warm, invigorating aroma.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is another naturally sourced deterrent for ants. The intense aroma of this essential oil confuses their sense of direction, preventing further infestations.

To apply, dilute a few drops of eucalyptus oil in water and spray around your home, especially around typical ant trails and entry points. This solution is safe for most households and also adds a refreshing scent.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil is an effective and natural way to discourage ants. The strong, lemony fragrance combined with eucalyptus disturbs ants’ scent trails, preventing them from invading your spaces. Spray on ant trails and around your house’s perimeter.

Items Requiring Purchase

While many natural repellents can be found at home, certain effective remedies may require a trip to the store. These items, although purchased, offer eco-friendly and safe alternatives to chemical-laden ant killers.

Soap

Soap, mixed with water, creates an easy and affordable ant deterrent. Soap’s fatty acids can prove fatal for ants, suffocating them by breaking down their exoskeleton.

A soapy water solution can be sprayed directly onto the ants and their trails. It serves as a harmless method for households, especially those with kids and pets, but ensure to keep the mix away from plants as it can harm them.

Chalk

Chalk serves as a surprisingly simple and effective barrier against ants. Ants typically avoid crossing chalk lines, making it an easy and safe deterrent.

Drawing chalk lines around entry points or ant-infested areas can reduce their intrusion. It’s a kid-safe solution, but its success depends on the species of ant.

Glass Cleaner

Glass cleaner proves efficient in obstructing ant trails. Ants leave a scented trail for their companions, and the glass cleaner disrupts this odor, confusing and repelling them.

You just need to spray the glass cleaner on areas where ants are entering your home. However, use it sparingly as it’s not an eco-friendly choice, and it should be considered a secondary option after more natural solutions.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a great organic pest control solution for ants. This natural powder, derived from tiny, fossilized aquatic organisms, causes dehydration when ingested by insects, leading to their demise.

It’s safe for household use and doesn’t pose any serious harm to humans or pets. Be sure to sprinkle it around ant-prone areas to act as a bug deterrent. You can also mix it with water for a more widespread application.

Boric Acid

Boric acid offers a lethal solution for indoor ant problems. It affects ants’ metabolic systems, terminating them over time, while its sweet taste makes it bait-worthy.

Combine boric acid with sugar and water to create toxic baits. While highly effective, remember to use it cautiously, as it can be harmful to humans and pets if ingested or exposed in high concentrations.

When to Call the Exterminator

When you’ve exhausted all safe methods to eliminate ants, and they still persist, it’s time to consult a professional exterminator. Ant infestations can cause significant structural damage to your home if left unresolved.

Hiring exterminators ensures that the problem is handled efficiently, protecting your property from further harm. A professional exterminator will assess the situation and determine the most effective treatment plan.

They have access to more potent solutions and specialized equipment to fully address the infestation. They have experience dealing with various types of ants and can provide long-lasting solutions tailored to your specific needs.

It’s crucial to choose a reputable exterminator to guarantee the best results. Look for licensed professionals with positive reviews and a proven track record. Remember that investing in professional pest control services can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective natural ant repellent?

Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are great natural ant repellents.

Place citrus peels or juice around areas where you see ants for a safe and effective solution.

How can I eliminate ants in the kitchen quickly?

To quickly eliminate ants in your kitchen, use a mixture of glass cleaner and liquid detergent. This removes the pheromone trail ants leave, preventing them from finding their way back. 

Additionally, clean up food crumbs and spills promptly, and keep your dishes clean.

What homemade solutions can be used to kill ants?

Diatomaceous earth, a type of silica made from fossilized diatoms, can be sprinkled on ant-infested areas.

Another option is mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar, then spraying it on the ants and their nests to kill them.

Does vinegar effectively remove ants?

Yes, vinegar is effective in removing ants. A solution of equal parts water and white vinegar can be sprayed on infested areas to kill ants.

It also helps in clearing the ants’ pheromone trail, decreasing the chances of other ants following the same path.

How can I prevent ants from entering my home permanently?

Preventing ants permanently requires a combination of methods. Regularly clean your home, store food in airtight containers, and seal any cracks or gaps in your home’s foundation to limit entry points.

Regularly trimming bushes and trees near your home can also help prevent ants from getting inside.

What are safe methods to exterminate ants outdoors?

For outdoor extermination, using ant baits or a borax-sugar solution is effective and relatively safe. Place baits near their nests or areas with notable ant activity.

Diatomaceous earth can also be sprinkled on ant mounds, or anywhere ants commonly roam.