It’s easy to get distracted by all the fun things about the weather getting warmer and forget to prepare for more annoying issues — like ants suddenly marching their way into your home. Luckily, we’re here to share some easy, natural ways to get rid of ants so you won’t have to deal with these unwanted guests all summer long!
Remember: It’s important to make sure your home is a less appealing pit stop for them in the first place. That means cleaning up any food messes quickly, especially around the kitchen sink and trash cans where they tend to pile up. But as anyone who’s dealt with a full-on ant infestation can tell you, those little critters can be incredibly sneaky — and persistent.
If you find yourself with a totally clean home that’s still overwhelmed with annoying ants, these tips — which all rely on natural products — should help you finally kick them to the curb (and hopefully avoid a hefty exterminator fee).
What essential oils will keep ants away?
According to Ants.com, a website that calls itself the “authority on all things ants,” essential oils can work wonders by both killing ants that have already gotten into your home and masking the pheromones they leave behind, which would otherwise lead more to follow their path.
Patchouli oil (Buy on Amazon, $6.99) is an excellent option which according to Ants.com has both a “high mortality rate” for the bugs and will do the job of masking their pheromones. If you’re not a fan of patchouli’s earthy aroma, ants also seem to hate the smell of anything citrus, so lemon oil (Buy on Amazon, $6.99) might be a better choice. Citrus is also known to be toxic to them, so it will help exterminate the ones you have and repel off any newcomers.
Other helpful essential oils for getting rid of ants include tea tree oil (Buy on Amazon, $5.99), peppermint oil (Buy on Amazon, $4.99), and clove oil (Buy on Amazon, $9.99). In any case, you just need to add a few drops of the oil to a spray bottle of water and spritz it around the areas where the ants like to enter your home. You can also try leaving cotton balls saturated in the mixture around those spots to keep them away.
How do you use diatomaceous earth to kill ants?
Saying “diatomaceous earth” is a mouthful, but the product is one of the best natural ways to get rid of ants — and pretty much any other pest in your home or yard. Made of a finely ground silica powder, it consists of tiny little crystals that are totally harmless for humans (and pets!) but wreak havoc on ants, fleas, roaches, bed bugs, and more.
However, there is one thing to keep in mind with this natural bug killer: Patience. After laying the powder around baseboards, entryways, windowsills, or other areas where critters are sneaking in, it can take a few days for you to see the bug-free results. PF Harris, one of the leading brands of diatomaceous earth (Buy on Amazon, $17.99) claims it should take about 24 to 48 hours for it to neutralize those ants.
Simply apply a thin dusting of the powder directly over any ant trails you find and other areas they’re prone to, let it sit for a day or two, then vacuum it up and clean the area.
Do ants hate chalk?
Yep, the stuff we used to draw hopscotch games when we were younger can also help ward off ant invasions. This tip made the rounds on social media a few years ago with one person claiming, “Found this out on accident the other day when I drew the alphabet in sidewalk chalk on my front sidewalk for my kid. The ants outlined each letter as to not cross over the chalk.”
Drawing a line of chalk around an area will disrupt the pheromone trail ants follow and send keep them from crossing that path. It’s not the strongest remedy (because it won’t kill them), but works great for outdoor gatherings where you might have a ton of them lining up to sample the tempting food you’ve prepared. You can even make it a fun game for kids to create chalk art around the perimeter of your shindig!
Will sprinkling borax kill ants?
Nixing ants with borax (Buy on Amazon, $7.99) is another great tip from Ants.com. Like diatomaceous earth, you will need to have a little patience (again, about a day or two) before you notice the pests disappearing. Worker ants bring it back to the colony where it will eventually mess with all of their digestive systems and kill them.
The key is to make the borax more enticing to ants by mixing it with powdered sugar, using three parts sugar and one part borax. Leave a small pile of it around ant trails and the areas they like to sneak into the home. Hopefully, you’ll notice a dramatic dip in tiny intruders in a few days.
If you don’t already have borax and don’t want to invest in a bag of it for this job alone, you can use the exact same method with baking soda!
Which plants keep ants away?
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, you can brighten up your home by planting a lovely herb called tansy around the perimeter — and ants will hate it! They also list catnip, pennyroyal, peppermint, sage, and spearmint as herbal options that keep ants away.
Oils found on the roots and leaves of these plants deter ants and other insects (including pesky mosquitoes). You can grow them and scatter their leaves around the house where you see pests attempting to break in. They’re also great for sprinkling onto other plants in your garden to protect them without harsh chemicals.
Here’s hoping we all have a fun-filled, ant-free summer ahead of us with these natural ways to get rid of ants!