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How to Get Rid of Ants (Natural Home Remedies)

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A trail of ants in your home can ruin your day. Even those of us who try our best to keep things clean aren’t immune to these pests. Things like weather changes, hidden crumbs, and cracks in the foundation invite bugs. How can you get rid of ants?

We’ll discuss several different natural methods to exterminate and/or repel these bothersome insects. With these do-it-yourself ant repellent solutions, you won’t need to turn to the costly services of an exterminator for modest infestations. 

Close up of several ants on wood.

Get more ideas and projects for outdoor spaces here.

Eliminating Ants with Natural Home Remedies

It’s always best to try natural deterrents before turning to harsh industrial chemicals for pest control. 

You’ll save money with ingredients you already have and hopefully find a natural ant killer that works. Most importantly, you’ll keep your family, small children, and pets safe.

Of course, you want natural solutions that actually work.

How to Drown Ants with Dish Soap

Eliminate ants with a bottle of soapy water. It won’t take out the whole ant infestation, but it will kill some. Combine several drops in a spray bottle and fill with water. Shake well, and spray directly onto ants to kill them.

Dish soap eliminates minor ant infestations. Why? When diluted in water, soap breaks the surface tension. Consequently, ants drown because they can’t stand on the surface.  

How to Exterminate Ants with Diatomaceous Earth

To eliminate ants, use food-grade diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle some of the powder onto places where you’ve seen ants gather. If you’ve identified the pheromone trail, apply the powder directly to them to stop the bugs in their tracks.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic, natural powder made from fossilized algae. The particles are very sharp, lacerating ants’ exoskeletons and drying them out.

Do not use pool-grade diatomaceous earth. It is not safe.

How to Use Vinegar to Repel Ants

Vinegar repels ants. The overwhelming scent of vinegar /strong smell of vinegar disrupts their pheromones, making communication impossible for them. Thus, ants avoid vinegar altogether. Mix vinegar with water to create a spray.

Here’s how to make an ant spray with a solution of vinegar:

  • Combine two parts of vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) with one part water.  
  • Shake the bottle well and spray areas you see ants gather.  
  • Apply to potential entry points to repel more ants from coming in.

This is an inexpensive, straightforward solution to an ant problem. 

But will the vinegar kill ants? It won’t kill them, but it’ll keep them away.

Baking soda and vinegar with brown label on bottle.

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Can You Deter Ants with Essential Oils?

Deter ants with a spray made out of drops of peppermint or cedarwood oil. Combine drops of essential oil in an empty spray bottle with equal parts water and an alcoholic spirit (like vodka). The alcohol and water allow the oil to dissolve easily.

Finally, go around your home and spritz the solution anywhere you have ants. Just be sure to avoid spraying it near food. While it’s non-toxic, it’s not exactly tasty.

Several studies demonstrate the effectiveness of essential oils in ant control

For example, ants don’t like peppermint oil because the scent interferes with their communication, and cedarwood oil has been shown to disorient even fire ants. 

Another essential oil worth trying is tea tree oil. Try mixing 5+ drops of tea tree oil with hot water and use as a spray.

How to Make Ant Bait with Baking Soda

Provoking ants to consume baking soda is an efficient way to kill entire colonies. If you want them to take the bait, simply combine baking soda with an equal amount of confectioners’ sugar.  

Ants are attracted to sugar. They’ll go for the sugar and take it back to their ant nest to share with their colony. 

But because they won’t be able to separate the mixture, they’ll ingest the baking soda and die.

How does baking soda kill ants? When ants consume baking soda, the alkalinity of it reacts with the acidity of their digestive fluids to produce lethal results. Because ants share their food, making ant baits out of it makes sense.

Overall, it’s a great solution if you want to target the source.

RELATED READING: How to Whiten Teeth with Baking Soda

Other Natural Methods Worth Investigating:

  • Lemon juice to mask scent trails
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Citrus peels
  • Line of chalk to deter ants (very temporary)
  • Baby powder
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon

Seal Your Home to Keep Ants Out

If you have access to the perimeter of your home, it only takes a few steps to stop most ants from coming in.

  • Survey your home and look for cracks, broken window screens, improperly sealed doors, door thresholds, window sills, or any other home’s entry points.
  • Use caulk and apply to small, visible cracks in concrete or brick.
  • Check for pipe penetrations. If they aren’t properly sealed, use caulk to fix minor gaps.
  • Clear your yard of clutter. Wet, foliage-dense areas are breeding grounds for ants. Remove decaying material like grass clippings, lumber, and leaves to lessen their numbers.
  • Spray the perimeter with vinegar, peppermint oil, or add some diatomaceous earth for safe measure.

If you notice major damage like rotting sections of your home or missing siding, you should contact a professional to fix it. You won’t be able to get rid of ants without restoring your home’s condition if it’s in bad shape.

Ants getting into home's cracks.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants in My Yard?

Ants can actually provide some benefit to your garden. But, no one wants a nasty ant infestation that poses a risk for ants to enter your home.

How do you reclaim your yard from pesky ant hills, especially the dreaded fire ant?

Many of the solutions we’ve mentioned work outdoors. 

Diatomaceous earth is devastating for ant colonies. You can spray those homemade insecticides on visible mounds to do some damage. One single ant taking baking soda to its colony is enough to take out the majority.

You can also pour boiling water onto mounds to kill ants.

With your yard though, there’s one critical thing: good landscaping.  

Regularly cutting your grass isn’t just for making your yard look nice. It makes it harder for ants to hide. Plus, less grass means fewer places for aphids (a common ant snack) to hide. 

You also need to get rid of anything that decays. Wood, branches, leaves, and pet waste need to be routinely removed.


Even something as tiny as an ant can be a gigantic headache. If you see these pests in your home, your first thought is likely, “How do I get them out?”

Fortunately, you don’t need to resort to toxic insecticides to kill ants. 

In most cases, it just takes some basic household products and a bit of patience to get rid of these troublesome insects.

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