How to get rid of ants safely with household products

Ants on floor tile
Ants on floor tile (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ants may be tiny, but they can cause a huge problem if you have an invasion. And  if you spot ants around your home, you’ll need to know how to get rid of ants fast. Despite not being harmful to our health, ants can cause potential damage to wood, wires, or even affect structural damage.

Typically, ants' nests are found outdoors, but as the weather gets warmer, ants will enter homes in search of food and water. Trouble is, once you spot one, you’re bound to find an entire army lurking, making them harder to banish — much like roaches.  

First, try and establish the entry point where these tiny terrors are coming from to make access difficult. Check for cracks in the walls, holes in floorboards or any exterior gaps, and seal or treat them with a natural repellent. This should make it more difficult for ants to come into your home. Also, don’t make your home more inviting by leaving food or crumbs around the home. Much like maggots, ants are often found around the garbage, so keep an eye on that as well. By regularly cleaning every room of your home, this will minimize the risk of pesky ants.

Luckily, there are natural repellents that you can easily make from your kitchen. Plus these are non-toxic, cheaper and much safer to use around the home. So if you want to tackle tiny pests, here’s how to get rid of ants safety with these homemade products. 

When you're done here see our guides on how to get rid of stink bugs, how to get rid of termites, how to get rid of fruit flies fast, and how to get rid of spiders in your home. 

How to get rid of ants safely  

Lemon with an ant

Lemon with an ant (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Use citrus fruits — Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges are great natural ant repellents. These are toxic to certain types of fungi that ants love to feed on. By placing citrus peel or lemon juice around the home where ants are likely to visit, this will deter them from coming back. If you want to know more about the powers of citrus, check out 9 things you didn’t know you could clean with a lemon and be amazed. 

Spray white vinegar — Mix a 50:50 solution of white vinegar to water in a spray bottle. Spray your countertops, surfaces or anywhere else you’ve spotted ants frequently. The strong smell of the vinegar should keep ants at bay, and remove the scent trails they leave around the home. In addition, vinegar can do much more than getting rid of ants ;here’s what makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning. Just note there are also things you should never clean with white vinegar to avoid damage.   

Talcum powder on surface

Talcum powder on surface (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Mix glass cleaner and dish soap — Simply mix glass cleaning spray with dish soap into a clean spray bottle. Spray directly onto surfaces or areas where the ants congregate before wiping down to just leave a light residue. Typically, ants leave a scented pheromone trail behind when they walk, which then leads other ants to follow. So simply remove this scent to deter ants from coming into the home. 

Lay down talcum powder — A layer of talcum powder where ants come through is another safe deterrent, and will also break down ants’ pheromone trail. In addition, the powder gets absorbed through their skin, clogging up their airways and will banish them for good.  

Essential oil bottles

Essential oil bottles (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Use essential oils — Plant-extracted oils such as peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, spearmint and cinnamon oil give off strong scents to repel ants and insects. Place a few drops of your chosen essential oil on some cotton balls. Then, stick them in problem areas where you usually spot ants. You can always replace them as the scent wears off.

What’s more, essential oils are an inexpensive way of leaving your home smelling fresh. Just keep away from pets as essential oils could be harmful if ingested. 

Sprinkle coffee grounds — If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t throw out your used grounds. The smell of brewed coffee grounds makes an effective ant and pest repellent. Sprinkle some used coffee grounds on a disposable surface such as small cardboard, and place them in areas prone to ants. These can be used indoors or outdoors, and can also make a great soil nutrient from the minerals. 

Spoon of used coffee grounds

Spoon of used coffee grounds  (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve tried all the homemade solutions without any luck, there are some commercial products available such as EcoRaider Ant Killer & Crawling Insect Killer (Citrus Scent) 16 OZ, Natural & Non-Toxic ($10, Amazon) to help with getting rid of ants.  If you have an infestation in your home though, it’s worth calling in professional exterminators to inspect your home. 

Other tips to prevent ants 

  • Store food properly in sealed containers or bags that are secure and undamaged
  • Make sure you clean or wipe down kitchen surfaces and floors on a daily basis
  • Never leave dirty plates out for a long time and immediately wash after use
  • Rinse out pet food bowls after feeding dogs or cats
  • Immediately throw out any old or fermenting food

You might also want to check out the 10 things you didn't know you could clean with baking soda. If you're bedeviled by other pests, we've also get tips on how to get rid of mosquitoes and how to get rid of fleas

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!