Home Remedies for Ants in the House

Many common household items keep ants at bay.
Many common household items keep ants at bay. (Image: ants. image by mdb from Fotolia.com)

Ants are one of the household’s most nefarious and annoying pests, invading home gardens and kitchens alike. Home and garden stores keep multitudes of insecticides and repellents on the shelf, but a variety of household remedies carry equal weight in the fight against ants. Home remedies are safe, affordable and certainly worth due consideration in keeping homes bug-free.

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Food Remedies

Small amounts of household salt spread around entrance points like baseboards and windowsills serve as barriers against ants and create a threshold they won’t cross. Other powders like cream of tartar, chili powder and cinnamon work in the same way. Simple and safe food mixtures applied in similar fashion also fight ants--one part sugar, one part active yeast and two parts molasses mixed together and laid on paper repels the pests. Similarly, one garlic clove, one small onion and one tbsp. of cayenne pepper stewed in water for one hour serves as a safe and natural anti-ant spray, as does a concoction of equal parts vinegar and water (or straight vinegar for bigger infestations). Tea bags of mint tea control and prevent minor ant issues, as do crushed mint leaves, cucumber peels, cinnamon sticks and crushed cloves.

Chemical Remedies

Boric acid, a cleaning agent found in products like borax, is a commonly used chemical in powder form--as an ant remedy, it’s applied directly to the home entrance points or anthills. Usually diluted with water, borax can also be mixed with confectioners sugar (ants bring this back to the nest, killing the colony) or mint apple jelly. One part boric acid, six parts peanut butter, one part brown sugar and a few pinches of salt set out on sheets of paper controls some common varieties of ants. A liquid mixture of 40 percent water, 40 percent alcohol and 20 percent dish soap kills ant on contact and leaves a chemical “warning trail” to prevent newcomers. A simple mix of soapy water is a milder version of this spray, while watered-down glass cleaner is a sort of compromise between the two. Wiping ant-infested areas with a damp kerosene-soaked rag serves as a repellent. Always consider the safety of children and pets when using chemical agents.

Outdoor Remedies

Attacking the anthill directly goes right for the source and prevents ants from entering the house. Perhaps the easiest home remedy in this case is simply pouring a kettle of boiling water on each anthill, ensuring it enters the tunnels and inner workings of the nest. Sprinkling tablespoons full of instant grits over the mounds serves the same purpose. Wrapping duct tape sticky-side-out around the tree trunks prevents ants from infesting their roots, and placing the legs of picnic tables in tins of water prevents ants from reaching the table’s surface.


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