How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

| Modified: Nov 27, 2020
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It may be fun to watch an ant colony work in an enclosed, "ant farm" or watch them work together to make their homes in side walk cracks. But the fun ends and frustration begins when you find them all over your kitchen counter or on your bathroom sink! Once they set up shop in your house, they are unlikely to leave unless you take measure to "help them out!" The good news is that there are many safe and inexpensive home remedies to get rid of ants naturally, many of which you probably already have in your house!

Five Best Ways to Get Rid of Ants

1. Borax

Borax is toxic to to ants, but is no more toxic to people than table salt. Borax can be found in the laundry aisle of larger grocery stores. 20 Mule Team is a popular brand. Once you have borax in your home, you will want to discover the many other great uses that exist for this humble but powerful powder.

The easiest way to use borax to get rid of ants is to mix 2 teaspoons of borax with 2 tablespoons of honey. Spread the mixture into one or more old plastic lids. Place these lids wherever you have seen ants, ideally where pets and children will not get to them (because it is messy if they get into the honey!) Within a day or two the ant bait will be covered with ants because the ants will tell their friends about this wonderful treat. But then, a day or two later, after the ants have returned to their nests with the borax, you will not see any more ants. They will have spread borax all around their living quarters and borax is toxic to ants. Now you can throw away the ant bait.

If you do not have honey, you can mix equal parts of borax and soda pop (not diet soda) for the same effect. You just need to attract the ants to the borax with something sugary.

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is an ant deterrent. The smell is too strong for them. An advantage to this method is that your house will smell quite pleasant and cool.  Get cotton balls and put a few drops of peppermint essential oil onto the cotton balls and place them in cabinets, in the corners of counter tops, etc.  This is also a deterrent for mice!

If you do not have peppermint essential oil, try one of the following essential oils:

  • Tea tree
  • Lemongrass
  • Orange
  • Lemon

3. Whole Cloves

If you use whole cloves around the house to deter ants it will smell like the holidays!  Cloves can be placed where ever you see ants coming in. These are non-toxic to people and to animals. If you have white or light colored carpet, you might not want to put the cloves right on the carpet. The oil in the cloves is dark and if you leave the cloves for a long time you may stain your carpets a bit.

4. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is found at farm and home stores and useful for many different bug deterring applications. One bag of this inexpensive product will last you a very long time. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth along baseboards, on windowsills, or wherever you see ants coming in. You can even sprinkle it along the backs of counter tops in your kitchen and bathroom. While pool grade diatomaceous earth is toxic, the pure diatomaceous earth at the farm store is safe for internal use for pets and people.

5. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a super cheap and safe remedy to get rid of ants! Put white vinegar straight into a spray bottle. Spray counter tops, windowsills, baseboards, floors, wherever you have seen ants. Vinegar erases the scent trail of the ants. It is also strong smelling to the the ants and works as a deterrent as well.

Do you have a natural remedy for ants? Please be sure to share it with us! Keep reading on to learn how our readers have deterred ants, including the surprising remedy, "Tell them to go away!"


Posted by Dyna (Portland, Oregon, USA) on 08/04/2008
5 out of 5 stars

We put Borax in the cracks about the kitchen to feed the ants. They carry it back to their nests, they cannot digest it and they die. We seem to go for 1 to 1 1/2 years without being bothered by them now.

Replied by Dave
Battle Ground, Washington State, Usa
5 out of 5 stars

I went out one morning to see thousands of small black ants outside our garage door, where the car drives in, all along the edge of the door. My first thought was to get some insecticide and spray but I don't like killing living things no matter what they are. I read a post somewhere saying 20 Mule Team Borax makes insects go away. So I sprinkled some across their path and went to the grocery store to shop. When I came back every single one of them had left, none were killed, and they went elsewhere.

Replied by Westsound
Vancouver, Vancouver Canada
5 out of 5 stars

Borax works for killing ants. I found ants in the kitchen, didn't know where they were from. Read online and tried putting borax along the kitchen counter, the edge of the sink etc. Then I went to Seattle with my doggy. Couple days later we got home, cleaned up the borax with a vacuum cleaner. I haven't seen any ants since. It works wonder :)

Replied by Patricia
Gulf, North Carolina

Do you think the borax would work on getting rid of Fire Ants as well?

Replied by Sheila
Cork, Ireland

Peppermint essential oil is a good way to deter ants; they just turn right around and head away when they're near it. I prefer it, then I don't have to worry about having harmed them.

Replied by Elizabeth
Oceanside, Ca

You might want to determine why the ants are there in the first place. We discovered that the place we were renting had termites and the ants were eating them.

Replied by Teresa
Auckland, New Zealand

Before resorting to killing ants why not ask them to move? Tell them that they have so many mins. to go outside or you will kill them. And if they are outside why kill them? They have a purpose. It works, try it.

Replied by Mia
Ukiah, California

I had such fun reading the progression of the posts. It was delightful. I love how we the people are taking back our rights & being good hearted & sensible.

Replied by John
Rumson, Nj Usa

I thought I was the only one in the world that knew "tell the Ants to leave" actually works. It really does work. And it makes you laugh because it's so simple.

Replied by Sarah
Lehi, Ut

I'm going to try asking them to leave. I like that idea, it certainly makes me smile. Wonder if it works on spiders too. :) I don't like killing anything, I figure they have a right to be here as much as we do and obviously there's a natural purpose for them.

Replied by Polly
London, England

I'm going to try this when the first little critturs come marching in when the weather warms up! At the moment I don't kill, them I use rotten lemon peels put down where they come in and it takes a little while but they certainly don't like the smell or taste of rotting lemon peels. I don't eat oranges so I haven't tried them maybe someone else could try that?

Replied by Deanna
Ewa Beach, Hawaii, Usa

There was an ant running down the side of my bathtub yesterday. After reading here I sternly said to him "get out of here or I'm going to kill you! " He screeched to a halt and ran out of my house. I am truly stunned at his reaction.

Replied by KT
The Usa

I remember reading to put lemon juice in the corner of windowsills to keep ants out of the house.

Replied by Duh-oh
4 out of 5 stars

I decided to try the "tell the ants to leave" tactic because I found it interesting. So when I saw the ants and approached, I was surprised when said ant instead turned and asked ME to leave! I now have 30 days or I will get evicted. Thanks alot guys...

Replied by KT

Placing whole cloves on your kitchen counter in the corners, behind cookie jars, coffee makers, canisters, etc. DOES, in fact keep ants away. I started to see them this year on my kitchen counter. I remember reading about the whole cloves and tried it and they left! I was amazed. KT

Replied by Om
Hope, Bc, Canada

Hi Du-oh, thanks for your post; it made me crack up and chuckle that day. Namaste, Om

Replied by Yvette

Killing ants is bad stuff, since its one of the two, insects natural enemies that kill/destroy TICKS, if u want to have a garden free of Ticks, "plant" ants or pray to God to "send" some. Ants eat the eggs and the larvae. In my garden I had lot of ants and no ticks, all the other neigbours had ticks because they killed the ants. So think twice before u kill the ants around you. Then getting Lyme is worse then having some ants on your property.

Replied by Trudy

We have fire ants. Have you ever been bitten by one? They call them FIRE ants for a reason. Can you imagine your little child falling into a pile of them? One bite can kill you, and they burn for days and cause blisters. I'll chance it with the ticks.

Replied by KT

The lemon juice in windowsills and cloves on the counter work great but I do use "Terro" in our downstairs bathroom (that area is on a concrete slab). There are plenty of ants "out there" to take care of any ticks.

Terro works great but when you first use it, ants will appear to come by the hundreds and you think you're feeding them...well, you are, but after about three days they are all gone.

Replied by Patricia
42 posts

Do you think fleas would be as cooperative as ants are when asked to leave my house?

Replied by Robin
Northern Michigan

I have tried asking them. The first time, it worked and they stayed away for 3 years. Once I even saw one large carpenter ant on the verge of entering at the slider door and I took one look at it and wow, it scurried right back out.

This year, no luck. I spent a week asking nicely, pleading with them, explained if they did not leave I would poison them, yelled at them, no go.

They are still here and I've had ant poison out for several days.


Baby Powder

Posted by Beth (Vista, Ca) on 09/08/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I had a bad infestation of ants a few years back. I live in an old house and they came up through the heater registers on the floor. I didn't want to use poison since I have a dog and was concerned he would sniff at it, lick it or otherwise ingest it. So I scoured the internet to find a non-toxic method to eradicate them. That 's when I came across the baby/talcum powder treatment. I poured a line about 1/4 inch think all the way around the heater registers. After killing and cleaning up the ones that were already in the house (4 hours with 2 people working to get rid of them) the ants were gone and never came back. I left the powder there for a week just so they wouldn't come back. My house was ant free for almost 6 years but they are back now, coming in through the wall sockets so I will try the vinegar or perhaps Windex as I've heard both are effective. Thanks to all who have posted!

BBQ Sauce

Posted by Mh (Washington, Dc) on 04/14/2018
5 out of 5 stars

Barbecue sauce (might just be the molasses). I foudd this out by accident. Leave a cap with Barbecue sauce in it. They seem to get stuck in it and probably loose thir scent when they walk in it. Then the others avoid the area. So, if you put it near where they enter the house it keeps them away. IT DOES TAKE A FEW DAYS TO TAKE EFFECT.

Boric Acid

Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee, Usa) on 05/24/2016
5 out of 5 stars

In a house we lived in a few years ago, our mail carrier used to give my children lollipops all the time. If one happened to get left outside (opened) I would see it another day - black with ants. Ants love lollipops!

So, since we always seemed to have a lot of them (lollipops) around, I used some to make ant traps one time when we had a bunch of ants come into the house.

I put an unwrapped lollipop in the middle of a lid. I put boric acid (found at the hardware store, usually used for roaches, though I have always used it for ants - I have had the same container of it for 25 years!!! ) all around the inside edge of the lid. So, ants had to walk through the boric acid to get to the lollipop. I would leave that alone for days. Ants would come and feed and leave with boric acid on their feet.

After a few days, I would stop seeing any ants. Be warned, at first it would seem the problem was worse, but it always got better and the ants would stop until the next spring and I would repeat the process (not always with lollipops, but always with the boric acid! )

I have heard of mixing coca cola with boric acid to accomplish the same thing. I just was more likely to have lollipops than coke around the house!

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Namaw

Does this work with fire ants?

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Namaw,

The borax should work for fire ants. I am not sure that they are as attracted to sugar (lollipops, coke, etc.) as they are omnivorous. (I have heard the little black ants called, "sugar ants.") If you know where the fire ants are, you can use borax in their nest. If you are trying to attract them, try something sugary, and if that doesn't work, try something else, especially anything you notice they seem to like.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Namaw

Borax had no effect. that's one of the first things I've tried. I don't like using poison but, when they come up around the house (under the swingset, slide) then I use acephate powder. Kills the entire nest. But I really hate to use such a powerful poison. As to the yard, mowing over the mound breaks the cycle (have to have a mound for them to swarm).

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Namaw,

Have you tried diatomaceous earth for the fire ants?

I would be going to great measures too if they were under the swingset! My goodness!

~Mama to Many~


Posted by Hisslv4ever (Rodeo, Ca) on 02/04/2018
5 out of 5 stars

Cinnamon will make ants leave. Sprinkle it on them and watch them run. it does not kill them but they will go away. I sprinkle wherever I see them and if possible where they are coming in from. No chemical smell and no bodies to clean up. it looks a little messy and they might find another way to get in but just sprinkle some more. sometimes I leave it for several days to make sure.

It works great and smells good too.


Posted by Zark (Oz) on 11/26/2020
4 out of 5 stars

Cloves worked ok. The ants would lose their scent trail and get lost / head home. I used powdered cloves and that was very quick acting but only works for a few hours to a day max. However the ants returning wander around lost for a while and eventually find a way around it by going up a wall.. so then you need to keep applying it.

Diatomaceous Earth

Posted by Deneen (Kansas City, Usa) on 07/15/2018 2 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Diatomaceous Earth powder worked for removing ants from our kitchen. Ants usually find their way into our kitchen after a rain shower. In the past, we have tried Borax, peppermint oil, water barrier and glass cleaner to no avail. After sprinkling some D.E. around the floor by the refrigerator and around the sink and window sill, there have not been any ants spotted in over a couple weeks. I'm confident that is what finally worked. This is also safe to use around our dog and family. Take care to not inhale the fine powder as you disperse it.


Posted by Joyce (Joelton, Tn) on 03/14/2008
5 out of 5 stars

I have read that if you sprinkle quick cooking grits on regular or fire ant hills, the workers will carry it home to feed their queen and eat one themselves, causing them to swell up and burst. Ants who died from this should not be harmful to any birds who eat them."

Lemon Juice

Posted by Bill (Bloomfield, New Mexico) on 08/21/2007
5 out of 5 stars

I rarely see this, but it works every time! On an ant nest, or across the ant's trail, simply apply lemon juice. The store concentrate seems to work as well, also. I have never had to apply lemon juice more than twice to eliminate large ant populations. A bonus is that this remedy has no toxic effects for your pets.


Posted by Zark (Emerald City) on 11/26/2020
1 out of 5 stars

Vinegar didn't work when I tried it. Don't use on varnished wooden surfaces - it managed to strip off a bit of the varnish on one piece of furniture.