How to get rid of ants – safe and simple ways using natural remedies to keep homes ant-free

Here's how to get rid of ants and keep them out of your kitchen and home for good
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  • Have you discovered an army of ants marching in single file across your kitchen units? You’ll be wanting to know how to get rid of ants pronto, because they won’t go of their own accord – especially if there’s sugar around!

    And because ants use a pheromone trail, to ensure the safe movement of a colony, if you’ve seen a few on your property, hundreds more will follow.

    Black ants are the species you’re most likely to find in UK gardens. Despite being harmless, as they don’t bite, carry disease, or cause any real damage to your home, they’re a complete nuisance. ‘They will happily nest anywhere and have a taste for sugary substances, so will quite happily forage for food in your kitchen’ warns a spokesperson for Gardening Express.

    ‘If you want to get rid of them, there are plenty of ways to do so without having to rely on chemical solutions. Coffee grounds, glass cleaner and white vinegar have all proved to be effective in killing ant colonies.’

    If you’re serious about getting rid of these small colonial insects, read our how to get rid of ants guide.

    Discover more how-to guides in our care and cleaning section

    How to get rid of ants in the house

    1. Clear away food

    how to get rid of ants

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    If you want to get rid of ants the obvious thing to do is keep food off their menu by storing yours away in airtight containers. Next wipe away any food and drink spillages immediately, not forgetting to clean the inside of cupboards and under the kitchen cabinetry.

    Try not to leave that pile of dirty dishes out by the sink for too long. Ants won’t turn their noses up at leftover pet food or food waste either, so wash up your pet bowls straight after feeding time and take out your rubbish regularly, keeping bin lids tightly shut at all times. You should also keep and eye out for oil splatters around the cooker and even other dead insects that might be lying around, ants are extremely resourceful.

    Related: How to get rid of bed bugs – the safe and easy way

    2. Scatter coffee grounds

    Make your morning coffee go even further! Brewed coffee grounds have been known to keep ants away from indoors. Try sprinkling the coffee grounds on wipe-clean surfaces, around pet bowls and plants. You can also place them on windowsills, to stop them from entering at all.

    3. Use a natural anti-ant spray

    how to clean a kettle how to get rid of ants

    Image credit: Tim Young

    Once you’ve removed the ants’ food sources, give your kitchen surfaces and floor a final wipe down using an eco-friendly homemade anti-ant spray, made with one part vinegar to one part water. Homemade lemon and peppermint oil sprays will also do the trick. Ants can’t bare strong smells, so the vinegar or oils will work a treat in deterring the house invaders and masking their scent trails, making them lose direction.

    If there are any rogue ants still searching for food, wipe them away starting from the beginning of their trail and all the way along to the end of it, then wash them down the plughole. This might seem cruel but stopping a few ants in their tracks like this, will in turn stop a whole army of them coming into your home.

    Once the ants’ food sources are taken out of the equation, they’ll search elsewhere for food, preferably away from your home, however if they keep coming in you’ll need to take further action…

    4. Spray glass cleaner and liquid detergent


    image credit: Future Publishing Plc/Alun Callender

    ‘Combining spray-on glass cleaner with liquid detergent or dish soap can help deter ants from entering your home’ suggests the spokesperson for Gardening Express. ‘It does this by removing the scented pheromone trail they leave behind when they walk. Mix together and spray on areas where ants seem to congregate or originate from. Wipe down the area after spraying, leaving a light residue.’

    5. Block up entry points

    Follow the trail of ants back to their nest to find out where they’re getting in, then fill any cracks and crevices with sealant, especially around the doors and window frames.

    Related: How to get rid of mice – for a safer and cleaner home

    6. Put down ant deterrent

    how to get rid of ants

    If you’ve tried blockading them but they still keep coming in, line the doors with natural deterrents such as salt, chalk, curry powder, pepper and cinnamon. If you chose to do this, be careful as you don’t want any getting in your pet or child’s nose, mouth or eyes. To keep cupboards ant free, soak a few cotton wool balls in peppermint or citrus essential oils and pop them in the corners.

    You can also use petroleum jelly and talcum powder to line doors, however if you’ve tried absolutely every natural deterrent going, to no avail, you might find that a domestic ant killer works best.

    Why are there ants in my house?

    You’d be correct in thinking that ants are usually found in nests outside, then how have they made it into your house? Well, the clever (but annoying) insects often head into our homes to forage for food.

    It’s not surprising ants usually head straight for the kitchen with all that tempting food about. An ant scout will leave the nest to look for food, laying a trail of pheromones as it goes. If it finds food it will follow the trail back to the nest and leave more pheromones, creating a stronger trail which the other ants in the colony will follow. If there’s been a sugar spillage or you’ve left out a pile of dirty dishes it won’t be long until an army of ants is parading across the kitchen worktop.

    How to get rid of an ants nest in the garden

    flying ants on a garden path

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/Amateur Gardening

    Ants are essential to a balanced ecosystem and help us by eating up other household and garden pests like fleas and bed bugs. For this reason, destroying an ants’ nest should only be a very last resort.

    The ants you see in your house and scuttling around the pavement are only 10 per cent of the colony. If you are seriously struggling with an infestation, then you’re going to need to target the nest.

    Natural ant killers

    Vinegar and Lemons

    All the detriments we mentioned earlier, will be even more effective when blasted directly into every nest entrance. Lemons and White vinegar are the most effective, undiluted vinegar will kill ants, but diluted is still an effective deterrent. The lemons can be squeezed into each entrance, with the leftover peel scattered around the entrances. Ants will go to great lengths to avoid the smell of citrus, it will also destroy scent trails. Remember to keep replacing the peels each day until all the ants have gone.

    Boiling Water

    Find the offending ants’ nest, expose the top of the nest by proving it with a trowel and a pour an entire kettle of boiling water over the nest to destroy every single ant in the colony, including the queen ant.

    Want more care and cleaning advice? How to get rid of damp, condensation and mould

    Boric Acid

    If you want to make sure you’re targeting the queen, this is a good option. Ants adore anything sweet and sticky, so by mixing boric acid with sugar or syrup you can guarantee it will be taken back for the queen to snack on. Mix one part boric acid with three parts sugar, and stir in one hot water to created a syrup-like paste. Blob the mixture around the entrances to the nest.

    We hope this ‘how to get rid of ants guide’ helps to get rid of your ant infestation. Do you have other pests around the house?

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