How do you get rid of ants in a kitchen? 5 foolproof ways to banish these critters once and for all

Sorry, ants. If you’re not paying, you’re not staying…

Ants crawling on worktop - GettyImages-1217118154
(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

When you already have a house, kids, pets, and bills to think about, the last thing you need is a bunch of six-legged critters squatting in your kitchen. That's why you may ask yourself: How do you get rid of ants in a kitchen?

Yes, knowing how to get rid of ants is an essential piece of information that every homeowner or renter should have in their back pocket. And while most people want to know how to get rid of ants on the patio or how to kill ants nests in a lawn, it’s fair to say that ants can also be a real problem inside the home.

Although you might think that these scurrying little critters are harmless, leaving ants in your kitchen is a recipe for disaster. Before too long, you’ll be overrun with tiny house guests. And who wants to deal with teeny-tiny guests who aren’t paying rent?

How to get rid of ants in a kitchen

To help you reclaim control of your kitchen and protect your kitchen ideas, we’ve asked pet experts to share their top tips for getting rid of ants in a kitchen. This is what they had to say.

1. Scrub away the scent trails

washing up liquid and soap dispenser

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Getting rid of ants in the kitchen is extremely tricky, as they leave a secret trail in their wake. As they wander around your kitchen and locate delicious food sources (without paying for them, may we add), they leave behind a scented pheromone that they then use to re-trace their steps and find even more food.

Because of this, it’s important to clean your kitchen and scrub away this scented pheromone. The easiest way to do that is to use a combination of soap and water. You can either use hand soap or washing-up liquid for this job.

Daniel Steward, Managing Director at Shield Pest Control, explains, ‘Dish soap is a convenient way to eliminate ants. Put your liquid detergent into a spray bottle with water and spray this anywhere you have seen ants. By doing this, the liquid will leave a residue that ants will be unable to walk across.’

This residue of soap and water, as well as the leftover scent, will also remove all traces of the pheromones. Then, the ants shouldn’t return.

2. Use natural repellents

homemade cleaning spray

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When you have ants in your kitchen, it can be easy to make your own ant trap or buy chemical ant killers. But if you’re looking for natural alternatives that will get rid of ants in a kitchen without killing them in the process, it’s best to focus on repelling them instead. Thankfully, there are many cupboard essentials you can use to do this:

Coffee grounds: There are so many things you can do with leftover coffee grounds, one of which is keeping ants out of your kitchen. All you need to do is sprinkle the coffee grounds around your kitchen floor and on windowsills (ideally on a piece of paper) and wait for the ants to leave.

Black pepper: If you’ve spotted ants scurrying underneath your oven or around your kitchen door, sprinkling black pepper should do the trick. Ants hate the smell of black pepper as it irritates their little antennae, so they’ll steer clear of it.

Essential oils: Peppermint oil, tea tree oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, and neem oil are all known to repel ants and are the perfect way to get rid of ants in a kitchen. Simply add 5-10 drops of your essential oil of choice onto cotton balls and place them around your kitchen.

White vinegar: Cleaning with white vinegar is always a good idea, especially as ants hate the smell. By making a solution of 1:1 water and vinegar and cleaning your whole kitchen, you should be able to get rid of ants in the kitchen and keep them at bay if used regularly. But if you've just used your last drops of white vinegar, you can pick up this Miniml White Vinegar from Lakeland for under £2.50.

3. Remove any food sources

Pantry shelves with clear containers of food

(Image credit: B&M)

Why would an ant leave your kitchen when you’re offering them an all-you-can-eat buffet of crumbs, rubbish bin juices (yuck), and food and drink spills? One of the main reasons why ants come into your kitchen in the first place is because you’re offering them an abundance of food sources. So, you need to remove these opportunities.

Adam Juson, Co-Founder of pest control company Merlin Environmental, explains, ‘Ants are attracted to food and water, so by eliminating these sources, you’ll be one step closer to controlling them. Make sure your kitchen is as clean as possible, wipe down surfaces, remove crumbs and spills immediately and sweep and vacuum floors.’

‘Bins should also be taken out regularly and fitted with tight lids to prevent pesky creatures from getting inside. Any food leftover should be in sealed containers or in cabinets. Ants can get into loosely closed packages, so use Tupperware, foil and bag ties to keep your food fresh and safe.’

In fact, our advice is to stock up on this 38 Pcs Large Food Storage Containers from Amazon and invest in this Tower 50L Rectangular Sensor Bin from Dunelm to keep the critters at bay.

While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to wash your dirty bowls and plates as soon as possible.

4. Clean the sink and fix leaks

Kitchen sink and draining board in front of mistletoe wallpaper on a marble worktop with a stool decorated with flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

During the summer months, you may find more ants in your kitchen than usual. That’s because ants will enter your home for the three essentials: food, shelter, and water. And if there’s no water outside in the hot temperatures, they’ll make their way into your house for some fresh H20 instead.

Because of this, it’s always a good idea to check your kitchen for signs of a leak. Adam says, ‘Ants are also attracted to standing water, so be sure to fix any leaky taps and remove standing water from the bottom of plant pots.’

You should also try to keep your kitchen sink as dry as possible. This can be difficult when you’re doing the washing up regularly, but taking just a few seconds to wipe the inside of your sink with a microfibre cloth (like this Sorbo Pack of 4 Microfibre Cloths from Dunelm) when you’re done can be the difference between a kitchen with ants and a kitchen without ants.

5. Secure the area

Vacuum cleaner cleaning hardwood flooring

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want a quick fix to get rid of ants in the kitchen, one of the best vacuum cleaners will become your best friend.

Daniel explains, ‘If ants are already present in your kitchen, you can use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate visible ants. However, it is crucial to ensure that the vacuum is emptied immediately afterwards and the bag is taken outside of the house to avoid ants finding their way back into your home.’

But this will only solve half of the problem, and it’s highly likely that the ants will come back with a vengeance if you don’t follow the steps above. For peace of mind, you could also secure the area and block off all entry points.

‘Look for entry points where ants are coming in - this includes cracks and crevices,’ explains Adam. ‘Secure these areas with silicone or weather stripping.’

Thankfully, silicone isn't hard to find. For under £ 10, you can grab this UniBond Anti Mould Kitchen and Bathroom Silicone Sealant from Dunelm.


How do I permanently get rid of ants in my kitchen?

The best way to permanently get rid of ants in your kitchen is to make your kitchen as undesirable as possible. Ants will enter your kitchen to seek shelter, food, and water, so you need to take away these things.

By keeping your kitchen clean and free from food scraps and leaks, you should be able to deter these critters. For extra protection, you could also use natural ant repellents to keep them at bay, such as white vinegar, essential oils, or coffee grounds.

What causes kitchen ants?

Just as you go to your kitchen for a snack, ants do the same thing. They are largely attracted to the kitchen because they can sense and smell food sources. This could be leftover food sitting on the worktop, crumbs falling on the floor, or sauces and scraps on unwashed plates.

But that’s not all. Ants may also enter your kitchen during the summer months to seek water. They will typically congregate around your kitchen sink or on wet worktops, which is why it’s so important to keep your kitchen as dry as possible.

Well, there you have it. That’s how you get rid of ants in a kitchen.

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.