How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen

If you’ve ever had ants crawling around in your kitchen, you know that they can quickly go from being an occasional annoyance to a persistent pest. These critters, although small in size, create a huge inconvenience when trying to preparing meals, not to mention an unappetizing food space. Although getting rid of the ants in your kitchen can seem like a daunting task, some household repellent solutions combined with heavy duty ant baits can banish the critters from your home for good.

Part 1 Observing The Ants

  1. 1Identify the ants. Correctly identifying the ants roaming around your kitchen is an extremely important first step in rectifying your ant problem. That is because there are many different ant species that all have different habits and behaviors which can affect the treatment needed to get rid of them.[1]
    • Look at the ants in your kitchen and note their characteristics. Some characteristics to look for are their size and color. Ants in your kitchen are most likely either pharaoh ants or pavement ants, but it is possible they are a different species.[2]
    • Once you know some identifying characteristics about the ants, do some online research to correctly determine the species of ants in your kitchen, and some of the best methods recommended for eliminating that species.
  2. 2Find the ants’ entry points. Follow the ants that are already in your house for a few minutes, and try and find the spots where they are entering your home. Look inside the house around windows, doorways, and cracks in the floor, but also outside the house around doorways, windows, siding, and accent lights.[3]
    • If any ants are coming in and out through these points, focus on these areas in your cleaning efforts to ensure the ants don’t enter through these points.
  3. 3Find the ant nest. Once you have identified a trail and entry points from which the ants are entering your house, try and notice the trail that the ants follow out of your house. You will see that they all follow the same trail. That is because when they enter your home, they leave a scented trail behind them for the rest of the colony to follow.
    • It won’t always be easy to find an ant nest, but if you do identify its location, you can spray the ant hill with a poison spray, or attack the ant problem at the source by baiting the ants in your house to take poison back to the nest, and kill the colony.

Part 2 Deterring The Ants

  1. 1Erase the ant trail. Even if you see a single ant in your house, you are more than likely to see more. That is because ants leave trails behind wherever they travel that other ants can smell, and follow.[4] If you just mop or sweep your floor, that’s not enough to eliminate the ant trail. The trail is a pheromone trail, it can’t just be swept away; it needs to be cleared away with some disinfecting cleanser. Instead, mix ½ vinegar and ½ water in a spray bottle, and cover all of your kitchen surfaces with the spray mixture. Make sure to target the areas where you have witnessed ants crawling around before.
    • Keep in mind that this spray mixture will not kill the ants that are already in your house. This simply erases the trail from those ants, so new, outside ants can’t follow their pheromone trail inside.
    • You can also substitute bleach for vinegar for the spray solution. The most important part of the spray solution is a sterile cleanser to erase the ant trail.
  2. 2Repel the ants with soapy water. Fill a plastic spray bottle with 1 capful of liquid hand soap and water. Shake the bottle to let the soap and water mix together. Then spray the mixture on ants whenever you see them in your kitchen. Wait about 5 minutes to wipe up, because ants are a lot easier to clean off your counters once they stop moving.[5]
    • You can also use bar soap for your soap additive: Shave off a few ounces of the bar soap, and add it to about a litre of water. Then microwave the water and soap flakes to melt the soap, and add it to a spray bottle.[6]
    • This method is safe for children and pets since it doesn’t contain insecticides, and can be used in your garden to repel bugs from your plants.
  3. 3Repel the ants with lemons. Blend together 1 cup of lemon juice with 4 cups of warm water in a big container. Then dip a cleaning cloth into the mixture, and wipe down your counters, the inside of your cabinets and cupboards, the top of your refrigerator, around kitchen windows, and any other surfaces ants might crawl around in your kitchen.[7]
    • The citrus scent repels ants. Orange peels and cucumber rinds have been known to have the same repelling effect.
    • You can also mop the floor with this solution, but be sure to specifically mop the areas on the ground, where ants are most likely entering your home.
  4. 4Repel the ants with spices and herbs. Scatter some ground cinnamon around possible areas where ants may enter (windows, doorways, etc.), but also around edges of your counter, and areas where you have seen ants in general. The smell from the cinnamon is an ant repellant, but it will also give your kitchen a spicy fragrance.[8] You can also sprinkle these other spices and herbs to deter the ants:[9]
    • Black pepper
    • Cayenne pepper
    • Chili pepper
    • Cloves
    • Garlic
    • Bay leaves
    • Mint leaves
    • Basil leaves
  5. 5Expel ants with dry diatomaceous earth. Observe the areas around your kitchen where you have seen the most ants. IF you have mostly seen ants in small, nooky, areas like edges of the kitchen, tiny cracks in the walls, edges of the floor and baseboards, or along windows, apply dry diatomaceous earth to these areas.[10]
    • Once you apply the DE, see if the ants have stopped entering your house, or have just found substitute routes to take. If you have to, apply more DE to their new routes. After about a month has passed, clean the areas where you originally applied the DE, and add more if the ants still are not gone.[11]
  6. 6Expel ants with wet diatomaceous earth. Take note if the ants are moving across bigger, flat areas rather than moving around the edges and cracks of your kitchen. If they have been wandering along your walls, you should use a wet application of DE. Follow the instructions listed on the spray bottle for application, and use the spray bottle to target the larger areas such as walls, where you have seen the ants traveling. [12]
    • Again, try to keep track and see if the ants have stopped coming into the house all together, or have found alternative paths to take. If, after a month of the initial application of the wet DE, you still see ants, apply another spraying round of wet DE.
    • The DE doesn’t do it’s work while it’s wet; it works when the water in the solution dries and evaporates, leaving behind a finely ground powder that terminates the ants.[13]
  7. 7Repel the ants with other natural ingredients. Coffee grounds, cornmeal, rice, cucumber peels, chalk, and baby powder have all been known to repel ants.[14] Try sprinkling these items around areas where ants gather, and test to see which methods work for your house and your ants. Repelling ants in this manner (using random spices and foods), is very much a trial and error process. What might work for one household with one type of ant, might not work for another.
    • Many of the smells and ingredients of these items are disliked by ants. Therefore, these items usually repel ants from areas surrounded and covered with these items.
  8. 8Seal the ants’ entryways. Seal any open cracks and crevices the ants are entering your home through, with caulk. These cracks might be more common near windows or doors. By sealing these areas with caulk, you cut off the ants’ entryways, while also enabling better temperature regulation of your house.[15]
    • To effectively caulk holes and cracks, insert the caulking tip into the hole or crack, and begin to fill the hole or crack. When the caulk starts to slightly overflow from the hole or crack, that means that the opening is filled and no longer has open space.
    • This is a non-toxic, pet and child safe method to keep ants at bay.

Part3Killing The Ants

  1. 1Figure out the most effective ant bait. Scout ants (the ants you see around your kitchen) are the ants that bring back food to the rest of the colony. Set out a pre-bait in the areas of your house where you have seen the most amount of ant activity. Arrange a small plate with some sugar based food (like honey, syrup, jam, etc.), and some fried food (like french fries or fried chicken). See which flavoring of food attracts more ants. You don’t have to leave this pre-bait out for long to see which type of food the ants prefer.[16]
    • Ants’ taste preferences can change depending on the time of year, so that’s why it’s a good idea to do a pre-bait; so you can successfully identify the ants’ preferred flavoring, and buy a poisonous ant bait targeted to their particular taste.
    • This pre-bait step isn’t necessary for all ant problems in the kitchen, but it does help to narrow down and the type of bait you should use. When in doubt, purchase bait that caters to ants that want both sweet and savory foods.
    • These toxic ant baits come in both solid and liquid form, but when ants prefer sweet foods, liquid bait seems to work best.
  2. 2Be patient while the bait attracts and kills the ants. Right after you have set out poisonous bait targeted to the ants’ taste, you will probably see an increase in the number of ants around your house. That is because the bait is drawing them in. This is what you want, because the more ants around the bait, the more ants are taking it back to the nest to kill the rest of the colony.[17]
    • Keep in mind that this baiting extermination process might take some time. That is because you aren’t just killing the ants walking around your house, you have to kill multiple ‘’’generations’’’ of ants, including the adult ants, their pupae, (which are the ants still in their cocoon stage), the larvae, and the eggs. This process can take anywhere from a few days to weeks.[18]
    • When using this bait system, all other foods need to be eliminated. The bait can’t have other foods sources tempting the ants. You want the ants to take the toxic bait, and the toxic bait only. Also, do not disturb the ants or bait once the ants have started eating it.[19]
    • If you still have ants after two weeks of letting the bait sit, replace the kind of bait you are using. It evidently is not effective or as effective as it should be.[20]
  3. 3Make a homemade ant bait. Mix 1 tbsp of organic boric acid, 1 tbsp of maple syrup (or any other kind of sticky sweet like honey, jam, etc.). Spread this boric acid and sweet substance onto a piece of bread or cracker. Then, poke holes into a small cardboard box, and place the food with the bait in the center of the box. Just like the store bought ant bait, the food scent will entice the ants to the bait, and boric acid will eradicate the rest of the colony when the ants take the “food” back to the nest.[21]
    • Leave the trap out during the nighttime, since that is when ants go hunting for food.
    • Attack the ant nest at the source. If you were able to find the ant nest, expel the ants by killing the colony. Spray the nest and the area of the nest with an insecticide that has bifenthrin as the main ingredient.[22]
  4. 4Call a professional if your ant problem persists. You might need to call an exterminator and have them do an assessment if your own methods for eliminating the ants haven’t worked.
    • A professional exterminator would be able to determine entryways, and maybe identify other nests, therefore providing useful insight and better methods for treating your ant problem.

Part 4 Preventing Ants From Coming Back

  1. 1Keep your kitchen sink clean and dry. Clean off and rinse thoroughly any dishes that you want to leave overnight in the sink.[23] You want to make sure there isn’t any food residue that could attract the ants during the nighttime.
    • Consider pouring a little bit of bleach down the drain to wipe out the smell of left over food particles.
  2. 2Sweep and mop your floor frequently. Ants only need a little crumb of food to begin calling in for backup, so be sure to clean up any bits and pieces of food that could be strewed on the floor and hidden underneath kitchen appliances.[24] Sweep the floor to eliminate food sources for the ants. Mop your floor with a ½ bleach ½ water solution.
    • Again, this mopping solution can also be a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water. The only thing that matters is the sterile cleaning agent to eliminate ant trails.
    • You can spray the mixture of vinegar and water around pet food bowls to prevent ants from gathering there.
  3. 3Vacuum spaces that come in contact with food. Just like sweeping and mopping, vacuuming helps clean up any bits of food that could attract ants to come into your house.[25]
    • This is especially important for homes with carpeting, as food bits are harder to see against carpet.
  4. 4Remove your trash regularly. Use sturdy, durable garbage bags, and remove your trash as often as you can to reduce the possibility of ants feeding on food near and in your garbage can.[26]
    • Often, a puncture hole in a garbage bag allows for juices to spill and therefore, can attract ants.
    • Consider sprinkling baking soda at the bottom of your garbage can to freshen the can, and repel ants from the food smells.

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