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Getting Rid of Ants in Your House: DIY Guide

Updated on July 12, 2018

Ants, ants, go away! Don’t come back another day!

Ants? Really?

I thought I’d paid my bug dues when my house was overrun with fleas in 2015. Unfortunately, I got to experience the joy of a whole different kind of pest: ants! Thankfully, I don’t find ants to be as stressful as fleas—at least they don’t bite you!—but they’re not house guests I care to have. To see how I eliminated ants in my house using easy DIY methods, keep on reading.

Ant-tastic Conditions

There are many different kinds of ants, which you ususually only learn about when you’re desperately Googling: “Why are there ants in my kitchen?!” Different ants require different eradication methods, so do your Googling carefully. After a bit of research, I concluded that the little black ants on my kitchen counters—and windowsills, stovetop, cupboards, and even bathroom—were Little Black Ants. Good name, right? Little Black Ants are sometimes called sugar ants, a name that is used as a catch-all for many kinds of household ants like carpenter ants and pharaoh ants. Little Black Ants are common household pests, and while they don’t bite, they’re definitely not what you want living in your home. They are omnivores, and like to eat just about everything, but the key to getting rid of them is not as simple as just cleaning your kitchen. To eliminate these unwelcome houseguests, you have to use a two-pronged approach that involves 1) cleaning and 2) reducing ant access to your home.

Countertops: Not for food!

Step 1: Clean!

Just like with fleas, cleaning well and cleaning often is the key to getting rid of ants in your house. If the ants can’t find anything to eat, they’re not going to stay. That being said, it’s harder than it seems to clean well enough to really discourage ants. I found a few tips helpful when I was cleaning my kitchen in particular:

  • Keep the kitchen counters absolutely clear of food. Every time you cook, or even put food on the counter (when you pour some cereal into a bowl, for example), you have to throw away any food that touches the counter and wipe it down. The upside? Your kitchen counters will be really, really clean, and it will feel great!
  • Put all food into plastic bags. Ants are really good at finding food, although I’m not exactly sure how they do it—smell it? Sense it? To trick the ants, put all of the food in your cupboard into plastic bags. Pour cereal into gallon bags, or use tightly-sealed tupperware. Put graham crackers, Triscuits, and beef jerky into plastic bags. Anything that an ant could potentially smell - bag it! Things like dry pasta, lentils, and beans are probably fine in their original wrappers.
  • Your drain can be a major source of ant attraction. That sounds so gross, and it is, but the fact is, garbage disposals really aren’t that hygienic. Make sure you fully grind anything you put in the disposal, and run the water for a minute or two afterwards. If you’re able, cleaning your disposal is a great idea. I was too chicken to really clean it (and I don’t know how to turn the breaker off—safety first!) so I used hot water with salt and white vinegar to disinfect the disposal.

Anteaters are too expensive, so try my DIY tricks instead!

The big guns: Natural version

I had pretty low success with natural solutions to ants, much to my disappointment. I have a cat, so I really don’t like to use chemicals inside the house - and this includes ant sprays. When I had fleas, I used a peppermint-scented “all natural” flea killer that was amazing. This time, I tried washing countertops with all-natural soap, spritzing countertops and window frames with diluted bleach (verging on non-natural, now!), and putting dots of peppermint and tea tree essential oils on countertops. None of these methods really work. I’ve read that some people use a mixture of Borax, sugar, and water, which kills ants. I can’t vouch for that method, but it seems pretty popular.

The big guns: Unnatural version

I try to use natural products whenever possible. With increasing rates of all kind of diseases, I’m very wary of the chemicals included in so many household products. Even so, there are times when even I throw in the towel, and ants in the house is one of them. There are a variety of chemical methods to get rid of ants, ranging from mild to serious. The most serious, of course, would be a pest removal company. Since thi article is about DIY methods, we’ll skip that one.

If you really need the “big guns, chemical version,” here are a few ideas to try:

  • Ant traps. We’ve all seen these. They’re cheap and non-invasive. Just use caution and don’t place them where kids or pets could get to them. In my experience, ant traps weren’t helpful, but maybe they will be for you.
  • Ant “gel” from Raid. This stuff. IS. AWESOME! It’s also awesomely disgusting, in a satisfying way. The gel comes in a little red tube, and you‘re supposed to squirt little piles of gel where the ants are. Like the ant traps, put the gel in a place where kids and pets won’t get near it. The gel attracts ants, and supposedly, they bring it back to their nest, which eliminates the queen. I tried not to think of the ethics of this situation while I used it. Cautionary tip! Ants LOVE this stuff, and I mean LOVE. I purposefully blocked off a crack in the linoleum in my bathroom floor where I saw ants coming and going. OH MAN, the result was dramatic and gross. There were SO MANY ants fighting to get to the stuff, and get back into their home. It was a horrifying scene—so I recommend putting the gel in a place where you don’t have to look at it. I finally settled on putting a couple drops on the floor next to the refrigerator, and some on the inner part of a windowsill.
  • Ant spray. I rent an apartment, so I didn’t go as far as calling an exterminator, or trying too hard to find cracks in the foundation where the ants were getting in. I had a hunch that the ants were getting in through the windows, so I bought some ant spray, went outside, and sprayed the the window frames. The fumes from ant spray are pretty noxious, so be careful.

Good luck and happy ant-eliminating!

© 2018 hazelbrown


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