How to get rid of ants in the house

These five simple steps will help keep ants from marching into your home

Ants make for terrible houseguests: They come uninvited, get into everything, and are in no hurry to leave. Even in the best of times, they’re unwelcome. But if you, like many people, have been spending far more time at home because of social distancing, the little critters could very well drive you insane.

Through the warmer months, the two types most likely to show up are carpenter ants and odorous house ants, aka house ants. When their natural habitat is destroyed, ants seek out alternate food sources, which is what brings them indoors.

“The problem is they can really proliferate,” says Jody Gangloff-Kauffman, an entomologist and the director of the Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. “By the time you start spotting them inside your house, you may already have hundreds.”

According to Gangloff-Kauffman, house ants—typically less than 1⁄8 inch long—are the most common ant species to invade your house.

“The good news is that they’re really considered a nuisance pest,” she says. So while house ants may show up on your kitchen counters or around the shower, they won’t transmit disease or cause any real damage to your home.

The same can’t be said of carpenter ants, which feed on rotten or damp wood, potentially damaging windows, doors, or even structural framing in the process. Carpenter ants are about 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch long.

But think twice before you grab a can of bug spray and start crop-dusting your kitchen countertops.

“Ant poison may make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, but you’re not,” says CR senior scientist Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a biologist and ecologist who wrote his doctoral thesis on integrated pest management. “Unless you solve the problem of what’s attracting them to your house—and how they’re getting in—you should remember that there are thousands of ants in every colony, and you’ll just keep seeing them.”

With that pleasant thought in mind, here are five tips from our go-to experts in pest management on how to get ants out of your house—and keep them out.

1. Keep Your House Clean

Ants feed on sugar, protein, and just about anything else they can find. “Generally, a colony will send out a few ants to scout—they’ll bring back a sampling of any food they find to the colony, and hundreds will follow them back into the house,” Gangloff-Kauffman says. “And in my experience, they particularly gravitate towards sugary liquids.”

To keep scouts from returning with hundreds of their friends in tow, quickly clean up spills, particularly things like honey, maple syrup, and soda. And keep all food in airtight containers.

2. Eliminate Damp Spots and Rotted Wood

“While house and carpenter ants generally form a primary colony outdoors, they’ll sometimes build satellite colonies inside a home to serve as a conduit for resources,” Gangloff-Kauffman says. “And both species prefer damp areas.” That means showers, windows, and damp areas in the basement all need extra attention.

Look for leaks, fix them quickly, and replace any water-damaged materials. “Unlike termites, which eat their way through new or old wood, carpenter ants will only tunnel through wood that’s already been damaged by water,” Gangloff-Kauffman says.

One source of water-damaged wood to avoid? A deck. These structures will rot from neglect, and function like a red carpet for carpenter ants. Below, we’ve highlighted three standout wood stains for sealing your deck to protect it from damage.

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3. Set Ant Baits

“The most effective method for controlling an ant infestation is using ant baits—set them out anywhere you see ants and expect a party,” Gangloff-Kauffman says. “If you still see ants around the house, try a few different brands of baits until you find one that’s appealing to this particular colony.”

In addition to killing off any ants that feed on the sweet, sugary bait syrup, when scouts track the liquid back to the colony it kills larvae and helps control the population.

If you have pets, check the packaging carefully and be mindful of where you place ant baits.

4. Stay Away From Sprays

You might be tempted to apply a bug barrier spray around the foundation of your home to discourage entry, but Consumer Reports experts don’t recommend it. For starters, the spray wears off and addresses only one potential source of entry for ants. But there’s even more to our advice.

“I’d argue that insect barrier sprays are both ineffective against ants and complete overkill,” says CR’s Hansen. “Worse, some of these sprays contain chemicals that are endocrine-disrupting compounds, which can alter our hormones. Similar compounds have been linked to neurobehavioral effects in children, including reduced IQ and increased rates of ADHD, even at the low levels you’d be exposed to when spraying your house.”

Instead, if you spot a few ants here and there, kill them the old-fashioned way: with a good stomp. They may be scouts, after all, so getting rid of them early means they can’t come back with reinforcements.

5. Make the Outdoors Appealing

Ants provide an important ecological function by aerating soil and providing a source of food for birds, according to Gangloff-Kauffman. To keep them outdoors, consider the food sources outside the house. “Aphids, which are little insects that live on plants, excrete honeydew, a sweet substance left on plants,” she says. “Ants feed on that honeydew, but if a landscaper or homeowner sprays outdoor plants for aphids, they’re also killing off an outdoor food source for ants.”

That has the potential to drive them into your house in search of new sources of nutrients. Indoor houseplants, particularly tropical varieties, are very appealing to ants. Aphids that feed on indoor plants excrete honeydew, too, which resembles white scale on leaves. Wipe leaves clean to eliminate the food source for ants, and consider placing aphid-killing plant spikes in the soil of any houseplants.

Of course, keeping your yard in tip-top shape and appealing to ants (as well as for yourself) is easiest with the right gear. Check out these articles for our selection of the best tools to keep your yard looking great:

How do you get rid of ants inside the house?

Here’s how to get rid of ants at home:

  1. Chalk. One of the home remedies to get rid of ants is to use chalk.
  2. Lemons. Squeeze a lemon or place lemon peels in places from where the ants enter.
  3. Oranges. Oranges are same as lemons; they keep the ants away from visiting your house.
  4. Pepper.
  5. Salt.
  6. White Vinegar.
  7. Cinnamon.
  8. Peppermint.

What is the best homemade ant killer?

A mixture of dish soap and water: Make a mixture of dish soap or dishwashing liquid, put in a spray bottle and shake it well. Spray it on the ants. The solution will stick to the ants and the dish soap suffocates the ants to death.

How do I get rid of ants overnight?

The secret to getting rid of your ant problem is something called Borax, a 100% natural product found in most ant-control products. You can find it in most supermarkets pretty easily. Soak the Borax mixture up with cotton balls, and then place the cotton balls near any trails the ants have established in your home.

How do I get rid of ants in my kitchen?

Using boiling water is an ideal way to kill ants in the kitchen. Identify ant holes in your kitchen and near your home and pour boiling water into them. While the boiling water won’t kill the entire colony, it will kill as many ants as possible.

Why do I suddenly have ants in my house?

Why do ants come inside? Everyone gets the occasional ant in their house — it’s only natural! A sudden ant invasion, though, doesn’t just happen randomly. Ants are constantly on the hunt for food and water (moisture, in general) for their colonies, so your kitchen and bathroom are the most common spots to find ants.

Can Salt kill ants?

When recommending salt as an ant control measure, many home experts suggest mixing up a strong salt solution and spraying it directly on the ants. Salt is a desiccant, and it dries out the exoskeletons of the insects, thereby killing them.

How do I get rid of ants permanently?

White vinegar If you see ants, wipe them up with a solution of 50-50 vinegar and water, or straight vinegar. White vinegar kills ants and also repels them. If you have an ant problem, try using diluted vinegar to clean hard surfaces, including floors and countertops, throughout your home.

How long does it take for vinegar to kill ants?

Spray so you evenly moisten the areas with the solution. Direct the spray at the ants and saturate them with the solution to kill them. This works well to kill a large number of ants at one time. Come back in about one hour to wipe up the dead ants.

How do you kill ants yourself?

Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray it directly on the ants to kill them, then wipe up the ants using a damp paper towel and discard them. You can also use vinegar and water as a deterrent; spray it around your windowsills, doorways and other places where you see ants coming inside.

Do coffee grounds repel ants?

Repel ants Ants are extremely susceptible to caffeine. This safe material confuses the worker ants because they lose their scent trails. Leave coffee grounds where the ants are and they will carry it home and eat it.

What spice do ants hate?

Sprinkle cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves or garlic in the area where you’ve seen the ants. Then, treat your home’s foundation in the same manner. Placing bay leaves in cabinets, drawers, and containers can also help to deter ants.

Does bleach kill ants?

All brands of bleach can kill ants. When you spray them with bleach, they breathe it in through their exoskeleton and end up dying. The problem with using bleach is that you will only be able to kill the ants that you can see, and only the ants that you spray will be exterminated.

Why are there ants in my room if there is no food?

To Seek Moisture Sometimes Ants are looking for water and not for food. If your house is humid, this likely to attract ants even if there’s no food in sight. Ants love moisture. You can also see them nest outside houses, but they can also take residency inside moist wood foundations.

How do I find the source of ants?

Use your flashlight to look for ants behind or under refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, sinks, and cabinets. Ants may also be found in or around floor drains, inside the motor areas of refrigerators and microwaves, behind wall paper, and in cracks and crevices in cabinets and around walls.

What do black ants in the house mean?

Black ants are considered quite auspicious. So if you see black ants roaming around your house then it means that soon there will be a sharp rise in your wealth. One the other hand, red ants are considered to bring bad luck. Red ants in the house means loss of wealth.

6 Easy Home Remedies

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How to get rid of ants in the house

The Spruce / Katie Kerpel

Search online for “ways to get rid of ants,” and you’re likely to turn up page after page of results, but which ones work and which ones don’t? It’s not so easy to decide. Save yourself the hassle of sifting through the lore, and give these cheap, natural and science-based ant remedies a try.

Vinegar

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Wipe down your countertops, cupboards and any other places where you’ve spotted ants with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. Repeat the process throughout the day to maintain the efficacy. In addition to repelling ants, vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner.

Why This Works: Two reasons, really: ants hate the smell of vinegar, and it removes the scent trails that they use to get around. Observe ants for a little while, and you’ll see that they all follow the same path in and out of your house. If you eliminate their scent trails, it will give you a serious leg up in the battle.

Warning

Vinegar is not safe for natural stone countertops. If you have granite, marble, quartz, or some other type of stone countertop, use your regular spray cleaner to wipe down your counters instead. It’ll still help with the ants.

Chalk/Baby Powder

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Draw a line of chalk in front of the spot where the ants are entering your home. It’ll act as a barrier that they won’t cross. Refresh your chalk line periodically, so it continues to work.

Why This Works: No one is really sure. Some people think it’s because ants don’t like the calcium carbonate in the chalk. Others think it’s because the chalk line interrupts their scent trails. Whatever the reason, it seems to do the trick. Try it, and see for yourself. This is one time you could even put your kids in charge of the pest control.

Borax

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Mix together equal parts borax and either syrup or jelly (borax and sugar also work). Then, place the mixture where the ants will find it. If you have small kids or pets, be sure to put it out of their reach. It may be natural, but it’s still toxic.

Why This Works: Once consumed, borax damages both the ants’ digestive systems and their outer skeletons, which means certain death for them.

Herbs/Spices and Essential Oils

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Sprinkle cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves or garlic in the area where you’ve seen the ants. Then, treat your home’s foundation in the same manner. Placing bay leaves in cabinets, drawers, and containers can also help to deter ants.

Certain essential oils have also proven to be effective against ants. Place a few drops of peppermint, citrus, eucalyptus or cinnamon oil on some cotton balls. Then, stick them in problem areas. Replace them as the scent wears off.​

Why This Works: Many plants – including the ones listed – give off a strong scent to repel ants and other insects in the wild, and they work just as well in your home. Use something other than peppers, if you have pets or small children. The capsaicin in the peppers can irritate mucous membranes. Essential oils should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Coffee Grounds

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, get in the habit of sprinkling your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house.

Why This Works: Ants are repelled by the scent given off by the grounds; and incidentally, so are cats. This makes them great pest control. Since coffee grounds are full of minerals, like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, they also happen to be great for the soil in your garden.​

Cucumber/Citrus Peels

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Leave cucumber or citrus peels in areas of known ant activity to send them on their way.

Why This Works: Cucumber and citrus peels are toxic to the types of fungi that ants feed on, so ants do their best to avoid them. If you’re battling ants in your kitchen or bathroom, switch to cucumber or citrus-scented cleaners. For the best results, look for products that are scented with actual citrus or cucumber oils. Synthetic fragrances won’t have the effect you’re after.

Get rid of those little annoying creatures by using these 4 simple and natural tricks

One of our favorite season has come. Spring the season of new beginning, is on its full swing that bring so many wonderful changes with it- nature starts looking pretty with blooming colorful flowers, buzzing bees, cool breeze, bright & warm sunshine and chirping of birds. While spring brings lot of beautiful changes it also brings some annoying things like you would find insects everywhere, including those small pesky ants. From garden to kitchen they are witnessed everywhere. We have brought for you some natural remedies to get rid of ants in the house. You can try these amazing tricks-

  1. Chalk

This is the most common trick that is used by many of women at home- using chalk to make line. You can simply keep ants away from your house by drawing a line at the door of your home, kitchen where you are witnessing entry of these creepy little creatures. Although there is no scientific reason behind it how it work’s but many said that ants don’t like the smell of chalk and that’s why avoid presence of chalk nearby or don’t cross it.

  1. Baby Powder

Although this trick works well on greenfly or aphid that cover the plant and destroy it. Just sprinkle baby powder on the plant covered with greenfly and you would see that would leave the plant. You can also try this trick on ants. How? If you know the area of ants nest like in plants, garden etc. sprinkle baby powder onto it. Baby powder contains chalk and you already know that these insects hate chalk.

  1. Baking Soda

In market there are various solutions present that promises to keep ants away. But you can make simple mixture at your home using baking soda by yourself that would save money and time of bring it home. How to make solution? Mix equal amount of baking soda with icing sugar and stir it properly. Don’t use regular sugar as ants love sweet things and get attracted to it if you would use normal sugar. Sprinkle the mixture of baking soda and icing sugar at all the places where you spot the insects. Baking soda is alkaline in nature that means it can be fatal for these little ants.

  1. Smell

You would be amazed to know that ants cannot stand lot of smells. Let’s know about them-

Lemon Juice: Ants hate sour smell, lemon juice can keep ants at distance. Soak few cotton pads in fresh lemon juice and place these pads at different spots where ants appear often.

Cucumber: Ant’s also don’t like cucumber. That’s why you can place slices of cucumber at places you often witness ants.

Cinnamon: Ants hate spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle these spices in your garden and you would see that insects would get distance away.

How do you get rid of ants inside the house?

Here’s how to get rid of ants at home:

  1. Chalk. One of the home remedies to get rid of ants is to use chalk.
  2. Lemons. Squeeze a lemon or place lemon peels in places from where the ants enter.
  3. Oranges. Oranges are same as lemons; they keep the ants away from visiting your house.
  4. Pepper.
  5. Salt.
  6. White Vinegar.
  7. Cinnamon.
  8. Peppermint.

Why do I suddenly have ants in my house?

Why do ants come inside? Everyone gets the occasional ant in their house — it’s only natural! A sudden ant invasion, though, doesn’t just happen randomly. Ants are constantly on the hunt for food and water (moisture, in general) for their colonies, so your kitchen and bathroom are the most common spots to find ants.

What attracts ants in the house?

Ants are attracted to anything that is damp or that contains standing water in your home. They are also attracted to anything that is sugary or smells sweet. Ants are also attracted to bread and pet food.

How do you get rid of ants in the kitchen?

Simply create a 50-50 water and vinegar solution and spray it around your kitchen. You can also use vinegar alone, and it works by killings ants and also by repeling them. Unlike humans, ants can smell vinegar even after it dries, making a great remedy.

How do I get rid of ants overnight?

The secret to getting rid of your ant problem is something called Borax, a 100% natural product found in most ant-control products. You can find it in most supermarkets pretty easily. Soak the Borax mixture up with cotton balls, and then place the cotton balls near any trails the ants have established in your home.

What smell do ants hate?

Ants hate the smell, and your home will smell minty fresh! Plant mint around entryways and the perimeter of your home. Place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and use it to wipe suspected areas. You can also place a peppermint oil cotton ball in areas such as cabinets where the ants frequent.

Will ants go away on their own?

Ants are generally going somewhere, and coming from somewhere. Typically if you clean up the spill, the ants will go away on their own (until next time).

How do you find out where ants are coming from?

Use your flashlight to look for ants behind or under refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, sinks, and cabinets. Ants may also be found in or around floor drains, inside the motor areas of refrigerators and microwaves, behind wall paper, and in cracks and crevices in cabinets and around walls.

How do I get rid of ants permanently?

White vinegar If you see ants, wipe them up with a solution of 50-50 vinegar and water, or straight vinegar. White vinegar kills ants and also repels them. If you have an ant problem, try using diluted vinegar to clean hard surfaces, including floors and countertops, throughout your home.

What time of day are ants most active?

Ants are usually active during the twilight hours, so the best time to inspect a home for infestation is around sunrise and sunset. Ants may appear at any time of day, however, so if you suspect an infestation is present, keep your eyes peeled.

Where do ants nest in houses?

They enter dwellings through cracks in basement walls or concrete floors, or through basement windows and doors. It is possible for them to build their nest under a poured concrete slab if adequate access is found for movement. Some ants have even learned to adapt their nests in certain weather.

Can Salt kill ants?

When recommending salt as an ant control measure, many home experts suggest mixing up a strong salt solution and spraying it directly on the ants. Salt is a desiccant, and it dries out the exoskeletons of the insects, thereby killing them.

Why are there ants in my room if there is no food?

To Seek Moisture Sometimes Ants are looking for water and not for food. If your house is humid, this likely to attract ants even if there’s no food in sight. Ants love moisture. You can also see them nest outside houses, but they can also take residency inside moist wood foundations.

How do you kill an ants nest?

The following methods have been proven to eliminate ants both outside and inside the ant nest:

  1. Boiling water. The most widely known natural ant extermination method is using boiling water.
  2. Dish washing liquid and oil.
  3. Boric acid and sugar.
  4. White vinegar.
  5. Nematodes.
  6. Diatomaceous earth (DE).
  7. Insect-repelling plants.

Will bleach kill ants?

All brands of bleach can kill ants. When you spray them with bleach, they breathe it in through their exoskeleton and end up dying. The problem with using bleach is that you will only be able to kill the ants that you can see, and only the ants that you spray will be exterminated.

How to get rid of ants in the house

Help, I have ants in my houseplants! Ants in a houseplant are never a welcome sight. Getting rid of them can be even more frustrating, especially if they keep coming back, but there are things you can do. Read on to find out how to get rid of ants in container plants and keep them gone.

Ants in a Houseplant

Believe it or not, ants don’t usually attack plants outright. They are most likely not after your plant, but rather aphids, scales, or mealybugs – tiny insects that can harm your plant. Ants love feeding on honeydew, the sweet and nutritious excrement these insects produce, so they’ll actually work to protect the pests from their natural enemies.

Ants in a houseplant are a sign that your plant has other problems, and that they’re going to get worse.

Getting Rid of Ants in Potted Plants

The most effective way of getting rid of ants in potted plants is a combination of baiting and using insecticidal soap.

Buy some ant bait and place it along any trails you see leading away from the plant. Odds are the ants have a larger nest outside. They’ll carry this bait back to the nest, thinking it’s food, and will kill the whole colony. This will reduce your likelihood of ant problems in the future.

Next, take the plant outside and submerge it to just above the surface of the soil in a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons insecticidal soap to 1 quart water. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This should kill any ants living in the soil. Brush off any ants still on the plant itself. Remove the plant from the solution and let it drain thoroughly.

Getting Rid of Ants in Container Plants Naturally

If you don’t like the idea of putting chemicals on your plant, there are some more natural solutions you can try.

  • Ants don’t like citrus. Squeeze a citrus rind in the direction of your plant so that the juice spritzes out. This should help to repel the ants.
  • To make a more heavy-duty citrus repellent, boil the rinds of half a dozen oranges in water for fifteen minutes. Blend the rinds and water in a food processor and pour the mixture around your plants.
  • Make your own soap solution with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 1 pint of warm water. Spray it on and around your plant. Soaps containing peppermint oil are particularly effective.
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, coffee grounds, or dried mint tea leaves can be scattered around the base of the plant to deter ants too.

How to Keep Ants Out of Houseplants

It’s important to clean up any spills in your kitchen and make sure food is stored securely. If ants come into your house for another reason, they’re more likely to discover your plants or set up camp inside.

Continue to monitor the situation. If you see any more ant trails in your house, put out more bait.

No one wants an ant invasion in their kitchen! Prevent & tackle ants in the house with these 3 simple steps to rid your home of ants.

Updated 6 January 2021

By Cleanipedia Team

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Ants – invaders of homes and picnics. This simple guide on how to get rid of ants can help you ensure they don’t become a problem in your home – in just three steps.

Why do I have ants in the kitchen?

Food is usually the reason ants are attracted to the kitchen. Whether this is pet food or last nights dinner, ants have a way of getting into our kitchens. If you have ants in the kitchen, a follow our steps to getting rid of them. In order to prevent an ant infestation, be sure to tidy up any food and securely seal any open food packaging. Make sure to have a tightly secured bin lid as well.

To get rid of ants in the home, it’s important to stop them from entering and to prevent them from following the scent trail of other ants. Making sure that your surfaces and floors are clean and hygienic.

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How to get rid of ants in the home

Don’t just get rid of ants, prevent them from entering

Prevention is the best solution. Besides knowing how to get rid of ants in the home, avoiding the problem of an ant invasion before it’s even happened is your best bet for an ant-free life.

Ants are attracted to food sources, so the prime location to target for prevention is the kitchen. Make the following list part of your routine so you won’t need to know how to get rid of ants in the kitchen (although if you do, try step 3).

– Cover any food you don’t put in the fridge

– Always wash up dishes the same day. You could try recruiting your partner or children for washing-up duty (even if they’re not-so-willing volunteers)

– Take the rubbish out daily

– Wipe away any excess water from work surfaces as ants look to stay near water sources

– Regularly sweep or hoover your floors, especially in the kitchen and under the dining room table.

Get rid of ants through observation

If you do still find that ants have managed to muscle their way into your home, don’t fear. Observation is crucial for getting rid of ants. Start with the following:

– Try to pinpoint where they enter your home. It may be through a window, door or crack in the wall. A magnifying glass can be useful here to track the small creatures

– This can be time-consuming work. Most people don’t have time to wait around watching ants, and who really wants to? However, it will be worth it. Speed the process up by leaving a sweet item out as bait

– Once you have found their trail, follow the worker ants to their nest

– Now you have located the home of the insects, you can get rid of the ants by eliminating the root of the problem

– Use a blender to mix several pieces of orange peel with around 120 ml of warm water. Pour this mixture on top of the ant nest.

Take action to get rid of ants

Action is the final solution for how to get rid of ants in the house. Finding their nest isn’t always possible; so here are some ant-busting actions you can take, using natural products you’re likely to have at home already. Once you know how to get rid of ants in kitchen cupboards and on surfaces, putting this knowledge into practice is simple and fuss-free. Plus, all the suggested substances are child and pet friendly.

Water and white vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and spray the trails the ants use to get into your kitchen. Wipe your worktops regularly with the mixture to prevent future infestations and keep your kitchen ultra clean.

Soapy water is another safe solution to get rid of ants. Mix a capful of liquid soap with a cup of water and put into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the ants whenever you see them. Once they have all been caught, wipe them up after five minutes. This will allow you to remove them instantly.

– Always make sure toВ clean any surfacesВ after removing ants by using a cleaning product, like Cif, this way you can destroy the scent trail left by ants (which can be followed by other ants), and make it less likely that ants will come back.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

If you’re tired of six-legged visitors, don’t worry – with these three steps, you should have an ant-free home. If you’re tired of six-legged visitors, don’t worry – with these three steps, you should have an ant-free home.

How to get rid of ants in the house

Help, I have ants in my houseplants! Ants in a houseplant are never a welcome sight. Getting rid of them can be even more frustrating, especially if they keep coming back, but there are things you can do. Read on to find out how to get rid of ants in container plants and keep them gone.

Ants in a Houseplant

Believe it or not, ants don’t usually attack plants outright. They are most likely not after your plant, but rather aphids, scales, or mealybugs – tiny insects that can harm your plant. Ants love feeding on honeydew, the sweet and nutritious excrement these insects produce, so they’ll actually work to protect the pests from their natural enemies.

Ants in a houseplant are a sign that your plant has other problems, and that they’re going to get worse.

Getting Rid of Ants in Potted Plants

The most effective way of getting rid of ants in potted plants is a combination of baiting and using insecticidal soap.

Buy some ant bait and place it along any trails you see leading away from the plant. Odds are the ants have a larger nest outside. They’ll carry this bait back to the nest, thinking it’s food, and will kill the whole colony. This will reduce your likelihood of ant problems in the future.

Next, take the plant outside and submerge it to just above the surface of the soil in a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons insecticidal soap to 1 quart water. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This should kill any ants living in the soil. Brush off any ants still on the plant itself. Remove the plant from the solution and let it drain thoroughly.

Getting Rid of Ants in Container Plants Naturally

If you don’t like the idea of putting chemicals on your plant, there are some more natural solutions you can try.

  • Ants don’t like citrus. Squeeze a citrus rind in the direction of your plant so that the juice spritzes out. This should help to repel the ants.
  • To make a more heavy-duty citrus repellent, boil the rinds of half a dozen oranges in water for fifteen minutes. Blend the rinds and water in a food processor and pour the mixture around your plants.
  • Make your own soap solution with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 1 pint of warm water. Spray it on and around your plant. Soaps containing peppermint oil are particularly effective.
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, coffee grounds, or dried mint tea leaves can be scattered around the base of the plant to deter ants too.

How to Keep Ants Out of Houseplants

It’s important to clean up any spills in your kitchen and make sure food is stored securely. If ants come into your house for another reason, they’re more likely to discover your plants or set up camp inside.

Continue to monitor the situation. If you see any more ant trails in your house, put out more bait.