How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home

Ants become a major problem when they infest your home, so let’s look at popular methods of pest control to get rid of these tiny insects and prevent their return.

Aug 22, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
tips to get rid of ants in your home

Ants are nature’s superior helpers, working hard to remove garden waste, pollinate seeds, and improve soil conditions. But when they move into your home, they become a nuisance by crawling across the floor in large numbers and contaminating food. These tiny creatures are difficult to control as they can hide deep within foundations and walls, making them impossible to reach. In our tips to get rid of ants in your home, we look at the remedies and preventative steps you can take to overcome these persistent insects.

Why Ants Move into Your House

ants on a slice of watermelon
Ants eating a melon slice.

As temperatures rise in the spring, you may notice an influx of ants on your property. They appear in endless droves looking for food, which makes the kitchen a prime spot to scavenge. Although ants prefer sweet substances, any food source will attract them, including crumbs, fruit, and meat. Thousands of black or brown ants can invade a residence in a short period of time, making them incredibly hard to combat. They burrow into walls, floors, and wood frames, where they build nests that remain hidden for months. Ants are always searching for food and water, so keeping food sealed and counters clean can prevent them from taking over your home.

The Problem with Ants in Your Home

close up of ant in tunnel
Ants use their powerful pincers and legs to form tunnels.

Despite their tiny size, a large colony of ants can damage wooden decks, patios, and frames as they tunnel into these structures. Ants can easily move into small cracks and holes and often migrate into residential concrete driveways or foundations. You’ll notice small anthills close to cracks and holes where these critters have settled. Insects and reptiles enjoy eating ants, so spiders and geckos will be attracted to your house when you have an ant infestation. In addition to getting into your food, ants such as carpenter and pavement ants cause irritating bites when they are disturbed. Ant colonies are naturally found in gardens, but when they spread into the kitchen, bathroom, and living areas, they cause more harm than good.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

ants nest
An active ant nest.

Ants are repelled by strong smells, so cayenne, black pepper or cinnamon can do the trick. Sprinkle the pepper along the ant trail to ensure that they come into contact with the product. To eliminate ants on the spot, prepare a vinegar solution by mixing one part vinegar with one part water and spraying it directly onto the ants. This solution can be used as a repellent and safely sprayed around doorways and window frames. To prevent ants from making your kitchen cabinets or pantry a place to dine out, sprinkle diatomaceous earth or corn starch along their trails. Diatomaceous earth is an organic drying agent that ants find extremely irritating. These natural solutions can safely control the spread and infestation of ants in and around your home without exposing people and pets to chemicals.

Remove Ants by Targeting the Queen

queen ant with eggs on leaf
A queen ant protects her eggs.

Every colony is ruled by a single queen ant, and it is her duty to ensure that new ants are produced for their survival. Once a queen ant is removed, the colony will continue to bring food to the nest, but without the queen, new ants won’t be produced. Eventually, the colony will become smaller until it expires. To reach the queen ant, you can use a bait that works when ants take some of the bait into the nest. They perceive the bait as food and deliver it to the queen, where she consumes it. Ants breathe through their stomachs and thorax using special adaptations called spiracles. You can target the queen and colony by pouring a soapy solution into an ant nest. The mixture coats their bodies, making it hard to breathe. This method is only successful if you manage to cover the queen with detergent.

Tips to Prevent Ants from Moving into Your Home

ants inside the house
Carpenter ants make a nest inside a wood structure.

To prevent ant invasions, you need to control their access to food, water, and nesting areas. Only a few crumbs on the kitchen floor can attract a steady stream of ants, so clean counters and floors after preparing meals. Cracks and holes in concrete and wood should be sealed to prevent these critters from finding a spot to nest. If you have potted plants or logs in the garden, ants usually make their homes underneath these features. Simply apply a pesticide or corn starch to the underside of the pot or log to deter them from burrowing. For persistent infestations, place an ant bait station at their food source or entry point to the nest. They should take the bait into the nest, reaching the queen ant. Keep ant bait inside cabinets or on countertops where it cannot be reached by children or pets, as it is poisonous.


ant cleaning its feelers in the garden
An ant cleans its feelers.

Ants are the most common insect found in every garden across the world. They work hard by collecting organic matter, but in their search for food, thousands can migrate into your kitchen, bathroom, and living room. These six-legged insects are problematic when you find them crawling over your food or scurrying across your counters and floors. Safe ways of removing ants are to use corn starch, diatomaceous earth, or soapy water to pour into ant nests, as these substances irritate them. To get rid of ants in your home, you can apply natural methods, remove their food source, or call pest control for severe infestations.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.