Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally

Home Remedies for Ants

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

Ant
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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 throughout the day to maintain the efficacy. 

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

Chalk pieces
MamiGibbs/Getty Images

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 to maintain the efficacy.

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

Borax
Borax. Erin Huffstetler

Mix together equal parts borax and either syrup or jelly (borax and sugar also works). 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, resulting in death.

Where Can I Buy Borax?

Herbs/Spices and Essential Oils

Cinnamon
Cinnamon. Matthew O'Shea/Photolibrary/Getty Images

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 are also effective against ants. Place a few drops of peppermint, citrus, eucalyptus or cinnamon oil on some cottons balls. Then, stick them in problem areas.

Buy Peppermint Essential Oil on Amazon

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 mucus membranes. Essential oils should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee Grounds
Coffee Grounds. Steven Brisson Photography/Moment/Getty Images

Sprinkle 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.

Tip: Starbucks will give you grounds for free

Cucumber/Citrus Peels

Cucumbers
Cucumbers. Ryo Takase/EyeEm/Getty Images

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. Look for products that are scented with actual citrus or cucumber oils. Synthetic fragrances won't have the effect you're after.