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10 Ways to Get Rid of Ants Using Ordinary Stuff In Your Pantry

Knowing how to get rid of ants around the house is important. But it’s also fun to learn just how fascinating these creatures are. They’re industrious and super smart, as far as insects go. Some ants can support up to 50 times their own weight while upside-down on glass. Ants are found almost everywhere on Earth. The largest ant colony ever found was over 3,750 miles wide. And you think you’ve got problems?

All fun facts aside, it’s necessary for us to know how to control any kind of pest invasion in our homes for both health and safety reasons. If you suspect you have a serious ant infestation, consider calling a pest control professional. However, most ant problems-especially those teeny tiny “sugar” ants (a common name that many people use to describe any small ant that is attracted to sweets)-are generally annoying and a problem you can solve quickly with ordinary items you may have on hand around in the house and garage.

Think of what follows as a buffet of methods to get rid of ants in your home, on your property, and perhaps even in the garage. Choose the solution that meets your immediate need using items you have.


To get rid of ants, start by mopping the floor at least once a day. Mopping and vacuuming help to remove the ants’ pheromone trails. Cleaning and mopping will also rid your home of the food and crumbs that attract the ants.


If you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50-50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle, and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. The soap actually breaks down their exoskeletons, and they die almost immediately. It’s a cheap and easy cleanup.


This is my personal favorite way to get rid of ants because it is natural, quick and sure. Diatomaceous earth is nontoxic and harmless for pets and kids. Important: Make sure you are using food-grade diatomaceous earth, NOT swimming pool DE, which has been chemically altered and will be completely ineffective to kill ants and other bugs.

Sprinkle the food-grade DE outside around the perimeter of your home. You can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see the ants — along baseboards especially. Do not wet the DE or it will not work. If it should get wet, reapply with new, dry food-grade DE.

Once the ants walk in the fine powder, they’ll die. The DE quietly destroys their exoskeletons.


A 50-50 ratio of water and plain white vinegar can also deter ants. Use this mixture to spray on countertops, windowsills and high-traffic areas.


Spray any areas where ants are feeding or accessing your house with WD-40. The spray will kill ants and serve as a deterrent from further access as long as residue from the spray remains. Not sure where they’re coming in? Spray WD-40 along the outside perimeter of the house. They will not cross it because ants hate the smell of WD-40 (so do rabbits!). Repeat as necessary.


Get rid of ants by drawing a line around your home’s entry points using ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The calcium carbonate repels ants.


If fire ants plague your yard or patio and you’re tired of getting stung by those tiny attackers, a flowerpot can help you quench the problem. Place the pot upside down over the anthill. Carefully pour boiling water through the drain hole, and you’ll be burning them and their house for good.


To ant-proof your kitchen, you don’t need insecticides or ant traps. Just give it the lemon treatment. First, squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze the lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.


One EC reader reports that cheap baby powder in a plastic can works to get rid of ants. Drown them in it. They can’t make it back to the nest because they can’t run, and they’ll dry out before they can summon help. You will need to vacuum up the powder, but it doesn’t stink.


Another reader puts a stick of spearmint gum opened slightly on each shelf and drawer, in areas frequented by ants and other pantry-prone bugs. “Since doing this I have not seen a single bug. I am away for about four months a year and always come home to bugless cupboards/kitchen.”

Psst! You’ll find more ways to treat ant invasions at EverydayCheapskate.com/ants.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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One Comment

  1. Take an empty 2lt soda bottle and cut a hole the diameter of a small funnel-end in the middle. Put a funnel in the hole and add four Tbs of Borax, four Tbs of sugar, a couple Tbs of honey and enough water to have the mixture crystallize but not disolve. Place the bottle hole side up in the path the ants are taking. KEEP PETS AND KIDS AWAY. Many of the ants will eat enough to die in the bottle but some will take the crystals back to the queen killing the colony.

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