Naturally Get Rid of Ants in Your Kitchen
When we first moved into our apartment last autumn, I noticed a few ants in the kitchen. They went away by themselves in a few weeks though, so I didn’t think anything of them. This spring, they came back in force! I was horrified to find ants crawling over my counters and cabinets, feasting on invisible crumbs of sugar. Not wanting to buy toxic ant poisons, I did a search on natural solutions to my ant problem using common household products. Here are a few of my findings. (See also: Use Beer to Get Rid of Pests)
Keep Surfaces Clean
Ants are attracted to bits of food, so if you keep your counters spick-and-span, they’ll go elsewhere.
I didn’t have huge numbers of ants (thank goodness), but I was determined to nip the infestation in the bud. The first step I took was to wipe down my counters and floors with white vinegar. This erases the trails of the “scout” ants, so that more ants won’t follow. Vinegar is also a cheap and effective cleaner and made my counters gleam like never before. For several days, I kept a bottle of vinegar within reach so that I could wipe down my counters immediately after cooking.
I learned that soapy water, or water mixed with a detergent (such as Dawn), is also an effective way to keep ants off your surfaces. Wipe your counters with a soapy sponge, and then dry them. The residual film helps keep ants away.
I also washed all of my containers of sugar, flour, cereal, honey, and syrup, making sure that they were tightly closed and that there was no sticky residue on the outsides. I moved fruits and vegetables to the fridge.
Herbal Ant Repellers
After I had cleaned all my surfaces well, I still had the odd ant or two looking for a snack. I realized that ants were getting into my home through numerous cracks behind my counters. I looked for natural ways to keep them away and learned that ants don’t like spices such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, mint, bay leaves, black pepper, cloves, and garlic.
I sprinkled a little cinnamon into the crack beneath one counter and voilà! No more ants on that counter. But there were still a few wandering here and there elsewhere in the kitchen, so I placed a few bay leaves strategically around food items to deter them.
I’ve also read that ants are repelled by cucumbers and used coffee grounds. I did notice that ants stayed away when I was cutting up a cucumber, and that they stay far away from the coffee machine.
Get Rid of Ants Outdoors
One way to make sure ants stay away from your house is to make sure they’re not being attracted by aphids in your garden. Aphids secrete a sticky-sweet substance called “honeydew” that ants love to eat. Ants will actually protect aphids from predators in order to preserve their honeydew source! Hose off your garden plants to wash off the aphids, or apply natural aphid repellents (like soapy water) to your plants.
Kill Ants with Borax Solution
If your ant problem is too much for the aforementioned methods to handle, you may need to resort to the big guns. Mix some Borax powder (a natural mineral) with an equal amount of jam or syrup and place where ants congregate. Ants will be attracted to the sugar and will feast on the mixture, but the Borax will get into their systems and kill them. This method means you’ll have a lot of ants for a short amount of time, but it should get rid of them for several months.
Borax has low toxicity to humans, but if you have small children or pets, you may wish to avoid this option.
Even if you have only a few ants, it’s important to get rid of them quickly before they become a bigger problem. A friend of mine didn’t notice that ants had gotten into her maple syrup until one day she served pancakes and noticed a strange amount of black “pepper” in the syrup she had poured over them. Looking closer, she realized that they were little ants. Unfortunately, that was after she and her guests had already eaten half of their pancakes. Don’t let it happen to you!
If you’ve had ants in your kitchen, what worked best for getting rid of them?