We’ve all been there: Walk into our kitchen and find an army of ants marching across the countertop. But don’t panic when you spot a steady stream of ants marching across your kitchen countertop or loitering along a windowsill. It’s a very common problem, and while they can be pesky, it’s not hard to eradicate the problem and prevent them from returning. You can get rid of those ants—and send them packing for the (ant) hills—if you follow these easy steps for how to get rid of ants permanently.
Whether they’re attacking your home inside or out, we’ve researched the best ways to get rid of ants once and for all. We have some natural solutions to get rid of the bugs without chemicals. And if you find other pests in your home, learn how to get rid of fruit flies, how to get rid of gnats, how to get rid of stink bugs, and how to get rid of carpenter ants before the damage is done (talk about destructive!).
How to Get Rid of Indoor Ants Permanently
- Play detective. Step one is to get to the bottom of what’s attracting the ants in the first place. Whether it’s a sticky drip of honey down the side of a jar or a stray spoon in the sink, there’s always a source. Clean up whatever has attracted your new tenants, and if you’re lucky, they just might move out on their own.
- Shut down the scouting. Teams of scout ants search for food using pheromones. These pheromones leave behind a trail for other ants to follow, so simply sweeping the ants away won’t cut it. You have to destroy their tiny trail, and you can do that with a mix of one part vinegar to three parts water. Simply spray it anywhere you’ve spotted ants.
- Ready, set, repel. To eliminate ants naturally, mix peppermint or lavender oil (two scents ants hate) with water and spray mixture on entry points like windowsills or door frames. If you decide to take the chemical route, look for a product with boric acid, and make sure to carefully read the instructions. (Some can be harmful to pets and small children.)
- Count to three. Once you set out the repellents, avoid the temptations to kill any ants. They’re going to do all the hard work for you and take the poisonous bait back to the nest.
How to Get Rid of Outdoor Ants
- Send out a search party. Look for ant beds in your yard or along your home’s foundation. Carpenter ants tend to hide in damaged or wet wood, so inspect tree stumps, wood piles, damaged trees, old patio furniture, and any outdoor structures.
- Make a splash. Once you’ve found the nest, pour boiling water over the ant hill or spot treat with an outdoor insecticide.
- Get to (yard) work. A well-kept property is the easiest way to keep ants at bay. Keep a watchful eye for branches, bushes, or shrubs that touch your house and can provide easy access for ants to make their way inside.
How to Keep Ants Out of Your Home For Good
- Seal all entry points. Caulk and seal any cracks or exposed crevices in doors and windows.
- Hide the sweets. Black garden ants (fun fact: they’re actually dark brown!) are the most likely invaders. Keep food—especially h
oney, maple syrup, and sugar—in airtight containers or tightly wrapped with foil or plastic wrap.
- Do your chores. Regularly clean countertops, floors, cabinets, and pantries where crumbs are most likely to hide. Keep your pet’s food properly stored between feedings and regularly clean pet bowls.
- Take out the trash. Make sure trash cans (especially in the kitchen!) are covered and inspect the can for any residue that might be lingering after you take out the garbage.
When to Call the Pros
If a handful of ants turns into an army and you’ve tried everything, you might just have an infestation on your hands. Call in an expert to inspect your home. They can identify the ant species and properly exterminate them.