How to Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally

6 Easy Home Remedies

illustration of 10 products that get rid of ants

The Spruce / Katie Kerpel

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, science-based ant remedies a try.

  • 01 of 06

    Vinegar

    person spraying vinegar into a corner

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    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 the process throughout the day to maintain the efficacy. In addition to repelling ants, vinegar has many surprising uses, including as an all-purpose cleaner.

    Why This Works: Two reasons, really: ants hate the smell of vinegar, and vinegar 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 ants' scent trails, it will give you a serious leg up in the battle.

    Warning

    Due to its acidity, vinegar is often too harsh 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.

  • 02 of 06

    Chalk/Baby Powder

    person using chalk in a corner affected by ants

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    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 so it continues to work.

    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 pest control.

  • 03 of 06

    Borax

    person mixing borax and syrup

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    Mix together equal parts borax and either syrup or jelly (borax and sugar also work). 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 is a slow-acting poison that damages the ants' digestive systems and is passed to the larger population resulting in certain death.

  • 04 of 06

    Herbs/Spices and Essential Oils

    person sprinkling pepper in a corner

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    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 have also proven to be effective against ants. Place a few drops of peppermint, citrus, eucalyptus, or cinnamon oil on some cotton balls. Then, stick them in problem areas. Replace them as the scent wears off.​

    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. If you have pets or small children, use something other than peppers. The capsaicin in the peppers can irritate mucous membranes. Essential oils should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Coffee Grounds

    person holding a scoop of coffee grounds

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    Are you a coffee drinker? If so, get in the habit of sprinkling 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 coffee grounds. This makes the grounds a great form of pet-friendly pest control. Since coffee grounds are full of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, they also happen to be great for the soil in your garden.​

  • 06 of 06

    Cucumber/Citrus Peels

    lemons and lime

    The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

    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 lemon-lime-scented cleaners. For the best results, look for products that are scented with actual citrus or cucumber oils. Synthetic fragrances won't have the effect you're after.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. 5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Natural Stone Surfaces. Natural Stone Institute.

  2. Ant Baits: A Least Toxic Control. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension.

  3. Huanling, Xing et al. Fumigation Activity of EssFumigation Activity of Essential Oil of Cinnamonum Loureirii Against Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis Invicta) Workers.Journal of Pest Science, 2021. doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-450369/v1

  4. Yenigun, Onur M, and Mark Thanassi. Capsaicin: An Uncommon Exposure and Unusual Treatment. Clinical practice and cases in emergency medicine, vol. 3, no. 3 219-221, 20 May. 2019. doi:10.5811/cpcem.2019.3.41231

  5. Abdul Hafiz Ab Majid et al. Behavioral responses of household ants (Hymenoptera) to odor of different coffee species and formulations: Sustainability approach for green pest management strategies. Household and Structural Urban Entomology Laboratory, Vector Control Research Unit, School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 2017. doi:10.1101/101303