Written by Grove Collaborative

5 ways to get rid of ants — naturally.

Last Updated: April 30, 2021

When ants go marching two by two, three by three, or four by four into your home, steer them back out with natural repellents—and keep them out.

You pour your first cup of morning joe and gaze out the kitchen window in anticipation of a new day. Suddenly, you see an unwelcome site –– a long trail of ants making their way to your kitchen from who knows where. Ants love to colonize behind walls and within tiny nooks and crannies that are difficult to spot. Luckily, a few household staples are all you'll need to make your own natural ant repellent. And, if you’re not into DIY, we’ve found some great natural products that work pretty great too.

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What does it mean when you have ants in your house?

Ants live almost everywhere on earth. It's natural to spot an occasional ant or two in your home, especially in the warm spring and summer months.

A full-blown invasion, though, never happens randomly. Ants are always searching for food and water, which usually means that your bathroom and kitchen are the most common areas you'll find them. Besides the occasional crumbs you leave behind in your kitchen, ants also need water –– making any room with a sink particularly vulnerable to an unwanted ant invasion.

How to find an ant nest

Although ants can be a nuisance inside the home, they actually play an important role outside in the environment. Ants aerate soil and help oxygen and water reach plant roots. They also feed on organic matter and provide food for a number of other organisms.

Unfortunately, ants are more destructive than constructive inside your home. Carpenter ants can cause structural damage, and almost any type of ant could pose a health risk to your family by contaminating food.

If you're dealing with a major ant problem, the best way to eliminate them is to go after the entire nest. Finding the colony might seem fairly simple, but ants often disappear into spots difficult to see or trace. Look for these signs to identify nests as soon as possible and prevent damage to your home or food:

Dead ants

Mounds of dead ants can be an indication of an indoor ant nest [shudder].


Moisture attracts ants, so keep an eye out for things like wet wood, leaky window casings, and leaky faucets or pipes.

Wood shavings

If you notice wood shavings around your cellar or attic, it could be an indication of a carpenter ant infestation.


Ants are social butterflies

You won't have much luck tracing an ant nest by tracking just one or two ants. Ants work together to support their colony. The best way to trace a nest is to observe multiple ants as they make their way back to the colony.

5 ways to get rid of ants naturally

Getting rid of ants without adding harmful chemicals or toxins to your environment is easier than you think. Here are some of the best ways to repel ants safely and naturally:/

1. Essential oils

Some essential oils like tea tree, lemon, peppermint, and cinnamon oil may be effective against ants. Simply place a few drops on a couple of cotton balls and drop them in problem areas.

2. Vinegar

Use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water to wipe down any areas where you've spotted ants recently. Vinegar is a fantastic natural all-purpose cleaner, and ants don’t like the smell of it.

3. Chalk

Believe it or not, drawing a line of chalk in front of ant trails can prevent them from staying in your house. Chalk creates a barrier that ants won't want to cross, similar to drawing a line in the sand.

4. Pepper

Ants find the scent of pepper irritating. Sprinkle black or red pepper around places like baseboards or behind your appliances to keep ants at bay.

5. Ready-made natural ant remedies

Using ingredients like a blend of essential oils offers a safe and healthy choice to use around pets and children.

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3 reasons natural ant removal methods don't work

There are plenty of natural methods floating around on the internet that claim to prevent ants from coming into your home. Unfortunately, some of them simply don't work. Here are three reasons your previous efforts might have been unsuccessful.

You used the wrong solution.

If you misidentify the type of ant, using the wrong kind of solution could actually cause the colony to segment. This could result in ants relocating to several different areas inside your home instead of staying in one location.

You haven't addressed a moisture issue.

While using the right natural solutions to remedy your ant problem is important, ant control is often more than just spraying. If you haven't addressed moisture issues inside or outside of your home, you're likely to continue sharing your home with unwanted roommates.

You didn't continue to apply the solution.

If you use a solution like vinegar or a natural insect repellent, the solution may evaporate. Keep applying the solution periodically to mask the ants' scent trail.

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