How To Get Rid Of Ants Inside And Outside Your Home

ants on a pipe outside

If you’ve seen one ant you’ve seen them all. Well, maybe not all of them, but if you do see one ant, there are likely thousands more where that single ant came from. That may not be the worst thing if you’re at a picnic in the park, but if the ant infestation happens in your home, you’ll want to quickly solve the problem. If you’re asking yourself how to get rid of ants, you’re in the right place.

The good news is that while ants can easily get into your home, it’s fairly simple to get rid of them. In this blog, we’ll detail ways to identify an ant problem, then go into some DIY methods to alleviate the problem. We’ll also explain how to know if you need to bring in the professionals to eradicate these little pests. Additionally, we’ll talk about preventative measures you can take to make sure they don’t come back once they’re gone.

So, to learn how to get rid of ants, and keep them from coming back, keep reading.

Identifying An Ant Problem

If you know what to look for, the signs of an ant infestation can be easily identified. If you see just a few ants, they are the scouts. On the search for food, these ants find a food source and take it back to the colony. While it may be tempting to step on them, resist that temptation. More scouts will be on the way soon if you kill those initial ants.

Another common sign of an ant problem is the presence of a trail of ants marching in a straight line, particularly near food sources or along walls. These trails can lead back to their nest or entry point into the house. Another sign is the sighting of large numbers of ants, especially in the kitchen or pantry, where they are attracted to crumbs, spills or sugary substances.

Another indicator is the presence of ant nests or anthills outside the house, often visible in garden areas or near cracks in pavement. Most ants are harmless, but if you notice small holes or cracks in wooden structures, as well as sawdust-like material, it could indicate the presence of carpenter ants, which can cause damage to wooden structures. Being vigilant about these signs can help you take prompt action to address and eliminate an ant infestation.

Locating The Ant Nest

Locating an ant nest is a critical step in effectively dealing with an ant infestation. To find the nest, simply follow the trail of ants back to their source. Carefully observe the ants’ movements, noting the direction in which they are traveling. This can lead to the discovery of the nest, which is typically situated nearby.

Ant nests can be found in various locations depending on the type of ant. They may be located outdoors, such as in soil, under rocks or in tree stumps. Indoor nests can be concealed within wall voids, under floorboards, or in hidden crevices. It’s also worth inspecting areas near food sources, such as the kitchen or pantry, as ants often establish nests close to their food supply. By identifying the nest, you’re well on your way to eliminating the ant colony and preventing future infestations.

Common Ant Types

red fire ant up close
Fire Ant

There are many types of ants you may see inside and outside your home. Here’s a simple list of the most common ants you may encounter:

  1. Argentine Ants: These small, light-brown ants are known for forming large colonies and can be found in many regions around the world.
  2. Carpenter Ants: Larger in size, these ants are usually black or red and are notorious for nesting in wood. They can cause structural damage to homes and buildings.
  3. Fire Ants: Reddish-brown in color, fire ants are known for their aggressive behavior and painful stings. They build large mounds and are commonly found in warmer regions.
  4. Odorous House Ants: These dark brown or black ants emit a distinctive odor when crushed. They often invade homes in search of food and water.
  5. Pavement Ants: These small, dark-brown ants create nests under sidewalks, driveways, and other paved areas. They can also infest homes, especially in search of sugary foods.
  6. Pharaoh Ants: These tiny yellow or light brown ants are common household pests. They can be found in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas where they search for food and water.
  7. Thief Ants: Also known as grease ants, these small ants are attracted to greasy or oily substances. They often infest kitchens and pantries.
    Remember that ant species can vary by region, so it’s always a good idea to consult with local pest control experts for accurate identification and effective treatment methods.

DIY Ant Control Methods

Once you’ve realized you are dealing with an ant problem, it’s time to get to work eliminating the issue. Fortunately, many ant infestations can be taken care of relatively quickly with one of many DIY methods. In this section, we’ll highlight some ways you can get rid of ants in the house by yourself. Below are some examples to get you started.

Borax And Sugar Solution

Borax is a powdery white substance, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate. You can find borax at your local hardware or gardening store, and when combined with a sugar solution it can be very effective for killing ants in the home.

Just remember it’s important to keep borax away from pets and children as it can be harmful.

To use borax, follow these steps:

  1. Put on safety gloves and goggles.
  2. Make a solution of 1/2 teaspoon borax, 8 teaspoons sugar and 1 cup warm water.
  3. Stir the borax and sugar until they are both fully dissolved.
  4. Apply the solution to cotton balls and put them around your home in areas where you commonly see ants.
  5. Wash the container thoroughly or throw it away.

Glass Cleaner And Liquid Detergent

When ants walk into your home they leave a trail of scented pheromones behind them. This method can remove that scent and keep the ants from coming back.

Follow these instructions to do it:

  1. Mix glass cleaning spray with dish soap in a clean spray bottle.
  2. Spray the solution on any areas where ants enter or have been walking.
  3. After applying the solution, wipe down the area but leave a light coating.
  4. Repeat as needed.

Vinegar Solution

One cheap and effective way to kill and repel ants is by using white vinegar. It’s available at any grocery store, and it’s also a natural cleaning agent.

Mix vinegar and water in a 1-to-1 solution, then apply the water mixture surfaces, including floors and countertops, wherever ants have been. If you see ants, spray the mixture on them or wipe them up with a paper towel.

Ants can smell the vinegar after it dries, but the scent doesn’t remain long or linger.

Cinnamon And Clove Powder

Cinnamon and clove powder can be used as natural remedies to treat ant infestations. These ingredients have strong scents that ants find unpleasant, disrupting their trails and deterring them from entering your home. Here’s how you can use cinnamon and clove powder:

  1. Cinnamon: Sprinkle ground cinnamon powder along ant entry points, trails and areas where they are commonly seen. Focus on windowsills, doorways, and cracks where ants may be entering. You can also create a cinnamon barrier by drawing a line of cinnamon across their path.
  2. Clove powder: Similar to cinnamon, sprinkle ground clove powder in the same manner as cinnamon. Concentrate on areas where ants are active. Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls in clove oil and place them near ant activity spots.

Citrus Peel Spray

Citrus peel spray can be an effective DIY solution to deal with ants. The strong scent of citrus repels ants and disrupts their trails, discouraging them from entering your home. Here’s how you can make and use citrus peel spray:

  1. Collect citrus peels: Gather peels from citrus fruits like oranges, lemons or grapefruits.
  2. Prepare the spray: Place the citrus peels in a pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. This process helps extract the citrus oils from the peels.
  3. Strain and cool: After simmering, remove the pot from heat and strain the liquid into a spray bottle.
  4. Apply the spray: Spray the citrus peel solution along ant trails, entry points and areas where you’ve seen ants. Focus on windowsills, doorways and other potential access points.
  5. Repeat as needed: Reapply the citrus peel spray regularly, especially after cleaning or if you notice ant activity returning.

Other Preventative Measuresants outside on an apple core

Implementing preventative measures can be an effective way to get rid of ants permanently and reduce the chances of infestations. Here are some preventative measures you can take:

Regular Cleaning And Maintenance

Maintain a clean and tidy environment, especially in areas where food is prepared or consumed. Clean up spills promptly, wipe down surfaces and sweep or vacuum regularly to eliminate food crumbs that attract ants.

Proper Food Storage

Store food in airtight containers to prevent ants from accessing it. This includes dry goods, pet food and fruits or sweets. Keeping food tightly sealed makes it less appealing to ants and reduces their attraction to your home.

Removing Attractive Conditions

Eliminate attractive conditions for ants by disposing of trash in sealed bins that are kept away from the house. Rinse out food containers before discarding them as residual food attracts ants. Additionally, be sure to eliminate any sources of standing water both inside and outside your home. Ants seek water sources, so fixing leaks, keeping sinks dry and ensuring proper drainage can deter them.

Sealing Entry Points

Inspect your home for cracks, gaps, or openings that ants can use as entry points. Seal them with caulk or weatherstripping to prevent ants from infiltrating your living space.

Creating Barriers

Creating barriers is an effective way to prevent ants from entering your home. By establishing physical or chemical barriers, you can block their access points and discourage them from infiltrating your living space. Here are a few methods for creating barriers to prevent ants:

  1. Petroleum jelly: Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly along windowsills, door frames and other potential entry points. The sticky texture acts as a deterrent, making it difficult for ants to crawl across the barrier.
  2. Ant bait stations: Place ant bait stations strategically around the perimeter of your home, particularly near known entry points. These bait stations contain ant attractants mixed with insecticides..
  3. Diatomaceous earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your home, focusing on entry points and areas where ants are commonly seen.
  4. Barrier sprays: Apply insecticide barrier sprays around the exterior perimeter of your home, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. These sprays create a chemical barrier that repels ants and other crawling insects from approaching your house.

How To Kill Ants Outside

To kill ants in your yard, you can employ a variety of methods. Here are some effective ways to eliminate ants from your outdoor space:

  1. Boiling water: Boil a pot of water and carefully pour it directly into ant nests or ant hills. The hot water will kill the ants and destroy the colony. This method is particularly useful for larger ant colonies.
  2. Ant bait stations: Place ant bait stations in areas where ants are active in your yard. These bait stations contain insecticides mixed with attractants that ants carry back to their nests, effectively eliminating the entire colony.
  3. Insect sprays: Use an insect spray specifically designed for outdoor ant control. Apply the spray according to the product instructions, targeting ant trails, nests and areas with high ant activity. Ensure the spray is safe for use in outdoor environments and follow safety precautions.
  4. Diatomaceous earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth in areas where ants are present. The tiny sharp particles will pierce the ants’ exoskeletons, causing dehydration and death. Be sure to reapply after rainfall or watering.
  5. Vinegar solution: Create a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on ants and their trails. The strong smell of vinegar disrupts their communication and deters them from the treated areas.
  6. Natural repellents: Certain natural substances, such as peppermint oil, citrus peels or cayenne pepper, can repel ants. Create barriers by placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, scattering citrus peels or sprinkling cayenne pepper around ant activity areas.

Remember to always follow safety instructions and use caution when applying any chemical products. It’s important to identify the ant species to choose the most appropriate method for eradication. Additionally, maintaining good yard hygiene and eliminating potential food and water sources can help prevent future ant infestations.

Signs It May Be Time For Professional Solutions

If you have a severe ant infestation or barriers alone are not sufficient, it’s likely time to seek professional assistance to address the problem.

When To Call An Exterminator

There are several situations in which it is advisable to call an ant exterminator to address your ant infestation. Here are some circumstances that may warrant professional intervention:

  • Severe infestation: If you have a large-scale or severe ant infestation that is widespread throughout your property, it is recommended to seek the assistance of an ant exterminator. Professional exterminators have the knowledge, experience and tools to effectively manage extensive infestations.
  • Multiple failed attempts: If you have tried various DIY methods and over-the-counter products without success, it may be time to consult a professional. Ants can be resilient and persistent, and a trained exterminator can assess the situation, identify the ant species and employ appropriate treatment methods.
  • Structural damage: Certain ant species, like carpenter ants, can cause significant damage to wooden structures. If you observe signs of structural damage, such as weakened or hollowed-out wood, it is crucial to involve a professional who can properly assess the extent of the damage and implement targeted treatment strategies.
  • Health concerns: Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to ant bites or stings. If you or someone in your household experiences adverse reactions or health issues due to ant infestations, it is important to seek professional help to eliminate the infestation and minimize health risks.
  • Recurring infestations: If you consistently experience recurring ant infestations despite your efforts to eradicate them, it may indicate an underlying problem that requires professional attention. Ant exterminators can identify the root cause of the infestation, such as hidden nests or attractants, and implement long-term solutions.
  • Time constraints: If you have limited time or availability to devote to dealing with an ant infestation, contacting a professional exterminator can provide you with peace of mind and save you valuable time and effort.

Choosing A Reliable Extermination Service

When selecting a reliable ant extermination service, there are a few key factors to consider. Here are some guidelines to help you choose a trustworthy and competent ant extermination service:

  1. Research and reviews: Conduct thorough research on local ant extermination services. Look for companies with positive reviews and ratings from reputable sources, such as online review platforms or trusted consumer organizations. Reading customer feedback can provide insights into the quality of service provided.
  2. Certification and licensing: Ensure that the ant extermination service you choose is properly certified and licensed. This ensures that they meet industry standards and have the necessary expertise to handle pesticide applications safely and effectively.
  3. Experience and expertise: Look for exterminators with significant experience in dealing with ant infestations. Experienced professionals are likely to have encountered various ant species and understand their behaviors, enabling them to implement targeted and efficient treatment strategies.
  4. Free inspection and assessment: Choose a service that offers a free inspection and assessment of your property. This allows the exterminator to evaluate the extent of the ant infestation, identify the ant species, and provide an accurate assessment of the treatment needed. Beware of companies that offer estimates without inspecting the premises.
  5. Treatment methods and safety measures: Inquire about the treatment methods used by the extermination service. Ensure they follow safe and environmentally responsible practices, including the use of approved pesticides. Ask about their approach to minimizing risks to humans, pets, and the environment during the treatment process.
  6. Guarantees and follow-up visits: Check if the extermination service provides guarantees for their work and offers follow-up visits if the ant infestation persists. A reliable service should stand behind their work and be committed to ensuring customer satisfaction.
  7. Insurance coverage: Verify that the ant extermination service has liability insurance coverage. This protects you and your property in case of any accidental damages that may occur during the treatment process.
  8. Transparent pricing: Request detailed pricing information upfront. A reputable service should provide clear and transparent pricing, outlining the cost of inspection, treatment, and any additional services required. Be cautious of companies that provide unusually low or high pricing without proper justifications.


If you’re dealing with an ant infestation, most of the time you can handle it yourself quickly and easily. However, in certain instances, it may be best to call in the professionals. Keep this blog handy as a reference any time ants show up unexpectedly.

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How To Get Rid Of Ants Inside And Outside Your Home