10 Ways to Keep Those Pesky Ants Out of Your Kitchen

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on May 4, 2013. Enjoy!

I love springtime — except for the invasion of ants in my kitchen that this time of year seems to encourage.

We all have our worst ant moments; mine happened when I was preparing to give my 5-year-old son his breakfast cereal, and discovered that the entire contents of the package were alive, moving with all the ants that had found their way in.

Maybe you’ve tried making a trail of sugar, with the idea of leading the little critters away from your home, but that hasn’t worked? So what to do?

Here are 10 tips for keeping those ants out of your house. Best of all, the “recipes” are all natural and involve items you’re likely to have in your home already.

1. Deterrence. The best way to get rid of ants is to prevent them from ever considering your home an easy target. Ants are tiny, and can find thousands of doorways that you didn’t even know about. But as much as you can, block those entryways.

2. Caulk. Continuing on this theme, try sealing with caulk any windows, doors and any cracks the ants crawl through. This will also give you better temperature control and lower energy bills, and is one of the least risky methods if you have kids or pets.

If those two don’t work, try these deterrents:

3. Vinegar. Clean surfaces in your home with a half-and-half solution of white distilled vinegar and water. As an added bonus, this is a great mixture to use for cleaning in general, replacing detergents with polluting phosphorus. Vinegar works because ants hate its smell, and the vinegar removes the scent trails they use to get around.

4. Lemon Juice. Just like vinegar, lemon juice also seems to destroy those scent trails that ants follow. Try spraying lemon juice around the places you think ants are using for entryways.

lemon juice

5. Peppermint Oil. Here’s another super-easy one to try. Clean off your surfaces really well, and then wipe them down with a clean damp cloth that has a few drops of essential peppermint oil on it. Ants seem to really dislike the smell of it and it is also environmentally friendly, and safe for humans and children. Not to mention, your kitchen will smell minty fresh.

6. Spices and Herbs. Another deterrent to make your home smell awesome! Sprinkle black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, cloves or garlic (whichever you have at hand) wherever you’ve seen ants and along your home’s foundation. You can also try placing bay leaves in cabinets, drawers and containers.

7. Coffee Grounds. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. If you can locate exactly where the ants are getting in, be sure to put some there. You should see them move away from your home because they dislike the smell of coffee grounds.

coffee grounds

8. Chalk and Baby Powder. Try drawing a line of chalk or sprinkle baby powder across the spot where the ants are entering your home. It works because talcum powder, an ingredient in both chalk and baby powder, is a natural ant repellent.

9. Cucumber or Citrus Peels. You can repel those ants by leaving these peelings in areas of known ant activity. That’s because cucumber and citrus peels are toxic to the types of fungi that ants feed on, so they don’t want to go anywhere near them.

10. Dish Soap. Put a very thin line of dish soap around baseboards, windows, doors and wherever else the ants tend to gather. You can also try pouring dish soap directly onto ant hills or mix the soap with some water in a spray bottle.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Amanda Pearson

thanks for sharing

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 days ago

thank you for sharing

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers4 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Maureen King
Maureen King5 days ago

I would suggest that anyone using bleach or products containing bleach be extremely careful. Its not the smell you need to worry about.It's my understanding that it can affect your central nervous system and not something I'd be spray in the air. In my job we're not allowed to use it.
Jennifer H. I'd be interested to know what kind of months you have in your house.

Maureen King
Maureen King5 days ago

For those people who haven't read my posts (are there any out there) about my love of Apple Cider Vinegar, here goes. Had an elderly,very ill couple.When I started going to them,they had a really bad infestation of ants. They were in the kitchen,dining room and all through the back room. I put apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and went to work spraying along window tracks and all window and door openings outside. I also looked for trails all around the house and sprayed those.Only went to them once a fortnight and each time it was interesting to see the decline.You need to keep on it though, they are very persistent. Often we have them coming into the house in Summer when it's very hot looking for water, they will be in sinks and hand basins. Good luck.

Maud Morin
Maud Morin6 days ago


Peggy B.
Peggy B.6 days ago

Great tips.

Janet B.
Janet B.6 days ago


Jax L.
Jax L.6 days ago

Great article! Thank you!

Nancy Wrightington

Thank you, I need that!!! ;-)