How to Safely Get Rid of Ants in Your Kitchen

You may see ants marching in your kitchen during warm weather or after a heavy rainstorm. Ants come out of their anthills to search for food in the summer, and your kitchen is just the place for them to find it. 

Although ants eat other foods, sugar is necessary for their survival, and they will often go to great lengths to get sugary food sources like honey, syrup, or fruits on your kitchen countertops or cabinets. They may even get into your pet’s food bowl because the wet ingredients attract them.

Aside from being creepy and crawly, an ant infestation can threaten your health. They can contaminate food and surfaces with their feces and saliva, spreading disease. Any colonies also multiply quickly, leaving you struggling to keep the ants at bay.

Explore ways to safely get rid of ants in your kitchen that don’t require a costly exterminator. 

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock composed of the skeletal remains of marine plants and animals called diatoms. Ants don’t eat DE to die; instead, DE has sharp edges that pierce the ants’ exoskeletons, allowing the fine powder to enter their body. This causes the ants to dehydrate and die. 

The powder can be used indoors or outdoors and is typically safe for children and pets. However, to ensure safety for humans and pets, you’ll want to use a product registered with the EPA that bears an EPA Regulation #

To use DE in the kitchen, sprinkle it around corners, doors, and window sills. It remains effective as long as it’s dry, so avoid putting it near water or moisture. 

After applying a thin layer along the ant’s path, wait a day or two to ensure they haven’t created a new entry point. If the ants are gone, sweep or vacuum the DE and repeat the process whenever needed. 

Essential Oils (Peppermint, Tea Tree, or Citronella)

Essential oils (EOs) are potent hydrophobic liquids extracts from various plants. Many people use them to scent their homes, but they can also be used to deter or kill ants in your kitchen. 

According to a 2021 study, different ant species were either deterred or killed when exposed to various EOs at varying concentrations. The study proved that some EOs were effective at deterring or killing ants. 

For example, the study looked at EOs, including:

  • Basil 
  • Lemon 
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cloves
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme

When applied directly to the ants’ bodies, citronella and tea tree extracts showed up to a 33% mortality rate. When used as a deterrent, the study found that eucalyptus had no effect on the ants, but citronella killed 100% of the ants, and peppermint killed 89.8%. 

While you can try a variety of EOs to get rid of your ant problem, using citronella, tea tree, or peppermint oils may yield the best results. To apply to the ant colony, mix several drops of the EO of your choice with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spray directly onto the ants. 

You can also soak rags or a cotton ball with drops of the EO and place them near the colony’s entry point or at the top of the ant nest to deter them from entering. 

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a white, powdery substance derived from boron and is commonly used to kill household pests. It is sometimes referred to as borax, a sodium borate salt with similar properties. 

When ants ingest boric acid, it interferes with their digestive and nervous system and eventually kills them. To get rid of common kitchen ants like the carpenter ant, sprinkle a small amount of boric acid powder in and around the areas where they are most active. 

For best results, reapply the boric acid every few days until the ants are gone. Thoroughly remove the substance before touching or preparing food on the same surface. 

While boric acid is not typically toxic to adults through minimal skin contact, it can be harmful to eye tissue or toxic if ingested. It is also toxic to children and pets. If you use boric acid to get rid of ants in the kitchen, block off the location where you used the power or keep your child and pets out of the kitchen.

Additional Ways to Get Rid of Ants

You can use many other household items to try and rid your kitchen of an infestation. The following are common ant-removal suggestions:

  • Dish soap. Dish soaps contain surfactants that penetrate the insect’s shell and dehydrate them, eventually leading to its death. Mix one part water with one part dish soap or glass cleaner and spray directly onto the ants for best results. 
  • Cornstarch. Cornstarch acts as a desiccant for ants. When they eat the powder, it swells up in their stomachs and kills them—dust cornstarch around the affected area to deter ants from entering the kitchen.
  • White vinegar. White vinegar is made by fermenting alcohol with bacteria, which produces acetic acid. Ants are attracted to vinegar’s sweet smell but cannot tolerate the acidic taste. Replace your regular cleaning solution with a bottle of vinegar and boiled water in a 1:1 ratio to prevent ants. 

Keep Your Kitchen Ant-Free

Ants spoil food and spread disease. Luckily, regular cleaning of your kitchen appliances and applying simple home remedies can prevent or eradicate the problem. Try a few different techniques to determine what works for the pests invading your home.

Recent posts