What Ants Don’t Like: Natural Ways To Repel Ants

If you enjoy reading this article, why not check out our articles on Using Borax Powder to Kill Ants: A Complete Guide and Can Vinegar Really Get Rid of Ants?

There is nothing more annoying than finding ants crawling up and down your kitchen walls, across your kitchen counter or worse inside your favorite snack. They are very persistent and will come back no matter how much vacuuming or sweeping you do. The worse is when you realize that they’ve set up shop somewhere inside your home. So, what is a homeowner to do? Before you pick that phone up and call the experts, you might want to try a few natural ways you can repel ants from your home.

How to Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally

Ants Consider Vinegar Gross

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Ants are indeed repelled by vinegar, and this has something to do with the strong odor that vinegar has. Anything that has a strong odor or smell actually is a good repellent for ants.

Solution: What most homeowners do is mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray can and use this to wipe kitchen countertops, tables, and floors to help prevent ants from coming back.

Result: The strong smell of the vinegar destroys the pheromone tracks that ants leave behind when they have scouted a food source, namely your home.

If you’re a little skeptical about the vinegar solution, read our article Can Vinegar Really Get Rid of Ants? for more information.

The Reason Why Ants Avoid Chalk

Photo by Daniel Watson on Unsplash

There is a bit of speculation surrounding this topic. Videos, photos, and online articles have varying opinions on the effectivity of chalk as an ant repellent. Now, I’ve dug deeper and found out a few things that could explain why ants avoid chalk. First and foremost, it is true that ants avoid chalk.

Solution: The powdery surface that the chalk leaves behind after you draw a line makes it hard for ants to crawl on it. In addition to that, the scent that the chalk has can mess up the pheromone trail that the ants lay down when they find a food source.

Result: However, chalk can only derail ants for a short time and is not a permanent solution for your ant problem. Not unless the chalk you use is a special kind of chalk that is specially formulated to repel ants.

Cinnamon Works As Ant Deterrent

If you really want to get rid of ants without using any chemicals, then cinnamon is your answer.

Solution: There are two ways you can use cinnamon to get rid of ants

Result: The cinnamon oil and water solution work the same way as vinegar but with an added twist. When ants inhale cinnamon, the ants suffocate and eventually die. So this is an excellent way of really getting rid of ants without the use of any harmful chemicals that can poison your soil or your pets

Baby Powder Vs. Ants

This one is actually backed up by a scientific explanation. Ants breathe through their skin, so when you sprinkle baby powder all over them, it clogs up their lungs and, therefore, suffocates them.

Solution: This is why the best way to use baby powder against ants is to sprinkle it directly on to them or in places where they enter your home.

Result: This is another non-toxic way of dealing with ants. It is safe for both kids and pets and has a pleasant scent too.

The Power Of Salt Over Ants

By far, this is the cheapest way of dealing with ants invading your home.

Solution: There are two ways on how you can use salt to help you prevent ants from infesting your house.

  • The first is to boil a large amount of salt into some water and use the mixture to spray directly onto ants and in places where they are seen entering.
  • The second is to sprinkle some salt lines directly on the path of the ants.

Result: Salt acts as a desiccant and therefore dries out the external skeleton of the ants leading to death. And if you have ever tried sprinkling salt on your wounds, that sting you feel is exactly what the ants feel when salt touches their skin.

However, certain species of ants are attracted to salt. These ant species are mostly the plant-eating types who live near a saltwater source. So it is not always a deterrent, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to try, well of course, except the ants.

Using Pepper To Prevent Ants

Ants hate pepper, period. The strong smell of pepper disrupts their senses because it masks or overpowers the pheromone trail they’ve lain down. Cayenne and black pepper are the best for this problem but beware of inhaling them yourself.

Solution: To prevent accidental inhalation of the pepper powder, you can mix this with water and use the solution to spray on areas where ants are present or where you think they will pass through.

Result: It’s not an ant killer solution, but it is enough to discourage ants from entering your home. Using the powder form can clog the ant’s skin and cause a burning sensation for the ants once inhaled. We know that we humans sneeze when we accidentally inhale pepper powder, but ants don’t have that same mechanism to expel the pepper powder out.

Don’t Throw Away Coffee Grounds, Use It Against Ants

Used coffee grounds have been used for many things. It is used as a body scrub or a lip scrub by some and as a deodorizer in bathrooms and fridge by others. There is another use for it that would really help any homeowner. It can be used against ants.

Solution: Yes, that is right. Coffee grounds against ants is very effective. The strong coffee aroma throws off the ants. I’ve mentioned this early in this article before, anything that gives off a strong scent or smell will likely repel ants.

Result: The strong aroma of coffee works the same way; it overpowers and masks the pheromones the ants leave behind.

Lemon To The Rescue: Natural Ant Repellent

Lemons are often, if not always, a pantry staple in every home. It has many uses and smells wonderful. The sharp citrus scent lemon has, keeps ants away very effectively. It works the same way as vinegar. Anything sour and bitter smell, the ants can’t handle. So keep those lemon peels after you squeeze out the juice and use it around your home.

Solution: We like to put a few lemon peels in a spray bottle, add some vinegar and water to it, and use that as our kitchen countertop cleaner. And when we ran out of surface cleaner, we also use this as a replacement.

Result: The scent gives your house a very homey feeling, and it helps in preventing ant infestation without harming the insect.

Deter Ants With Ashes

If you have a wood fireplace in your home, then you can use the ashes to help you deal with ant problems.

Solution: If you see an ant colony hills in your garden, you can use wood ash to force the ants to relocate. Just make sure that they don’t move inside your home. Ants cannot move ashes because the powdery texture of wood ash can suffocate them when they inhale it.

Result: So sprinkling some wood ash inside an ant colony will help you from getting rid of ants. I suggest partnering this up with some other natural ant deterrent that you can use inside your home to prevent the ants from making a beeline for your house.

Keep Ants Away With Cloves

Cloves have a very distinctive aroma to it. In fact, I can quickly tell when cloves are used in a recipe. That is how strong the spice is. This unique flavor and aroma are what makes them a perfect ant repellent.

Solution: Crush a handful of cloves and sprinkle it on your patio or where you see significant ant activity in your home. The strong aroma will make the ants run away or will discourage ants from entering your home. You can also boil water then add cloves to it to make a natural ant repellent spray.

Result: Use this in and around your home to prevent ants from coming back.

Say Goodbye To Ants With Peppermint

Planting peppermint in your garden will help in keeping ants from setting up a colony. Peppermint has been known to be a natural pest repellent. Its strong minty aroma is what makes it undesirable to ants. Imagine you inside a very small room, and then suddenly the smell of an overpoweringly strong perfume permeates, you’d have a hard time breathing. It is the same with ants. When ants encounter strong scent or aroma, it makes it hard for them to breathe.

Solution: You can mix peppermint leaves in a pot of water and boil it to make a peppermint-scented ant repellent spray, or you can use peppermint essential oil. Crushing the leaves of peppermint and leaving it near doorways and windows will prevent ants from entering your home.

Result: Plant some peppermints in a pot and put that near your windows doors to stop ants from entering your house.

Goodbye Ants: Heat Them Up

This is the most permanent but most brutal ant solution in this article. I only recommend this if you have tried all the other solutions mentioned here to no avail.

Intense heat will definitely help you with your ant infestation problem. I know a friend of mine who uses a candle to burn the ants whenever she sees them making a beeline for her home. Others would call anthill colony casters to deal with the problem. Ant colony casting is a process where someone pours liquid aluminum into the ant colony nest. This kills the colony instantly and creates a stunning ant colony cast that is artfully beautiful. The and colony cast can be displayed or sold. Another friend of mine uses a blowtorch to heat the ant colony, causing it to die.

According to a study, ants can withstand up to 42 °C temp, but at 44 °C temp, the ants experience disorientation and will continuously fall over, and by 46 °C the ants could not move at all. You’ll see ants running faster back into their colony as the ground temperature rise. To be honest, I am not really a fan of this solution because ants are living creatures, and they do have a role in our ecosystem. As much as possible, I would probably recommend using non-lethal solutions if the situation is not dire and only calling the experts if things are out of hand.

If these natural remedies don’t seem to be doing the trick, check out Using Borax Powder to Kill Ants: A Complete Guide for a more aggressive approach.


As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can deal with ants without the use of chemicals. It is recommended to try any or all of the solutions above when you have an ant problem in your home. I prefer to make calling the exterminator as the last solution because ants may be a pest and can be really irritating, but they do have a purpose in our environment. Killing them unnecessarily can cause some non-reversible ripple effect that can bounce back to us humans. The natural solutions mentioned above are both easy and budget-friendly to do. Try a combination of any of the solutions if you want to increase the effectivity of natural ant repellents. I suggest starting with vinegar or salt; those two are the cheapest natural ant repellant that is always available inside a home. For those who just want to keep ants away, I would suggest the lemon solution. Lemon is easy to find and can also serve as an indoor air freshener without the use of chemicals. If none of the solutions work and the ant infestation is getting worse, this is the time that an expert should be called. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out our articles on Ant Farms Gel vs Sand, Which is Best? and Where Do Ants Live in Winter?

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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