What Kills Ants Easily? 7 Proven Techniques

Get rid of ants quickly, cheaply and effectively

If you have ants in your home, and they are making a nuisance of themselves, you are probably wondering how you can kill them quickly, cheaply, and effectively.

While ants may sometimes be harmless, they can also be extremely destructive and some species have very painful bites, so it’s understandable that sometimes you want to remove them from your home.

Ants in the house can present a variety of problems, from getting into your food and pot plants to invading the wiring and eating away at the foundations of the home.

Often, you will have to deal with an ant infestation forcefully, and we’re going to cover some proven techniques that get kill ants immediately.

This will help you deal with an ants’ nest. You do not need to kill the queen; killing enough of the workers will often be sufficient to get the ants to go elsewhere, or to cause the colony to die because they have no means of gathering food.

The best ways to kill ants immediately include borax, baking soda, and boiling water. There are other methods that should also be highly effective, so we’re going to cover the top seven.

Method One: Baking Soda And Sugar

We all know that baking soda has quite powerful properties, and if you’ve ever mixed it with vinegar, you’ll have seen them first-hand.

Ants may not eat baking soda directly, so for this tactic, you need to mix the baking soda with sugar, and sprinkle it around.

The ants will be attracted to the sugar and will eat the mixture. When the baking soda comes into contact with their digestive juices, the ants will explode.

It may not be the pleasantest method of getting rid of them, but it does work.

One of the great things about this technique is that it takes very little effort. All you need to do is sprinkle the powder around and wait.

It also has the advantage of being something you can do right beside the ants’ entry hole, stopping them from getting far into your home.

If ants are living in your pot plants, you might want to spread baking soda around the pot, rather than in the soil. While baking soda shouldn’t hurt your plant in these small quantities, a large amount could kill them.

To maximize the effectiveness of this method, sprinkle a thick circle right around the ants’ exit hole. This means that they will encounter the baking soda in every direction, and hopefully consume it.

Baking soda and sugar is a relatively inexpensive way of handling ants, although you may find some other methods cheaper, especially if you have to deal with numerous ants.

To keep it inexpensive, you can buy non-food-grade baking soda, but make sure that you clean thoroughly any counters where you have spread it, and label it clearly, so you only use it for cleaning and ant removal, not cooking.

Method Two: Diatomaceous Earth

SprocketRocket, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

You may have come across this white powder in other insect removal attempts, or you might not be familiar with it, but it’s reasonably cheap to buy, and it will work effectively against ants and most other insect life.

The ants don’t need to consume this, so one of the advantages is that you don’t have to try and trick them into eating anything at all – they just have to walk over it.

You might be wondering just how toxic this stuff is if it kills ants on contact.

Fortunately, it is not toxic to eat, even to humans (although you need to buy food grade if you are going to eat it). It can be good for you, and some people add it to oatmeal (porridge), cereal, etc.

So, if not toxic, how does it kill the ants? It works by creating a multitude of tiny cuts in the ants’ bodies, and this causes the ants to dry out, with the powder sucking moisture from their bodies.

They will very quickly die when exposed to diatomaceous earth, and you can spread it anywhere very easily.

Its non-toxicity makes it a particularly good treatment if you have pets or young children that might pick up anything you put down to kill the ants.

Dogs can be particularly tricky to keep away from your poison attempts, and if you’re worried about your dog accidentally consuming the poison you put down, diatomaceous earth is the perfect solution to an ant problem.

The only caveat is that it can be very irritating to the lungs and skin, and because it’s a fine powder, it’s easy to get it on you or in your mouth.

When spreading it, it’s very important to wear a mask to not breathe it in accidentally.

You should also wear gloves, which will protect your skin from the drying properties that the diatomaceous earth has. While the drying effect shouldn’t do any long term damage, it can be unpleasant and is best avoided if possible.

Diatomaceous earth can be purchased online, costing somewhere around $26 for 10 lb. It is not particularly cheap, so might not be ideal if you have a lot of ants to deal with.

Some kits specifically come with a dust brush that can be used for spreading the powder around effectively and making sure you have applied plenty.

Method Three: Boiling Water And Soap

If you want to minimize the cost and go for a really simple solution that you are likely to already have all the ingredients for, boiling water and dish soap is a good way to kill ants instantly.

The boiling water will cook the ants in seconds, while the dish soap cleans all the surfaces, removing the scent trails laid by ants and killing off any bacteria. It erases the familiarity any survivors can find.

You can pour boiling water directly onto an ant’s nest if you can find it, and it will wreak havoc among the inhabitants.

It may not kill all the ants, so you may have to do this several times to really get rid of a nest, but it should be quite effective.

The soap on its own probably won’t kill the ants, but it will help, and also creates a fresh scent in the room.

The good thing about this method is that it’s very quick and easy, and it’s also very effective.

You don’t need to buy any new ingredients, gadgets, etc.; you can just pour boiling water into a jug with a little dish soap, and then tip it over the ants.

Of course, one of the downsides of this method is that you may not be able to use it inside, depending on your circumstances.

If the ants’ nest is somewhere sealed, it might be safe to pour boiling water into it, but if the water could run under your floors, into your walls, or into wiring, it’s not a safe method to use.

If you are using it, always be careful that you do not burn your hands. You may wish to wear gloves if you are handling large amounts of boiling water (e.g. if you are trying to kill off multiple nests) and lean back so that you are not at risk of splashing your eyes.

If applicable to your situation, the boiling water method has the advantage of being essentially free, except for the bar of soap and electricity being used.

You don’t need to buy anything, and you don’t need to spend time dusting around powder or mixing up ingredients; you simply boil and pour, and the job is done.

Method Four: Tea Tree Oil Essential Oil

If you have tea tree oil to hand, you might want to use this to kill ants. They strongly dislike the smell, so killing some with this method will have the secondary advantage of deterring others from entering your home.

The smell of tea tree is much too strong for the ants to handle.

For this method, you’ll need a spray bottle and some water. Fill the bottle and then add a few drops of tea tree oil, and spray the ants directly. This should deal with any ants that get hit with a dose of the oil.

Spray it on regularly, preferably whenever you see ants crawling around, and wait for it to take effect. You should hopefully see a fast reduction in the number of ants around your kitchen.

You can spray it directly on their entry hole if you choose; this should discourage some traffic, although it’s unlikely to stop them from using the hole entirely.

You can also use tea tree oil as a deterrent by either spraying your counters/sideboards with it or wiping it on using a rag.

The strong smell will put off the ants and encourage them to move to a new home elsewhere. Alternatively, soak cotton balls in the tea tree oil and leave them around the home.

This method should work for reasonably small ant invasions, but it could prove expensive if you’re dealing with many ants.

It can vary enormously in price, but high-quality oils cost a lot of money. The lower grade oils may cost around $15 for four Fl Oz, but you may find the cheaper oils are less effective.

Tea tree oil is also not a child or pet-safe option. It might seem like it should be because it’s a natural product, but remember that it’s highly concentrated, and it can be very harmful to animals or young children that ingest it.

It is best not to apply tea tree oil to any nests at ground level if you have pets, children, or either one visiting.

Try one of the other solutions so that you don’t have any accidents with someone ingesting something that they shouldn’t.

You should also make sure that you don’t ingest tea tree oil, and don’t get the neat oil on your skin while applying it. While it probably won’t hurt your skin, it can be quite drying, and some people do develop allergic reactions to essential oils.

Method Five: White Vinegar

White vinegar is another cheap option that many people successfully use to kill ants instantly.

You may already have some around the home for cleaning with, or it can be purchased online reasonably cheaply, for around $12 for a gallon.

You will find that food-grade white vinegar is more expensive than non-food-grade.

White vinegar works both as a deterrent and as a method of killing the ants. Its high acidity is too much for them to handle, and they will seriously dislike its strong scent as well.

Wiping your counters down with white vinegar could be enough to deter ants from invading in the first place.

You can pour white vinegar into the ants’ nest, killing the ants while in their home. It should also help to dissolve their tunnels and wash them away.

It may take several applications of white vinegar to kill off a nest, especially a large nest. An alternative is to wipe ants with a cloth that has been soaked in vinegar.

This will kill them and destroy their scent trail, preventing other ants from easily following them. It is a good way to deter scouts that are coming into your home in search of a good place to nest.

Don’t use vinegar to kill off nests outdoors, unless they are in paved areas. It will kill plants as well as ants.

Method Six: Borax And A Sweetener

Borax is another good way to kill ants, especially if you can encourage them to carry it back to their nests as food. It is a low toxicity insecticide that shouldn’t harm you (although you certainly shouldn’t ingest it) but it is strong enough to kill ants.

Borax costs vary, but you might find yourself paying as much as $5 for 55 ounces (or as little as $2 for the same amount) depending on where you buy it and what the brand is.

Borax is relatively cheap, and it is often considered a particularly effective option because it targets the whole colony. However, it doesn’t cause instant death of all the ants; it takes time.

In order to use borax, you need to mix it with something that will tempt the ants, such as sugar, honey, or even peanut butter.

The ants will gather the food and take it back to the colony, which will poison any other ant that consumes it. If they feed it to their young, the young will die too.

Borax is very effective because of this, and you don’t really need to do anything more complicated than mixing it up and leaving it in a little dish (or several little dishes) near the ants’ home.

They will soon find it and start carrying it back to their nest. If you want to target the whole colony, this is a good option.

Borax is used in many ant traps and is the go-to method for handling ants. Bear in mind that it is harmful to other insects, not just ants, so you may not wish to use it in outdoor spaces where species that you like more could get hurt.

When the colony is dead, you can remove the borax and throw it away.

It’s worth noting that borax is not a good idea in situations where you have young children or pets.

While it is usually not strong enough to do any harm to people, it’s not something that you want a child touching or licking, and the same goes for your animals. Only use borax if you can keep it away from both.

Method Seven: Salt, Talcum Powder, And Cornstarch

These three, or a mixture of them, all work well against ants. If you sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on the ants, you will coat their bodies and make it difficult for them to move, especially if you use a lot of the powder.

If you want to ensure you kill them, add water to the cornstarch. This will result in thickening it, creating a stiff goop that the ants will not be able to move through at all; they will end up encased in the hardening cornstarch, and this will kill them fast.

Salt also works well, as it dries the ants’ bodies out to the point of death. Ants will not be able to handle being sprinkled with salt.

The advantage of all three of these is that you are likely to have them to hand or to be able to purchase them cheaply and easily. They also do not require you to do anything very special; just pour them on the ants when you see them.

These don’t target the nest, however, so you may find that you need to do it a lot to make a difference to the ant numbers in your kitchen. You should also be careful about using talcum powder or salt outdoors.

Salt will kill plants fast, and makes the ground unsuitable for more things to grow. You are likely to find that salted areas become infertile and dead spaces, so do not tip salt on your lawn or in your flowerbeds.

Choose your weapon according to your circumstances

There are many methods for killing ants, and which is best will depend on your circumstances, what ingredients you have to hand, and how accessible the ants’ nest is.

Often, to really deal with a nest, you need to use something like borax to ensure that the poison is infiltrating the main colony, and not just targeting the ants that are foraging.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

What Are Ants Attracted To? Sugar | Plants | Heat | Damp

Small Red Ants in Your Kitchen – Exactly What to Do

Is it Safe to Eat Food after Ants Have Gotten to It?

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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