12 Home Remedies for Ants Put to the Test: What Works?

It’s all fine and dandy when the ants go marching one by one, but if you don’t take care of the problem soon, they’ll be marching in swarms.

Lucky for you, there’s a bunch of stuff you probably already have lying around you house that you can use to get rid of ants. But don’t go sprinkling the contents of your spice cabinet everywhere just yet – some home remedies for ants work better than others.

Here’s what works best – and what you should skip.

Vaseline

Does it work? Yes, incredibly well.

This thick ointment isn’t just great for soothing dry skin – it’s also a great way to get rid of ants. To use it effectively, you do need to take some time to identify where they’re coming from, but once you’ve located all their usual hideouts, simply smear some Vaseline over it.

Ants can’t seem to be able to go through it so a barrier of Vaseline will do the trick and keep them out. Side note, though, it does make a messy homemade ant repellent and you definitely don’t want to spread it in places you and your family are likely to step in.

Cinnamon

Does it work? Yes, and it smells nice, too!

Ants use pheromones to find their way from their home to the food source and back – this is why strong scents like cinnamon are such great home remedies for ants.

While cinnamon may smell lovely to us, it messes with the ants’ ability to sense their way so sprinkling a little cinnamon onto ant trails and as a barrier in ant entryways is a good way to keep them out.

Even better? Make a mixture of cinnamon powder and Vaseline and use it to coat the cracks and crevices that ants are entering from. The combination makes a great, strong scented homemade ant repellent.

Oh, and other strong smelling powders like cayenne pepper, cloves, and coffee grounds work too.

Cornmeal

Does it work? What? No…this is a crap home remedy for ants

Cornmeal – you know, the stuff you use to make cornbread – is often proposed as a brilliant all-natural home remedy for ants. It’s supposed to work because ants eat the corn meal for food, not knowing that they can’t actually digest it. This is supposed to cause them to slowly starve. Or explode – everyone seems to have a different opinion on this theory.

Except – there’s no proof. Plus, research using grits on fire ants found that it has no effect.

And even if ants really couldn’t digest cornmeal – starvation would only happen if the ants had cornmeal and only the cornmeal to rely on as a form of sustenance. This is probably not the case, no matter how clean your kitchen is (ants eat everything from what we consider to be food to insects and even fungus, depending on the type of ant). So they will in all likelihood find some other food to sustain them.

This strange home remedy for ants probably came around because several commercial baits use corn grit as one of their ingredients – but they also use poison and that’s what actually kills the ants, not the cornmeal.

Salt

Does it work? Um, no.

Table salt is a common suggestion on lists of home remedies for ants, so we gave this a go and wiped down countertops with a salt and water mixture as well as blocked ant entrances with a barrier of salt.

The verdict? Ants disappeared for a few hours and then they were back, walking through the salty countertop like nothing happened. Skip this – you’ll wind up right back where you started, just saltier.

Vinegar

Does it work? Yes…for awhile.

Another strong scented ant repellent, vinegar does drive ants away. And it’s easy to use – you simply mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water and use it to wipe the countertops and floors as well as to spray common ant entryways.

The downside of using vinegar for ant repellent is that it only works for as long as the scent lasts. Once the scent of vinegar has dissipated, the ants will make their way back.

So if you’re going to use vinegar, use it to spray directly on the ants – that kills them.

Baking Soda

Does it work? Yes

Using baking soda is a cheap home remedy for ants that goes way back – your grandma and her grandma probably used this very same trick to get rid of their ant problems.

Baking soda is lethal for ants to digest so if you just want to get rid of ants without killing them, you’ll want to look for other methods. If you’re using baking soda, simply mix baking soda with powdered sugar and leave it where ants roam.

Chalk

Does it work? Depends – it works very well on some ants and not so well on others.

This is probably the most controversial ant repellent ever – some ants absolutely hate chalk and will refuse to cross a chalk line. Whereas other ants don’t seem to care less and will walk right on over.

See how the ants in your house feel about the chalk. It’s worth a try.

Duct Tape

Does it work? Yes, fairly well, but best for certain surfaces.

Duct tape – sticky side facing out – makes a smart, simple ant trap. But because the ants can always crawl under the tape as well as around the tape – this home remedy for ants works best on areas that can be entirely sealed off (i.e. wrapped around), like table legs as opposed to a crack in the windowsill.

If you just leave tape lying around sticky-side-up, ants will walk around it. They’re pretty clever, these little ones.

Baby Powder

Does it work? No, but it leaves your house smelling like baby

This home remedy for ants has been around since the days of yore – except back then, it probably did work. You see, back in the day, baby powder was made with talc (before it was discovered that inhaling talc could be dangerous) and talcum powder is pretty effective for dealing with ants.

Baby powder, on the other hand? Not so much.

Boric Acid

Does it work? Yes, very, very well.

Boric acid is a natural mineral that’s mined in California – but you don’t care about that. So we’ll get to the point – this stuff is toxic to ants and pretty safe for humans, although you really to avoid inhaling boric acid (or ingesting it, obviously).

Simply mix boric acid with sugar, maple syrup, honey, bacon grease, jelly or peanut butter and leave it as ant bait along their trails. Ants will eat this and take it take to the colony, which effectively poisons them and gets rid of your ant problem.

Note on boric acid safety: Boric acid is natural and fairly safe, but it’s not non-toxic. It’s classified as a Category III toxin, which means that it is moderately toxic. If you have pets and children, you need to be very careful about where you leave this stuff since ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, throat swelling, amongst other health problems.

It can even be fatal if ingested by pets and small children, so if you are going to use it, do not use it in any area within a child or pet’s reach.

Dishwashing Soap

Does it work? Only if sprayed directly on the ants

That’s all that really need to be said about this home remedy for ants – it’s only effective insofar as you wait around for signs of ants and then spray them with a mixture of dish soap and water.

Not great, considering you probably have other things you’d rather be doing.

Cucumber Peels

Does it work? No, this is the worst of the worst home remedies to get rid of ants

Some people swear by this old wives remedy which involves peeling cucumbers and then stuffing the peels into cracks and crevices that ants are using to enter to house. Cheap and easy – but it simply did not work for us. Maybe it only works if it’s bitter cucumber peels.

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