Spring is such a wonderful time of year. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and summer is right around the corner. Everything seems wonderful, new, and fresh and you are ready for some outdoor fun. While the great outdoors is an amazing place to spend your time, all the things that come with it should remain outdoors. This includes ants. Sigh. We’re having a huge problem with them this year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for ideas on how to keep ants out of the house.
Apparently, it’s not just us. This year seems to be one of the worst with many people complaining about ants in their houses. They seem to be especially large ants too – not sure what’s up with that! While many people have had indoor encounters of the ant kind, they are never fun. No one wants to have to deal with an ant issue especially when they invade your food, making their way into cereal boxes and other containers. And while many people see them as just a nuisance, they actually can transmit diseases. Since ants tend to scurry around in areas such as trash cans, they can easily pick up such things as e coli and then spread it around to other items in your home and ultimately into your food.
Note: If you have pets or small children, please be sure that the method you choose is safe for them.
How to Keep Ants out of the House
The best way to eradicate ants is to prevent them from even considering your humble abode as a place for them to stay. Make sure that your home isn’t an easy target. Ants are small and can find several ways to enter your home, even if you don’t know about them. The best thing you can do is make your home harder for them to enter, and therefore deter them from even trying.
Seal any doors, windows and cracks that the ants may be able to enter through with caulk. This will not only prevent ants from making your home theirs but will also help improve indoor temperatures and lower your energy bills. The best thing about this method, is that it is one of the safer choices, especially if you have pets or kids.
If you have developed an ant issue, you have to keep your home scrupulously clean. Sealing foods and beverages in air-tight containers helps to prevent infestations. Taking care of dishes and trash immediately helps eliminate their food source. We also found it very important to scrub out the trash cans and recycling bins where food odors might linger.
Ants dislike the scent of vinegar and it can help remove the scent trails that ants use to find their way to the good stuff. Clean all surfaces in your home with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. This includes counter tops, sinks, floors, and even cupboard shelving. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here. We didn’t have the amazing results people claimed to see from this method. We would see a decrease in ants from using the vinegar solution, but it alone couldn’t eradicate them.
Much like the vinegar and water mixture, lemon juice also has the ability to get rid of the scent trails ants follow. Fill a spray bottle with lemon juice and spray it around the places you believe that the ants are using to enter your home. It can also help to put a few drops of lemon essential oil on some cotton balls and place them in strategic locations to ward off the ants. For us, they LOVE our kitchen sink, so placing them in that area is important. Again, lemon juice was about as effective as vinegar and we didn’t find that it alone (or even in combination with the vinegar) could take care of the entire problem.
Powdered Cinnamon or Cinnamon Essential Oil
A few people in a Facebook group said that they were also having a huge problem with ants. They found that cinnamon worked like poison to kill them. They sprinkled it in areas where they had seen the ants as well as any potential entry points such as windows and doors.
Use dish soap to apply a thin line of protection around windows, baseboards and doors. Some people I talked to said that this was quite effective but that it worked even better if you added some peppermint oil to the soap. Before I make my next suggestion, please know that I think ants have a right to exist outside. I don’t like killing them as long as they stay outside where they belong. But, we’ve had an ant issue for several months now and we have tried so many things! If you know where there are some ant hills close to your home, you can mix dish soap and water in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto their hills. Some people suggest pouring boiling water on the ant hill first and then following up with the dish soap mixture.
I haven’t found simply putting bay leaves out in the kitchen to be very effective as I think it would just take too many of them to really make a difference. However, in small enclosed spaces such as kitchen drawers and cabinets, placing a bay leaf or two into each seems to keep ants away.
No one likes uninvited guests in their home, especially when they tend to invade their food items and cooking spaces. There are many simple (non-toxic) ways to ensure that the great outdoors remains great, outdoors. As I continue trying these suggested remedies, I’ll report back here and let you know just how effective they were for us.