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Homemade Ant Killers: Recipes & Tips

When trying to get rid of ants, it’s helpful to first have a basic understanding how they live and thrive:

IngredientsThey live in colonies and one class within the colony is the worker/gatherer/forager. Workers make up approximately 10% of the colony and it’s their job to go out, find and collect food then bring it back to feed the rest of the colony.

They are mainly looking for two things: food and water. If it’s getting cold outside, they also like to settle in to find shelter. Below I’ve listed various home remedies and solutions for control (along with some tidbits of information on their behavior and habits).

Here’s a list of spray cleaner recipes you can try…

Clean countertops and surfaces well with one of the cleaners below, these can also be used to spray them directly.

Did You Know: Ants leave a scented trail for each other so they can easily find their way back to the jackpot (the food source in your house). Trails can be both visible and invisible to human eyes, but they can follow the trails with ease. Washing away these trails will confuse them and make it more difficult to find their favorite places. Making your own cleaners with the above ingredients also adds a repellent that they will avoid.


When you provide a tempting treat that is actually poison (known as bait), you want to make sure it’s not too strong that it will kill the ant before it gets back to the colony (sometimes they are gone for days), and that it’s not too weak that it’s ineffective. You want poisoned food brought back to the nest for the rest of the colony to ingest.

The type of food they look for is either sugar or protein, it depends on what the needs of the colony are at the time. This is why a “tried and true” recipe that came highly recommended doesn’t work for you, the bait holds no interest for the particular critters in your home.

Tip: First determine if the ants in your house are after sugar or protein. Leave a sample of each bait out and see which ones they go for. Once you’ve determined what they’re hungry for, set out a few baits with their choice.

Here are a few homemade bait recipes you can try…


2 TBS Boric Acid (Borax)
Jam (or Jelly, Honey, Maple Syrup)


2 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
2 TBS Boric Acid (Borax)


2 TBS Boric Acid (Borax)
Peanut Butter or Bacon Grease


1 cup Confectioners Sugar
2 TBS Boric Acid (Borax)

Sugar Bait

2 TBS Molasses
1 TBS Yeast
1 TBS Sugar

Important: When baiting so they’ll bring poison back to the nest, resist the temptation to kill them when you see them. You want them to live and take big juicy pieces of poisoned bait back to the nest for the rest of the colony to feast on.

A few baiting tips:

Did You Know: If a colony senses something is up when its members start dying and begins to feel stressed, the Queen Ant will likely give orders for the colony to split up into a few smaller colonies, trying to preserve as many members as she can. This is why it may take several days of laying out fresh bait regularly–you’re trying to get enough poison into all the colonies to wipe out the whole lot.

Destroying Their Nests

Find the nest and pour one of the following solutions into it. Cover your legs and wear rubber boots if possible, they will be streaming out of the nest while you’re doing this.

Nest Destroying Methods:

A few tips:

Not Advised:

Did You Know: They not only build their colonies outside, they can also setup house inside. If you notice small hills inside your home, vacuum them up (and dispose vacuum contents in sealed plastic bags immediately). If a large nest has been built, this is a good time to bring in an exterminator.

Controlling Them Inside The House

The first line of defense is making your place unattractive to them. Make sure to wipe up spills immediately and wipe off counters, tables and stovetops regularly leaving no crumbs behind. Sweep and wash floors regularly. Don’t leave dirty dishes around the house or in the sink. Keep dry foods (like flour, cereal, sugar, oats, etc.) in air tight containers. Take out garbage regularly and wash out all food packaging and pop bottles before putting in the recycle bin.

Although a sloppy environment will attract them, having them in your home doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a poor housekeeper–they could be after water. If it’s dry outside and there’s not a nearby water source, they will be inside on the hunt for water. They’ll find it in houseplants, sinks and drains, pet water dishes and cups left out containing liquids.

List Of Natural Repellents

Look for cracks or holes in the house where they are coming from, spread any of these repellents around the holes (or combination of items on the list). Also spread around window sills, along baseboards, in corners and outside doors. The theory is that since they are repelled by these items, they’ll turn back. Success of the repellents can depend on the species of ants in your home.

Tip: Plugging holes and cracks with caulking or filling with vaseline will physically block them from entering.

Food Barriers

The ants could be attracted to your pet’s food dish, a potted plant or dish of candies. Either keep food sealed until needed or surround it with a water barrier so they can’t get to the food. Fill a baking pan with water and set the pet food dish (or potted plant, etc.), in the middle. Mixing in a little liquid dish detergent with the water will be a strong repellent as well as prevent the water from becoming a water source for them.

If it’s a potted plant that’s infested, repot the plant in a fresh pot of soil, washing roots clean of previous soil. You can try submerging the pot in a bucket of water for about 15 minutes to make them flee, but this won’t remove larvae that may be present.

Natural Outdoor Deterrents

Look for entry ways into the dwelling via tree branches touching the house (including the roof), drain pipes, outdoor plants, shrubs, etc., trim these back if possible. Otherwise, wrap branches and pipes with a sticky substance that will trap them before they can find their way in (duct tape facing sticky side out should do it).

If your house exterior will tolerate it without staining (test a small area first), spray a mixture of liquid dish detergent and water around the foundation. There will be a soap residue left on the surface as the water evaporates, hopefully enough to deter them from crossing it. Straight vinegar sprayed on the ground around the house can help too (both methods may harm grass and plants).

Old Wives Tale: Make a 1″ line of chalk or baby powder (talcum) around the home, ants won’t cross it. Does it work? Many swear that it does.

False Methods

Did you know: Ants carry solid food particles back to the nest to feed the colony’s larvae, the larvae then processes the food and turns it into a liquid to feed the adults. Adults can ingest very tiny, minuscule particles of food (larger pieces are filtered out), but their diet is from the liquid that the larvae provides.

Keep In Mind They Have A Lot To Offer

Think ants are pests? They may be if they’re taking over your home, but outside they’re very much needed. They aerate the soil, clean up scraps and seeds, control termite populations and they’re a food source for birds and other insects. As with all creatures, they play an important part in a healthy planet.

If you prefer encouraging them to move elsewhere instead of killing them, make your home their last choice for foraging by using the above control methods and tips.