How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally with Homemade Ant Bait That Works!

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How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally Ant Bait

Knowing how to get rid of ants naturally is easier than it sounds! You’ll learn how to make homemade ant bait, diatomaceous earth, and more.

I take pride in my advanced detective skills, and I apply them to almost everything! For example, figuring out who ate a sticky snack on the couch, who wore muddy shoes in the house, and most importantly, where is the entry point of the army of ants invading our house?

When the ants invaded, I figured out how to get rid of ants naturally. And here’s how we did it!

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Having ants everywhere outdoors doesn’t bother me. But when I see them treading upon the kitchen countertops I spring into action. Therefore, in the past two spring/summer seasons we have successfully rid our house of two different types of ants. Also, we decided it was time to show you how to get rid of ants naturally!

Identifying Ants

When learning how to get rid of ants naturally, detective work is an integral part of eradicating them. Furthermore, finding the most effective treatment for ants depends on the specific type you have invading your house. To explain, each species has different behaviors, preferences in food, and eradication solutions.

Some ants are specific to the region, so we only have experience dealing with certain types. So in this article, we’ll cover remedies for odorous house ants and carpenter ants. In addition, read the end of the article for tips that may work on other species.

Finally, for help identifying these ants, see the images here or here.

Odorous House Ants

You will find these ants anywhere you have sweets laying around.

Odorous house ants will leave a chemical pheromone trail wherever they travel. If you kill them, other ants will simply follow the trail and show up in the same places. For this reason, kill the entire colony.

When you see the first few ants, you can sponge them (and the surrounding area) with soapy water to eliminate the pheromone trail. Immediately work to figure out where they’re getting into your house, and begin placing homemade ant bait at the entry points.

How to Get Rid of House Ants

Homemade Ant Bait

Borax will kill odorous house ants, and powdered sugar will attract them.

Make a homemade ant bait by thoroughly mixing one part of borax with 3 parts powdered sugar.

Fill tiny containers (such as bottle caps) with this homemade ant bait and place them as close to the place where you suspect ants are entering your house. If you see trails of ants, place small containers of the mixture directly in their path. This prevents most of them from traveling all around your house if they have easy access to this sugary treat.

(Have pets or kids who might get into this powdery mixture? Try this instead: mix one cup of warm water with ½ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of borax. Soak it up with cotton balls and place them in shallow dishes near ant trails.)

Resist the urge to kill all the ants you see. They will carry the bait back to the nest, unable to differentiate between the borax and sugar, and the borax particles will eventually kill the entire colony. The more homemade ant bait carried back to the colony, the fewer ants you will have.

More Tips for House Ants

Spray vinegar near baseboards, in any cracks, and on countertops where they may be traveling. You can allow the vinegar to dry on surfaces or wipe with a clean cloth – this eliminates their chemical trail and will deter some of the stragglers. Repeat several times a day. (find white vinegar here)

Practicing good sanitation practices is one of the best ways to make your home less attractive to ants. Keep spills, crumbs, and garbage cleaned up in the kitchen. Be sure to store all food – especially sweets – in tightly sealed containers or zip-top bags. They will get into things like jars of honey that have drips on the side or around the lid, so sealing the jar in a zip-top bag will protect it.

The ants will choose more desirable bait (like spilled soda or cookie crumbs) over this natural bait, so learning how to get rid of ants naturally means keeping your place clean!

Carpenter Ants

You will find Carpenter ants around homes in wooded areas. They don’t carry the homemade ant bait back to their nests, so you have to kill them at the source. This means you have to do a little detective work to find the nest(s). Don’t bother using the borax/sugar bait – they’ll just feed on it like little piggies at a trough.

They will typically live outdoors very close to the house, and eventually, enter your house in search of food and water.

How to Find the Carpenter Ants Nest

Carpenter ants live in wood and tunnel through it. The best clue to look for is small piles of very fine sawdust – the remains of the wood they have chewed through. You will typically find carpenter ant nests in moist wood in foundations, decks, woodpiles near your house, trees, gaps between boards, etc.

If you take some time to figure out where ants are entering the house, you can usually track them back to a nest. It’s easiest if you kill all the ants in sight, then watch for new ants to appear to determine their general entry point. This may give clues to holes that need to be sealed up, rotting foundations where they’re living, or cracks under doors they’re traveling under.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Naturally

Diatomaceous Earth

The best natural remedy we have found for eradicating carpenter ants is Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE is completely natural and organic. It is made from tiny skeletal remains of algae-like plants.

DE is lethal dust for insects. Its microscopic razor-sharp edges will cut through the body of insects, drying them out and killing them. If ingested by carpenter ants, it will shred their insides. There are different types of DE, so keep in mind you must get food-grade DE for pest control. (You do not want the DE that is sold for swimming pools – it has a different make-up.)

Food grade DE is completely safe to be used around kids and pets and can be sprinkled around the home and yard without posing a threat. Find food-grade Diatomaceous Earth here.

How to Apply the DE

In order to get rid of a colony of carpenter ants, DE must be injected directly into the nest. We used a medicine dropper to squirt dry DE into cracks where we found them nesting. You can also use a bulb duster gadget to spray it into cracks or holes. And remember, DE must be reapplied after it rains.

You can also mix the Diatomaceous Earth powder with water and apply using a spray bottle (either a small bottle or the pump-action yard sprayers). Simply mix 2 Tbsp of powder per quart of water and spray wherever you have problems with ants.

The best advice I can give to get the most out of your DE treatments is to stay on top of it! This pesky ant species may relocate their nests and find new ways into your house. If you see a resurgence, put your detective hat back on and find that nest.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally: Other Tips

Here are some remedies DIY Natural readers (thanks Y’all!) have used to treat ant problems:

  • Some ants like protein and grease. Mix a spoonful of peanut butter with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of borax. Using a plastic straw, tap the end into the mixture repeatedly until the straw is full of the mixture. Cut the straw into ½ inch pieces and place them next to ant trails.
  • Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in areas ants are crawling around. (find 100% pure essential oils here)
  • Sprinkle cinnamon (being careful not to get it on things that will stain) near entry points.
  • Some ants dislike baby powder. Sprinkle around the perimeter of the house or indoors where ants are entering your house.
  • Rub a little Vaseline near the areas they are entering the house.

Note: we also have a great article on how to get rid of aphids naturally.

(photo credit to Diane Jabs)


About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. Elaine Nunya says

    I tried everything to get rid of our ants. They were everywhere, even in the bathroom. One day I saw some crawling up the tank of the toilet. It was really hot out so maybe they needed water I thought. I removed the toilet tank lid and looked inside, nope, no ants. I noticed that the underside of the tank lid had a few holes. So I put enough hot water in the bathtub to submerge the lid. Waited a few minutes to take the lid out. Oh my gosh, I swear to you there were hundreds, probably thousands that drained out of the tank lid. I had found their nest and it was unreal. I never saw another ant after that and it’s been a few years.

  2. Belinda says

    i have a huge bed of ants by the mailbox about two or three big beds. i put ole paint on them and it just made the top hard. gonna try the grits and cornmeal and bust their bellies. then add white vinegar thirdly they will learn i dont like them. thanks for all these sugesstions…

  3. Barefoot Girl says

    I use instant grits, if you are in an area that doesn’t have grits sorry, I am southern born and raised. This will work on just about any type of ant. I just sprinkle a pack on the top of the bed and by the next day there are no ants left .

  4. Beth Block says

    I am having a big problem with carpenter ants in my home, I have found several ant hills in the yard ( not by any wood piles). I have used ant killer on the nests. I have no idea how they’re getting in the house I see them in several different rooms, usually one at a time. I have sprayed around doors, windows any cracks or ways I can see and they still come in. What else can I do?

    • MiTmite9 says

      One thing you can do to keep yourself healthy and safe is to STOP using pesticides. There are many alternative materials you can utilize to keep ants at bay.

      When you see “one at a time,” those are the scouts. Brush those little guys away and immediately apply peppermint essential oil. You can sprinkle chalk dust or cinnamon or cayenne pepper, too. These are all things that ants steer clear of.

      Make up an anti-ant spray and spray it liberally it areas you want to stop ants from entering your home.

      Spray is super easy to make:

      Mix 4 oz. (1/2 cup) water, 2 tablespoons vodka along with 15 drops of peppermint essential oil and 5 drops of cinnamon essential oil in a spray bottle.

      The vodka helps keep the spray soluble.

      If you’re having a problem with ants, it is good to find out what is attracting them. If it’s in the kitchen, then make sure you’re not leaving crumbs or any kind of food out to attract ants. If it’s in the bathroom, make sure you don’t have leaky faucets or a leak under your sink. Water will attract ants.

      I had ants coming to nibble on me in my bed. I solved that problem by liberally drawing lines of peppermint oil around the legs of my bed. If you don’t like the smell of peppermint—-eucalyptus tea tree oil works just as well.

  5. M says

    I’ve used black pepper successfully for decades against ant. Order a large quantity and sprinkle around the foundation, in sidewalk cracks, across doorways, baseboards, and backtrack to nests. I also use DE under baseboards and carpet for spiders and in out buildings and around foundations , and peppermint oil
    on cotton balls to repel mouse.

  6. MiTmite9 says

    If you’re like me and don’t think “kill, kill, kill” at the merest mention of ants—-there’s a non-toxic (for humans and pets), safe spray that’s easy to make and easy to use. I make up small batches during “ant season” and ant spray trails and points of entry (if I can find any points of entry).

    ?Be kind and brush the ants out of the way and spray their trails with this formula:

    3 Tablespoons vodka
    1 Tablespoon water
    10-12 drops of essential peppermint oil

    This makes about 1/4 cup of spray (4 oz.)

    THE BEST way to keep ants out of your kitchen (and other rooms) is to make your kitchen/rooms unattractive to them. Police yourself and your family: Don’t leave crumbs on the counters and table. Keep sugary things in glass or tin containers or in the refrigerator. Do your dishes. Don’t leave dishes or utensils with foodie bits on them lying around to attract ants.

    We don’t put food into our trash. We compost. We have a kitchen scraps bucket in my house. We put the bucket in a bowl, add water to make a moat.

    When you see a lone “scout” ant on your counters or table—-brush him off and away before he can double back to alert his army to some sweet or salty “treasure” you have left out for him and his buddies. Spray where he was ambling around.

    This spray will make your environs smell minty. It will smell a bit like vodka, too, but not for long. It is completely safe to ingest, but MINTY and you may want to add a twist of lemon.?

    Food & Drink

    • Brenda says

      I am with you on finding solutions that does not involve killing everything in sight. What I have found works really well for me in getting rid of ants in the kitchen is having the following herbs on my kitchen windowsill or on the counters: Basil, mint, rosemary, thyme and scallions. Found this out by accident a couple of years ago. It does not kill the ants, but discourages them from coming in. Takes a couple of days and then no more ants. Added bonus, have great fresh herbs for my culinary experiments -)
      Another thing I have used on my birch trees is a combination of water, a bit of dishwashing liquid and garlic powder. Put in a bottle and just spray the trees of veggies.

  7. Vicky says

    I keep thinking of more to say with the Harris Roach Tablets.
    I said put them around the house. I didn’t mean outside the house. Inside. And everywhere. There are many many in a box.
    I think that’s all!

  8. Marshall Reagan says

    Will cornmeal kill the fireants? if it does I will need to buy it 25 pounds at a time.

  9. Miss says

    Betsy, what a fantastic article! Chock full of many tips, and even more from your faithful followers (a great bunch!). I really like your writing style! Thanks for your help with the ants!

  10. Megan says

    Hi ok I am 12 and I was cleaning my room and found ants and I started vacuuming them up and I have hard wood floors and they have been coming up through the cracks in the floor boards and I have a puppy and he eats EVERYTHING he finds and I need something that will not hurt my puppy but will get rid of the ants or kill them please answer as soon as possible

  11. James Thomas says

    I ave an old compost bin in my backyard’s swarming with ants. Is there a ant bomb out there I can use?? Or how can I clear out the colony

  12. Lynn says

    I have thousands of tiny nuts in my raised beds that killed small vegetable seedlings last year. They’re back this year and another bed has large red ants that tunnel all he way down through the tall raised bed to the ground
    Not sure how to stop them since I grow organic vegetables

  13. Phillip Wand says

    I just wish I had your patience, I just go nuts, smashing everything up, punching walls, I DETEST ANTS, thanks for the tips though, they will certainly benefit the more intelligent house-owner

  14. Janet says

    Just tried the borax/powdered sugar remedy. First, I sprayed the first wave with vinegar and wiped them away. Then I wiped down the counters with vinegar. It was difficult but I allowed a few lucky ones to escape. I figured out where they were coming in and dusted the area with the mix, and dusted some more along the counter/backsplash. A few minutes later there was a swarm of them. About 15 minutes later only a few stragglers. I’m hoping that deadly dine and dash did the trick!

  15. Rhoda says

    Many years ago when I was a very small child, the house we lived in had the small sugar ants. My mom tried all sorts of things but nothing worked. She finally just started smashing them and left them lying around. The next day–not an ant to be found. The live ones came and took the dead ones out and never came back. Fast forward about 20 years–I was living in an old house made into several apartments. One day I came home and there were carpenter ants everywhere. They had made a line across my living room floor to the kitchen and back. I remembered what my mom had done so I starting smashing the ants and leaving them. Really gross as these were pretty large ants. Was really amazing as I sat there and watched the live ants come and carry out the dead ones. By morning there wasn’t an ant to be found. Never had problems again while I lived there.

    • Gessie says

      Well you’re lucky, I’ve been killing them ever since I found the hole that the Carpenter Ants created. I’ve seen the bodies disappear, but no ants have been going away. They’re just coming in and out to get food without getting killed. I think it had to do something with the area you live I guess, but idk.

  16. Gessie says

    Hey! I’m a 12 year old girl, and I know I shouldn’t be on here but my parents doesn’t speak English, only my siblings and I can (Please don’t hate on me) Okay, the main problem is that my bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom all have like ants. And I know because of all the food we have, but there are holes and cracks where the ants come from. I think they’re Carpenter Ants because when I go sleep, I can hear like tapping and something scratching off inside the wall. My bedroom is right next to the bathroom so I think something is leaking. Please tell me the best idea to get rid of these ants asap! -Thanks!

    • Dana Day says

      Carpenter ants like to make a home in rotted wood because it’s soft and easy to tunnel. Plus, they can eat fungus that grows on wet wood. If “something is leaking” the leak HAS TO BE FIXED and any ROTTED WOOD MUST BE TORN OUT – REMOVED, and be replaced with good wood if possible. Start by taking care of the problem that is making your home a good home for them. Diatomaceous earth can be used where they crawl to cause them to dehydrate, but it won’t work if you get it wet. Take care of the leak and rotted wood first thing.

  17. Belialith Black says

    You know what? I just had an idea! These crazy black carpenter ants have found their way into my home. I was wondering what that saw dust was under my kitchen sink! I cleaned out what was under my sink and then sealed up on of the holes where I thought they were dumping it out from, in the middle. I used rubber glue and put a thin piece of wood over that hole. I waited, and in a couple of days, now they were using the holes around the pipe/faucets to dump the dust. So my idea is to mix some icing sugar with some diatomaceous earth, and then put it into a turkey baster that I don’t use, then blow that powder up into those holes. Then I’ll wait and see what happens.