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10 Natural Ant Repellents - Simple Home Remedies

September 26, 2019

You finally find your dream apartment and are ready to settle in and make it your own. But then you notice you’re not alone. Tiny, uninvited house guests are soon making an appearance and won’t take the hint to hit the road. 

Trying to find home remedies for ants to get rid of your pest problem? Here are some innovative, easy, and effective natural ant repellents so you can get back to the good life in your new apartment.

1. Sprinkle Some Powder

Ants may be fast and travel in an orderly caravan, but they don’t like to cross over a barrier of powder. No one knows for sure why they don’t like this natural ant repellent. The popular theory is that the chalk or powder interferes with their ability to follow scent trails. 

Whatever the reason, ants aren’t having any of this powder business. This technique surprisingly works up to a point. 

Dishing out the talcum powder, baby powder, chalk or cinnamon won’t keep ants out for good. You’ll need to keep sprinkling every few days to keep the powder thick enough to deter the ants from crossing over. Employ this natural ant repellent with other ideas on the list to double down on your efforts.

2. Use Boiling Water

A pot of boiling water offers a no-nonsense approach to killing hundreds of ants on contact. However, this natural ant killer isn’t necessarily the best method for a line of ants milling around your apartment. Instead, look for the nest outside and have two kettles of boiling water ready to go. 

The first round of boiling water kills off part of the colony, but it will also cause the ant nest to fall apart and release even more ants. Grab your other kettle and pour the remainder on the nest to make sure you're thorough in eradicating the colony. Make sure to avoid using boiling water directly on your floors or countertops to keep from damaging your home, though.

3. Mix Up Some Essential Oils

Destroy your ant problem and keep your home smelling great at the same time with essential oils. Grab an empty spray bottle or get one at a discount dollar store and fill it with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water. 

Then, add in a healthy mix of essential oils for a natural ant repellent. Reach for tea tree oil, citrus oil like orange or lemon, and peppermint oil. 

Start with about 15 drops of oil and start liberally spraying ant areas inside and outside your home. However, it’s wise to stay away from painted walls and any area you don’t want to see residue on or can’t scrub down with some soapy water or cleaner later. 

4. Peel an Orange

Ants may be opportunistic feeders who love anything from sweets to garbage, but there are a few things they typically won’t go near or risk death. If you love citrus fruits, you’re in luck. Lemon, oranges, and other citrus fruits are toxic home remedies for ants.

Sprinkle some citrus peels or lemon juice on an ant trail or infested area. The idea is that ants will detect the citrus and run for their lives, and the lemon fresh scent is likely to disrupt their conga line trail. As a bonus, your apartment will smell fresh and fruity after using this natural ant repellent.

5. Get Out the Borax

Borax is great as a detergent component, and can also kill ants at the same time. Sprinkle a solution of 1/3 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup of Borax and stir together to mix. 

It’s also wise to mix up a separate solution where you include 1/4 cup of water and mix into a paste. It turns out that not all ants from larvae to adults process food the same way. One mixture may work better than another.

Once you sprinkle out your solutions, let the ants go nuts. Getting the Borax back to the Queen is crucial to killing off the entire ant nest. 

However, this requires some patience. Once the ants ingest the Borax, it could take a few days before it attacks their digestive system and causes death. But a word of warning: Unlike many of the home remedies for ants on this list, Borax can be toxic to humans and pets alike.

6. Brew Some Coffee 

Coffee lovers can put a spin on their caffeine fix and recycle their grounds into a natural ant repellent. Unlike most humans, the strong smell of coffee grounds aggravates ants and they’ll generally steer clear of it. 

Finish your morning coffee and sprinkle your grounds outdoors near your door or around the perimeter of your home. Using grounds inside your apartment could work, too. But place them on plastic wrap so as not to aggravate both the ants and your tidy landlord. 

7. Spray Some Vinegar

Vinegar is inexpensive, makes for a fabulous household cleaner, and is a natural ant repellent. Grab an empty spray bottle, mix up a one-to-one solution of vinegar and water, and start spraying. 

Spritz around your home from the doorways to under the oven and wherever else you find ants. You can also mix the vinegar with other cleaning agents that ants detest, like lavender or lemon oil.

Make sure to consider the surfaces around your apartment before spraying. Using liberal amounts of vinegar on wood, stone, ceramic, or grout can damage the surface. Small amounts are usually okay, but tread lightly if you want to keep your security deposit.

8. Flex Your Green Thumb

Apartment dwellers with a green thumb can try their hand at growing tansy, garlic, and mint to keep ants at bay. The fragrant smells from your new plants act as a natural ant repellent, as well as overwhelm the scents of whatever’s attracting them to your home in the first place.

This natural ant repellent gets bonus points for apartment dwellers. You get rid of your ants and end up with a beautiful garden and fresh ingredients to throw into nightly dinner recipes.

9. Tidy Up Your Wood

Scoring an apartment with a wood-burning fireplace or stove may feel like a dream come true. Unfortunately, it also opens the floodgates for pests. Some types of ants and beetles adore making themselves right at home in your firewood. That’s the case whether it's indoors or out. 

Tidy up your pile of wood. Try to keep it outdoors in a sealed area to protect it from invasion. Removing old logs and dead trees and shrubs can also help prevent ants from setting up shop around your home.

10. Practice Prevention

Home remedies for ants don’t need to be complicated or expensive. However, you should always pair them with good prevention habits. 

Keep your apartment clean. Wipe up sugary spills immediately and take out the garbage regularly. Ask your landlord about regular pest control and maintenance. 

The sooner you slay your ant problem, the easier it’ll be to enjoy a home without pests—at least the ones of the insect variety.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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