How to get rid of ants in kitchen? It’s every homeowner’s nightmare – you walk into the kitchen, flip on the light switch, and suddenly see an army of ants swarming around your countertop. Those tiny little insects seem to appear out of nowhere to invade your clean kitchen in search of crumbs and moisture. Even just a few ants can quickly multiply into hundreds more over the course of a few days if you don’t take action.
Getting rid of ants in the kitchen can feel incredibly frustrating. They always manage to find a way back in, no matter how much you clean and spray them with harsh chemicals. The good news is there are natural ways to banish ants from your kitchen for good without using toxic products. Read on to learn why ants might be invading your kitchen, how to find where they’re getting in, tips for cutting off their food supply so they move on, and home remedies to send them packing. We’ll also cover how to properly seal entry points and prevent future infestations through simple prevention techniques.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Kitchen for Good
Ants are a common nuisance that invade our homes, particularly the kitchen area where they are attracted to food sources. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also contaminate our food and leave behind an unpleasant trail of pheromones.
If you’re someone who is dealing with an ant problem in your kitchen, there are several steps you can take to get rid of them. It’s essential to address a potential ant issue promptly before it becomes a more significant pest control problem. In this guide, we’ll discuss some effective methods on how to get rid of ants in the kitchen and prevent them from coming back.
Why Do You Have Ants in Your Kitchen?
Ants enter kitchens frequently because they provide three things ants need to thrive – food, water and shelter. Kitchens have an abundance of food crumbs and spills for ants to feed on. They also harbor moisture around the sink, pipes and appliances that ants need to survive. And finally, cracks, crevices and tiny openings throughout kitchen cabinets and baseboards give ants access to sheltered nesting spots.
Common Entry Points for Ants
Ants are very skinny and can squeeze through extremely small cracks and gaps in your kitchen walls, floors, cabinets, pipes and baseboards. Pay special attention to these common ant entryways:
- Cracks and crevices – Ants can enter through miniscule cracks in your home’s foundation, walls, windows or baseboards. Even tiny spaces allow entry.
- Gaps around pipes – Any openings or holes where pipes, wires or hoses come into the kitchen provide easy access inside.
- Drains and sinks – The moist environment of sinks, drain pipes and garbage disposals are hot spots for ants establishing colonies.
- Front door – Odorous house ants and pavement ants trail indoors from nests right outside the door. Weatherstripping helps prevent this.
- Appliances – If appliances like fridges, stoves and dishwashers aren’t properly sealed to countertops or walls, ants invade through openings.
Inspect all these locations carefully and seal up even the smallest crevices leading inside to prevent new ants from entering your clean kitchen later.
Food and Water Sources That Attract Ants
Once inside your kitchen, ants are attracted to a wide variety of foods and liquids. Here’s what might be drawing ants in:
- Sugary foods – Honey, syrup, sugar and jelly are coveted by sweet-loving ants. Baking ingredients also tempt them.
- Starchy foods – Breads, cereals, pasta and other leftover carbs are ambrosia to foraging ants.
- Greasy or oily residue – Steak drippings, used cooking oil and butter contain lipids ants need for larvae development.
- Salty snacks – Protein-rich nuts, chips and other salty goodies nourish some ant colonies.
- Fruit – Tiny bits of juice and residue left on counters attract certain ant species.
- Water and moisture – Ants require water for hydration and nest-building. Sinks, drains and appliances provide it.
Store all human and pet food in airtight containers. Clean up after eating and cooking immediately. Fix any leaks and dry out moist areas to prevent ant infestations.
Common Kitchen Ant Species
There are a few main ant species that frequently establish indoor nests in kitchens. Knowing characteristics of each ant allows you to locate and prevent their entryways:
- Odorous House Ants – One of the most common kitchen pests. They emit a foul, rotten coconut-like smell when crushed. Prefer sugary foods. Trail constantly back and forth to outdoor nests.
- Pavement Ants – Forage indoors but nest outdoors under stones or pavement cracks. Give off fresh, minty smell when smashed. Like sugars and fatty/oily substances.
- Carpenter Ants – Large, black ants that tunnel into moist wood in walls or cabinets. Require very little food but provide opportunities for moisture damage.
- Acrobat Ant – Completely yellow ants named for their habit of raising the middle of their bodies higher than rest when threatened. Enjoy honeydew from other insects.
- Argentine Ants – Aggressive, dark house ants with tiny white hairs protruding from bodies. They do not sting but spray acidic venom. Colonize easily near moisture.
No matter the species, implementing proper food storage methods and sealing cracks makes kitchens much less inviting to ants looking for food and shelter!
Tips to Find Where the Ants are Getting In
Before you can stop ants from entering your clean kitchen, you need to detect exactly where they are accessing it from. Sealing up entry points is crucial for getting rid of ants in the kitchen long-term.
Carefully inspect these areas for signs of ants trails or nests:
Inspect Along Baseboards, Corners and Cracks
Ant pathways usually follow straight lines as ants march to and from food sources. Inspect all along:
- Baseboards – Baseboards offer cracks and crevices directly leading outdoors where ants nest. Painting them with sealing primer helps.
- Corners – Where walls meet ants can slip through cracks. Apply caulk in corners to seal off.
- Cracks – Any cracks in walls, floors or ceiling are highways for ants to travel on. Use caulk or weather sealants to close them.
- Crevices around pipes and wires – Openings around utilities provide shelter and pathways for ants. Foam sealant fixes gaps.
- Gaps in window frames – Windows often warp slightly leaving gaps for pests to crawl through. Seal with caulk or weatherstripping.
Check High Activity Areas Carefully
Certain spots tend to attract ants inside kitchens more than others. Thoroughly inspect:
- Under and around sinks – Kitchen sinks provide two ant attractants – food residue and moisture. Check below sinks carefully.
- Base of appliances – If there is space between appliances and walls, ants will find them. Ensure fridges, stoves and dishwashers seal tightly.
- Cupboards beneath pipes or wires – Steady warmth and humidity tempt ants to nest inside appliance cupboards. Keep an eye on all walls utilities run through.
Follow Ant Trails Backwards
Observe where long lines of marching ants lead. Often, consistent trails will lead directly back to how ants first accessed your kitchen. Strategic baiting can also determine entryways:
- Place small clumps of honey/jelly or crumbs along countertops, appliances, cupboards, etc. Just be sure to clean up right after!
- Check back frequently to see where ants swarm – that location is likely an entry point and/or established trail to their nest.
- Slowly follow the marching lines of ants to get to the source entryway. Heavy trailing usually leads directly to nests.
Detecting all points ants use to enter allows you to completely get rid of ants in your clean kitchen using natural methods and strategic indoor barriers at key access locations.
Reduce Food Sources Ants Are Attracted To
One of the most effective ways to get rid of kitchen ants naturally is by reducing or eliminating food sources they are attracted to. This method stops reinfestations at the source rather than just treating ants already present.
Keep All Human and Pet Foods Sealed Tightly
Ants can detect even the faintest food odors leaking from packaging. Be meticulous about sealing away all edible items:
- Transfer flours, sugars, cereals and baking items like chocolate chips into airtight plastic or glass storage containers. This takes away scents ants home in on.
- Inspect all boxed goods, bags of snacks and canned items. Repair any holes or open seams with tape to contain food smells.
- Utilize plastic bins or bags for crackers, chips and other shelf-stable goods. Make sure seals fit tight with no gaps.
- Keep pet food bags rolled down tightly. Store unused portions in seal-proof tubs that block odors.
Vacuum sealers are useful for removing air and preserving leftovers ants crave like meats, cheeses and baked goods.
Clean Up Spills and Crumbs Right Away
Left out in the open, food debris screams “Dinner!” to foraging ants nearby. Don’t give them the chance to indulge:
- After each meal or snack, immediately sweep up fallen tidbits and throughly wipe all surfaces.
- Clean dishes, utensils and countertops promptly instead of leaving overnight. Ants patrol at all hours!
- Establish habit of giving kitchen quick scans for lingering crumbs around dining areas and food prep zones.
Store Sugary Items in Sealed Containers
Highly attracted to sweets, ants have incredible ability to detect sugary substances from great distances. Eliminate access:
- Keep all baked goods like cakes, cookies and breads sealed airtight at all times.
- Transfer syrups, nectars, sugar packets and sweet breakfast cereals into rigid containers.
- Shelve candy, chocolate and sweet snacks in plastic bins, not original packaging.
Take Out the Trash Regularly
Rotting food gives off tempting scents to ants on the hunt. Don’t let garbage cans become an open buffet:
- Empty wastebaskets frequently, especially in warm months when odors spread faster.
- Use bags with drawstring tops to contain odors, then place bags inside sealed bins.
- Disinfect trash bins periodically with vinegar solution to reduce lingering whiffs of foods.
- Fix up any leaks or holes in bins that allow smells to seep freely.
Following these meticulous food storage rules limits ants’ abilities to sniff out nurturing food sources within your immaculate kitchen!
Homemade, Natural Ant Sprays and Baits
In addition to limiting food sources, using natural ant killer sprays and baits helps destroy ants already inside your kitchen. Here are effective home remedies:
Vinegar, Essential Oil and Dish Soap Spray
This simple homemade spray repels ants and erases the scent trails they follow back to food and nests:
- Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle
- Add several drops of essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree. These oils repel ants.
- Squirt a bit of dish soap into the mix – this helps the solution stick to surfaces longer.
- Shake well and spray onto ant trails, around entry points, or directly on ants spotted.
The vinegar temporarily confuses ants’ scent orientation, while oils deter them. The solution is safe for food prep areas!
Boric Acid Sugar Bait
Boric acid powder mixed with sugars kills ants through ingestion when carried back to nests:
- Stir 1-2 teaspoons boric acid and 2 teaspoons sugar into 2 cups hot water until dissolved.
- Soak cotton balls in the sweet liquid bait and squeeze out excess.
- Place cotton balls along ant trails or squeeze small amounts directly into cracks ants emerge from.
- Ants eat the bait as a food source not realizing it contains insecticidal boric acid to slowly kill nests!
Diatomaceous Earth Powder Barriers
Natural diatomaceous earth powder shreds ants’ exoskeletons and causes dehydration:
- Sprinkle a fine layer of food-grade diatomaceous earth into cracks, crevices, windowsills, appliance tops or anywhere else ants march.
- Gloves and mask are recommended since it can irritate lungs.
- As ants crawl over the powder, it sticks to their bodies and cuts them while depleting internal moisture.
- Reapply another fresh layer of diatomaceous earth every 1-2 weeks where ants frequent as it loses effectiveness when wet.
Strategically placing these homemade remedies along known ant trails and access points allows the ants themselves to carry baits or toxic powder back to destroy entire colonies nesting around your kitchen!
Seal Up Possible Entry Points
Once you’ve located all the ways ants are accessing your kitchen, it’s time to permanently seal up those entryways. Stopping them at the source is key for long-term prevention inside your home.
Caulk Cracks and Crevices
Caulk forms a watertight, flexible seal:
- Inspect along all baseboards, corners, windows and door frames for gaps. Look inside cabinets too.
- Clean areas to seal with rubbing alcohol to help caulk adhere properly.
- Fill cracks and crevices with silicone or acrylic latex caulk. Acrylic is easier to apply for novices.
- Use caulk formulated especially for kitchen and bath areas that withstand expansion and moisture.
- Seal holes where pipes, wiring or ductwork enters walls or appliance backing.
Ants only need 1/16th inch gaps to squeeze through! Don’t overlook minuscule spaces.
Weather Strip Doors and Windows
Prevent outdoor species from marching right into your kitchen through entry doors and warped windows:
- Install new door sweeps beneath all exterior entry doors if gaps visible at bottom. Sweeps seal the space.
- Apply foam sealant strips, rubber gaskets or vinyl guards onto window sash channels if framed don’t shut fully.
- Replace worn out weatherstripping around doors and windows to close tiny gaps.
- Caulk along exterior frames if additional sealing is still needed after new weatherstripping.
Store Firewood Far From Home
Carpenter ants nest in moist logs and tree stumps:
- Keep all firewood logs elevated off the ground on a metal rack or stones to prevent moisture damage which attracts ants.
- Store firewood pile as far from the home’s foundation as possible. Never directly against walls or under decking!
- Routinely inspect logs carefully for ants or other signs of nesting before bringing indoors.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth powder around the firewood stack’s perimeter to deter ant colonies from forming.
Sealing, caulking and weatherproofing cuts off access and deters ants from attempting to enter in the first place! Pair sealing with indoor home remedies for full prevention.
Dealing with Ant Nests Outside
To prevent ants from entering your spotless kitchen, destroying outdoor colonies at the source is key. But when is professional help needed versus DIY treatment?
When to Call Pest Control vs. DIY
- For large infestations with multiple visible ant hills on your property, pest control treatment is best. Professionals have commercial-grade chemicals and equipment.
- If you’re unsure of species invading, have pest pros inspect. Proper ID ensures using the right pesticides.
- Hire help for carpenter ant removal since they nest inside wood structures. Damage occurs if not properly eradicated.
- DIY methods like boiling water, borax and diatomaceous earth suffice for small odorous house ant hills in landscaping.
Tips for Locating and Eliminating Ant Nests Yourself
Finding Nests Outdoors
- Inspect lawn areas, gardens, stone walls, patio cracks and bases of trees for small mounds or hills signaling underground ant colonies.
- Look for tiny hole entryways or sawdust deposits if carpenter ants chewing through wood in yard.
- Notice trails of ants marching in straight lines. Follow lines back to origin location. This pinpoints nesting areas.
Destroying and Preventing Nests
- Pour near-boiling water directly into nest entry holes. Heat destroys ants underground. Repeat if new holes detected since water only penetrates so deep.
- Mix borax powder with sugar water into paste. Spoon borax bait paste directly into nest holes. Ants eat paste and die.
- At nest openings, sprinkle diatomaceous earth. Ants track powder back killing colonies. Reapply after heavy rains.
- Regularly spray peppermint oil or insecticidal soap perimeter treatments around home’s foundation to deter nesting.
Completely getting rid of outdoor ant colonies prevents trails of them marching into your pristine kitchen through cracks and crevices in search of food and water! Both pest control and DIY methods work to eliminate the source.
Prevent Ants from Coming Back
Vigilance is critical after tackling an ant problem to ensure colonies don’t reestablish themselves in your immaculate kitchen. Implement these ongoing prevention measures:
Establish Regular Cleaning Habits
Don’t give ants the chance to sniffed out forgotten food particles.
- Do dishes promptly after meals instead of letting them sit overnight.
- After eating, immediately wipe down dining tables, sweep floors for fallen morsels, and take out trash that contains food refuse.
- Do a final scan of countertops, stovetops and around the sink before going to bed, cleaning up any lingering debris.
Properly Store All Human and Pet Foods
Be meticulous about sealing away all edible items in airtight containers. Never leave pet food bowls out sitting open. Establish habit of inspecting packaging integrity frequently for waysward ants getting into boxes, bags or cans with minute holes/tears. Invest in commercial grade sealable bins to store dry goods long-term without aroma escape.
Fix Leaky Plumbing and Repair Wood Damage
- Repair any leaky pipes, clean up pet bowls after use and fix gaps in food packaging right away to prevent moisture issues ants exploit.
- Inspect under sinks routinely for condensation buildup or leaks.
- If carpenter ants previously infiltrated, ensure wood structures like cabinets have been rebuilt to prevent recolonization.
Continuously Inspect for New Entryways
No matter how well sealed, new cracks inevitably form over time in kitchen walls and foundations. Get in habit of doing peripheral checks inside and outdoors around your home’s foundation to ensure fresh gaps or crevices haven’t appeared for ants to misuse as entryways. New weatherstripping, caulking and adding barrier powders will be needed periodically as home settles. Make it a routine!
Staying vigilant about cleanliness, food storage, moisture control and sealing adaptation is vital to prevent ants from taking advantage of oversights and ever-changing conditions in and around your home. Don’t give ants the upper hand again!
Dealing with ants that suddenly swarm your pristine kitchen can undoubtedly try your patience. Hopefully this guide has equipped you to banish ants from your space for good the natural way without relying on tons of toxic, chemical sprays.
Here’s a quick summary of the key tactics covered to eliminate kitchen ants and prevent future infestations:
- Inspect all cracks and crevices thoroughly to find entry points
- Seal up holes and gaps with caulk, weatherstripping and other barriers
- Eliminate access to food and water by practicing clean habits daily
- Use natural homemade sprays and baits directly along ant trails
- Destroy outdoor ant hills before they march inside
- Stay vigilant in keeping your kitchen free of crumbs and moisture
Follow these steps diligently to get rid of current ants and keep new ones from invading. Over time, your kitchen can become nearly ant-proof!
If you have a severe, persistent ant problem that continues after implementing prevention and treatment recommendations, don’t hesitate to call pest control pros. There are certain highly aggressive or invasive species that require commercial-grade insecticides to fully eradicate.
However, give natural remedies a solid try first when possible to avoid bringing harsh chemicals into your home. Handling ant infestations patiently with non-toxic methods is ideal to protect your family’s health. And remember, the ants hate citrus smells, so try scattering some fresh orange and lemon peels! Stay committed to upholding smart kitchen habits focused on cleanliness, containment and sealing external entry routes.