How to get rid of ants in your home and garden – 8 natural repellents

The most common ways ants get into the house are through baseboards and wall brackets (Images: Getty)

As the The weather is improving and summer is coming, as is an age-old problem affecting homes and businesses across the UK – ants.

They are notorious for finding every way into people’s homes during the hotter months.

But how do you get rid of these household pests without using harmful chemical sprays or powders? has summarized the eight most important natural deterrents.

Keep your house clean

Perhaps the most obvious way to keep critters away is to clean frequently and thoroughly—especially during ant season.

The main culprits to watch out for are food left on the side and dirty dishes stacked by the sink for days.

Ants on a pile of sugar on a spoon

Keeping the kitchen clean is “the best way” to keep ants away. (Image: Getty)

Microbiological and plant science researchers at the John Innes Center (JIC) tells that following this rule is “the best way” to keep ants out of your home.

A spokesman for the center said: “The best way to keep the most common species out of homes is to remove all attractants through good hygiene.

“Don’t leave leftovers lying around, store food in the refrigerator or in sealed containers, and clean surfaces frequently to remove traces of pheromone.”

Black or cayenne pepper

A common item in the kitchen, pepper is a proven natural repellent for ants, as the insects find the powder’s smell too much to handle.

To use this method, sprinkle ground black or cayenne pepper around your baseboards and behind kitchen appliances where ants like to hide.

While not 100% effective, this is a cheap and non-lethal way to keep the pests away.


A simple trick is to buy some ordinary supermarket lemons and wipe the juice around the areas the bugs like to visit.

The strong smell of the lemon juice will immediately obliterate the pheromone trails left by ants and they will likely avoid the area as a danger zone due to the strong smell.

Squeeze juice from a lemon

A dollop of lemon juice should do the trick (Picture: Getty)

Peppermint, tea tree or lemon eucalyptus oil

These oils act as natural insect repellents that have been shown to be effective at repelling ants and other insects — including mosquitoes.

If you have some peppermint essential oil or tea tea oil lying around, mix a dozen drops with at least two cups of water in a spray bottle and cover those key entry points with the stuff. If you use this method, make sure you keep it out of the reach of your pets — especially cats — as it can be extremely toxic.

However, if you’d rather use oil extracted from a lemon eucalyptus tree, then grab some cotton balls and dip them in the stuff. All you have to do is leave the balls near areas where you’ve seen ants roaming around.

If you have pets at home, this might not be the best method as ingesting the oil-soaked cotton balls could make your best friend seriously ill. With that in mind, you can pick up such oils at a local health food store.


Known as DE, this specialty powder made from fossilized algae can be effective against a variety of garden pests. Scatter the material around plants and areas where you regularly see ants, as well as places you don’t want the ants to go.

You can pick up a bucket of the stuff for under £10 at most garden centers in the UK. Make sure you get the food grade version to ensure it’s not toxic to your plants or vegetables you may be growing.

A scoop of diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a great repellent for ants (Picture: Getty)

white wine vinegar

Another cheap and easy ant repellent is white vinegar. The distilled liquid is available in all supermarkets for around 30p and can be mixed with the same amount of water to make the perfect anti-ant spray.

The only downside to this method is a lingering smell of vinegar in your home – however, this will soon go away for most people, while it will last much longer for ants that don’t want to go near for at least a few days.

Boiling water

If you pour boiling water into ant holes that you discover in your home or yard, many of the ants inside will be killed instantly. While these anthills may seem small, the colonies underneath are huge and eradicating these can be key to removing them from your property.

How do I get rid of ant nests naturally?

Unfortunately, there is still no proven non-lethal method to remove nests built by colonies inside buildings.

According to the JIC, carpenter ants and “non-native species that are attracted to warmth” are among those most likely to take up residence in your home or business.

In these more extreme situations, you’ll need to contact your local pest control service to get rid of it, which often involves the use of toxic chemicals.

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