How to get rid of ants with vinegar, home repellent sprays and more

Got an invasion? Here's how to get rid of ants for good – plus tips for ensuring they don't come back with vinegar and easy homemade repellents

how to get rid of ants
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how to get rid of ants? Ants are mostly harmless (although they can bite if provoked)... As is the case with figuring out how to identify bugs of all kinds, an ant infestation is hard to spot but can be pretty unpleasant by the time it is established.

Especially if you've got ants in your bathroom...

The experts at Rentokil say, 'Garden or Black Ants aren’t thought to carry diseases, the trouble is you don’t know where they’ve been foraging outside, so you won’t want them marching through your food cupboards.'

'Ants will travel in a wide range searching for food, following chemical trails they have established and clustering around the source of food, becoming a nuisance in homes and businesses. Outside, small piles of earth around holes in soil and at the base of exterior walls can indicate their origin.'

Even Martha Stewart explains more: 'Many species of ants are beneficial, as they eat other, more harmful insects, such as fleas and bedbugs. The problem with ants is largely a matter of comfort; they're not likely to cause disease.'

'When ants invade a house, they are generally just looking for food. That said, ensuring your home is swept clean of any crumbs and food residue can help keep these pests away.'

There are a few things that can be done to fight back and ensure your ant enemies stay away, for good.

How to get rid of ants

Before we cut to our tips, we'd recommend everyone with ants give their home a really good clean, and keep on top of the housework for the foreseeable future. 

And if you discover that you have an ants' nest, or too many critters to deal with alone, don't hesitate to contact the experts for advice. 

Only got a small ant issue? You can try the following:

how to get rid of ants - a cake platter of buns in a kitchen - artem maltsev unsplash

(Image credit: artem-maltsev-unsplash)

1. Find the source of the problem

There's no point in treating an ant infestation if you don't identify the source of the issue. This is detective work, so you'll want to get out your magnifying glass (if necessary) and follow the trail of ants to wherever they're going.

Our bet? It's towards something sweet.

2. Ensure food is stored in air tight containers

If you've discovered that the source of the problem is a tasty food source (shock!), do what you can to contain the issue. Place all sweet foods in air-tight containers and ensure that jam, honey and the like are not leaking.

How to get rid of flying insects in your home - white compost bin/caddy with food scraps - Getty

(Image credit: Daisy-Daisy, Getty)

3. Empty your bins regularly

A bin bag full of rotting food is a literal theme park for an ant. So, make sure your bins are keeping the blighters out as best  they can, and ensure you're emptying it as often as possible. 

In the warmer months, it might also be a good idea to get your bins cleaned regularly to get rid of any liquid remnants and food crumbies.

how to get rid of ants - spray bottle with vinegar and baking soda - GettyImages-1218750111

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Use vinegar to cut their lines of communication

Despite being teeny tiny, ants are actually pretty clever. You may not know this, but they actually communicate using pheromones which they release while crawling around. 

If you've spotted a few ants in your kitchen, it's also worth noting that ants send out spies to scope out your space so this could be the first sign to get pest-proofing, before they invite their pals in.

But now that you do know, you can outsmart them by spraying a water and vinegar solution in areas that you've spotted ants. This will disrupt their lines of communication.

  • Find plenty of tips and tricks over on our cleaning hub page.

5. Prepare a natural repellent

If you're not keen on using harsh chemicals in your home, create a solution of water and lavender or peppermint essential oils to repel the ants. 

Spray liberally in your home, particularly in ant hot spots.

6. Make a homemade repellent spray

If the natural route isn't making any difference whatsoever, it might be time to take it up a notch in the form of this cheap and easy homemade spray from Chemistry Cachet to open a can of whoopass on the creepy crawlies.

Here's what you'll need and how to use it.

  • 2 cups of vinegar, distilled
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoon Dawn or Fairy dishwashing liquid
  • 3 tablespoons table salt
  • Spray Bottle


1. Mix ingredients together and add to a spray bottle.

2. Shake well before spraying each time.

3. Saturate the area the ants are crawling. They die in a few seconds. Make sure to spray the entire pathway they have used too.

4. Allow the ants to shuffle of this mortal coil, then wipe the area off with a paper towel.

5. The lingering vinegar and dish soap scent deters them from coming back to this area too. Make sure to wipe surface to prevent any possible residue.

7. Pick up specific ant-repellents

How to get rid of ants - ants on kitchen worktop - GettyImages-1217118154

(Image credit: Getty )

Homemade stuff not worked? Perhaps it's time to bring in the big guns. Ant-repellents containing boric acid are essential, though you'll want to check that the solution you opt for is pet safe, and won't harm your children.

8. The best product for getting rid of ants

So, what products should you use to get rid of ants? We'll say categorically: don't even think about tackling the problem with a pesticide spray. 

Yes, you will see a couple of ants dead on contact; it won't kill any of the ones you can't see, though, and you will be spraying a toxic substance around your home. If you have children and/or pets, this is a no-go. 

What you need is an ant poison in gel form. There are two main types of products available: one comes in a tube and can be injected into entry points using a syringe; the other is a bait trap, accessible only to ants (not your pet or toddler), which makes them ideal for placing in places ants frequent. 

The gel has been sweetened and made attractive to the ants: they carry it off to the nest bit by bit, which ensures the successful elimination of the entire colony within weeks. Our favourite product is the Maxforce Ant bait trap – this stuff is strong, and it works.

9. When to call in the experts

If you find that a few ants have turned into an army and your marching orders have fallen on deaf ears, you might be facing a full blown invasion.

The best thing to do is call in the pros to inspect your new housemates, identify the species and properly eradicate them.