How To

How to (safely) get rid of pesky ants inside and outside home

By Luke Carlino

Updated: July 14th, 2023

These little guys sure can cause some problems...

Ants are extremely common around the world, and while they are a vital part of your garden’s ecosystem, they are not so fun at parties. Especially the kind that takes place inside your home. For this reason, you’ll want to know how to get rid of ants, so these houseguests don’t take control of your pad!

When considering how to get rid of ants, you have both natural and not-so-natural options.  The top five most common types of ants in countries like Australia are:

  1. Carpenter ants
  2. Fire ants
  3. Bull ants
  4. Sugar ants 
  5. Black Ants

Defence over offence

Firstly, it’s far easier to avoid and ant problem the deal with one. If you do not want to attract ants don’t leave a buffet of food out for them. Much like your return trips to your favourite restaurant, ants will keep on coming if you are supplying the yums.

Keep your home clean and free of crumbs or food scraps to cut down the number of ants inside and avoid the issue entirely if possible. Also be aware of spots that may get missed during your clean, such as under the fridge or the oven.

How to get rid of ants naturally

A natural way to get rid of ants in one go is to find the nest and make a hole in its centre with a spade. Pour boiling water into the hole, until no more ants surface from the nest. Brutal, we know, but effective.

It is important to note that doing this, understandably, will anger the ants, so gardening gloves and closed-toed shoes are recommended.

Locating the source in the first instance can be hard, so create an ant trap with a mix of peanut butter, sugar, Borax and water. A teaspoon of each should do the trick, simply place the mixture near the ants, and they will ingest the bait, taking it back to the nest which will kill off the entire colony. 

If you want to just target the areas of your home that seem to keep collecting ants, you can use a range of essential oils to repel and kill them. The best five options for this are: 

  1. Patchouli
  2. Peppermint
  3. Orange
  4. Cedarwood
  5. Vetiver

Simply dilute a couple of drops of the oil in water and vodka then pour it into a spray bottle. Spray on the affected areas and allow them to dry. For an effective treatment, repeat every few months to ensure the ants do not return.

How to get rid of ants in a nicer way

If all of the above sounds incredibly cruel (it is), you may want to try a method that takes a little bit more time but is far nicer to our tiny ant friends.

You can remove ants from your home by hiding their tracks by using apple cider vinegar to wipe down any area where you have seen the ants go. This will deter the ants from coming back!

To really drill it home, you can set out food that will repel the ants such as bay leaf, pepper and cinnamon (or any other strong-smelling herb). 

While doing these things won’t get rid of the ants immediately, they will eventually find a new food source and move on and you will have avoided the use of any harsh chemicals around the home. 

black ants on bread
Source: Shutterstock

How to get rid of ants with chemicals

The most effective way to get rid of ants comes with some warnings, especially if you have pets or small children around the house. Ant killer insecticide granules will kill ants and create a strong barrier to keep them out, but must not be ingested by humans or other animals.

Another pesticide for use inside the home is Ant-Rid, which works in a similar way to the natural mixture mentioned above, but much faster. There is also a range of ant smells surface sprays that will combat ant issues as well as cockroaches, spiders, and other insects.

How to get rid of ants outside

If you are finding that the ant problem is bigger outside of your home, you may want to apply an anthill treatment, especially if you have multiple ant hills in your yard.

It is important that you are cautious when applying this treatment as it is very chemical-heavy. You can find anthill treatments in solid or liquid forms, and it is vital that you read the accompanying instructions to use the treatment correctly. Choose a day with good weather, so the ants are out and about. If using a solid treatment, you will need to activate it with water.

Another option is to apply insecticide to your entire yard. This is a time-consuming method; however very effective in completely eliminating your problem. If you opt for this process, be sure to mow your yard first as it makes it easier for the insecticide to get into the soil. Cut the grass and apply the insecticide via a spray option. You’ll need to reapply the insecticide at least once a month to ensure full protection.

green ant on dewy green leaf
Source: Shutterstock

How to get rid of green ants

The green ant can be extremely dangerous as they have a poisonous sting, which can cause a strong allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself with a green ant infestation, you’ll want to sort the problem out sooner rather than later.

Similar to the above process, you should begin by targeting the nests if you are able to find them. Use a granular ant bait that the ants will share with the rest of their colony. This type of bait is a poison, and the ants will do the job of taking it to the spots you can’t reach.

You’ll know this has taken effect if the activity of the nest lowers. This is a sign that the ants have consumed the bait and died. From here, use a soil spray that is specific to the green ant to ensure they do not come back. Apply the spray to the nest areas or anywhere else where you may have seen groups of ants.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that if your home or garden has been invaded, your neighbours probably have been as well. If you are the only one dealing with the problem, your unwelcome visitors will likely return. Ant families transfer quickly from other properties, so let your neighbours know about the issue.

For a full and thorough treatment, opt for granular insecticides or a non-repellent spray with repeated applications to ensure a long-lasting solution and a safe home.

Frequently asked questions

Why do I have ants in my house?

Ants are often always in search of food or a place two nest. It’s basically their two favourite hobbies. This means that even small amounts of food can attract hordes of ants.

The good news is, ants are nature’s cleaning crew so you can cross vacuuming off your to-do list, however, the creepy feeling of loads of ants in your home may not be worth it. Ants more commonly appear indoors in summer when they are more active and are usually in search of water.

In winter, heavy rains can flood the ant’s nest outside, forcing them to relocate somewhere dryer, like your house.

How do I get rid of ants overnight?

The most effective all-natural solution to get rid of ants fast is Borax, which is commonly found in a lot of ant-control products anyway. 

The easiest solution to make at home requires the following:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of Borax
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Mix the above ingredients together let some cotton balls soak it up. Leave this near the ant trails overnight, and your creepy crawly problems should be solved.

How long does it take to get rid of ants?

Lengths of time can vary based on how in-depth your ant problem is and which removal method you choose. For a fast and aggressive method, you can use a range of chemical ant-rid products. These should not be used if you have small children or pets around the home, however.

There are more natural solutions like a mixture of Borax and sugar, which are very effective and will often solve your ant problem overnight.

You’re all set for no more surprises inside

Follow the steps above, and that shock of a row or group of ants indoors should be no more! If you need a bit of help, or if your pest issues are bigger than just some ants, find a Tasker who specialises in pest control easily

You can also extend your cleanup skills by learning about how to manage pests in the garden, or to get rid of cockroaches (arguably a little more fright-worthy than ants). You can also help with prevention by learning how to keep your oven clean, as it’s one of the main spots where food can build-up to attract bugs. Read all of these, and you’ll likely have the most immaculate house on your street!


Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

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