Nothing gives a person the heebie-jeebies quite like finding ants crawling through their apartment. An ant infestation in your home feels like an invasion of a sacred space. As soon as you spot them, the first thing that crosses your mind is figuring out how to get rid of ants in your apartment.
There are several options for how to get rid of ants in an apartment. A thorough cleaning is usually the best place to start. After that, borax and sugar mixtures, vinegar sprays, chalk, cinnamon, peppermint oil, ant bait, and a few other strategies can work.
Multiple approaches are surprisingly effective, allowing you to choose the one that makes sense for your household. If you need to figure out how to get rid of ants in your apartment, here’s a look at what you need to know.
Why Do Ants Suddenly Appear in Apartments?
Generally speaking, ants come indoors in search of food. They seem to appear suddenly because, if a food source is found, the ant that made the discovery signals its colony. After that, they’ll start making their way inside in droves.
The reason ants seemingly come out of nowhere because spotting the first one or two invaders isn’t easy. Most ant species are tiny, so they’ll often go undetected.
Plus, ants live nearly everywhere. They’ll be in your backyard, patio, balcony, and practically anywhere else outdoors. And since they’re so small, they can make their way inside with relative ease, squeezing through the tiniest cracks in search of food.
Are Ants Dangerous?
Whether ants are dangerous primarily depends on the type of ant that makes its way into your home. For example, carpenter ants can cause damage similar to what you see with termites. Over time, they’ll tunnel through wood structures, causing significant harm to the building.
While it’s true that all ants can bite, ant bites aren’t typically dangerous. While they may be uncomfortable, you won’t usually suffer any more ill effects if you clean and care for the injury properly, ensuring it doesn’t get infected.
If you’re dealing with fire ants or another type with a stinger, the risk goes up. In those cases, the venom from the stings can cause serious – if not life-threatening – health issues.
It’s also important to note that ants are a food source for many other pests, some of which are dangerous under the right conditions. For example, ants may attract certain potentially harmful spiders.
However, barring ants that cause structural damage and those with stingers, ants are usually more of a nuisance than anything else. Still, it’s best to address the problem quickly, ensuring the infestation doesn’t spread and that no harm comes to you, your family, your pets, or the building.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Apartment
1. Clean Thoroughly
Usually, ants only make their way into apartments if they find food sources. Crumbs and sticky spills – even incredibly small ones – may be enough to encourage ants to come in looking for a meal.
Since that’s the case, the first step you should always take is cleaning your apartment thoroughly. Wipe down every counter, sweep and mop your floors, wipe down baseboards and backsplashes, and wash the inside of your trash can. If you see ants heading into cupboards, empty those and wipe them down.
Cleaning gives you a clean slate and may prevent an ant problem from worsening. Plus, without a solid food source, ants will often move on, particularly if you use some of the other solutions on this list.
2. Borax and Sugar Water
If you want to kill ants quickly without some of the chemicals found in commercial solutions, a borax and sugar water mixture can do the trick. The sugar in the solution attracts the ants, while the borax kills them.
You’ll need 1 ½ cups of warm water, ½ cup sugar, and 1 ½ tablespoon of borax. Mix the ingredients until the sugar and borax dissolve. Once it does, dip cotton balls into the solution until they’re essentially soaked. How many you’ll need may depend on how much of an infestation problem you have or the number of points you want to cover.
After soaking the cotton balls, place them near entry points or on ant trails. If you’re worried about the solution damaging floors, counters, or other surfaces, you can use shallow disposable container lids or a similar throw-away item to shield your surfaces. Make sure you’re comfortable tossing the item out, as you won’t want to use it for food after contacting the borax.
It’s important to note that this approach isn’t safe for households with pets or small children. Borax isn’t just dangerous to ants; it’s harmful to pets and people. Since that’s the case, this option is best left to households where no one will handle or attempt to eat the cotton balls.
3. Vinegar Spray
A vinegar spray is a powerful – but safe – tool in the fight against ants. While it won’t kill ants directly, it does prevent them from detecting the scent trails that steer them through your home. By spraying the areas where you’re finding ants, the entry point into your apartment, and any trails heading back to the mound, you’re essentially destroying their GPS.
In most cases, a mix of half-white vinegar and half water does the trick. You could also add a few drops of certain essential oils – like tea tree or grapefruit – if you want to reduce the vinegar odor and up the cleaning power. Just be aware that many essential oils, including tea tree and grapefruit, aren’t safe for all pets, so it’s better to leave them out if you have pets at home.
After making the spray, cover any areas where you’ve found ants. If you aren’t sure of the entry point, you can also spray around windows and doors, spots where pipes come out of walls (such as under your kitchen sink), and any other place they could be using to gain entry. If the ants are coming from a patio or balcony, spray that.
4. Peppermint Oil
When it comes to deterring pests, peppermint oil is incredibly effective. Like many other insects, ants aren’t fans of the smell. Since that’s the case, they’ll usually leave the area if the scent becomes commonplace.
You have a few options for using peppermint oil to drive away ants. Adding around ten drops to the spray bottle filled with water and a dash of dish soap can be a great option to spray down entry points on your exterior. Inside, a few drops on some strategically positioned cotton balls may be enough.
It’s important to note that peppermint oil isn’t a great solution if you have pets. Even the scent in the air can be harmful, so choose another option if you have pets in the apartment.
Classic sidewalk chalk is an effective way to stop an ant invasion. By drawing lines around any entry points, you deter the ants from coming inside. That’s all thanks to the calcium carbonate in chalk, which functions as a simple repellant.
While drawing with chalk is usually the simplest option, you don’t have to go that route. You can also scatter chalk powder near the entry points. By going that route, you can simply sweep, vacuum, or use a damp cloth to wipe it up when the problem is solved.
In most cases, you’ll want to stick with white sidewalk chalk, as the colored chalks are more likely to stain. Additionally, stick with nontoxic chalks as a precaution. You’ll also want to go with drawn lines over powdered chalks if you have pets, even if the chalk is non-toxic, to reduce the chances of excessive consumption.
6. Lemon Juice
Generally speaking, ants don’t like the smell of lemon. Since that’s the case, a little bit of lemon juice can be an effective deterrent.
You can use it at entry points by spraying the area or adding some juice to a rag and wiping the places down. Adding ½ cup to a vinegar spray can also help.
If you’re worried about having the lemon juice sprayed or wiped on surfaces, try lemon peels instead.
You can place them along the window sills and doorways (either inside or outside), for example.
Just make sure to replace them regularly until the ant problem is solved.
7. Cayenne Pepper
In most cases, ants are on the hunt for something sweet when they seek out food. By using a bit of cayenne pepper, you can make them think that they won’t find what they’re after in your apartment.
Like most of the deterrents on this list, you’ll want to sprinkle cayenne pepper near entry points. You could also place some along any ant trails you’ve spotted. Once the ants start encountering the cayenne pepper, your apartment becomes less attractive as a food source. As a result, they may simply head elsewhere in search of snacks.
8. Cinnamon or Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon and cinnamon oil are both ant repellents. Like peppermint, ants don’t care for the scent, so they’ll often steer clear of areas where it’s present.
However, powdered cinnamon isn’t just a deterrent; it can potentially kill ants. Powdered cinnamon is incredibly fine. When the ants inhale the powder, it can make its way into their respiratory system, something that can cause them to die.
If you have pets, it’s better to go with actual cinnamon than cinnamon oil. However, even though cinnamon isn’t considered toxic to most pets, that doesn’t mean they should consume it, particularly in large quantities. If you’re concerned that your pet will eat the cinnamon, then you may want to choose an alternative solution.
9. Ant Bait
If the options above aren’t giving you the results you need, then you might want to transition to ant bait. This approach does rely on chemicals, which some people may prefer to avoid. However, it will kill the ants.
For this approach, you’ll need to review the manufacturer’s instructions regarding placement and use. However, make sure it isn’t in a spot that pets or young children can reach, as it is potentially dangerous.
10. Pest Control Professional
If you’ve used the strategies above and still dealing with ants, then calling a pest control professional could be a must. If you’re in a rental, contact your landlord and tell them about the ants, as they may be the ones that have to arrange service. For apartment owners, you’ll want to find a reputable pest control service in your area.
Once you reach out, give them an overview of the issue and discuss whether there are pets or small children in the home. That way, they can prepare solutions that are safe for your household.
How Do You Get Rid of Ants Permanently?
Any of the options above can help you deal with an ant infestation. If you want to keep ants out permanently, then you’ll need to eliminate any potential entry points. Make sure window and door seals are tight, fill gaps around pipe entry points, and make sure any holes or cracks in walls or foundations are addressed.
Additionally, work to ensure ants won’t find food sources. By keeping your apartment clean, it’s less attractive to ants, as they won’t find any snacks to entice them to return.
How to Get Rid of Ants in the Walls Naturally
In many cases, the options above can help you get rid of ants in the walls naturally. Start by eliminating access to food sources, making your home less appealing. Then, use classic natural deterrents, like white vinegar sprays or peppermint oil.
You can also use the sugar and borax mixture to kill the ants, which might be necessary if the nest is deep in your walls and generally inaccessible to you. In some cases, you’ll want to start with a powdered version. Mix three parts sugar to one part borax. Then, sprinkle the mixture – leaving a light dusting – along the ant trail back toward the nest. If you know how they’re entering the wall, place the light dusting there.
While adult ants won’t consume the borax in this form, it will get carried back into the colony. That can increase the odds that it’ll reach the larva. After that, use the cotton ball method to address the adult ants.
What Smells Do Ants Hate?
Ants hate a few different smells. Vinegar, peppermint oil, lemon, and cinnamon are all effective scent-based deterrents, making them good places to start if you’re trying to keep ants away.
Since vinegar mixtures are an effective cleanser, using it when you clean your kitchen could prevent ants from viewing your home as a food source. Similarly, using a peppermint oil spray around the exterior of your windows and doors – or planting mint along the outside walls of the building – might discourage ants from coming near your apartment.
How to Find Ant Nest in Apartment
In most cases, any ant nests in apartments will reside in the walls. Since that’s the case, you can try to follow ant trails to see where the ants head as they leave the area with food sources. By using that approach, you may spot them entering a hole in a wall. While the nest may not be right on the other side, that will give you an idea of where the nest is and where you may want to place ant killer or deterrents.
If the ants head out of your apartment, such as by exiting through a crack along with a window or door, then the nest may be outside. You could attempt to follow the trail to find out, or you could simply close up the entry point and place deterrents or ant killers in that area to deal with the problem.
What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Ants in an Apartment?
Ultimately, the best way to get rid of ants always involves cleaning, as that eliminates food sources. After that, the borax and sugar mixture is potentially a good choice if you don’t have pets or small children. Otherwise, review the alternatives above to find an approach that makes sense for your household.
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