Keeping Ants Out of Your Kitchen: A Compassionate Guide

on Apr 03, 2023
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Ants play a vital role in our ecosystem, helping with processes such as soil aeration and organic matter decomposition, and as such, they deserve to coexist with us without harm. However, when they invade our living spaces, particularly our kitchens, it can become an unwelcome nuisance.

This article aims to provide practical, non-harmful, and eco-friendly methods to keep ants outside your home while still allowing them to thrive in their natural environment. By understanding their dietary preferences, creating outdoor feeding areas, and utilizing natural deterrents, you can effectively discourage ants from venturing into your home without resorting to toxic chemicals or extermination methods.

With these compassionate strategies, it's possible to maintain a harmonious relationship with these essential creatures while keeping your home ant-free.

Creating an Ant-Friendly Feeding Area Outside Your Home

Providing a designated feeding area is important to encourage ants to stay outdoors and away from your kitchen. Here are some guidelines for setting up an ant-friendly feeding area outside:

  • Choose a spot away from your home's entrances and walkways, preferably at least 10 feet away, to discourage ants from exploring indoor areas.
  • Use shallow containers, such as jar lids or small plates, to offer a mix of foods that ants like, including small pieces of fruit, a tiny drop of honey, or a bit of pet food.
  • Ensure that the feeding area is easily accessible to the ants and is visible to them. Placing it near ant trails is a good idea.
  • Start with a small amount of food and monitor the ant activity. If the food is consumed quickly and there are no signs of ants entering your home, you can gradually increase the amount of food.
  • Keep the area clean and replenish the food regularly to prevent spoilage and mold.
  • Place the feeding area on a hard, flat surface such as a cement patio or paving stones, as ants are less likely to nest in these areas compared to soft soil or mulch.
  • If you notice an excessive number of ants being attracted to the feeding area, reduce the amount of food or move the feeding area further away from your home. Conversely, if no ants are visiting the feeding area, try moving it closer to the house or providing a different type of food that may be more attractive to ants.

Remember that ants have an important role in our ecosystem and are necessary for pollination and soil health. By providing a designated feeding area outside and keeping your kitchen clean and ant-proof, you can coexist with ants in a way that benefits both them and you.

Ant-Approved Foods: How to Keep Ants Outside with Their Favorite Treats

Ant Eating Strawberry Jam

Ants are omnivorous, which means they consume a wide variety of foods. Some of their favorites include:

Jams and Jellies 

Sweet spreads such as jams and jellies can also entice ants to stay outdoors.


Ants love sweet, juicy fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes, and watermelons.

Sugary Substances 

Ants are attracted to sugary substances such as honey, syrup, and spilled sugary drinks.


Some vegetables that ants are attracted to include cucumber, carrot, and sweet potato.

Protein-Rich Foods 

Ants are also fond of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and pet food.

Fats and Oils

Greasy and oily foods are another common attraction for ants.

Fruit Juices 

Sweet fruit juices can also entice ants to stay outside your home.

Small Pieces of Candy 

Ants are attracted to small, sweet treats such as candy.


Some species of ants are attracted to the sweet nectar produced by flowers.

Sweetened Tea

Ants may be attracted to sweetened tea, particularly if it is left outside in warm weather.

Providing Water for Ants: Keeping Them Hydrated and Out of Your Home

While ants get much of their water from their food, they still need an additional water source, especially during hot and dry weather.

Providing water outside can help keep ants from searching for it indoors. Set up a shallow dish with water near the feeding area, and add small pebbles or marbles for the ants to stand on while drinking to prevent drowning.

Essential Oils and Spices: Natural Ant Deterrents for Your Home

Research has shown that certain scents, including essential oils and common spices, can act as effective deterrents for ants due to their strong odors, which can mask or disrupt the ants' scent trails. Here is a list of scents that can help deter ants:

1. Lavender Essential Oil

The scent of lavender can also help keep ants at bay. Apply diluted lavender oil to entry points and ant trails.

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint has a strong, fresh scent that ants find repellent. Mix a few drops with water in a spray bottle and spritz around entry points and ant trails.

3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus oil is another natural ant deterrent. Dilute it with water and spray it around areas where you've seen ants.

4. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Ants dislike the strong smell of tea tree oil. Dilute it with water and spray it around your home's perimeter and potential entry points.

5. Lemon Or Orange Essential Oil

Citrus oils, such as lemon or orange, are known to deter ants. Mix a few drops with water in a spray bottle and spray around your home's exterior and interior where ants have been spotted.

6. Cinnamon

The strong aroma of cinnamon can help repel ants. Sprinkle ground cinnamon or place cinnamon sticks near entry points and along ant trails.

7. Cloves

Ants are not fond of the scent of cloves. Place whole cloves or sprinkle ground cloves around areas where ants have been observed.

8. Cayenne Pepper

The pungent smell of cayenne pepper can act as an ant deterrent. Sprinkle it around your home's exterior and near any entry points.

9. Black Pepper

Like cayenne pepper, the scent of black pepper can also help deter ants. Sprinkle it around your home and near potential entry points.

10. Bay Leaves

Ants dislike the smell of bay leaves. Place whole or crushed bay leaves near entry points and areas where ants have been seen.

Using Essential Oils Safely: Protect Your Home and Pets from Ants

When using essential oils, always dilute them with water or carrier oil, and do not apply them directly to surfaces that may be damaged by the oil. Additionally, be cautious when using these scents around pets, as some essential oils and spices can be toxic to animals if ingested or come into direct contact with the substances.

Physical Barriers: Preventing Ants from Entering Your Home

Prevent ants from accessing your home by creating physical barriers. Some effective methods include:

  • Applying weather stripping to doors and windows to seal gaps.
  • Caulking cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and around pipes.
  • Placing fine mesh screens over vents, windows, and other openings.

Trimming Vegetation: Reduce Ant Access Points to Your Home

Ants can use plants and trees as a bridge to enter your home. To discourage this, trim the vegetation around your house and ensure no branches are touching the building. This will make it more difficult for ants to find their way inside.

Outdoor Sanitation Tips: Discouraging Ants from Invading Your Home

Keeping the area outside your home clean can help discourage ants from coming indoors. Follow these tips for outdoor sanitation:

  • Store firewood and other outdoor items away from your home.
  • Regularly clean outdoor garbage cans and make sure they are tightly sealed.
  • Avoid leaving food, drinks, or pet food outside for long periods.
  • Remove any fallen fruit or debris from your yard that may attract ants.

Ants and Kitchen Sinks: Preventing Ant Infestations in Your Kitchen

Ants are often found around sinks for several reasons:

Moisture And Water Sources 

Ants need water to survive, and sinks typically provide a consistent source of moisture. Even small droplets of water left in the sink or on the countertop can be enough to attract ants in search of hydration. This is especially true during dry or hot weather when water sources may be scarce outdoors.

Food Residues 

Sinks and the surrounding areas are often exposed to food particles and residues from dishwashing and food preparation. Ants are attracted to these food sources, making sinks a prime location for foraging.

How to Keep Your Kitchen Ant-Free

Preventing ants from finding food inside your kitchen is key to keeping them outdoors. Follow these tips to keep your kitchen ant-free:

  • Store food items in airtight containers or in the refrigerator.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs immediately.
  • Regularly take out the trash and ensure the trash can is tightly sealed.
  • Clean pet food bowls regularly and avoid leaving them out for extended periods.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and walls where ants may enter your home.

Common Ant Entry Points: How Ants Find Their Way into Your Home

Ants can enter your home from various points, including window sills. Some common entry points are:

  1. Gaps around windows and doors: Cracks and crevices around window frames and doorways can serve as easy entry points for ants. They can also use gaps between screens and windows to access your home.
  2. Wall cracks and openings: Ants can find their way into your home through small cracks in walls, foundations, or around utility pipes and wires that penetrate the exterior walls.
  3. Vents and exhaust fans: Ants can enter through openings around vents, exhaust fans, and other fixtures that connect the interior and exterior of your home.

Ant Activity Patterns: Understanding When Ants Are Most Active

Ants typically appear during warm weather, as higher temperatures and humidity promote their activity and reproduction. They are more likely to forage during the day when temperatures are higher, while their activity tends to decrease at night when it gets cooler and darker. Ants are cold-blooded, so their activity is heavily influenced by the temperature of their environment. When the temperature drops significantly, ants may disappear and return to their nests, becoming less active or even dormant during colder months.

It's important to note that the daily activity pattern of ants may vary depending on the species. Some ants may be more active during the day, while others may be more active at night or have a more flexible schedule based on factors such as food availability and environmental conditions.


In conclusion, adopting eco-friendly and non-harmful methods to keep ants outside your home is beneficial for the environment and fosters a harmonious coexistence with these vital creatures. By understanding their dietary preferences, providing designated outdoor feeding areas, offering water sources, and using natural deterrents, you can effectively discourage ants from entering your home while still allowing them to thrive.

Additionally, maintaining a clean and ant-proof kitchen, creating physical barriers, and practicing proper outdoor sanitation will further minimize the chances of an ant invasion. By following these compassionate strategies, you can enjoy a comfortable living space without causing harm to ants or disrupting their essential role in our ecosystem.

As we become more conscious of the need for coexistence among various species, it's crucial to adopt practices that protect our homes and the wildlife around us, working together to promote a healthier, more balanced ecosystem.


For more information on the ant-repellent properties of these essential oils and spices, you can refer to the following resources:

  1. Peppermint essential oil: A Repellent Effect of Essential Oils on the Ant
  2. Eucalyptus essential oil: Insecticidal, repellent and fungicidal properties of novel trifluoromethylphenyl amides
  3. Lavender essential oil: Essential Oils as Green Pesticides: For Sustainable Agriculture
  4. Tea tree essential oil: Antimicrobial and Repellent Activity of the Essential Oil of Melaleuca alternifolia
  5. Lemon or orange essential oil: Insecticidal and Repellent Activity of Several Plant-Derived Essential Oils Against Aedes aegypti and Anopheles dirus
  6. Cinnamon: Antimicrobial, insecticidal, and antioxidant activities of Cinnamomum spp. essential oils
  7. Cloves: Repellency of essential oils of some plants from the Kenyan coast against Anopheles gambiae
  8. Cayenne pepper: Antifeedant and toxic activity of some plant extracts against the bean aphid, Aphis fabae Scopoli
  9. Black pepper: Insecticidal and repellent activity of several plant-derived essential oils against Aedes aegypti and Anopheles dirus
  10. Bay leaves: Insecticidal and repellent activity of selected plant oils against the cowpea weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus

Please note that some of these resources might not focus exclusively on ants but provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of these scents in deterring various insects, including ants.

Related Links:

Tiny Brains, Big Wonders: 10 Remarkable Insights into Ant Intelligence


Posted by Sheila (Cork, Ireland) on 04/19/2023

Peppermint essential oil is a good way to deter ants; they just turn right around and head away when they're near it. I prefer it, then I don't have to worry about having harmed them.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Hisslv4ever (Rodeo, Ca) on 04/20/2023
5 out of 5 stars

Cinnamon will make ants leave. Sprinkle it on them and watch them run. it does not kill them but they will go away. I sprinkle wherever I see them and if possible where they are coming in from. No chemical smell and no bodies to clean up. it looks a little messy and they might find another way to get in but just sprinkle some more. sometimes I leave it for several days to make sure.

It works great and smells good too.

Clove Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Deirdre (NC) on 04/20/2023
5 out of 5 stars

Neither chili powder nor borax powder stopped the trail of ants from coming inside. I thought sprinkling chili powder along their path was a winning remedy, but the ants simply went around the powder and marched on inside. I even saw a few ants walk right through the chili powder too. Wow!

What worked phenomenally well and almost immediately, was clove oil! I located the area just outside on the doorstep where ants were trailing in and added 5 drops of pure clove oil to the area. Then I added a drop of clove oil here and there along the kitchen countertop where a few remaining ants were lingering. Potent stuff. No sign of ants.

Am very glad not to have to use ant bait as I hate the thought of destroying an entire colony.

Don't Kill Ants

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Yvette (Germany) on 05/18/2015
5 out of 5 stars

Killing ants is bad stuff, since its one of the two, insects natural enemies that kill/destroy TICKS, if u want to have a garden free of Ticks, "plant" ants or pray to God to "send" some. Ants eat the eggs and the larvae. In my garden I had lot of ants and no ticks, all the other neigbours had ticks because they killed the ants. So think twice before u kill the ants around you. Then getting Lyme is worse then having some ants on your property.

Dry Molasses

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Kate (Marietta, GA) on 04/18/2023
5 out of 5 stars

I use dry molasses on the fire ant mounds that pop up around my yard. It doesn't kill them, it simply chases them away. If they move to another spot close by, I add more. You can also try regular ol molasses by diluting it in hot water first. Haven't tried it, but it might work. I found my dry molasses online at an organic gardening supply shop.

Mint Plants

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Charity (Faithville) on 04/20/2022
5 out of 5 stars

Mint by the door and fewer flies, mice, ants, and mosquitos around. I keep a nice pot of it next to every opening to our home. Reminds me to drink some too. The neighbor has lots of horses and piles of poo. I plant mint in our marsh and on the creek to keep the mosquito population under control. Plant mint by comfrey and no ants on flowers.


1 User Review
1 star (1) 

Posted by Zark (Emerald City) on 11/23/2022
1 out of 5 stars

Vinegar didn't work when I tried it. Don't use on varnished wooden surfaces - it managed to strip off a bit of the varnish on one piece of furniture.