Ants are a common household pest, and they can be tricky to get rid of. Fortunately, there are dozens of ant control remedies out there, but are they effective?
You may have heard of table salt is a cheap and easy home remedy against ant invasions. Internet sources say that pouring a line of salt across the thresholds of your house can stop them from entering, while blasting them will salt spray can kill them on contact.
But does table salt really kill ants and, if so, what’s the best way to use it?
Do ants eat salt?
Ants do eat salt; in fact, some studies even suggest that they prefer salty snacks to sugary ones. This means that the ‘line of salt’ method is highly unlikely to work, and may even attract more ants into your house.
Does salt spray kill ants?
You may have more luck using salt against ants if you mix it into a spray first. While it’s true that ants eat salt, getting it on their bodies might be more effective at killing them.
Salt can quickly dehydrate certain other critters (like slugs and snails), killing them on contact. However, it may be less effective against ants as, unlike slugs, they have a hard, waterproof ‘skin’ called an exoskeleton, which may provide them some protection against salt.
However, salt is so cheap and accessible that it may be worth trying anyway, especially if your ant problem is limited to the odd scout.
If you want to give it a go, make up your own salt spray by:
- Boiling water
- Adding a large quantity of table salt and stirring until completely dissolved
- Pour into a spray bottle
- Take aim and fire!
Do Epsom salts kill ants?
Table salt may not be the most effective tool against ants, but what about Epsom salts?
Unfortunately, there is no more evidence for Epsom salts as an effective ant control method than there is for salt.
Some online sources suggest that sprinkling them around (either dry or mixed into a solution) may repel pests, but there is scarce evidence to suggest that this actually works.
Other natural methods of ant control
Salts may not be the answer to your ant woes, but there are plenty of other natural remedies you can try.
Peppermint oils contain menthol, a compound known to repel a variety of insects – including ants!
Sprinkling drops of oil along windowsills, under doorways, and around any other potential ant entry points can help to keep them away from your house.
Alternatively, you could leave out cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, or even plant peppermint in your herb garden to repel bugs.
Hand soap and liquid detergent can both be used to keep ants out.
This is because soap destroys the scent trails that ants use to communicate with one another, making them less likely to wander indoors.
Use soapy water to clean anywhere you’ve seen ants congregating to remove scent trails, and apply to entry points to deter newcomers.
Ants seem to dislike pepper, so the spice may be used to repel these insects.
Sprinkle black or cayenne pepper around ant entry points and household appliances to keep them out.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known to kill certain insects, and may be an effective ant repellent, too!
Scatter drops across window sills, under doorways, and beneath kitchen appliances to dissuade ants from moving in.
Alternatively, you can leave small dishes of tea tree oil or oil-soaked cotton balls in ant-prone areas.
Lemon eucalyptus oil
Lemon eucalyptus oil (LEO) is known to repel mosquitoes, and may also be effective against ants.
Soak cotton balls in LEO and leave them around ant entry points to stop them from coming in.
White vinegar can both kill and repel ants. If you see a line of bugs marching through your home, wipe them up with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution to get rid of them and destroy their scent trails.
You can use the same solution to wipe down floors, countertops, and other surfaces in your kitchen, which may help to repel ants for weeks.
If you’re battling a full-blown ant invasion, cornstarch is an effective way to quickly kill large numbers of them.
Cornstarch can be used to smother groups of ants, and adding water on top will encase them in goo that can then be cleaned up and disposed of.
For a (slightly) less messy solution, you can skip the water step and use a vacuum to clear up the cornstarch-ant mixture.
Coffee grounds are also said to keep ants away, but they must be brewed first!
Sprinkle brewed coffee grounds onto plates or pieces of cardboard and leave them in entry points and other areas that may attract ants (such as beneath appliances).
If merely repelling ants isn’t enough for you, boric acid is sure to kill them stone dead. Boric acid is poisonous and must be kept away from pets and children, so it may not be the ideal solution for family homes.
However, if you do want to give boric acid a go, mix it with sugar and water, and use the solution to soak cotton balls. Leave them out for ants to find, then sit back and wait – the boric acid will kill ants (and their queen) within three weeks of exposure.
There are lots of natural remedies against ants, and some people believe salt to be an effective solution.
A salt spray may kill ants on contact, though a line of salt is unlikely to keep ants out of your house.
Other safe and effective solutions against ants include tea tree oil, peppermint, pepper, soap, cornstarch, white vinegar, coffee grounds, boric acid, and lemon eucalyptus oil.