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Ants in the Kitchen

Yesterday, my son found ants in our kitchen.  They were swarming around a fallen crumb of food.

Well, as much as I admire their industriousness, I simply can’t have ants in my kitchen.

No trouble, I know just what to do.

It’s Mighty Mule Team Borax to the rescue… again.

You see, my mom had this same problem at her house a year ago.  She tried the little ant traps available at the hardware store.  They didn’t work.  She called an exterminator.  They wanted a $60 fee to come out to the house and they use pesticides.  “No thanks,” she said.

Start with a small spoonful of jam.  Ants apparently can’t resist strawberry jam- or whatever else you may have.

Next pour in an equal amount of Borax.  And stir together well.

And spoon a small amount of the mixture onto an index card.  I cut my index card into 4 pieces and made 4 cards.

Next place the cards in strategic locations where you’ve seen the ants.

BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE A PET.  While Borax is natural and environmentally friendly, it is toxic if ingested.  I placed my cards just inside the pantry door, and cautioned to kids to make sure to keep the doors shut while I have the cards out.  The ants can get to the sweet concoction, but my sweet little lunch-mouth dog cannot.

Give the cards a few days to do their job.  If all goes well, those ants should be history.

It worked for my mom last year, so I have high hopes.  I love when you can solve a problem for pennies.

***2013 Update:  I had ants that were more difficult to get rid of this year.  The first time I tried this method, it worked they were gone, but came back about 2 weeks later.  This time they didn’t seem to be drawn to the jam.  So I mixed together a small amount of jam and peanut butter, then added the borax and set them out.  They went for the trap almost immediately and it worked like a charm getting rid of them.

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40 Responses to “Ants in the Kitchen”

  • Love your blog! Thanks for this tip!

  • Ants, we have tiny ants, and big red ants, and amazing cockroaches, and geckos, and the biggest snails you’ve ever seen and not to mention the shrew that gets into the bananas…Good times! Amy

  • Do the ants stay with the jam or do they go back to their home?

    • Rick:

      The ants take it back to the colony and it will kill them all off, my grandmother used this my entire life, she used powdered sugar and borax with a little bit of water to make a paste, works like a charm.

  • Holly:

    Thanks for the tip! Our old house was plagued with ants every winter, as was my parents’ house. There never seemed to be a good solution. We haven’t seen ants yet in our current place but I’m pretty sure they’re inevitable in this region. I’ll keep your suggestion handy!

  • Terro liquid poison contains borax, and they claim on their website that it’s not toxic enough to hurt a pet. That’s why I use it. Although it can take a little time, it has worked wonders, even on carpenter ants!

  • Wow, thanks for an excellent tip. We have noticed a few ants around here too. Let us know how it goes!

  • Nic:

    I use Terro too. Works great, but I love to have an alternative if I swarming with ants and can’t get to the store. Thanks!!

  • [...] A few weeks ago, I posted about trying 20 Mule Team Borax to get rid of ants here. [...]

  • Jen:

    Borax is so unsafe.. plus it won’t really get rid of the ants.. they will endlessly come to eat the jelly and die. Why not just use cinnamon, sprinkle it by doorways. Non toxic and ants hate it. Just clean their trails so others don’t follow and then use cinnamon.

    • Calli:

      Hi Jen, I have researched on the internet on several different occasions about the safety of Borax, and I would recommend others to do so too. After my research, I’ve concluded that Borax is very safe for my laundry and for using in my ant traps. It is not for ingesting (as evidenced by it’s effectiveness as ant bait). I take pains to keep it from my dog as I mentioned in my post. Determining what is safe for your home is a personal decision. I strongly disagree with you about Borax’s effectiveness in getting rid of ants. My family, friends and I have all used Borax with jam as an ant trap and found it to be very effective.

      • Jill:

        I use Borax mixed with honey. It is more effective, for me, than the commercial ant bait/traps. It works best if you use it at the first sign of ants – before they can make trails. I’ve tried cinnamon, cayanne pepper and a variety of other spices that they are not supposed to like – none of them were effective – they just walked right over them. Perhaps the spices only work on certain types of ants. If you know where the nest/hill is outside, you can pour a pot of boiling water in it and it will usually destroy the nest. They are sometimes hard to find but, if you know where they are entering the house, there is usually a nest/hill nearby.

      • Inge Reyes:

        I use food grade diatomatious earth….just threw some at an anthill and they bugged out like it was a nuclear bomb….you and your dog can ingest it without harm…we do so on purpose:) And it kills anything with an exoskeleton because it has microscopic razor sharp edges that get into the joints of their exoskeleton and kill them…not to mention it can be dehydrating. Sprinkle it in cracks around your house and enjoy a creepy crawlie free summer:) Sorry doesn’t work on flying insects very well….soooo wish it did:(

        • Amber:

          We also had HUGE problems with earwigs. They are EVERYWHERE in this neighborhood. I found out about the diatomatious earth last summer. I sprinkled it all along the base of our house (we rent and there are SO many cracks/entry spots for bugs in this house). And within TWO Days we didn’t have earwigs OR spiders anymore. Worked great for BOTH of them!

    • Marilyn:

      My daughter tried cinnamon & it didn’t work at all.

  • Christel Krahe:

    terro always works for me

  • melissa:

    Thanks for the tip. We use Borax straight in the garden on ants, but I will try the jam in the kitchen because it is the time of year when they are all over. I use Torro also and the gel works great but now it is hard to find.

  • Deborah:

    will this kill cockroaches also?

  • Anything for th flying ants..every yr. bout this time. They come in…stay about 2 wks and leave..except for the ones I spray…

  • cher:

    Making a sugar syrup mixed with borax worked 100% for me. But be prepared; when discovered, many, many ants come and partake, and it’s hard to watch those ants come and go, because you can’t kill them by squashing them, as the purpose of this mixture is to allow them to eat and carry it back to the nest where it will kill them all. I probably wouldn’t use jam (because of the pieces of fruit), but would instead use heated fruit jelly or heated pancake syrup to dissove the borax. I put mine into jar lids and set it in the cupboards where I saw the ants. At my initial experimentation, I found that after a couple days, the surface of the mixture hardened and it had to be replaced with a fresh mixture. My initial batch was at least 3 cups in quantity, which I had put into a sealed jar, so all I had to do was pour a bit more into the jar lids, to top them off. By the end of a week, there wasn’t a single ant in sight. I found that topping off was best done in the darkest hours; apparently ants sleep and the bait traps were empty then.

  • Mary:

    I have used Terro as well, hate to use the chemicals.. we get the little ants every year in our 100+ y/o country house. Used an exterminator for years, he said they are wall ants, they live in the old plaster walls. I call them ninja ants, they come out and when they see you disappear, hard to find the trails. I have read that if you can find the antholes, and put grits around them and into the holes. the ants will eat the grits or take them back to the nests and feed them to the hive and then when the grits come in contact with water…the grits expand and the ants explode. To Rachel, flying ants are more than likely termites and are looking for a place to start a new nest. Use sticky fly traps to catch them and get a termite inspection ASAP.

  • Vickie:

    I walked in to many trails of ants after one piece of cornbread that my hubby dropped and swept into the corner. I had a serious sinus headache and could not stand the thought of smelling ant spray for the rest of the day but knew i had to do something as they were all over the place. So I keep a spray bottle of strong Dawn and water mixed so I can spray items and not have to get a whole sink of dishwater for just one items (thanks to my smart mother in law) well, I heavily sprayed them with this mix and it killed them instantly, I was so surprised and also disturbed their trails and what ants I missed were wandering around lost, sprayed them as I found them. I did go outside put ant white powder down in the areas I thought they were coming in the house from, not sure it will work but hopefully will help. Amazing how they can find the smallest amount of food on the floor and invite a zillion friends to come party! Had sprinkled not only cinnamon but also cayenne pepper in the very areas they were coming in but we have had a ton of rain

  • Sabrina M Bowen:

    It should be noted that Borax will not kill ALL kinds of Ants! Carpenter Ants, for example, are unaffected by Borax! This works best for the smaller varieties.

  • Cornmeal. Sprinkle it around. Ants can’t digest and it bloats but they like to eat it. So they get full and die.

  • Tamar:

    I use lemon peels inside where the ants are and outside on planters. Ants hate them. Squirrels and cats hate them!

  • Katherine:

    Another, totally ecological solution. Boil for a considerable time a few small red peppers (the ones that are really hot)in water. Then use a spray bottle to apply. Can be used everywhere, even on your kitchen tops; once it dries you can place food immediately, no need to wash.

  • [...] Click HERE to see how to get rid of ants Related PostsTop 21 Ways To Get rid Of Ants Naturally7 Natural Uses For Baking Soda In The Garden**HOMEMADE** Ointment: For the Treatment of Burns and Wounds10 Tips For Organic Ant Control15 Amazing Benefits Of Coconut Milk**DIY** Kitchen Garden Inspiration: Build an Amish Cold Frame Posted in: InfoGraphics ⋅ Tagged: ants, get, How To, In, Kitchen, Of, rid, The [...]

  • capri:

    This tip with Borax works as we did it with honey a few weeks back. Some ants go for protein so peanut butter or bacon grease would work if something sweet does not.

  • Tim:

    The Borax works great for us, since I noticed carpenter ants. I use an old margarine container or cream cheese with a lid. Poke about 4-5 holes around the container about 1/2 way down. Mix 1/4 cup of borax with 3/4 cups of sugar and mix with water to make the mix barely soupy (not much) and add a teaspoon of peanut butter. Also, take a spray bottle and put about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap and water (doesn’t matter if hot or cold). If you see an ant spray a few times on them, kills them within a minute or less plus kills their trail.

  • Catherine:

    I have grease ants and they are all over the dry cat food and in the storage container. They are so tiny that you can barely see them. The borax granuales are as big as they are and they don’t even touch it. Help my cats are hungry.

  • suzi:

    we are eat up with ants !!! never seen them is bad !!!!!
    they even get in the coffee maker !!!!

  • any ideas how to get rid of stink bugs

  • Helen:

    I had an ant problem several years back and the bug man came with borax and we mixed it in the peanut butter that they were already invading under the plastic lid not shut tight enough–his words –they will take it back to the nest with them and the queen will eat it and they will all die–have no idea if they all died or not but they stopped coming and they did not die at the peanut bitter site–that was good enough for me. He also said depending on time of year they seek grease or sugar –so can use both

  • Carol garcia:

    I mix up boric acid with sugar and water, kinda like a paste and put it where the seem to be nesting. With in a week or two their were no more. They eat it and it doesn’t kill them immediately so the can take it back to the queen and kill her too. If you don’t get rid of the queen you will never completely get rid of all the ants. Depending on how big their colony is their could be several queens though. Good luck everyone. I’d start right at the begining of spring and then repeat it about once a month.

  • Michelle:

    I love the tip, since you can put it in a set (hidden) spot.

    I also saw recently, the same idea, but to mix borax with an equal about of “Powdered” sugar, it has to be powdered so that the ants can not distinguish between it and the borax. Sprinkle around window sills, entryways, anywhere they might come in.

  • Lee Hoyle:

    There are ants in my pants!!!

  • Valisia Grebe:

    Corn Syrup is also effective: Just remember if you Spray Ants, mostly commonly known as sugar ants or ghost ants, all you really are doing is splitting the colony. They will go off and form new ones. If you insist on chemically treating them, bait station are your best bet. They have a chemical that sterilize the ants, hence they stop producing. This takes longer, but in the long run more effective. This is something your pest control contractor WON’T Tell you as they would rather do a instant kill and repeat.

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