How to get rid of kitchen ants.

How to Get Rid of Tiny Ants in the Kitchen (Naturally)

So, you need to get rid of those tiny ants in your kitchen.

They’re small. They’re annoying. And they’re in your cereal. On your table. And on your countertops.

A single ant ruins the entire meal. Disgusting.

No one wants to add any more spice to their morning breakfast- especially in the form of ants.

Right?

So let’s find out how you can control, manage, and eradicate those small ants from your kitchen.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • How to identify the type of ant in your kitchen
  • Ways to naturally and organically get rid of them
  • How to keep them out of your dining area
  • And more

Sound good? Let’s get those ants out of the kitchen.

What are the tiny ants in my kitchen?

The ants you see are likely one of these:

  • Pharaoh ants
  • Carpenter ants
  • Argentine ants

Each of them a little bit different and you can use their phenotypic appearances to tell them apart.

Here’s a quick guide to identify the ant species:

Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants are usually tan and almost transparent.

They’re commonly found indoors in hospitals, bathrooms, and other facilities.

They have a dark abdomen that’s usually black in coloration and are tiny in scale. Females are just 0.2cm with a clutch size of 10-12 ants.

Argentine ants

Argentine ants will displace native ants and are usually found in debris, refuse, or within the foundation of your home.

They’re about 2.2mm in length with a light tan or dark brown colors. They have no hairs on their body and are commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants usually hide out in forested areas and build nests within damp wood.

They can live in homes by chewing through the beams and discarding sawdust. They do NOT feed on wood, but they do destroy it.

These ants are about 0.64-2.5cm, so they’re much bigger than Pharoah or argentine ants.

However, people often confuse them with the tiny black ants because of their coloration- they’re usually all black or dark brown.

The most common tiny ants to infest homes are either argentine or pharaoh ants.

Common names

There are a huge variety of ants species and the typical homeowner can’t tell the difference between them.

This leads to many aliases and wrongful ant identification.

These are some of the common nicknames for argentine and pharaoh ants:

  • Tiny black ants
  • Small black ants
  • Little black ants
  • Black garden ants
  • Pavement ants

Whatever you want to call them, they’re still ants.

And thankfully, most household ants can be controlled with the same DIY home remedies. The ant species doesn’t matter- what matters is keeping clean!

Common locations

Small ants outside on a leaf.
These tiny ants are native to the outdoors, but they’ll gladly come into your home.

Tiny ants can easily get into your kitchen due to their miniature size.

They can even be hard to see without a keen pair of eyes.

However, once you spot them, you’ll want to take measures to get rid of them.

Here are some common areas where those little black ants are found:

  • Dining table
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Kitchen sinks
  • Appliances
  • Utensils, bowls, and silverware
  • Kitchen drawers, cabinets, and cupboard
  • Within unsealed food
  • Food leftovers
  • Dirty dishes
  • Inside the dishwater
  • Microwave
  • Fridge
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen floor
  • Kitchen ceiling
  • Around window sills and doors

Why do I have tiny ants in my house?

Small black ants foraging.
They forage for food and water, often found in your kitchen.

These ants are searching for two things: food and water.

This is why you have ants in your kitchen.

They’ve likely already established shelter nearby and the ants you see are scouts looking for food to bring back to the nest.

They usually build their nest outdoors, within wall voids, or other crawl spaces. If you can find the nest, destroy it and your problem is solved.

Sadly, it’s easier said than done. These ants are difficult to find, let alone spot their ant colony hidden somewhere out of view.

So you’ll need to be smart to save yourself time.

Don’t go killing off the ants as soon as you see them- use their trail to find their nest and destroy it. Then you don’t need to worry about future ant problems.

Do you see what I’m saying? Get rid of the source to get rid of the problem.

If you provide them with a source of food and water, they’ll constantly scour your kitchen for them.

When are they active?

Temperature also plays a big role.

The active period for ants is when the temperatures pick up, generally from June to late August when it’s warm over the summer.

These tiny ants are also not actual, meaning they come out at night to forage.

But you may also see them during the day, especially if they’re hungry or desperate for resources. They may have also been disturbed.

How to get rid of tiny ants in kitchen naturally

Tiny black ant eating a leaf.
These pests are no match for the power of DIY solutions!

Here are some home remedies you can do to control and eradicate those small ants at home.

Most of them are completely natural, so you can avoid using toxic, lingering pesticides around the home- especially the place where you eat!

Try these out. Some will work. Some won’t. Experiment and see what works best for you. There’s never a single solution that always gets rid of the tiny ants- it’s usually a combination of them.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a proven effective home remedy for the tiny ants around your kitchen.

The nice part about vinegar is that it’s food-safe, so you can use it on your countertops, cabinets, drawers, dining table, chairs, appliances, and more.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the surfaces you use vinegar on won’t be damaged (since it’s highly acidic with a low pH).

Mix half vinegar and half water together into a spray bottle.

Then go ahead and apply it anywhere you see those small black ants crawling around in your kitchen.

You can use vinegar to disinfect or kill those tiny ants. It’ll eliminate them upon contact. Use a damp cloth to wipe up the dead ants and throw them out.

Be sure that your trash and recycle containers are secure, or else you’ll attract more ants that feast on their fallen comrades- cannibalist style.

Lemon juice

The powerful acidic properties of lemon juice will have those small ants running for the hills.

Similar to vinegar, the lemon juice will kill ants upon contact.

You can also use it to disrupt the pheromone trains they drop behind to attract other ants. If you see a bunch of them crawling in their signature trail of ants, spray some lemon juice to disrupt it.

Lemon juice needs to be diluted with 2 parts water to make a powerful ant repellent. It kills, deters, and stops ants naturally without any harsh chemicals.

Again, make sure the surfaces you spray it on are cleaned right away.

And don’t use it on sensitive surfaces. You can always test it on a non-obvious area first to see how it reacts to the lemon juice.

You can also buy organic juice if you want to make an organic ant killer.

The residual effect of the citrus powered spray also keeps ants away for some time. You can spray it around your kitchen cupboards, drawers, patio doors, and windowsills for a long-lasting, natural ant deterrent.

Anything citrus, including essential oils, lime, and lemon work.

Spice and pepper

Spices can help repel ants from the kitchen.
Peppers and spices are a natural solution to repel ants from your home.

Peppers are a powerful deterrent for those small kitchen ants.

They despise the aroma that stems from the spice, and you can use this to your advantage to keep your kitchen free of ants.

You can use any pepper that has a strong scent, such as:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Ghost pepper
  • Jalapenos
  • Cloves
  • Bay leaves
  • Mint leaves
  • Chili pepper
  • Basil leaves

Buy it in powder form or buy the pepper itself and dice it up.

Place it into a nylon sock to hold the pieces together. Then place it where the ants are active. If you use pepper powder, just sprinkle it around the area where you see those small ants crawling around.

You can also make pepper spray by diluting it with a bit of water and spraying it around the infestation.

Pepper is less damaging than acid, so you can be a bit more lenient when applying it to your kitchen counters.

But if you have sensitive materials, always test it first.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural white powder that will kill ants over time.

It works by cutting up ants when they come into contact with it, which will dehydrate them through the open pores from the powder.

You sprinkle it around the kitchen in key areas like under cabinets, around sinks, around table legs and chair legs, within cabinets and drawers, and countertops.

You just need a thin layer of it where it’s barely visible. Make a barrier with the diatomaceous powder so that ants are forced to walk over it to get to your kitchen supplies.

Be sure to buy FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth.

This one is safe for humans and pets, but I’d still avoid contact with it just to be safe.

Read the labels and use as directed. Don’t buy the POOL GRADE one, that’s dangerous to use in your kitchen. Also, be sure the DE is PURE and NATURAL.

You can also apply DE outside your home, such as lining the perimeter of your foundation.

Put some on your patio doors and windows near your kitchen, because those tiny ants may be entering from here.

Also, find cracks and toss some in there. Pretty much anywhere that allows an entryway for ants should be covered.

DE will remain effective until blown away or wet from the rain.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon keeps bugs off patio sets.
Don’t overlook the power of cinnamon as a natural pest repellent.

Cinnamon is an awesome ant repellent that’s completely natural and safe to use in the kitchen.

Buy pure, organic cinnamon powder or cinnamon sticks. Then place either one around your kitchen where ants are seen. The volatile properties of cinnamon is what kills them.

The tiny ants crawl over the cinnamon and it suffocates them.

You can also block ant entryways and use it as a natural repellent to keep them out of your cupboards, drawers, or kitchen cabinets.

Cinnamon works well for tiny ants in the kitchen because the powder is so fine and the composition of the powder shows to be a powerful ant killer.

Baking soda

Baking soda has over 100 uses around the home, and killing those tiny ants in your kitchen is just another option!

This is one proven solution that’s commonly used by handy homeowners.

Get some pure baking soda and make some natural ant bait using sugar.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup pure baking soda
  • 1 cup table sugar
  • Half cup water
  • Small mixing cup
  • Old toothbrush

How to make it:

  • Mix the baking soda and sugar together in the mixing cup. Try to mix them evenly.
  • Add the water to the mixture.
  • Stir with the toothbrush until it becomes a fine paste. Add more water as necessary.

How to use it:

  • Use the toothbrush and apply the paste around the kitchen. You can use small dabs of it as traps.
  • Place it around drawers, cabinets, patio doors, baseboards, and under appliances.
  • You can also use it on table legs or between cracks.

How it works:

  • The sugar attracts the ants as bait.
  • As the ants consume the sugar, they also eat some of the baking soda.
  • The baking soda kills them when they eat it, but it takes time.
  • The ants carry the baking soda and sugar back to the nest, where other ants will consume it over time.
  • The mixture kills the entire colony slowly.

Notes:

  • You may have to adjust the amount of sugar to baking soda ratio if they’re not eating any. Add more sugar if they don’t take the bait.
  • If you notice they’re eating the paste, but not being killed by it, add more baking soda.
  • Replace it after it turns hard or the ants aren’t interested in it anymore.
  • You can also use it outdoors to stop ants from getting into your kitchen.
  • The white sugar and baking soda make it easy to spot the tiny black ants. You can use it as a way to monitor ants around the kitchen.
  • Keep pets and people away from it to prevent consumption and disturbance, which may reduce the efficacy.

Use soapy water

Soapy bubbles outside.
Soapy water can be used to kill ants upon contact.

Soapy water can kill ants just as fast as store-bought commercial ant killers.

All you need is a few drops of dish detergent in a quart of water.

Shake it to mix the two and then spray it on ants when you come across them in your kitchen.

The tiny ants stand no chance because the dish soap drowns them due to the high surface tension of the soap.

Remove all dead ants after you spray to avoid attracting more of them to your kitchen.

You don’t need to only use dish soap, there are plenty of alternatives that work:

  • Bar soap
  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Laundry detergent

Of course, you’ll want to be careful spraying this stuff around your kitchen.

Clean it up after spraying to remove residues from harmful soaps.

You can stay natural by using natural dish soap.

Mint

Mint is a powerful bug repellent.

You can either buy mint clipping from the grocery stores and just place them around your kitchen or plant mint around your home.

Both will release the pleasant aroma that ants can’t stand. They hate the smell of mint.

Place it where you see those small ants appear. A single clipping is enough to deter them from going within a few inches of the plant.

You can also buy mint plants and just keep clipping them for an unlimited supply.

Do you have ants all year long? Then invest in mint plants!

You can even plant mint around the perimeter of your property to keep ants out of your kitchen.

If regular mint doesn’t work to get rid of the tiny ants, try peppermint oil. You’ll have to dilute it with water by adding a few drops of oil to a quart of water.

Then spray it around the kitchen. This stuff smells very strong, so make sure you can handle it first.

Alternatively, dunk a cotton ball into the solution and stick the cotton ball outside your home or in your kitchen- wherever you see ants active.

Place them in areas that you want to keep ants away from.

Mint has many uses. Don’t underestimate this powerful plant!

Use coffee grounds

Coffee grounds can help repel small ants.
Coffee grounds have a powerful aroma which ants hate.

Coffee grounds have been reported to repel and deter kitchen ants naturally.

You can just use generic cheap coffee grounds and sprinkle them along your kitchen edges to help keep the ants out. Find out where they make their trails and put a thin layer of coffee grounds along with it.

Ants hate the smell of it and will stay away.

Note that coffee grounds do NOT get rid of the ant problem. They just help limit places they can crawl to.

So you’ll still have to get a plan up and running to control and manage them. But coffee grounds can be damage control.

Try cucumber

Cucumber slices are strange, but they do help keep ants away. Just slice up a cucumber and place the slices around your kitchen.

They can be a natural deterrent but require constant replacement.

You shouldn’t rely on the cucumber to get rid of them- this is just a natural repellent that can be used to keep them out of specific areas in your kitchen while you do something else to control them.

Set up cornmeal  traps

You can use cornmeal to destroy an entire ant nest- this has proven results for some people while others claim it doesn’t work.

But it’s worth a try if you already have some leftover cornmeal. The cornmeal acts as bait for ants to eat. When combined with a poison like borax, boric acid, or even baking soda, that’s what actually does the killing.

All you need to is sprinkle some cornmeal with a poison around the areas where you see ants in your home. The ants consume the cornmeal and bring it back to their nest, which will then wipe out the rest of them quickly.

You’ll need to combine the cornmeal with a killer, such as boric acid or baking soda. Use a ratio of 1 part poison to 8 parts cornmeal. Keep pets and people away.

Caulk up entryways

Find out where the small ants are coming from and caulk up the gap or crevices.

Because of their tiny size, they can come into your kitchen from the smallest cracks. When you find an ant trail, trace it to see where they’re coming from.

Don’t kill them until you find out. The scout ants will forage for food and once they find it, they’ll set up a scented trail to get other ants out.

Once this happens, you can trace them to the crack they’re entering form. There’s likely a nest hidden somewhere nearby.

Oftentimes, you won’t find the nest in your kitchen. BUT you can find out the specific entryway they’re using to get inside your kitchen.

Here are common areas those tiny ants come from:

  • Baseboards
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Broken tiles
  • Patio doors
  • Vents
  • Crevices between the wall and ground
  • Laundry rooms
  • Pipe outlets
  • Windowsills
  • Ceiling lights
  • Door frames

The easiest way to find out is to simply let them eat some bait you leave out. Find the ant trail after it gets set up.

And trace it to the original. Once you find where it is, seal it up with caulk or repair the orifice.

Make ant traps

There are tons of DIY ant traps you can make at home.

Depending on the type of infestation you have and how well made the trap is, there are different success rates.

Here’s a simple one you can make with materials you probably already have.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp boric acid
  • 1 tbsp honey or jam
  • A piece of bread, cracker, or other food
  • A small box (matchbox size)

How to make it:

  • Mix the boric acid and honey together.
  • Spread it on the cracker.
  • Place the entire thing into the small box.
  • Leave one side for the ants to enter and seal up the rest.
  • Place it somewhere the ants are active.

How it works:

  • The ants detect the sweet honey and will feast on it.
  • The boric acid also is eaten by them, which kills them by cutting up their internals and dehydrates them.
  • Other ants feast on their fallen comrades, which kills them also.

Notes:

  • Leave the trap out overnight. This is when the tiny ants come out to forage.
  • If you find the trail of ants in the daytime, trace it back to the nest and eradicate it.
  • You can replace the bait with jam, peanut butter, or even table sugar.
  • You’ll need to use various baits to see what the ants eat.

Will apple cider vinegar kill ants?

Apple cider vinegar bottles.
Apple cider vinegar proves to be a homemade powerful ant killer.

Yes, apple cider vinegar is a powerful ant killer.

You can dilute it with water in equal parts and use it to spray ants to kill them upon contact. It also helps get rid of the pheromone trail they leave behind so they’ll be confused. If you see a trail of ants, spray them down with apple cider vinegar to kill them and remove their trail.

The residual effect of ACV can also help keep them away for some time.

Be sure that you don’t spray on any surfaces that are sensitive to acid. This is one of the best homemade ant killers you can make using available materials.

And acidic solutions are one of the things ants hate the most.

Clean up your kitchen

Keeping your kitchen clean is key to permanently getting rid of the tiny kitchen ants.

After all, the only reason they’re there is that they’re eating your foods. So this is why you need to keep it clean.

Here are some tips:

  • Store foods in airtight containers
  • Never leave food out overnight
  • Wash the dishes after every meal
  • Don’t leave food out overnight
  • Put away any beverages or leftovers
  • Scan your cabinets for accessible food
  • Clean up any food debris, soda, juice, or water spills
  • Wipe the dining table
  • Vacuum the kitchen
  • Transfer foods stored in plastic bags to glass

Remember that ants are scavengers and will seek out food during the night.

They’re not picky and will eat up anything you leave behind- even a single drop of soda is enough for them to swarm your kitchen overnight.

So keep it clean and don’t skimp on even the smallest crumb.

Remove them manually

You can remove ants manually using two fast and easy methods. This is useful when you wake up to a kitchen full of them and don’t have time to clean them up.

Use a vacuum

Get a shop vac or upright vacuum with a hose and suck up any loose ants.

This is a quick way to eliminate them, but it won’t get rid of the nest. Empty the bag or dump the canister afterward because they can escape and infest another area of your home.

Use a wet sponge

Get a sponge and dip it into a soapy water mixture.

Wipe up any ant trails you come across in the kitchen. This will kill them while you wipe, so you can just rinse off the dead ants under the faucet when you’re done.

The soap also removes their pheromone trail they leave behind so any news ants that enter the area will be confused

Call a professional

When you’re really unsure of what to do, call a licensed professional exterminator. They can help you control and completely eradicate the ant problem. Larger companies will often do a free evaluation and give you a plan of action. Ask them if they have natural treatments instead of chemicals and ant traps.

What is the best ant killer for indoors?

If you’re going to use commercial sprays, look for something with bifenthrin as the active ingredient.

This will kill ants effectively, however, you should always opt for natural or organic ways to control those tiny ants.

This is because they’re in your kitchen and you don’t want them to spread the toxic poison all over your food prep areas.

How do I permanently get rid of tiny ants in my kitchen?

A macro shot of an ant head.
Ants can be controlled by practicing good hygiene.

Whether you have those small ants on your kitchen counter or all over your dining table, these tips should help you get rid of them permanently.

Keep your cleaning habits persistent and don’t skimp on it. Only a single leftover crumb can keep the ants in you kitchen.

So you need to be consistent and avoid bad cleaning habits- at least until the ants are gone.

Keep it clean

As mentioned earlier, keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape will help keep the ants away.

They’re only there to forage for food and nothing else. If you have no food for them to eat, then they have no reason to hide out there.

Follow basic cleanliness practices: do your dishes after every meal, clean up spills, secure all foods in airtight containers, never leave food out overnight, and vacuum regularly.

Doing this will help get rid of any food sources available to the small ants and keep them out of your kitchen. Wipe down all counters even if you don’t think you spilled anything.

The smallest food crumb is enough to feed many ants.

Keep it dry

Ants in the kitchen drain.
Water will attract ants, so clean up spills ASAP.

Similar to keeping your kitchen clean, you also want to keep it dry.

Ants need a source of hydration from water, soda, juice, or even alcohol.

Even the smallest drop of liquid is enough to attract dozens of ants as they drink up the source. Keep your kitchen counters, tiles, and sink dry at all times.

Dry it up with a clean cloth (dirty clothes spread bacteria):

  • Doing dishes
  • Washing hands
  • Defrosting drinks or frozen meals
  • Washing utensils or appliances
  • Spillages
  • Wiping counters with a wet cloth

Eliminate all traces of water and don’t leave out open drinks overnight. Always put them in the fridge.

Seal up foods

Next to water, food is a necessity for any ant nest to thrive.

Keep your kitchen free of food, especially at night. Don’t leave a single crumb because this is enough for any scout to find and call reinforcements.

Be thorough in cleaning and don’t skimp on anything. If you want to get rid of the tiny ants, you need to think like an ant. They can reach the tiniest places and consume food.

Do the following to help keep them out of your kitchen:

  • Transfer all foods to airtight containers
  • Wipe up any crumbs
  • Vacuum your kitchen nightly
  • Don’t leave food on the table (ants can climb)
  • Store food in the fridge
  • Clean all appliances after use (blenders, ovens, etc.)
  • Ensure utensils, knives, and silverware are clean
  • Eat in the dining area
  • Never leave food out overnight
  • Clean pet food bowls every night
  • Put all leftovers in the fridge

As basic as these tips seem, people still don’t practice them and wonder why the tiny black ants won’t leave their eating area.

You need to make sure everyone’s doing it because it only takes a single person to “accidentally” leave some food out.

And that food can feed an entire colony of ants and other bugs. So get everyone with the program.

Dispose of trash

A messy pile of recyclables attracts bugs.
Keep it clean. Keep it organized.

Be sure to take out the trash regularly.

Don’t let it overflow because that’s just a buffet for ants. Use a secure translation bin that holds in aromas and keeps bugs out.

Although the nats are tiny and hard to keep out of the trash can, you can still limit the exposure to the garbage by using something with a lid.

This may help reduce the number of ants attracted to your garbage disposal.

Avoid punctures in garbage bags which can spill juices. You can also sprinkle some diatomaceous earth or baking soda at the very bottom of the container to keep ants out and absorb food odors.

Sweep regularly

Sweeping your kitchen with a wet mop will help break down and remove sticky substances, food particles, and other debris.

Do this at least every week to keep it free of residues that may attract ants. The choice of detergent you use makes a huge difference.

Use something that’ll remove stains- not just plain water. You can use regular dish soap with some water, but a dedicated stain remover works best.

Clean your sinks

Keep your sinks dry every night. And keep them clean and free of debris.

You can use this simple baking soda formula to remove bacteria sludge and buildup, which may attract ants:

  • Pour 1 cup of boiling water down the drain
  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes or until it stops bubbling, whichever comes later
  • Rinse it again with boiling water

You can also just pour a half cup of bleach slowly to quickly kill off any bacteria and remove odors.

Don’t forget to clean the sink strainer and sink itself from food particles!

Further reading

Here are some additional references you may find useful:

Did you get rid of the tiny ants in your kitchen?

A tiny black ant eating from the kitchen sink.
Be patient and persisitent!

By now, you should have everything you need to know to manage control and eradicate those tiny ants in your kitchen.

It’ll take some effort and persistence, but it’ll be worth it when you can wake up and grab your morning coffee and oatmeal without a swarm of ants trailing across your countertops.

If you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll help you out. Or if you have any advice for others who have a similar ant problem, leave your tips and tricks below.

Thanks for reading.

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