How To Get Rid Of Ants Without Pesticides (How To Kill Ants)

My neighbor Bill has an ant problem. He has asked me how to get rid of ants without pesticides. He wants to kill his ants, as quickly as possible for little to no cost.

So how do you get rid of ants without pesticides? I know of 3 natural ways to kill and permanently remove ants. These methods are homemade, cheap, and easy.  The first method is to pour boiling water on the anthill. Second, you can spread out food grade diatomaceous earth. Third, you can mix borax with a few other ingredients. Each method is explained in detail below.

Let me tell you a bit about Bill’s situation before I tell you how to control ants without pesticides.

Ants have invaded Bill’s kitchen and are running around all over his home.  I don’t blame the ant’s, because Bill’s house is the ideal place for them to make themselves home. His house has everything an ant wants and needs.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

Bill has leaky pipes that give the ants a never-ending water supply. This is very important in our state which frequently experiences drought conditions.

My neighbor doesn’t keep a clean house either.  He leaves food out for extended periods and never seems to get around to cleaning up spilled foods. Yucky, right?

You should see the area where he keeps his outside trash before garbage pick-up. It’s a total mess most of the time.

As I said, Bill makes it easy for the ants. He has created an environment for the ant’s that they love. They never plan to move out.

How to Get Rid of Ants Without Pesticides

Boiling water poured to kill an ant colony

Method 1 – Boiling Water

This is our cheapest and easiest way to kill ants naturally without using pesticides.

This method works best when you are trying to kill a colony of ants and you have found the location of their anthill.

Pour water directly on the top of the ant mound. You want to surprise the ants so do not disturb them beforehand.

This method works best if applied early morning when it’s cool outside. When it’s colder outside the ants will be closer to the top/opening of the anthill where they are trying to get more warmth.

The burning water will kill the ants. If you don’t kill the queen at first try this method again in a few days.

One last note, the boiling water will kill your grass so don’t go crazy pouring hot water everywhere or you will have patches of dead grass in your yard.
Use food grade diatomaceous earth to kill ants

Method 2 – Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

In small doses, food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and pets. But all you really need is a few teaspoons to kill off and eradicate pesky little ants.

For this method, just sprinkle diatomaceous earth along any routes the ants are traveling. They will walk through this powdery substance which will stick to their bodies. They carry this back to the other ants and the queen.

It can take up to 2 weeks for all the ants to die using this method. So be patient and continue to re-apply until you achieve the results you want.

What I have found works best is for you to mix diatomaceous earth with other food ingredients like confectioners sugar.  The ants love the sugar, which means they eat more and will die sooner.

Again only use food grade diatomaceous earth with this method to kills ants — it should be safe for you and your pets.

It’s also best to use a mask when handling diatomaceous earth so that you do not inhale the substance.
How to use borax to kill ants

Method 3 – Borax, Corn Meal & Sugar

Last but still effective, is mixing borax with regular cornmeal and sugar.

Now if you’re like me and use borax to do laundry you have probably noticed something interesting. The lack of any pest running around in your laundry room. What an aha moment I had, discovering the same borax I use for washing clothes could also be used to kill off ants and other ground-based insects.

Here is the recipe you will be using:

  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon borax

With this method, the ants will carry the mixture back to the colony and slowly kill off all the ants. You might have to reapply this a few times to get to the stubborn queen.

Bonus Method To Get Rid of Ants Without Pesticides

Over the years I have received many reports that dry grains such as cream of wheat, cornmeal, instant grits, and rolled oats could get rid of ants. You just place these out and let the ants carry this stuff to their colonies. The queen and other ants feed on the dry grains, their stomachs and guts expand and the ants explode.

Personally I have tried feeding instant grits to a small colony of ants that moved into my back yard and within a few days, my ant problems were taken care of.

Related Questions

Will these same solutions work for other small insects and bugs?  I’ve only tried boiling water on ants. The food-grade diatomaceous earth and borax have worked on cockroaches and beetles. I have been told that it will kill all the bugs.

Are there any other ways to get rid of ants without pesticides? I can think of at least one other simple method. Mix together equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar.  Sprinkle this where ants have traveled. Ants are attracted to the sugar and end up eating the baking soda. Baking soda reacts in the ant’s digestive system which causes the ants to explode.

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Lynn Edwards

I founded DIY Pest Control Guide with the intention of sharing practical, user-friendly pest control strategies. If you need assistance, reach out to me at - I'm here to help you reclaim your peace of mind.

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