This is the most in-depth guide on getting rid of ants in the kitchen.
This guide reveals a step-by-step process to eliminate ants from your kitchen cabinets, kitchen counter, kitchen sink, and kitchen floor.
That’s not all.
This guide also reveals the types of ants that infest the kitchen and their sources.
Plus, there are tips and information that you can use right away to prevent future ant infestation in your kitchen.
Tiny Black And Brown Ants In Kitchen
Before we get into the meat of the process, let’s find out the types of ants that invade the kitchen.
Tiny black and brown ants are the most common types of ants in the kitchen. And collectively, these ants are known as sugar ants.
Keep in mind that there are no ant species known as sugar ants.
It’s a generic name that people refer to different ant species because they show up in the kitchen and feed on sweet and protein-rich foods.
The species of ants that people refer to as sugar ants are –
- Acrobat ants
- Argentine ants
- Carpenter ants
- Rover ants
- Pavement ants
- Odorous ants
All these ants can be in your kitchen, nesting and feeding on the food that you store.
These ants are tiny. All of them are blackish-brown to dark brown.
There are some anatomical differences among these ants. For example, acrobat ants raise their abdomen like a scorpion when they encounter a potential threat.
But these differences are not relevant to this guide. It’s because all you want is how to get rid of ants in your kitchen irrespective of the ant species.
You’ll find out how to get rid of ants in the kitchen in a minute, but for now, let’s find out what are the red ants in your kitchen.
Tiny Red Ants In Kitchen
The pharaoh ants and the red fire ants are the two most common species of red ants in the kitchen.
The red fire ant is common in homes in the Southern US and it’s the nastiest ant that you can ever come across.
It bites and stings at the same time. The worst part is a single fire ant can bite you multiple ants.
The bite is itchy, gives a burning sensation, and the bite wound turns into itchy red welts and rashes.
So, from where do these black and red ants enter your home?
Their source lies in your yard or garden.
These ants can invade your apartment from nearby apartments.
It’s common in apartment complexes where one infested apartment spreads the bugs like ants to other apartments.
Ants nest outdoors in your yard or garden. Most ants that invade homes are omnivores.
Outdoors, these ants will feed on organic matter like leaves, seeds, and dead insects. They will also hunt and eat plant-damaging pests like mealy worms and aphids.
Sweet honeydew forms on certain plants is also a food source for all these ants.
How And Why Ants Enter Your Kitchen?
These ants sneak inside your home for only two reasons – food and shelter.
Ants multiply fast. And when their numbers increase, they’re always on the lookout for new food sources and places to hide.
Also, when the weather outdoors becomes too wet or hot, they’ll look for mild and dry places to build their nests.
All these reasons combined are responsible for ants sneaking into your home.
Ants will crawl into your home through the thin gaps and cracks on your home’s walls, window sills, doors, doorways, and pavements.
Ants can also fly into your home. Winged ants are reproductive ants that are known as alates.
Winged ants leave their current colonies for new places to infest and start a new colony.
Swarms of winged ants are active in the late spring. And the light from the light bulbs draws these ants to your home.
Ant swarms will fly to your home through open doors and windows. They mate, lose their wings, and they begin a new colony in your home and yard.
After entering homes, ants lookout for places that are damp and closest to the food sources.
And there’s no better place than the kitchen. Your bathroom comes second.
Your kitchen has stored food, discarded trash in the trash bins, and food droppings.
There are also food stains on the kitchen counter, stove, oven, and floor. All of them, including pet food, attract ants because ants feed on them.
Plus, nooks and corners in the kitchen cabinets, food pantry, and cupboards make your kitchen an ideal nesting place for ants.
Because of excessive dampness, cracks and holes develop on the walls, floors, and near the plumbing area of the kitchen sink.
Dampness in kitchen appliances like coffee making machines also makes ants to get inside coffee makers.
So how do ants reach these food sources and possible nesting places? Pheromone trails.
When ants travel, they leave behind chemicals that emit scents for the other ants to follow. These chemicals are known as pheromones.
Other ants pick up the scents from these trails. They reach the food source and the potential nesting place.
Only a dozen ants are enough to breed and turn into hundreds, if not thousands, causing a massive infestation in your kitchen.
So, when the ant numbers are low, it’s hard to detect them.
There might be one or two appearances of ants scavenging for food in your kitchen.
But the presence of one ant is a telltale sign of an ant colony hiding somewhere in your kitchen.
That’s why it’s critical to get rid of ants from their source. Unless you do that, all the measures you’ll take will not totally eliminate the ants. They’ll show up again.
So, how to get rid of ants in the kitchen from their source by destroying their nests?
The following section covers it all, step-by-step.
How To Get Rid Of Ants In The Kitchen Like A Pro?
When you see an ant in your kitchen, it’s likely the result of a much larger infestation.
Many people use household cleaners to get rid of ants in their kitchens, but this approach only works temporarily.
The process of getting rid of ants in the kitchen is simple. But you’ll have to go through all the steps meticulously to eliminate ants.
For your convenience, and for more effectiveness, the process of eliminating ants in the kitchen is divided into three phases – exclusion, execution, and prevention.
These three phases are exactly what pro pest controllers do. And you can mirror these stages too.
Let’s dive into it.
Phase#1 – Exclusion
In the exclusion phase, you cut off the life forces that keep ants alive. These life forces are moisture and food.
In this phase, you don’t need any insecticides. A vacuum cleaner, a quality sealant, and good eyesight are all you need.
Below are the steps in the exclusion –
Step#1 – Vacuum Clean Your Kitchen
Empty your kitchen cabinets, kitchen pantry, and vacuum clean your entire kitchen, including the food storage areas.
While emptying the food storage, you’ll find dry food spillovers and ants crawling on the shelves.
Don’t worry about those crawling ants, you’ll deal with them later. For now, focus on cleaning the storage areas.
After that, vacuum clean your entire kitchen. Do not miss the corners underneath kitchen countertops, dining tables, chairs, and the corners of your kitchen.
To ensure that you thoroughly clean the food storage shelves, it’ll be best to use a handheld vacuum cleaner.
When you’re through, move on to the next step.
Step#2 – Remove Food Stains From And Food Crumbs From Kitchen Counter
It’s a kitchen. So, food wastes, droppings, liquid spillovers, and food stains are bound to be there. Apart from the stored food, these are the things that ants eat.
So, get rid of these food stains and droppings. Use a disinfectant to clean the hard surfaces like the kitchen counter, stoves, sinks, and floor.
Mop the kitchen floor with a mixture of disinfectant and water.
Step#3 – Seal Leaking Pipes Underneath Kitchen Sinks And Of The Dishwasher
Moisture is a critical element that keeps ants and pests like roaches that invade kitchens, alive.
You must deny them moisture. And you do that by sealing leaky pipes.
Pipes in the plumbing area underneath sinks and behind dishwashers are moist. Over time, they start to leak because of wearing out of the sealants that hold them.
So, use a silicone-based sealant to caulk those leaking pipes. Silicone-based sealants are robust, waterproof, lasts for a decade, and bugs can’t chew through them.
Phase#2 – Execution
Now it’s the action phase. In this phase, you’ll find out steps that will lead you to the ants’ sources, track them, and eliminate them from their roots.
Here are the things that you’ll need.
Step#4 – Follow The Ant Trail
This step and the following steps are the heart and soul of the ant riddance process. So, don’t skip them.
The key to getting rid of ants is to locate the ants’ nests and colonies.
Finding ants’ nests outdoors is an easy task. Ant colonies are underneath the mud mounds that they build.
But in your kitchen and home, it’s a challenging task. It’s because there are no ant mounds that tell you that below it is the colonies.
Inside homes, ants walk in the straight-ish line that leads either to the food source or to their nests.
But, at times, ant infestation can begin with random solitary ants scouting your home for food and nesting sites.
And once they find both, they’ll leave pheromones behind for the other ants to pick up the scents and reach the food source and the possible nesting place.
And in the kitchen, ants do not build their colonies far away from the food source.
So, if there are ants in your kitchen pantry or on the kitchen countertop, then the chances are the ants’ nests are within 6-8 feet’ distance.
Hence follow the ant trails. The trail runs to and fro from the food source and the colony.
You’ll notice that the ant trail is ending in a thin gap or crevice on the floor, wall, baseboard, or in the kitchen furniture like a kitchen cabinet.
If there are red fire ants or pharaoh ants in your kitchen, the colonies can be at the joint between the floor and the wall.
Carpenter ants can make their nests in damp furniture. So, depending on the species of ant infesting your kitchen, the nesting location will vary.
However, there’s a catch.
Some species of ants, like carpenter ants, can have satellite nests. It means that multiple nests cater to the main nest where the queen resides.
That can make the situation tricky and difficult to spot their source. But the closer you follow the ant trail, the higher the chance that you’ll reach the ants’ source.
Step#5 – Use Ant Gel Baits To Kill Ants And Their Entire Colony
Now that you located the ants’ source or nests, it’s time to get on the offensive.
You’ll need an ant killer that will destroy the ant colonies, the ant broods which the worker ants are rearing, and the ant queen that lays the eggs.
For that, you’ll need to choose the right ant killer. But not just any killer.
Many people will use sprays. Sprays work, no doubt. But sprays have less residual toxicity and they alert the other ants.
Hence, the ants that don’t encounter the spray escape and hide. End result?
Ants come back when the toxicity is over.
To counteract this problem, it’s essential that you use something that has the maximum killing effect.
That’s why we highly recommend an ant-killing gel bait.
Here’s how it works. Gel baits are poisonous to ants. These baits also have ingredients that make ants believe that it’s food.
On spotting the gel bait, the worker ants eat it.
That’s not all. Ants will also take the bait to their colonies to feed the queen and the larvae. The larvae and queen consume the gel bait.
That leads to the killing of the entire ant colony.
But there’s a catch. Ant gel baits are not instant ant killers. They take 3-5 days to show their effect.
So, how to use the ant gel bait?
Remember, in the previous step you unearthed ants’ nests by following their trails?
Gel baits come in syringes with the gel in them. Push the syringe to eject the gel baits near the ants’ nests and on the trail.
So, you’ll have to keep the gel baits near the crevices in the walls, cabinets, floors, and other surfaces where you’ve spotted the ants’ nests.
The gel bait will draw the ants out of their nests. The ants will feed and carry the gel baits when they’re on the trail scavenging for food in your kitchen.
There are a few things to keep in mind while using the ant gel baits.
The gel baits dry out if the ants don’t consume. So, you’ll need to re-apply the ant baits often.
Wipe out the dried-out gel baits with a wet towel. And keep fresh baits.
Secondly, gel baits are poisonous. So, always keep them out of reach of children and pets.
And finally, do not forget to wash your hands after using the gel bait.
Step#6 – Use Insecticide Sprays In Your Kitchen
Now it’s time to use ant-killing insecticide sprays. Again, you shouldn’t use any spray.
As it’s your kitchen, so you’ll need to choose the safe one.
We highly recommend Wondercide spray for the kitchen. It kills ants on contact and is safe to use in your kitchen.
It’s also safe for pets and children. But before using it, please read the instructions on the label.
Ensure that you spray it on the kitchen floor, cabinets, pantry, and on the kitchen counters.
But do not spray it directly on the open food. It’ll be best to re-fill your kitchen shelves after you’re through with the entire process.
The question is, for how long do you need to use the combination of ant gel and ant spray?
The answer is till you stop seeing ants.
So, it’s a bit long-drawn process and you’ll have to repeat the procedure multiple times for a week to see the results.
Bugs like roaches, ants, bed bugs, and termites spread fast and are hard to eliminate. If anyone tells you that you can instantly get rid of them then it’s wishful thinking.
You’ll need to be consistent with measures to see the results.
Also, you’ll need to the preventive steps so that ants don’t show up again in your kitchen.
And what are those preventive steps?
The final and third phase is all about prevention. Let’s get into it.
Phase#3 – Prevention
You’ve come this far. Congratulations!
You’ve done a great job to kill these annoying crawling pests in your kitchen.
Now it’s time to ensure that ants don’t come back in your kitchen.
Here are the preventive steps to ensure that they don’t return.
Step#7 – Seal The Gaps And Cracks In Your Kitchen To Prevent Ants From Nesting
Remember, in the second phase, you spotted thin gaps and cracks that are nesting sites for ants?
Seal those gaps to ensure that ants can’t reuse these gaps to nest again.
So, caulk these gaps with a sealant. Do not overlook the cracks on the walls and the floor.
Seal the cracks on the windows and home’s foundation facing the yard. These cracks are the entry points for ants into your home.
We recommend using a silicone-based sealant for doing the job. They’re sturdy and waterproof too.
Step#8 – Repair Damaged Walls And Floors
High dampness for prolonged periods causes severe damages to walls and floors. Leaking pipes can cause high dampness in both.
So, if dampness has damaged the walls, floors, and furniture, then repair them.
Also, repair any plumbing issue underneath kitchen sinks, faucets, and kitchen counter. Else, these damages will cause water leakages.
Water leakages increase the dampness in your kitchen. It leads to damage to the walls, floors, and furniture.
Cracks develop on them, which the ants exploit by building their nests.
Step#9 – Treat Your Yard And Garden For Ants
If you’re living in a home with a yard or garden, then they’re the source of ants in your home and kitchen.
These ants will first infest your yard. And slowly, they’ll invade your kitchen and home looking for more food sources and hiding places.
When their numbers increase inside your home then they can be a nuisance.
These ants can spread to your bedroom.
Scattering diatomaceous earth in your yard, mulch beds, and woodpiles where ants hide eliminate ants in your yard.
Step#10 – Use Ant Baits Or Insect Traps In Strategic Places Inside Your Kitchen
Ant baits and insect traps in the kitchen capture the left-over ants. And they also help in catching the ants that try to invade your kitchen.
Sticky ant traps or insect baits traps are sticky. So, when the ants step onto these baits they can’t escape.
But you’ll need to keep them in places where they can be the most effective.
So, places like corners of your kitchen, kitchen pantry, underneath sinks and kitchen counters, and near windows are ideal.
We recommend Terro insect traps. They’re safe. These traps can even catch other kitchen pests like roaches and crickets.
Step#11 – Keep Your Kitchen Clean
When it comes to having a kitchen that is free from pests like ants and roaches, cleanliness plays a big role.
And the biggest mistake that many people make that attracts ants is when they let plates with food sitting in the kitchen sink overnight.
Another mistake is that when they don’t dispose of the garbage in their kitchen trash bins.
So, don’t make these mistakes. Wash the plates, bowls, pots, pans, and even pet bowls before you go to bed.
Keep your kitchen pantry clean. Prevent stored food spillovers on the shelves of the kitchen pantry, kitchen cabinets, and cupboards.
Ants infest stored food in kitchen cupboards and kitchen pantry. So, ensure that you clean all the shelves in these storage areas.
Also, clean the kitchen counter and kitchen sinks with a mixture of water and white vinegar or liquid dish soap.
It’ll remove the pheromone trails from these surfaces and prevent other ants from reaching there.
A mixture of water and lemon juice also removes the pheromone trails.
You can use dish soap to kill ants and to prepare an ant trap to prevent them from entering your home and kitchen.
Natural Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Ants In Kitchen
There are also natural home remedies to prevent ants from entering your kitchen. And one of the most reliable ones is essential oils.
Peppermint oil, neem, eucalyptus, cinnamon, tea tree oil, and lemon essential oils keep ants away.
Ants hate the smell of these oils and they’re ant repellents. Mix any one of these oils with water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
Spraying the mixture in your kitchen will prevent ant infestation. If there are any ants left, they’ll quit your kitchen, and home too, because of the scents from these oils.
Another effective hack to get rid of ants naturally is boric acid powder.
Sprinkle the boric acid powder in the voids of walls, floors, and inside the shelves. Let the powder sit for an hour or so.
Boric acid is lethal for ants, roaches, and even termites. It’s a desiccant that absorbs the moisture from these bugs and also destroys their digestive system.
After an hour, vacuum clean your kitchen to remove the powder and the dead ants. After vacuum cleaning does not forget to seal the voids in which you poured the powder.
An alternative to boric acid is diatomaceous earth. It has the same effect as boric acid.
Both boric acid and diatomaceous earth are pet and children-friendly. However, keep pets and children away from them because these are dust powders.
Sprinkling some spices like black pepper, cayenne pepper, and keeping cinnamon sticks and cloves are also effective ways to repel ants.
The smell from these spices keeps ants and many pantry pests away from your kitchen.
Herbs like mint leaves, basil leaves, and bay leaves are also ant repellants. You can keep a few on the food storage shelves to keep ants away.
There are home remedies to get rid of ants in kitchen that you can use if you want to get rid of ants in the kitchen naturally.
When To Hire A Pest Control Professionals To Get Rid Of Ants In Kitchen And Home?
When you’re seeing ants in all areas of your home then we highly recommend hiring a pest controller.
Ant-infestation is a serious issue. And given their tiny size and rapid breeding rate, these pests can spread in the deepest corners of your home.
At that time, you’ll need experienced hands, eyes, and skills to get rid of ants in your home.
When ants go unchecked, ants can cause damages to things like carpets.
In the bedroom, ants can infest your bed mattress and can even get inside your closet and wardrobe.
Also, ants suddenly disappear in the winter. They’ll retreat to the colonies that they built inside your home to hibernate.
And when the spring arrives, the ants come out of hibernation only to suddenly appear in your home out of nowhere.
Hence, the sudden disappearance of ants during the winter season can trick you into thinking that ants have left your home.
So, hire a pest controller if an infestation is severe in your home or your repeated efforts are not giving you the results that you want.
Are Ants Harmful?
Some species of ants are harmful and can also cause expensive damages. Ants can damage potted plants in your home too.
For example, the red fire ants leave nasty bites and stings on humans and pets. And the carpenter ants can dig into your furniture to lay eggs.
Also, ants carry pathogens that they can transfer to your food. These pathogens can cause food-borne diseases like salmonella.
In this guide, you’ve learned to get rid of ants in the kitchen in three phases. There are 11 steps in these phases that will eliminate ants in your kitchen from their source.
You’ve also found out why ants show up in your kitchen, why it’s important to know their source, and how to prevent ants from coming back.
Most of the ants that show up in your kitchen are sugar ants. These ants invade kitchen and homes in search of food and shelter.
But red fire ants can also enter homes. These ants are mostly outdoor ants but when conditions outdoors get too harsh for them, or if their numbers increase, they can invade homes too.
So, if you’re seeing ants in your kitchen, use this guide as a manual to make your kitchen ant-free.
We are Mark and Jim. We dabbled with bugs and pests for most of our lives. And we provide information and hacks that work in making your home pest free.