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Cleaning Tips to Prevent Ants in Your Home

Warmer weather often signals the arrival of some unwanted houseguests: ants. These pests are commonly seen marching along on window sills and walls when outside temperatures start to rise, leading many to believe ants seek out the cooler air inside homes. This is true to an extent; ants are cold-blooded and prefer comfortable temps to extreme heat or cold. However, their main mission when invading your home is to collect food and moisture for their colony, and most homes offer a wide variety of choices—from crumbs and spills on the floor to drips or sticky fingerprints on the side of a jar.

While ants rarely pose an actual health or safety threat, they are a major annoyance best handled early or prevented altogether. Our team at Merry Maids® has put together a few household cleaning tips to send these pests packing.

Wash the Dishes Right Away

You and your family may have licked your plates clean, so to speak, but to an ant, there’s still an all-you-can-eat buffet in that sink full of dishes. Show them the kitchen’s closed by promptly putting away leftovers, washing the dishes, and wiping down the table, countertops, and any surfaces used in food preparation or cooking.

Carefully Seal Food

When putting away leftovers, partially used ingredients, baked goods, or other food, make sure everything is carefully sealed to avoid hosting a dinner party for ants inside the packaging. Pantry staples like dry cereal, baking flour, and sugar should be stored in airtight containers with tight-fitting lids. Other food kept at room temperature on counters or in cupboards, such as cookies and bread, should also be stored in sealable containers or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to discourage pests.

Take Out the Trash

A trash can full of crumbs and other food waste is another playground for ants. Especially during warmer months, take out the trash frequently to remove this strong temptation. Bonus: Taking out the trash more often reduces the likelihood of unpleasant odors from spoiled food.

Regularly Sweep and Vacuum

Cleaning up obvious spills and messes right away is important, but regular sweeping and vacuuming of your kitchen, dining room, living room, and anywhere else where your family enjoys food, drinks, or snacks can ensure you don’t leave any stray crumbs for ants to find.

Disrupt the Scent Trail

When you notice the early signs of ants marching through your home, there are several natural ant deterrents you can use to disrupt the scent trail and confuse them. Ants rely on their sense of smell to find their way to a food source and back to their colony, so these strong scents can create a natural barrier.

To repel ants by disrupting their scent trail, try:

  • Coffee grounds - empty fresh grounds around colonies to neutralize other scents

  • Peppermint oil - use a damp cloth and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to wipe down kitchen surfaces

  • Lavender oil - place a few drops of lavender essential oil on cotton balls and leave near areas where ants have been spotted

  • Vinegar - mix one part vinegar to three parts water and spray along current or former ant trails

  • Cinnamon - sprinkle ground cinnamon around common entry points

If you have family pets, be sure your ant repellent isn’t toxic to your furry friends. Coffee, peppermint oil, and cinnamon are all potentially hazardous to cats and dogs, while using lavender or vinegar to repel ants is safer for pets.

Get Rid of Existing Ants

Looking for some non-toxic ways to deal with an existing infestation or to knock out a scout? Keep a spray bottle filled with water and liquid dish soap. When you spot an ant—or several—spritz it with the soapy water and it will perish. To target the whole colony, leave out a bowl of cornmeal. This method takes some patience, but ants will carry the cornmeal back to their nest, where they will be unable to digest it.

Your best defense against ants is to keep your home thoroughly clean. Merry Maids® can help! Reach out today for a free estimate on our expert house cleaning services.