Ants love trash, there’s no doubt about it. These crawling insects are attracted to many types of food, but sweet foods draw them in more powerfully than any other. Once an ant has discovered a food source, it lays down a trail of pheromones to alert other ants to its discovery. This means you won’t have just one or two ants, you’ll likely have dozens or hundreds. Starting with the most natural solutions, we’ll run down a list of the most effective ways to get rid of ants in your trash cans.
1. Keep Your Trash Cans Clean
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent an infestation, but it’s also useful for discouraging ants that have already discovered your trash. Wipe the inside and outside of your trash cans regularly to clean up any spills or residue. If you’re using a garbage bag, make sure it has no rips. Once it gets full, change the bag to prevent ants from swarming to the odor.
2. Empty Your Trash Cans Regularly
A surefire way to attract ants to your garbage is by neglecting to change it regularly. Once the bag is full, take it out and replace it with a new one. Even if the bag isn’t full, consider changing it if it contains a lot of smelly food waste. Ants are attracted to various kinds of food including sweet, greasy, and fatty foods. Consider a composter if you find your trash is attracting a lot of ants.
3. Use a Trash Can with a Tight Lid
One of the best ways to get rid of ants in your trash is by using a tight lid. A tight lid on your trash can will help stop ants from getting inside. They may still smell the food, but if they can’t get at it, they will likely give up and seek out a different food source.
4. Use Sealed Garbage Bags
Once you take out the trash, you’ll want to keep ants from getting at it. Use sealed garbage bags to keep the garbage safely contained and reduce food odors. Also, make sure food isn’t protruding from or falling out of the bag.
5. Essential Oils
Many people use essential oils to make their homes smell better, but certain scents are also useful for repelling ants. Essential oils like peppermint, citrus (lemon or orange), and tea tree naturally repel most ant species. Try mixing a few drops of oil in water and spraying it on and around your trash cans. This is a harmless, chemical-free way of discouraging ants that will also leave your home smelling great.
The sharp smell and acidity of vinegar are great ways to get rid of ants. Try mixing equal parts vinegar and water and spraying the mixture around your trash cans. The downside to this method is that your kitchen could end up smelling strongly of vinegar. Also, if you use too much or don’t dilute it enough, it could attract other pests like fruit flies and aphids.
7. Lemon Juice
You can use lemon juice to repel ants much the same way you would use vinegar. The strong smell and acidity are highly unpleasant to ants. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water and apply the spray to your garbage cans. Unlike vinegar, the smell of lemon is much more palatable to humans. However, be sure not to use too much – like vinegar, it can attract other pests.
8. Powdered Spices
One of the best natural ways to get rid of ants is by using powdered spices. Certain odorous spices like cinnamon, ground cloves, and cayenne may form effective barriers. Try laying down a line of one of these powdery spices to prevent ants from getting at your trash cans.
9. Chalk, Baby Powder, or Talcum Powder
Chalk, baby powder, and talcum powder can all be used to form effective barriers around your trash cans. Lay down a continuous line of chalk or powder around your garbage to prevent ants from crossing it.
10. Dish Soap or Laundry Detergent
Yes, it’s true – dish soap and laundry detergent not only kill ants, but they can also prevent them from coming back. Create a soapy mixture and spray any ants you see, then spray the area. You can use this solution both indoors and outdoors. Although it’s generally not as effective as other solutions, it may do the job if the infestation is not extreme. Your kitchen will probably smell better, too.
11. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made from fossilized algae. It is very useful as both a repellant and a barrier. Simply sprinkle it in or around your trash cans to prevent or repel an infestation of ants. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is generally safe for both humans and pets, but it’s wise to wear gloves and a mask while handling it to prevent respiratory irritation.
12. Borax or Boric Acid
Borax (also called sodium tetraborate) is a white powdery mineral used in cleaning. It also comes in the form of boric acid. It’s also one of the most effective ways to get rid of ants. It forms an effective barrier to keep ants away from trash cans. To kill invading ants, mix equal parts borax and sugar and sprinkle the mixture around your trash cans. The ants will ingest it because of the sugar, upon which the borax will kill them. However, be careful when using borax as an ant repellant. It has been known to burn skin and cause serious issues if ingested. Always wear gloves when handling this powder and make sure children and pets can’t reach it.
13. Ant Baits or Traps
If the above methods aren’t working for you, you may want to consider setting out ant bait or ant traps. This method relies on ants carrying back slow-acting poison to their nests, which eventually kills the entire colony. The downside is that it can take several weeks to achieve its intended result. It also potentially exposes humans and pets to poison. If you choose to go this route, be sure to only place bait and traps where they won’t cause harm to people and animals in the home.
Insecticides are generally the quickest and most effective way to get rid of ants. However, use them with caution. They typically contain harsh chemicals that harm people, animals, and the environment. The ones in spray form are easily inhaled, which can result in respiratory irritation. The chemical residue also lingers for a long time. Be sure to keep insecticides or other harsh chemicals out of reach of children and pets.
Summary Table of the Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Ants
|1||Keep trash cans clean|
|2||Empty trash cans regularly|
|3||Use a trash can with a tight lid|
|4||Use sealed garbage bags|
|9||Chalk, baby powder, or talcum powder|
|13||Ant baits or traps|
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