Muriel Vega

You're cooking up your favorite recipe in your apartment when all of a sudden – ants. You see ants lining up all over your counters and no matter how many you get with the so-called killer spray, they keep coming.

Instead of calling your landlord to ping the exterminator and waiting forever while watching the ants take over, you can try to get rid of them on your own. Watch the ants' patterns before smashing them and try these six proven ways to get rid of them.

1. Clean, clean, clean

clean kitchen

Before you start any method to get rid of ants, you'll need a blank slate. This seems obvious, but sometimes, a few unseen food crumbs or small spills can be the culprit.

Spend a weekend afternoon deep cleaning your apartment – sweep and mop all corners, take out the trash, clean out the inside of your trash can and clear out all food from counters. Lastly, spray any places where you've seen ants before – yes, they leave a scented trail for others to follow – with a one part vinegar with three parts water mixture in a spray bottle.

2. Lemon juice

lemon juice

Lemons are incredibly useful beyond cooking. They can be used for cleaning as well as deterring ants from setting up shop in your kitchen. Squeeze a few lemons into a spray bottle and find any holes and cracks around your apartment where the ants may be sneaking through, followed by sealing them with caulk. The acid deters them as it messes with their tracking and encourages them to go elsewhere.

Lemon juice also works against roaches and fleas, as they hate the smell.

3. Cinnamon oil

cinnamon oil

Grab a Q-tip dipped in high-concentrated cinnamon oil and draw borders around the apartment's entry points and common areas where the ants are entering the home. It's been proven by a 2014 study that it helps repel and even exterminate ants.

4. Peppermint oil

peppermint oil

Grab a bottle of peppermint essential oil and add about 15 to 20 drops (plus a few of lemon oil if you have it) into half a cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle hard to mix everything and spray along the baseboards, any ant trail spots you've seen in the past and all entry points. Repeat every few days until the ants are gone. Peppermint also deters other pests like cockroaches – and even mice.

5. Chalk lines

chalk lines

Chalk isn't only good for the classroom. While a very temporary solution, drawing a chalk line outside your windows and around door frames and other entry points can disrupt the ant scent trail and warn them not to come in. You can pick up chalk paint in a squeeze bottle at your local hardware store.

In combination with another deterrent, it should keep the pests at bay while you wait for the landlord's chosen exterminator to show up and review the situation.

6. Hunt down the nest, if all else fails

ant nest

If you tried addressing your ant infestation with all of the above methods, then you'll need to wait for reinforcements. The problem may be bigger than just your apartment. Let the apartment complex's exterminator know the solutions you tried, ask if other tenants are having issues and if they suspect there's an ant nest nearby.

Ants prefer damp areas like flooring with water damage, so be sure to check your walls and ceilings for any water leaks and alert the pest control team.



About The Author

Muriel Vega

Muriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.