Ants in Kitchen | How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen

Having ants in your kitchen can be a real headache, especially when you realize that the one or two ants you see scurrying across the kitchen counter or munching on a crumb are just a small sign of an even bigger problem! 

To successfully get rid of ants in your kitchen, first close any point of entry, close and store any open food, thoroughly clean the kitchen and finally, use natural repellents.

Cleaning involves wiping down all surfaces in your kitchen, removing ants you see, and erasing the trails they leave behind for other ants, called pheromone trails. After you’ve wiped everything down, ensure all food is completely sealed.

Next, consider the use of pesticides. Ant baits are a great choice, as they are less toxic than ant sprays or foggers. However, in extreme cases, ant sprays and foggers may be necessary. Several natural products can kill ants and help keep them from coming back.

We’ll go through each of these options a bit later in the article. First, it’s crucial to understand how and why ants have gotten into your kitchen first, so you can prevent the problem from happening again! Let’s start!

What Attracts Ants in the Kitchen? Why Do I Have Ants in My Kitchen?

What Attracts Ants in the Kitchen Why Do I Have Ants in My Kitchen
Ant Exterminators

If you have ants in your kitchen, you are probably wondering why. The answer is pretty simple. Ants will wander through your kitchen for one reason only, and that is to find food. Ants are foraging animals and will eat both plant and animal-based foods.

If it’s something you would eat, an ant will also eat it. As mentioned above, once they have located a food source, they leave behind a chemical trail of pheromones which will help other colony members find your food.

Related: What Do Ants Eat? | Ant Feeding Habits

How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen – Step by Step Instructions

Step 1 – Inspect the Food on Your Counters, Pantries, Cabinets, and Drawers

It’s important to check if ants have crawled on the food in your kitchen. If you see them on your food or suspect they have already crawled on it, throw it away. Ants can transmit diseases and bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. For food that was already sealed properly, wipe down the remaining food packaging/jars and set them aside.

Step 2 – Remove All Garbage From Your Kitchen and Wipe Down Garbage Cans

How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen

Tie up garbage bags, clean up the trash lying around, and take the trash outside.  Ants are attracted to food residue and scents in the garbage can. Clean your trash cans to remove any traces of food.

Step 3 – Wipe Down Your Countertops, Sink, Floors and Other Kitchen Surfaces

Use a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray and wipe down your kitchen surfaces. The scent of vinegar repels ants and erases the ants’ pheromone trails.

Step 4 – Set up Ant Baits

Ant baits can be found at your local hardware store and some pharmacies. Ant baits contain a substance that will smell good to ants but is toxic. They will slowly bring small pieces of the bait back to their nest to share with other ants, eventually wiping out the entire colony. 

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Different Types of Ants in the Kitchen

How to Get Rid of Tiny Ants in Kitchen

If you see very tiny ants in your kitchen, you are likely dealing with pharaoh ants.  They are only about 2 millimeters long and are light brown or yellowThey may even appear translucent. Follow the steps above to get rid of tiny ants in your kitchen. Just be sure to double-check cracks and crevices since these little guys could be hiding anywhere!

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Kitchen

Many people use the term “sugar ants” when talking about ants in their kitchen because these ants seem especially interested in sweet food. The truth is, all ant species will go for sugary, sweet foods! 

When people refer to sugar ants, they often see pavement ants, a very common ant to find in your home.

How to Get Rid of Black Ants in Kitchen

Also known as black garden ants, this species can be found on many continents, such as  North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. You may see these ants swarming in June or July, which is their time of the year to mate. However, treating a black ant problem requires the same procedure regardless of the time of the year.

How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants in Kitchen

As mentioned above, pavement ants are often referred to as sugar ants. Pavement ants like to build their nests under sidewalks and driveways, where they get their name. 

When rooting out a pavement ant problem, pay special attention to areas around brick patios and large stones surrounding your house. Note that pavement ants are most active at night.

Related: How Many Types of Ants Are There: Ant Identification Chart

Ants in Specific Places in the Kitchen – What Should You Do?

Once ants have invaded your kitchen, you can find them just about anywhere.  Let’s look at some familiar places where you might find ants and what you can do about it.

Ants in Kitchen Sink

Ants in Kitchen Sink

If you have ants in the kitchen sink, they are likely attracted to the moisture or any leftover food residue in your sink or on dirty dishes left there.  Chances are if you see them in the sink, they are also in your drain and dishwasher

To take care of this problem, mix one dish soap with three parts water in a spray bottle, and spray it all over the kitchen sink. This does a few things, it kills the ants, makes them easier to wipe up, and cleans your sink of any food residue.

After you’ve done that, dump about a tablespoon of baking soda down your drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. After waiting about 15 minutes, dump a pot of boiling water down the drain. This will kill any ants and is also a great way to clean your drain!

Ants on Kitchen Counter

You can help eliminate ants on your kitchen counter using a 50/50 water and white vinegar solution. Vinegar repels the ants and removes their pheromone trails. You can also use the dish soap/water solution to clean your countertops and kill ants.

Ants in Kitchen Cupboards

If ants are in your kitchen cupboards, chances are they have located a food source there.  If the ants have come in direct contact with your food, throw it away. Seal up any remaining food. 

Remove all items from your cupboard so that you can clean them properly. Wipe down all surfaces (including cupboard doors and walls) with the water/vinegar solution and ensure no crumbs or sticky messes are left behind.

Ants Under Kitchen Sink

Ants found under your kitchen sink are likely attracted to the moisture from a leaky pipe or if you store your garbage under your sink to any leftover food. Remember, even just a few crumbs stuck to a discarded wrapper can be enough to attract ants. 

Wipe the area down with the water/vinegar solution.  Next, check for any leaking pipes that may be providing the ants with a source of water. Dry the area thoroughly, and take out your garbage regularly.

Home Remedies for Ants in Kitchen | Natural Way to Kill Ants in Kitchen

One Part Dish Soap to Three Parts Water

Mix one dish soap to three parts water into a spray bottle, and spray it directly on any ants you find. 

This soapy solution will have a double effect: The soapy water suffocates the ants by clinging to their exoskeletons, and at the same time, you will be cleaning the surface, making it less likely to attract more ants.

Chalk and Baby Powder

It isn’t known exactly why ants avoid these products, but they are effective for repelling ants! Draw a line with chalk or sprinkle baby powder wherever ants traverse your home.


Cinnamon is probably already in your kitchen. It smells great and isn’t expensive.  Surprisingly, it can also repel ants!  Sprinkle it directly on the ants or along their trails.

Diatomaceous Earth

The name sounds intimidating, but diatomaceous earth is a natural and effective solution for many bug problems. It is an all-natural powder made from the fossils of tiny sea-dwelling organisms. 

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It kills ants by drying them out. Sprinkle the product wherever you see ants. But use caution to avoid too much of the product becoming airborne. If inhaled, it can cause lung irritation, so be careful around children and pets, and use a mask for yourself during application.

How to Prevent Ants in Kitchen: Tips and Guide

There are several things you can do to prevent ants in your kitchen. Here are some quick tips to follow.

Store Food Properly

How to Prevent Ants in Kitchen

Use food storage boxes that can be sealed tightly. Any opened items, from cereal and bread to candy and cookies, should be stored in closed containers. If possible, store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, even if they have not yet been cut.

Clean up Crumbs and Spills Immediately

Check the floor and countertops for spills or crumbs each time you prepare a meal or grab something to eat. Even a few crumbs or drops of juice on the countertop can be enough to attract ants.

Do the Dishes After Each Meal

It’s very tempting sometimes to put off doing the dishes until later. But the truth is, the food left on dirty dishes can look great to an ant scouting for food.

Take the Trash out Regularly

Trash cans are full of food residue, bringing ants into your kitchen. Even a trash can with a lid won’t prevent these critters from finding their way in. So, if your kitchen is prone to ant problems, get rid of your garbage daily.

Don’t Leave Left Over Pet Food Sitting Out

Ants will often go for pet food, as it is always in the same place and easy to get to. After your pet has eaten, discard any remaining food and clean the bowl to ensure no crumbs are left behind.

Related: How to Get Rid of Ants | Safe and Effective Methods

List of Sources

Jesse L., Ants in the kitchen, Iowa State University

Vail K., Carpenter Ants – Those Big Ants in Your Kitchen and Bathroom, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Allsup K., Ants in the Kitchen, University of Illinois

Got ants in your pantry?, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Máximo, H. J., Felizatti, H. L., Ceccato, M., Cintra-Socolowski, P., & Beretta, A. L. (2014). Ants as vectors of pathogenic microorganisms in a hospital in São Paulo county, Brazil

Managing ants with baits, University of California