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 or munching on a crumb are just a small sign of an even a bigger problem! 

Once ants find food, they signal to the entire colony that your kitchen is a great place to find their next meal. Luckily, there are things you can do to stop them!

So, how to get rid of ants in the kitchen? To successfully get rid of ants in your kitchen, it’s best to break down your plan into two categories: cleaning the kitchen and the use of insecticides. Using just one of these methods is unlikely to be successful. When it comes to insecticides, the best and most effective option is the ant bait.

Ant Exterminators

If you only decide to keep your kitchen clean, you are still likely to see ants roaming your kitchen as they scout for food. On the other hand, just using insecticides is unlikely to be effective because although you have killed one colony of ants, another colony or even different type of ants will still likely later infest your kitchen due to the attractive food remains.

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, make sure all food is completely sealed up.

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. There are also a number of natural products that 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 important to understand how and why ants have gotten into your kitchen in the first place, 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

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.

Basically, if it’s something you would eat, an ant will eat it as well. As mentioned above, once they have located a food source, they leave behind a chemical trail of pheromones which will help other members of their colony to 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 any ants have crawled on the food in your kitchen. If you see them on your food, or if you 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 any garbage bags, clean up any trash laying 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 most importantly, erases the ants’ pheromone trails.

Step 4 – Set up Ant Baits

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

Terro Liquid Ant Baits are effective and affordable. Terro also makes a version that includes adhesive strips, making it easy to place the baits on walls or under surfaces. It is called Terro Multi-Surface Liquid Ant Baits.

Terro Multi Surf LIQ Ant Bait
  • Attracts & Kills – Kills common household ants including...
  • Kills the Ants You See & the Ones You Don't – As worker ants...
  • Works Fast – You should see a significant decrease in the...
  • Ready to Use – Place the bait stations, watch it attract ants,...
  • Multi-Surface Application – Adhesive strips allow you place the...

The steps above can be followed for any type of ants you may find roaming around your kitchen!

Different Type of Ants in the Kitchen

How to Get Rid of Tiny Ants in Kitchen

If you see very tiny ants in your kitchen, it is likely you are dealing with pharaoh ants.  They are only about 2 millimeters long and are light brown or yellow in color. They 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 cervices 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! 

Oftentimes when people refer to sugar ants, they are actually seeing pavement ants, which are a very common ant to find around the 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, which is where they get their name from. 

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

Best Ant Killer for Kitchen | Product List

Best Ant Spray for Kitchen

Raid Ant and Roach Killer

No products found.

Raid Ant and Roach Killer kills ants on contact and doesn’t have a chemical odor that you’d expect from a pesticide.

Harris Roach and Ant Killer

No products found.

Harris Roach and Ant Killer is a spray sold in combination with a fogger.  Foggers are used in cases of extreme infestation.  Both products are effective and claim to continue killing for several weeks after their initial use.

Best Ant Traps for Kitchen

Terro Liquid Ant Baits

No products found.

Terro Liquid Ant Baits have been around for years and are very effective. 

Syngenta – Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box

Syngenta - TRTD11568 - Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box - 4 Tubes w/ Plunger - 30g each tube
  • Target pests: For indoor and outdoor control of...
  • Highly attractive formula promotes ready transfer of the active...
  • Powerful, active ingredient knocks out workers, brood and queens
  • Approved for use indoors and outdoors, applied in cracks and...
  • How does Optigard Ant Bait Gel work? Ants that feed on the gel...

Syngenta – Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box is also effective and comes at a very good price.

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 common 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, it is likely that they are either attracted to the moisture or any leftover food residue, either in your sink or on dirty dishes left there.  Chances are if you see them in the sink, they are also in your drain. 

To take care of this problem, do the following: Mix one-part 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 also 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 in general!

Ants on Kitchen Counter

You can help eliminate ants on your kitchen counter by 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 any ants you find there.

Ants in My 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 any of your food, throw it in the garbage.  Ants can carry diseases, so its better to be safe than sorry. Seal up any remaining food. 

Remove all items from your cupboard so that you can clean properly. Wipe down all surfaces (including cupboard doors and walls) with the water/vinegar solution and ensure that 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 completely, and be sure to take out your garbage regularly.

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

There are plenty of natural ways to get rid of your kitchen of ants.

One Part Dish Soap to Three Parts Water

Mix one part 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 certainly are effective for repelling ants! Draw a line with chalk or sprinkle baby powder wherever ants traverse through 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

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 2lb with Powder Duster Included in The Bag
  • Natural Product - Composed of 2lbs of 100% ground freshwater...
  • OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research...
  • Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and...
  • Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support...
  • Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia

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

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. It can cause lung irritation if inhaled, 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 a number of 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

Each time you prepare a meal or grab something to eat, check the floor and countertops for any spills or crumbs. 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 which will bring ants into your kitchen. Even using 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 there are no crumbs left behind.


An ant problem in your kitchen can be a real pain.  But you can treat the problem by yourself. With the help of cleaning products, pesticides, proper food storage, and some diligence, you can reclaim your kitchen!

We know what seeing ants in your kitchen can throw you into a depression but the most important thing is to calm down. Any pest-related problem can be fixed and prevented. If you liked our guide please follow us and share. We give out daily pest-related content that can help people struggling with any type of pest-related infestations.

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