How to Get Rid of Ants in RV: A Complete Guide

If you are like most people who have an RV (recreational vehicle), you probably take a lot of pride in your vehicle. You keep it clean and well-maintained. So, if you have an ant problem in your RV, you want to take care of it as quickly and efficiently as possible, especially if you have an upcoming trip planned, or if you’re already on vacation!

So, how do you get rid of ants in your RV? Getting rid of the ants in the RV can be done by combining a few different pest control methods. This process is quite simple but it requires time and effort. Pesticides that can be used for getting rid of ants in an RV include ant foggers, baits, sprays and more. There is also a method with natural pesticides but it is less effective. Before applying any type of pesticides to your RV there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done. Read our in-depth guide to find out more details.

The most important thing when having any type of pest infestation is to stay calm and to deal with the problem as soon as you can. Luckily, products for eradicating ants are very effective and this problem can be dealt with. Getting rid of ants is much easier than getting rid of bed bugs.

In the following sections, you can find out our step by step instructional guide for getting rid of the ants in the RV. Follow our guide and tips and you will clean your RV from ants without a hassle. Let’s start!

Why Are There Ants in My RV?

Why Are There Ants in My RV

There are really only two reasons why you will find ants in your RV. They are looking for food or they have already found it. Ants are foraging animals. That means they leave their nest to go “scouting” for food.

If your RV is parked anywhere near an ant nest, ants will crawl onto and inside your vehicle looking for food. If they find it, they will leave a trail of chemicals behind, called pheromones (click here to find out how to get rid of those trails). This will help other ants locate the food and eventually bring it back to their nests to share with the colony. Keep in mind that even small amounts of unsealed food, or even a spilled sugary drink, will be enough to attract ants to your RV.


How to Get Rid of Ants in RV – Step by Step Guide


Step 1 – Move Your RV to Another Location

If you have ants in your vehicle, it’s very possible that you’re currently parked near an ant nest.  Before you start managing your ant problem, move your vehicle away from the problem. Otherwise, your efforts may be in vain, as more ants could crawl onto your RV while you are cleaning it.


Step 2 – Check and Store Properly All Food Items in Your RV

How to Get Rid of Ants in RV - Step 2Guide

Check if the ants have come into contact with the food stored inside your RV. Any food that has been touched by ants should be thrown away, as ants can transmit diseases. Remember, ants are tiny. Don’t assume that your bread or other items are safe just because they are wrapped in plastic bags. 

Unless the bags are completely sealed, ants can and will find their way in. Also, remember to check the outside of food containers for any food residue. For example jelly or honey jars. Even a little glob of jelly stuck to the outside of a jar will attract ants. Wipe down the outside of these containers with a mixture of water and dish soap to ensure they are clean.


Step 3 – Clean the Outside of Your RV

You can do this yourself or take your car to a professional cleaner. If you wash your vehicle yourself, make sure you have enough pressure in your hose to remove any ants that may still try to cling to the surface of your RV.

Also, be sure to check inside your engine. Depending on the severity of your ant problem, these insects may have found their way under the hood. Unfortunately, it is possible for ants to chew cables/wire, causing expensive damage to your engine. If you aren’t sure how to properly clean an engine yourself without causing further damage, take your RV to a professional.


Step 4 – Clean the Inside of Your RV

Vacuum your RV thoroughly. Use a nozzle attachment to reach into any cracks and cervices where ants could be hiding. Wipe down all other surfaces to erase pheromones, which are chemical trails left behind by ants, telling their colony where to go next. 

This will help prevent new ants from finding their way inside your RV. Remove all trash from your vehicle, as even small amounts of food residue on discarded packaging can be enough to attract ants.

Related: What Do Ants Eat? | Ant Feeding Habits


Step 5 – Ant Killers (Ant Bait, Spray or Fogger)

Which option you choose will depend on the magnitude of your ant problem, whether or not you want to use pesticides and how quickly you need the ant problem resolved.


Ant Bait

Ant bait is a highly effective and safe way to get rid of an ant problem. This option does, however, require a bit of patience. Ants who come into contact with the bait do not die immediately. They take the bait which they believe to be food and go back to their nests to share with the colony. 

Eventually, a toxin in the bait will wipe out the entire colony, including the queen.  But, as mentioned, this can take time, and therefore may not be ideal in situations where you are already underway in your RV.

Terro Liquid Ant Baits have been around for a long time, and for a good reason. They are effective and affordable.

Terro T300 Liquid Ant Baits | 3 Pack
  • Kills the ants you see and the ones you don’t
  • Ready to use – set the bait, attract ants, and kill the colony
  • Stay-fresh tab keeps liquid bait fresh until opened

They also make a version that’s practical for small areas such as an RV, called Terro Multi-Surface Liquid Ant Baits. They can be stuck to walls or underneath tables using adhesive strips included with the product.

Ant Spray

Ant spray kills ants on contact, which can be ideal in situations where you just need the problem taken care of quickly. Just remember that if you see one ant, there are probably a number of them nearby that you do not see. So, this method, while effective, will take a bit of persistence.  Just remember to ventilate your RV properly if you are spraying a lot of this product inside.

Raid Ant and Roach Killer will kill ants on contact. It also doesn’t have a chemical scent like most pesticide sprays.

Raid Ant & Roach Killer Spray for Listed Bugs, Insect, Spider, For Indoor Use, Lemon Scent, 20 Oz, Pack of 1
  • Kills on contact
  • Kills for up to four weeks
  • No lingering chemical odor
  • Fragrance
  • Kills on contact.

Fogger

Using a fogger in your RV should be considered if you have a serious ant problem.  Just be sure to read the instructions carefully, and be prepared to air out your vehicle thoroughly for several hours after use. 

It’s also a good idea to run the a/c system as part of the “airing out” process, as this will help expel the product from your ventilation system. 

Hot Shot Fogger with Odor Neutralizer will help rid your RV of ants once and for all.

Hot Shot Indoor Fogger With Odor Neutralizer, 4/2-Ounce
  • KILLS ON CONTACT: Hot Shot Fogger With Odor Neutralizer kills on...
  • KILLS HIDDEN BUGS: Creates a fine, penetrating mist that reaches...
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  • NON-STAINING: This clear, non-staining formula won't leave a wet,...
  • EACH CAN COVERS 2,000 CU FT: Treats 2,000 cubic feet of...

Step 6 (Optional) – Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants in Your RV

If you prefer to avoid the use of pesticides in your RV, you could opt for more natural ant control methods, many of which can already be found in your kitchen. 

You don’t have to rely on chemicals or pesticides to remove ants from your RV and to keep them from coming back. If you prefer to go a more natural route, try one (or even a few!) or these simple ant remedies.


Vinegar and Water, Mixed 50/50

This remedy acts as a two-part solution in your fight against ants. First, ants hate vinegar and will avoid surfaces on which it has been sprayed. Second, vinegar does a great job of removing ants’ pheromone trails. 

Mix the 50% water, 50% vinegar solution into a spray bottle, and spray and wipe down the hard surfaces in your RV. Just keep in mind that vinegar is very acidic, and isn’t meant for all surfaces. For example, real wood and granite surfaces can be damaged by vinegar, so in those cases, simply use a cleaner meant for that specific surface.


Cinnamon Powder And/Or Mint Leaves

Both of these natural spices act as an ant deterrent. Cinnamon can even kill ants if they come into direct contact with it. Sprinkle the cinnamon either directly onto ants or along with the areas where you have seen them crawling. 

Bundle mint leaves together and place them in these areas as well. After your ant problem has subsided, simply vacuum or wipe up the cinnamon, and remove the leaf bundles.


Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth sounds complicated or at least complicated to pronounce! But it is an all-natural substance you can find at most hardware or home improvement stores.  This product is made from fossils of sea algae and tiny sea creatures. 

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 10lb with Powder Duster Included in The Bag
  • Natural Product - Composed of 10lbs 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

It has a number of different uses, one of them being pest control! Diatomaceous earth kills ants by drying them out. Here’s how to use it to get rid of ants, first purchase a disposable mask to protect yourself from inhaling too much of the product during application. Yes, the product is all-natural, however, some of it will become airborne during the application and if you breathe in too much of it, it could irritate your lungs. 

Now that you have your mask, sprinkle a thin layer of the product around your RV. Apply it to all surfaces, including floors, carpets, seats, windows and door frames. Leave the product to sit for 48 hours, then wipe or vacuum it up.


Dish Soap and Water

Using a solution of 3-parts water to 1-part dish soap is another way to fight an ant infestation without using harsh chemicals. Mix the solution into a spray bottle and spray directly on ants, as well as anywhere they have been crawling. 

The mixture will kill ants by suffocating them as the soapy water bonds to their exoskeleton.  The mixture will also help you keep surfaces clean and free from food residue, which will discourage ants from coming back.


Chalk

If your RV is parked on a hard surface and you have already cleaned the inside and outside of the vehicle, try drawing circles around your tires with chalk.  It is unclear why, but ants avoid walking across chalk lines. This can prevent more ants from crawling inside your RV in search of food.


Ways to Prevent Ants in Your RV

Now that your RV is free from ants, let’s look at how you can prevent them from coming back.


Keep Everything Clean

After each meal or meal preparation, wipe down all surfaces completely, and check your floors for any crumbs or spills. Remember that even minimal amounts of food can attract ants!


Store Food Properly

Invest in food storage boxes, either plastic or glass that can be sealed tightly. Any opened food should be stored in these containers, including chips, bread, candy, etc. Store fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator if possible, to make it impossible for the ants to get to them.


Take out Trash Regularly

It’s convenient to have a trash can located in your RV, just make sure you don’t leave it sitting full of garbage for more than a day! Ants can easily pick up on the scent of garbage and even small amounts of food residue on the packaging.


What to Do If You’ve Rented an RV With an Ant Problem?

How to Get Rid of Ants in RV

If you have rented an RV and discover an ant problem, try to assess if the ant problem began after you rented the vehicle, or if it was an existing problem before you rented it. Then contact the rental company immediately. 

Let them know when you discovered the problem and how severe the infestation is. It would be best to check with the rental company before using any harsh or messy pesticides inside the RV, as it could potentially cause damage to the vehicle which you may end up having to pay for.


Can Ants in an RV Post a Health Risk?

Most people think of ants as harmless animals. But surprisingly, ants can cause a risk to your health in more than one way. First, ants can transmit diseases like salmonella and E. coli. They do this by crawling across areas full of bacteria, and then onto our food. This is why it’s important not to eat food that has come into contact with ants. 

Secondly, ant bites and stings can cause allergic reactions and/or infections. If you or someone you love is allergic to ant bites, talk to your doctor about being prepared while underway in your RV. He or she may recommend traveling with an epi-pen, which will stop allergic reactions to things like ant bites. 

Infection is another concern. If you do get bitten or stung by an ant, clean the area and don’t scratch it. Even mild scratching can be enough to create little tears in the skin and expose them to the bacteria on your fingers or to the environment.

Related: Do Ants Carry Diseases (Germs)?


Summary

Having ants in your RV can wreak havoc on your vacation. They can spoil your food and be a distraction while driving. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to get these critters out of your vehicle as quickly as possible, so you can stop worrying and start enjoying your trip!

Just use our guide and ants will be eradicated from your RV in no time. If you liked our article please follow and share with other RV owners. Visit our site for more pets control related content. Best of luck!


List of Sources

Tschinkel W.R., The nest architecture of the ant, Camponotus socius, Department of Biological Science, Florida State University

Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers, EPA

Chalissery, J. M., Renyard, A., Gries, R., Hoefele, D., Alamsetti, S. K., & Gries, G. (2019), Ants Sense, and Follow, Trail Pheromones of Ant Community Members, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Ogg B., Ant Baits: A Least-Toxic Control

Ramsey M., How to Control Ants, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California