The Secret on How to Keep Ants Out of Your House

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Ant Control, Pest

Wondering how to keep ants out of your house? Overwhelmed with wave after wave of tiny black ants invading your home? Read along to learn our insider tips on how to get ants out of your house, and keep them out.

How to Keep Ants Out of House

So often here in Portland, ant control gets well… out of control.

An all too familiar sight: Odorous house ants aka sugar ants (Tapinoma sessile) pouring out from every crevice in your kitchen as soon as the weather warms in Spring.

Most folks ask me how to keep ants out of the house as opposed to killing them. This article describes why the best way to get rid of ants is to kill the ones inside first, then how to keep ants out of the house once they’re gone.

Safe Ant Control.   

How to Get Ants Out of Your House

The best way to get ants out of your house is to bait the colonies first. Commonly odorous house ant colonies (aka sugar ants) live inside the walls, and can’t be deterred forever with all natural ant sprays, caulking or even meticulous cleaning. To permanently get rid of ants:

  1. Locate the areas where you see ants emerging from your walls.
  2. Wait until they are most active.
  3. Place a dime sized dab of honey on a small piece of plastic or container lid nearby overnight to entice the ants to form a large trail.
  4. Once a large trail has formed, switch the honey for Terro or another liquid bait product.

When it works, this is a quick way to get ants out of your house. Results should be noticable within 24-48 hours.

How Do I Keep Ants Away From my House?

By now hopefully you’ve read why all natural ant control isn’t great for ants by itself. Since most ant sprays are powerful repellents, and the ants will avoid sprayed areas, you’ll never control the entire ant colonies inside your walls. 

But once we get control of the ants inside, we can use ant repellents to our advantage.

Sugar Ants Repellent

A sugar ant repellent could be just about anything with a strong chemical or spicy odor; Raid, Ortho Home Defense, lysol, windex, bleach, peppermint, cinnamon, vinegar, and so on.

Once you’re sure ALL the ants are gone from inside, grab a bottle of store-bought or home-made ant repellent. A good all natural ant spray recipe is a 1:1 mixture of vinegar with water, and a few drops of peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus or lavender essential oil added.

How to Repel Sugar Ants

In order to repel sugar ants around an average home, you’d need about a half gallon of sugar ant repellent. Using a hand or backpack sprayer, spray about 12″ up along your foundation and 12″ along the adjacent ground. If you can, applying your ant deterrent up under the lip of the siding will protect it from weather & the elements.

For best results, spray every few weeks during the warmer months to keep ants out of your house.

How to Keep Ants Out of House Naturally


  • Keep trees, shrubs, grass, flowers and weeds trimmed away from sides of house.
  • Ensure no mulch or debris is allowed to contact the siding of the home.
  • Gutters should be regularly cleared of debris.
  • Any excessive ponding or wetness of the ground around your foundation should be corrected.
  • Seal any exterior cracks in foundation or around windowsills with the appropriate sealant.
  • Secure all honey, syrups and sugary liquids in air tight containers, clean spills regularly.
  • Rinse soda cans, sugary liquid containers, and keep recycling storage & compost away from sides of home.

How to Keep Ants and Spiders Out of Your House

Following the steps above will also help keep spiders out of your house too. Garden spiders string out their webs between shrubs in the fall, so having everything trimmed away from the house helps. Spiders eat flies and ants that are attracted by sugary liquids, so having those cleaned and removed helps keep spiders out of your house.

Using all natural ant repellents is a great way to keep both ants and spiders out of your house. The same strong odors that repel ants, like vinegar, peppermint, cinnamon and lavender deter spiders just as well.

How to Keep Ants Out of Pet Dishes

A big Portland ant control question is how do I keep ants out of pet dishes? A lot of times ants swarming on dog or cat food dishes indicates there is an ant colony inside your walls.

Simply read our article on pet safe ant control here.

If you’ve chosen not to use bait, an easy way to keep ants out of pet dishes is to make a moat. Ants cannot swim well. So they can be kept out by placing your cat or dog food dish in a larger, shallower container filled with water.

Just keep a mat or towel underneath to absorb any spilled water from over-excited pets!

Click to Get Rid of Ants.   

How to Seal Cracks to Keep Ants Out

In order to learn how to seal cracks to keep ants out, we need to know where ants usually enter. Ants most often enter homes at the top edge of the foundation, through a gap between the lip of the siding & the insulative layer underneath. Notedly, this gap should not be sealed because it is designed to help wick excessive moisture away from the inside of your home. 

An area where it is important to seal cracks to keep ants out is any cracks in the foundation wall. Use an appropriate epoxy sealer and follow instructions on the label to seal cracks in the foundation to keep ants out.

Caulking or silicone sealant can be used for minor gaps around windowsills, another common area that should be sealed to keep ants out of your house.

How to Keep Ants Out of Your Room

If you’re wondering how to keep ants out of your room, but are suspicious of chemicals look no further. Browse our blog on how to get rid of ants without spraying chemicals. Follow the steps outlined in this article. 

If you’re still seeing ants after reviewing our tips on how to keep ants out of the house, you may need to call a professional. Pest & Pollinator specializes in human, pet & pollinator safe ant control for Portland OR.

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