The 5 Best DIY Treatments for Ants (Safe for Pets)

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Ant Control, Pest

Ants can be a huge nuisance, but you might not consider them “pests.” Certainly not enough to go spraying a bunch of weird chemicals around your kitchen. But you’d like them gone, no worries.

You’ve come to the right place. This blog has 5 recipes for homemade ant repellent sprays & DIY ant traps that will keep your home ant-free, and your pets, family & environment safe.

You can use each recipe separately. Or you can use a combination, especially if you’re feeling like the ants are out of control.

diy homemade ant repellent spray ingredients with vinegar, tea tree oil and spray bottle

1. Vinegar + Tea Tree

If you only see ants occasionally, you can try to deter then with a natural homemade ant repellent. Vinegar & tea tree oil have strong odors that control ants by masking their pheremone trails, and repelling them away from sprayed areas.

Here are step-by-step directions for our all natural ant repellent spray:

Homemade Ant Repellent


  • 12 fluid oz. distilled white vinegar
  • 4 fluid oz. water
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 16 oz. spray bottle


  • Mix white distilled vinegar & water in a spray bottle & shake well.
  • Add tea tree oil, shake again.
  • Lightly spritz along counter tops, baseboards, in bathrooms, cracks & crevices, anywhere where you’ve seen ants roaming. Re-apply as needed. **

** Use essential oil sprays with caution, particularly if you have birds or fish, or dogs, cats, or people in the home that are sensitive to chemicals.

2. Soap + Water

In my experience, soapy water is a superior natural bug spray for ants, wasps and spiders. It kills more quickly & effectively than even highly-concentrated essential oil sprays.

Plus soapy water helps erase & remove pheromone trails –instead of just masking them– deterring ants from your cupboards and countertops long-term.

homemade diy ant repellent / killer spray with soap and water

DIY Ant Killer Spray

  • Add 1/8 tsp. (0.6ml) of soap into a 16 fluid oz. (0.5l) spray bottle of water
  • Dawn dish detergent works great for homemade ant spray. If you prefer Dr. Bronner’s more natural ingredient list, that will work well too.
  • Spray any ants you see directly on contact. Wipe up and dispose of any dead ants with a paper towel. Then, spray the area again and clean thoroughly to remove ant pheromone trails.

Click to Get Rid of Ants.   

Homemade Ant Bait

If you’re still having issues after trying a DIY ant repellent– it’s time to mix up some DIY ant bait.

Ant baits work great because they target the whole ant colony, instead of just creating a cycle of repelling individual ants –only to have them come back 2 weeks later. 

3. Sugar + Borax

As an eco friendly ant exterminator, I use ant baits in my house because I know it’s very effective. And it’s safe for pets & kids when used carefully.

Basically– just make sure to apply bait in a way that DOES NOT allow your pets and children to accidentally eat or be exposed to the ant poison.**

** Behind the fridge, behind appliances on kitchen counters, inside sink cabinets & behind furniture are all examples of places that if they’re inacessible to pets & kids are generally safe places to put out ant traps.

diy ant bait traps with sugar & borax

DIY Ant Bait


  • 1/8 tbsp. borax
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot water


  • Mix granulated sugar & borax in a container
  • Slowly add hot water& stir until the mixture has dissolved into a thick gel-like slurry.
  • Place a small spoonful on plastic lids or other impervious containers that ants can easily crawl onto. Make at least 5-10 placements; in the areas you see ants, but out of reach of pets & kids.
  • Making more, smaller placements is better than 1-2 large placements. Label & save any unused DIY ant bait in a jar in the fridge for up to 90 days.

For step-by-step directions & pro-tips on using bait traps for a DIY ant control solution, click here.

4. DIY Ant Killer without Borax

Borax is a natural soapy chemical that works on ants digestive systems when they eat it. But borax could also be hazardous to pets & kids if ingested.

If you don’t like the idea of using borax for controlling ants in your home, replacing it with baking soda (and granulated sugar with powdered sugar), is a great way to create a DIY ant killer that’s pet safe & environmentally friendly.


  • 1/4 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 fluid oz. hot water, more if needed


  • Mix sugar & baking soda in a container,
  • Slowly add hot water & stir until the mixture has dissolved into a thick gel-like slurry.
  • Place a small spoonful on plastic lids or other impervious containers that ants can easily crawl onto. Make at least 5-10 placements; in the areas you see ants, but out of reach of pets & kids.

DIY Carpenter Ant Killer

Carpenter ants are tricky to control with DIY baits & homemade sprays. Mainly because they’re larger than other home-invading ants, so they’re harder to kill or repel.

One study found that citronella & tea tree oil were the best out of 9 common essential oils to control carpenter ants. The results were marginal though, with only about 33% of the ants dying upon contacting those residues, and none of the other oils having significant effect.

The authors also noted; “The repellent nature of essential oils is likely to limit their widespread use as contact insecticides for the control of urban and structural pests under field conditions because pests, especially ants, avoid contact with essential oil residues. ” (Guerra M., et al. 2011)

We know because of ant biology, that repellent sprays do just that– they repel ants. So they never come into contact with enough to die or take back to the colony. That’s why we recommend bait products for DIY ant control, especially for carpenter ants:

5. Homemade Carpenter Ant Bait


  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 5+ sturdy disposable containers
  • Duct tape
  • Screws

  • Directions:
  • Thoroughly mix baking soda into peanut butter,
  • Place 1 small spoonful into a clean, sturdy container. Secure lid with duct tape.
  • Cut or poke 10-20 1/8″ holes around the sides to create carpenter ant access.
  • On a warm day, inspect for carpenter ant trails, then place your bait station on the area of activity. Secure with a screw to prevent pets and wildlife from accessing the bait. **

** Always place bait stations out of reach of wildlife, pets & children. Pets & wildlife love peanut butter, and you don’t want to accidentally poison them. Pro-tip: Carpenter ants like to climb, so tacking your station to a soffit, eave or rafter where carpenter ants are trailing is a great place. 

If DIY or even professional carpenter ant baits aren’t getting the results you’re looking for, you can try to repel them with a homemade ant repellent. If that doesn’t seem to work, you might need to contact an eco-friendly ant control specialist like Pest & Pollinator, who can treat your carpenter ants without spraying risky chemicals.

Curious whats sets us apart? Learn more about Pest & Pollinator here.

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