How to Get Rid of Ants with Three Ingredients

The following is a post from Angie.

how to get rid of ants

When ants show up in your home, often your first reaction may be to grab the phone and call the exterminator.  (Or, perhaps that is your second reaction, as your first reaction may be to want to squish them all.)  Before calling the exterminator, save yourself money and chemicals in your home by trying a simple, three ingredient solution for getting rid of ants in your home.

After adding a screened-in porch, we started getting ants in our home from time to time.  We tried ant solutions that we could buy at the store, as well as numerous exterminator visits (spending almost $300 one winter because of multiple visits).  This three ingredient solution was the cheapest method, using only items that I happened to have at home.

Supplies Needed


1. Mix the Borax and sugar together until well combined.

2. Add the mixture to your warm water and mix constantly until the powder has been completely dissolved.

3. Seal the mixture in a jar or container for future use, and use only what you need in the next steps (and save the rest).  It is important that you clearly label the jar, as it will just look like water.  Do not leave this where children can get to it.  (Because this is such an easy solution to make, however, I only kept what I made until after the ants had been gone for a week or more.)

4. Fill some jar lids, milk caps, or other shallow containers with cotton balls or a wad of paper towel.

5. Add the sugar-Borax solution to the prepared lids making sure to soak the cotton balls (or paper towel).

6. Wait.  It may take the ants a while to find the solution.  But, once they do, let them feast (and take the solution back to their home).  At our house, to speed up the finding process, I placed a couple of the soaked cotton balls directly on the ledge in my kitchen where most of the ants were.

Be prepared – more ants will probably show up once they find the solution.  However, within a day, you’ll probably see much fewer ants.  Over the course of just a few days, all of the ants should likely be gone.  Because we had watched the ants quite a bit, we noticed where they were coming from and made sure to use a sealant to seal the area to stop them from coming back in the future.

What other solutions have you taken to solve an insect problem in your home?

You could also try this method for how to get rid of black ants.

More posts from Angie

photo credit

About Angie Kauffman

Angie, a domestically-challenged artist and writer, is a homeschooling mom to three children. She writes about everything that happens in their lives between all the loads of laundry at Many Little Blessings. She is also the founder of The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Printables Online, and Catholic Mothers Online.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. This is what we use all the time. Works like a charm! :-)

    • Joanne says:

      I’m told by the experts at the county extension agent’s office that borax & sugar only work for ants who like sugar. For those ants that like fats, I guess you can try mixing the borax with an oil. I’d be interested in knowing if anyone has tried that.

  2. Cindy A. says:

    Cinnamon does not kill ants but it will prevent them from coming in and will make them go away. Ants don’t like cinnamon.

    • Colleen says:

      This is so true! We get small ants in my library office. I put a perimeter in doorways and around the edges of my desk. They will not cross. Reminds MIT the weather is getting warm and rainy…time to take the cinnamon to achool

  3. Mary H says:

    When I lived in Japan we did this with the sugar & borax– but dry along the back of counters & on widow sills. Worked like a charm

  4. Crystal says:

    I wonder if this would work on roaches. With the rainy weather we’ve been having a problem. I’ll try it and let you know.

    • Toni says:

      Was told by a little old man in a 100 year old hardware store to pour a line of borax across all doorways and then sweep up (don’t vacuum) and it leaves a residue which they walk across and it kills them, too. Who knew?

  5. Julie says:

    Does this work for roaches too???

    • Missy says:

      Yes, yes! Roaches, palmetto bugs, whatever they are that we have in our military housing…will this kill them too? It’s awful to get up in the middle of the night to take a potty break and have these nasty creatures scuttle across the floor under your feet! Some of them are a long as my thumb! Eeek!

    • Angie says:

      I’m so sorry – I don’t have experience with roaches. (Well, that’s not true. We lived for four days in a rental house that ended up being invested with roaches. Blech!)

      However, I just Googled it, and I saw several people suggesting the sugar-borax mix for roaches. I guess it’s worth a try. Good luck!

  6. Barbara says:

    Any ideas on getting rid of the fleas that are so prevalent here in Fl?

    • Jackie says:

      Borax! we rented a house a while back that had them bad.. sprinkle borax everywhere and let it sit (can’t remember how long.. just Google natural ways to get rid of fleas) then vacuum you will have to do it a few times.. good luck!

    • Donna says:

      For fleas, we put out a few low lying pans (like pie pans) filled with water with a little bit of dish soap in the water. Soap in the water is essential! Above each pan, set a lamp beside it. At night, the fleas will jump towards the light and land in the soap-water. They can’t jump back out and are suffocated. Do this for a couple of nights and you’ll be rid of them in no time.

    • For fleas, I suggest Diotamacious Earth. There are 2 kinds, so be sure you buy FOOD GRADE. The other can hurt you and your pets. The food grade is made from the shells of sea creatures, that are ground to a fine powder. You can sprininkle it all over your yard, and it will kill the fleas, by drying them out. You can also mix this with wet food for your pet. Dogs or cats. If a flea bites, it gets the Diotamacious Earth, along with blood. Of course, you still have to do your Frontline plus, or Advantix. But this helps, too. It can be bought at any store that sells animal supplies, like for farm animals. Not sure if pet stores are selling it, but it’s probably cheaper at the farm type stores. We bought a 50 pound bag for 26 dollars and tax. Reapply to your yard after it rains. Google to find dosing amounts for your particular pet, by weight.

      • Ms. Eve says:

        diatomacious earth does not work at all…. either one of them. we heard great things but tried it over and over again and it never worked. finally I put an inch of it in a jar with some fleas I picked off the cats. those fleas lived 3 days in nothing but diotamacious earth….. don’t waste your time or money.

    • Troobeesez says:

      You can put diatomaceous earth (gardening kind, not pool filter kind) on your pet and kill them and the eggs at THE SOURCE! It slices the insects’ shell/body and they die from dehydration, they say. “They” also say it will not harm pets if they groom themselves. I would suggest not using it around their eyes though. Or bum.

      I love the idea of just sprinkling the Borax around, but would hesitate to use it in pet bedding or where children play, because ingesting Borax by kids/pets can’t be good for them. Just because it is “natural” does NOT mean it’s non-toxic, right?

  7. JD says:

    Wow! Wish I had known about this last year. We endured months of ant “killing” only to have them return with a vengeance. It was terrible and I hope to never go through it again.

  8. Leigh says:

    diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle it on the ant hills if you can find them and wherever they will cross its path. It is ground up fossilized sea creatures, so totally safe for little people (just don’t breath in the dust). For bugs of all sorts, it cuts them up in ways they can not recover from, or become resistant too.

    We had major ant problems in our back yard, and then our house last year and this worked like a charm. $10 for a 5 or 10 lb bag at our local hardware store. The bag will last a decade

  9. Joni Beale says:

    I have always used Ant Block from lowes and it works for a good 8 weeks. I have used it for years and it always work. I will try this though.

  10. Whitney says:

    I hate killing animals, including bugs, without reason (I do eat meat). Plus, ants are a very important part of the ecosystem. If they aren’t harming anyone, you could try my method. We had ants coming in our kitchen through our windowsill (it was an old apartment). We put a small plate of honey right by where they were coming in, and they ate the honey and immediately left. It was a win win. The ants got to eat, and they stayed out of the rest of our house :-)

    • Gary says:

      riiiight.. feed the ants they will go away? lol.

    • Andy says:

      For real Whitney…?????…..That is the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard.!!!! You don’t kill animals, or bugs..”But”…you eat meat..??? Guess what honey, somebody is killing these animals you eat, and probably in ways that would make you cringe!!! You for real want us to believe that you left honey on the window and the ants just ate and left..???(LOL)…..Like it was some kind of a peace offering you left for them, right…???? And then you want us to believe that they never returned, never thought “Hey, I know where there is free honey”…but you can only eat 1 time and can never return!!! So it is written, and so shall it be…!!! Wow, some people really scare me with their comments, and actually seem to believe themselves..???…SO SAD…!!!!

      • Troobeesez says:

        To be fair, she did say she “hates” killing animals, even bugs without good reason, not that she *didn’t* kill them. For the record, I “eat meat” too, but I also have a conscience and while I will kill ants, hoping the entire colony will go AWAY, I do so with a tinge of guilt. I teach my kids compassion by showing them how easy it is to re-locate a house spider to the garden, that spiders have a Job to do (killing the dam FLIES!!!), and that nature should remain in balance if the World is meant to survive.

        As for the honey, though, the real reason her ants did not return is because the rest of the colony were advised, “Don’t bother climbing six stories to Whitney’s apartment! All she has is HONEY!!!”. LOL, like when you were a kid on Halloween, and the word eventually got around to “not bother” knocking on Mr Jones’ door, he’s giving out APPLES!! In reality, Mr Jones doesnt like kids, and that was His trick for keeping them away on Halloween!

  11. JOYCE BURGOS says:


  12. Mary says:

    I always love solutions that don’t require me to go spend more money! I just set this out and look forward to watching it get rid of these annoying ants!

  13. Bernie Henrich says:

    I suggest Corn Meal. Ants love it so put it out doors. It’s harmless to people and pets. It’s death to ants because they… ummm… have no way to expell the gas like people and animals. Replace if it rains.
    It’s cheep, non toxic, and it definitely works! I also use it on those huge ant hills that show up in the lawn or garden. Today you see them, tomorrow you won’t.

  14. Lisa says:

    I have to admit I was skeptical but did not want to use chemicals since we are trying to be chemical free here (and honestly the ant traps we tried last year did not work at all). It worked perfectly! At first we got more ants and now it has been a week since I have seen any ants! I am so happy to have found such a simple solution. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • ELISE says:

      Which solution worked for you, Lisa? Thank you

      • Linda says:

        I used a equal mixture of dry sugar and Borax yesterday at the place where the ants were entering. This morning only a few were there eating the mixture, and this afternoon none are there. I am very hopeful! However, in the future I plan to try the cinnamon since it repels, but does not kill them.

    • okwhatever says:

      You, and everything you see, touch, smell, or eat is made of nothing but chemicals. Just saying. “Synthetic free” or “store-bought pesticide free” maybe but “chemical free” just doesn’t make sense.

      • Troobeesez says:

        Uh, Ahem–she did say “trying to be chemical free”… It’s a Process.

        Start by not drinking diet sodas (literally 100% CHEMICALS!!!!). Drink “real” Coke, and just drink less of it; make it a treat, not a staple. Use real butter. Again, margarine=100% chemicals. READ THE LABEL!! Look up some homemade household cleaners (on Pinterest there’s a million of em) rather than petroleum based supermarket cleaning products. Elbow grease is free, non-chemical, and the more you use, the larger your supply of it. (!)

        In today’s world, it would be almost impossible to be completely chemical free (unless you join the Shakers/Quakers, etc), but improvements can be made one-by-one. It is an ongoing process that I think most anyone can try. Isn’t that why most of us are checking out this natural recipe on Happy Housewife?

  15. Lindsey O says:

    Trying this out! We didn’t need to deal with ants until we moved to our house. It doesn’t seem that they are interested in the cotton balls or the water bottle caps filled with the yummy solution… I’ll keep it out there and see if they take to it. Praying this works. I’ll try the corn meal next… Thank you!!

  16. Chris says:

    Tried this yesterday – lots of ants were attracted to it – day 2 I have only seen 1 ant and that one has been eating all day – keep thinking he is dead but see him move every so often – other than that one ant, they seem gone – THAT WAS EASY!!!

  17. jackie says:

    we used this last year. Although, we placed the solution outside so that we didn’t have more ants come in. We placed it around the outside of the house. Also instead of using cotton balls and jar lids, I would place it in leaves that looked like it could hold some product. This way animals and children didn’t come up to the areat and wonder what it was. By placing it on leaves though i would go out every other day to replenish their food supply ;D

  18. ELISE says:

    Hi Angie and the rest of the folks.

    Does this work for carpenter ants? Would the sugar/borax solution or the cornmeal work on them? I assume you use cotton balls so they remain moist and the ants suck the liquid out of them or do they bring the cottonballs back to their nests? Thank you so much. I have seen my first carpenter ants of the season. Yuck!

  19. Patrick says:

    I live in the country. I had black garden ants coming in and out of my house siding on to my deck. I sprayed and poisoned with only temporary results. Last Saturday morning, before heading out to play golf, I laid the borax/sugar solution. When I returned I couldn’t believe how many ants were feasting on the cotton balls and draging bits back to their colony. I have not seen one ant since…Thanks SO Much!


  20. Mike Lee says:

    Hi Angie,

    Used your borax ant recipe, saw you homeschool and thought I’d share my movement program for young children. You can download it FREE at

    Thanks, Mike

  21. Sabrina says:

    I tried the solution with cotton balls/lids and not 1 ant came to it and I put it in 3 different spots in my apartment. I still see a few here and a few there. Do you think just putting the dry sugar and borax mix together would work better? I can’t handle the ants any more!

    • You could try it dry, but I found that didn’t seem to work as well for us. What I did was move cotton balls with the mixture to the spots that the ants were at (like right in the way of their paths) when I noticed they were initially avoiding it. That did the trick.

  22. Amanda says:

    This worked great. I used a wide, fairly flat lid with a few bits of folded up paper towel. I put it right in their path and they went to town!
    I did that at about 6 pm last night, and this morning they were gone!
    Thanks for posting this!

  23. Rose says:

    Could someone please tell me where to buy Borax? I have never seen it in a grocery store. Would I go to a hardware store? Thanks so much. Can’t wait to try it for the ant problem in my kitchen.

  24. Daniel says:

    Picked some Borax at Walmart. My store had it with the bleach and laundry cleaning booster stuff.

  25. I use a similar recipe, except I also add syrup. A little extra treat for the ants before they die! Also, I make little homemade ant traps with this stuff inside. It works awesome! I place the traps outside around the perimeter of my house. Kill the little buggers before they have a chance to come inside.

  26. Herb says:

    Ants like a sugar diet as well as a protein diet so if they don’t eat the sugar/Borax than mix Borax with peanut butter, I use both at the same time and some ate the sugar others went for the peanut butter. Did this last night so not sure of results yet.

  27. David says:

    Make sure you don’t use Boraxo … that is a product that adds soap flakes to Borax. Will not work to attract/kill ants.

  28. Emily says:

    Does it matter if whether you use powdered sugar or regular sugar?

  29. pistol says:

    Been trying to get rid of ants for 30 yrs .this will bring an alot of ants at first but then all of a sudden they are all gone .I keep a butter lid w cotton balls on it ,in a back corner of my counter top.I replenish the balls when they dry up.I noticed after a month or so the use to come back.but not if u keep this method.

  30. Billy Guess says:

    I’ve had some success with borax this year. We had a bad infestation in our kitchen. My own mix included:

    1 spoonful of sugar
    1 spoonful of borax
    1/2/ spoonful of honey
    5-10 ML of water

    I stirred the mix and poured it into five or six plastic water bottlecaps and left them both inside where the ants were climbing on counters and outside near where they were coming in. In one day, there was a 99% reduction in the ants. They were completely gone for about 2 weeks, but we just had a few pop up again over the weekend.

    I’m now reapplying this to our returning ants to see if I can wipe out the colony this time. Been using more caps outside to get at their source. Replacing the mix daily seems to help since it hardens quickly.

    Had a bit more luck with my neighbor’s house. They had an infestation in a crawlspace under the stove. Using the same mixture and method, the entire colony was wiped out in about three days.

    Overall, I have to praise the borax!

  31. michael norris says:

    ooh ooh wonder if it gets rid of camel crickets too? ugh. those things are ugly!

  32. John Lescovich says:

    I had a bad ant infestation last year and was very successful in eliminating all ant after 3 days . I used one ounce ,or 2-3 tablespoons of pancake syrup w/ one tablespoon borax . mix well until dissolved and add a few drops warm water if too thick .I then placed a small portion in the bottom of cheap cupcake papers and place around exterior of home every 10 to 15 feet apart with a small stone in it so the wind doesn`t blow them away . NO MORE ANTS . Process can be repeated if it rains . You can even give them a treat and spread a little on pancakes for them . Cheers .

  33. Ann says:

    This really does work. Amazing use powder sugar I’ve heard it’s a little finer to the mix instead of regular sugar. Awesome stuff.

  34. Francine says:

    Thank you so much! I have been dealing with ants for years & could never figure out where they came from. It was disgusting while they were crawling all over my counter but less than 24 hours later & THEY’RE GONE!

  35. Autumn says:

    Quick question-I put out the Borax solution and the first day was awful-tons of ants but on Day 2, I may have seen 10! WIN! But I left the cotton balls out and on Day 3, there were TONS of ants again. Today is Day 4 and they are all gone-again. Should I take up the cotton balls? I thought they would go back and kill their friends, not bring them back for more!

    • Mel says:

      You probably had multiple nests scrounging at your house. Leave them out until you are ant free for a week.

  36. Mike says:

    Just wanted to pop in and say thanx! I was not having any luck with dry borax and powdered sugar but when I added a bit of water it was like opening night at the opera! We live in the country on about 6 acres of land so we will always have little critters but I would rather have them outside ;)

    If only this would work on stink bugs *sigh*

  37. Eric says:

    I live in Southern California and we have Argentine ants. Unlike most other ants, hey don’t compete with other colonies so they are actually a “super colony” that extends 560 miles up the coast of California. So it’s every species for themselves… The borax and sugar water solution works great. It is the same active ingredient that Terro uses in their liquid ant bats. Theirs is much thicker — I wonder if they use corn syrup instead of sugar? But both work fine and, as insecticides go, is relatively non-toxic (or at least no more toxic than powered laundry soap or dishwasher soap). I used both the home brew mix and Terro traps. Home brew when I don’t mind having the bait out and Terro traps when I want the bait enclosed and not easily touched. I’ve actually used spent terro traps (washed them out with the garden hose) and refilled them with the homebrew solution. I’ve also use diatomaceous earth not as an ant killer but as a barrier to help keep the ants going to the bait and not wander off elsewhere in the house. I use an old plastic cup to pour out a small ridge around the bait leaving the entry hole (ususally in the wall) open. I also put some diatomaceous earth on my finger and run dust up the baseboard to discourage them from climbing. As long as you don’t close off the hole or interrupt the ant line then it work pretty good to “herd” the ants to the bait. Wow — I’ve turned into an ant wrangler. ;-) If you do use diatomaceous earth, remember that once it gets wet or moist, it stops working.

  38. Harold says:

    I’ve been using Amdro for many years with great success. Any time I see ants in the house I will put down a few granules of Amdro, and they are all gone within a day. It’s cheap, non-toxic to pets and people and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. A few crystals around an anthill will take care of that problem too. It doesn’t take much, so a big bottle of it lasted me 5 years or so.

  39. Tootie Welker says:

    For borax to completely dissolve the water needs to reach 140-150 degrees-about 5 min in a small microwave

  40. windrose says:

    To attract both sweet and oil ants at the same time, mix the borax with pancake syrup.

  41. pamela says:

    I live in the UK but get bothered by the small black ants each year. Our house is built on very sandy soil so is a haven for them. I will try your tips. Ant traps which I buy are useless. The pest control man only puts very toxic powder all around the house. That might be toxic for my dog. What I really wanted to say was that reading all this ant advice and also the other nasty bug stories, has put me off living in the US!! My son lives in Chicago, but I’ve never seen ants when staying there.

  42. Earl says:

    Well Im living on Panay, in Iloilo Philippines. There are very small black and red ants here. By the millions. Conventional sprays, chalk lines, and other bright ideas, work for a day or two at best. Stink the place up, and leave a toxic residue. A watse of cash.
    For sugar eating ants you can mix baking soda…not baking powder baking soda, and sugar, with water . That makes the ants explode. But they take it to the nest , and kills the queens.
    You want to kill the nests!!!!

    Boric acid powder or borax and sugar and water work well to kill the nest just like baking soda. Borax eats the stomach lining.
    NEVER mix borax and baking soda. They react together, and weaken each other.
    Baking soda is not toxic …… has no effect on pets or children. Both are very cheap.
    Borax is in almost every ant killer. This will kill roaches too. Both.

    For protien /oil loving ants, use peanut butter instead of sugar. Use much less borax than sugar, or they will not touch the mixture. For baking soda, 50/50 is great. They cant tell the difference between the sugar particles and the sugar, when mixed in water. They have no dislike to the baking soda, untill its in the stomach. They cannot fart. It blows their stomachs out. The carbon dioxide gas……mixed with stomach acid.

    Once you put it out, they will come by the thousands for a couple days. Keep feeding them!!!! Sooner or later they will begin to stop coming based on how many are around.
    Once the queens are gone, YOU will know!!! They will stop coming…..
    Next time around it will be fast and easy to get them gone. But with a huge infestation, it takes about 2-3 lbs of sugar mix……average house size…..surounded with sand…and more ant hills than you can count, or even find.
    What makes this method great is the colony killing bennefit!!! Its a huge money saver!!!

    Earl Wienke

  43. Earl says:

    A little note to add, to my first post.
    Put the mixtures outside your home not inside. Why attract them inside? Arent there enough inside allready?
    Place it on window ledges, all around cement cracks, near doorways, along the fence line.
    Where ever you see them coming in, place it there OUTSIDE!!
    I learned the hard way, drawing thousands inside in thick ranks…..he he he.

  44. jen says:

    How much boric acid pancake syrup an cornmeal to kill cockroaches

  45. Janet says:

    I live in southern California where we have lots of little black sugar loving ants and lots of other bug pests. I live in a condo which makes the problems even worse. What I’ve read and used that kills all kinds of ants, fleas and other nasty bugs is 20 Mule Team Borax. I buy 20 Mule Team Borax at Walmart in the laundry department. I put it in an old used plastic spice or salt shaker and lightly shake it all over my carpets and my floors. I leave it for a few days and then vacuum it up.
    CAUTION…Don’t do this if you have pets unless you keep them in 1 tiny area or children who play on the floor or you go barefoot!
    If the problem is not gone, I do it again. I do this every 3 months. I also sprinkle it around the premier of my condo. I do this every every time it rains or every 3 months.
    For sugar loving ants, I mix a bit of any kind of syrup (1 or 2 table spoons is plenty) or sugar water with the Borax (1 tablespoon is enough) and then I take everything out of my bathroom medicine cabinet and pour some of the mixture on the shelves and some in little plastic bottle caps and close the cabinet door so it’s dark in there and turn off the bathroom lights. When check a few hrs later, even in the day time, the ants are all over the mixture and within a day most of the ants are gone and I’m pretty sure they have taken the borax back to the nests in the walls and killed the ants. BTW I just just sprinkled borax in the kitchen and sprayed with Alcohol, but all the ants did was move to the bathroom, so now I think (hope) I’ve killed the nests…..anyway…so far, no more ants in the kitchen and way fewer than yesterday in the medicine cabinet. So from all my reading here and on other sites, I’m sure I’m making great progress.

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