How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen

Keep those counters, nooks, and crannies ant-free with these simple tips.

Got ants in the kitchen? Don't feel bad—you're not alone. When it comes to pest problems, kitchen ants rank at the top of the list, and with good reason. Your kitchen just happens to be full of all kinds of ant-attracting goodies and, naturally, ants are going to make the most of it. After all, it's their job to find and share food with their friends. It's your job to stop them.


The first step is to get rid of the kitchen ants you already have. Do these two simple things.

1. Follow them.

Kitchen ants are on a mission to feed themselves, their queen, and the colony. When you see ants marching across your kitchen floor or making their way along your kitchen countertops, resist the urge to do anything but watch for a little while. See where they're coming from and where they're going. That's their hiding place – and your starting one. 

2. Destroy the ant colony.

Ants are extremely sociable, doing everything for the good of others, including taking food back to the colony. Now that you know the path to their home, you can use this behavior to your advantage. Ortho® Home Defense Liquid Ant Bait is the no-mess way to get ant-killing bait back to the queen and her colony, so it's ideal for kitchens where ants forage. Place at least one bait station on the trail you've identified, making it easy for ants to take the bait and share it.


Now that the ants are gone, you want to make sure they don't return. Here's what you can do.

1. Create a barrier. 

To thwart entrance to your kitchen, look for gaps, holes, and tiny openings where kitchen ants might find a way in from the outside. Then repair, plug, and seal up these entry points, including under and around window and door frames, foundation cracks, and electrical outlets. Next, create an invisible barrier that will stop kitchen ants in their tracks: Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier. With no fumes and no staining, you can use it with confidence in the kitchen. Just spray it into cracks and crevices and under kitchen appliances. It won't make a mess and will dry quickly, protecting your culinary space from kitchen ants and other listed pests for up to a year. 

2. Get keen on clean.

A lot of kitchen ants fall under the classification of sugar ants. These types of ants love their sweets, foraging for things like baked goods, fruits, and syrupy drinks. Other kitchen ants are drawn to fats, like those found in oils, nuts, and meats. Of course, many kitchen ants, like Pharaoh ants, are all-in for everything, including sweets, meats, and grease.

No matter, the starting point for keeping your kitchen inhospitable to ants is keeping your kitchen free from the things that ants want: food and water. So, stop soaking pots and pans, put up leftovers right away, and pick up pet food (especially at night). Because crumbs, spills, and tiny tasty morsels also attract kitchen ants, always clear the dishes. Wash dishware and rinse recyclables, wipe up spills immediately, and store cookies, chips, and other foods in airtight containers. Don't forget to sweep regularly, too.

3. Disrupt the march.

Ants have an instinctive marching order to find food, and you may be helping them by giving them a direct line into your kitchen from the outdoors. Start by keeping your rooftop and siding clear of tree branches and shrubbery—remember, if it's touching the house, ants can walk right on in. So, prune it, cut it back, or remove it. The same goes with mulch. Ants like to burrow in, so make sure mulch doesn't pile up against your home's foundation. Other things you can do including removing trash, disposing of debris, and keeping garbage cans tightly sealed. Stack lumber, bricks, and building materials away from your home. Also, check firewood and potted plants for ants before bringing them or anything else indoors.

There's no shame in discovering ants in the kitchen. It happens. What counts is how you react. Just follow the simple steps above to get rid of kitchen ants and prevent them from coming back.