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What oil smell do ants hate?

What Do Ants Hate?

There’s nothing worse than opening your favorite batch of cookies and finding them covered with ants. No matter how diligently we clean our homes or how many sweets we stash in sealed containers, those pesky pests still make their way into our homes and our foods. So, what do ants hate, and how can you use that information to keep ants out of your home?

Knowing what attracts ants often helps isolate the problem. Removing what ants love should not come at the cost of sacrificing our beloved treats.

Setting an ant trap laced with natural ant killers means the worker ants will bring this toxic food back to their colony and stop the problem at the source. Using scents ants find too intense or overwhelming is another way to prevent an ant invasion that also leaves your house smelling great!

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Table of Contents

  1. Use What Ants Hate to Keep Them Away
    • What Smells Do Ants Hate?
    • Do Ants Hate Cinnamon?
    • Does Peppermint Oil Repel Ants?
    • Does Lavender Repel Ants?
    • What Do Ants Hate When It Comes to Protecting Your Pet’s Food?
    • Will These Tips Keep Other Pests Out of Your Home?
  2. How to Keep Ants Out of Your House with a Natural Ant Killer

Use What Ants Hate to Keep Them Away

You may wonder how ants know where food is and how to find it quickly. Can ants smell? Yes, they can and you can use this against them and eliminate them from your home quickly.

Ants also act on how things taste. The best way to get rid of ants is to use a tactic that applies these two weaknesses.

What Smells Do Ants Hate?

Some natural ways to repel ants is to fill your home with smells they hate. Common ants like fire ants and black ants make their nests in mounds outside the home. Carpenter ants, however, make their homes inside the wood panels and frames of your house.

While using baking soda within the home may prevent ant invasions, certain smells also expel ants from your home. Using essential oils to repel ants has numerous advantages.

While you’re at it, you can also get rid of spiders with essential oils, too. Other bugs like mosquitoes and roaches also find essential oils like peppermint and lavender distasteful, as well.

Beyond their ability to keep ants away, the pleasant fragrances will leave your home smelling fantastic! Some can even be watered down into a solution and sprayed on the body as an insect repellent.

Although it may not be as pleasant to have around the house, ants and flies hate the smell of garlic. Putting a few garlic cloves or cotton balls doused in garlic oil in strategic locations will deter these pests.

Because of the odor, you may want to limit this option to areas of the home that are not as frequently used. Basements and attics are good choices.

Do Ants Hate Cinnamon?

Ants and other bugs tend to stay away from cinnamon. Like many smells that ants hate, cinnamon gives off a strong odor that repulses the ant. Cinnamon is also ideal to get rid of roaches, as roaches hate the aroma, too.

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Applying cinnamon oil to cotton balls and placing them in areas where ants may enter is an example of how to keep ants out of your house. To use, start with six drops of cinnamon oil and soak the cotton balls.

Cinnamon is strong, so ease your way into adding more drops over time. You could also sprinkle cinnamon in these areas, as well.

This option is much more beneficial when you have a small ant problem. If it is a full-blown ant infestation, this cinnamon deterrent may not be enough to completely get rid of the ant issue. You may need something stronger.

Does Peppermint Oil Repel Ants?

The typical answer to “what do ants hate and what do spiders hate” is peppermint. Ants, spiders, and other insects find this scent overwhelming and avoid it as often as possible. As a bonus, most bugs don’t seem to like peppermint and it’s one of the smells stink bugs hate, too.

Much like cinnamon oil, adding drops of peppermint oil to cotton balls deters ants on the principle of smell alone. An excellent addition to your home remedies, peppermint essential oil can also be used as a natural ant repellent sprayfor use in the home and on your skin.


Peppermint Oil Natural Ant Repellent Recipe

  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbsp witch hazel
  • 15 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • Spray bottle


Combine the water with witch hazel in a spray bottle. Some recipes suggest adding vodka along with witch hazel. In this case, add one tablespoon of witch hazel and an equal amount of vodka to this spray recipe to get rid of all kinds of pesky insects.

Add the drops of peppermint oil to your solution, mix well, and then spray the affected areas of your home. Spray the mixture on your skin as a natural repellent for most bugs, including mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and flies.

Does Lavender Repel Ants?

Lavender is another scent ranked high on the list of “What smells do ants hate?” Placing lavender plants in the garden stops ants from entering your home.

This deterrent can also be used by adding dried flowers to cabinets, doorways, and other entry points ants may frequent. Wiping down areas with lavender spray or oils also destroys the scent trails left by ants.

What Do Ants Hate When It Comes to Protecting Your Pet’s Food?

Storing pet foods in a sealed container, instead of leaving them in the bags, is a simple solution to reduce the presence of ants in cat food or dog food. While this protects foods before they are eaten, this does not help dry foods that have been left out for pets.

Prevent ants from getting into your pet’s food by creating a barrier around the bowl using ant deterrents. Ant’s leave scent trails that help them and other ants find their way back to the located food source.

This method of communicating becomes disrupted by powdery substances like chalk or baby powder, causing the ants to avoid it. Draw a chalk line around the food bowl to keep ants from getting near the pet’s food.

Sprinkling a ring of black pepper, cayenne pepper, or coffee grounds around the food bowl is another effective solution. The grounds give off a strong smell that overpowers the ant trails, making it difficult for the ants to communicate with other members in their colony.

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Replace the fresh grounds daily, and keep the area wiped clean with warm water and soap between sprinklings.

Will These Tips Keep Other Pests Out of Your Home?

Many of the solutions for how to keep ants away will also work for other common household pests. Citrus smells keep spiders out, as well as ants, with orange or lemon peels rubbed along windowsills and doorways.

Spraying lemon juice on known entry points for ants and spiders also prevents them from entering your home. Or, you can add ground bay leaves to lemon juice to create a paste used on the edges of doorways.

Using one cup of white vinegar and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle will also work in the same way as lemon juice.

Another substance to keep pests out of your home is boric acid. Boric acid kills ants, spiders, and roaches. To attract ants, mix boric acid into a variety of foods since some ants prefer foods high in fat over sugary sweets.


Boric Acid Ant Killer Recipe

  • 1 tsp of boric acid
  • 1 cup of peanut butter


Mix the two ingredients to reduce the taste of boric acid, which may repel ants at first. You may need to reduce the amount of boric acid by half.

For ants with a sweet tooth, replace the peanut butter with a sugary substance like jelly or honey. You can also add eight teaspoons of boric acid to sugar water in a spray bottle to spray doorways and entry points. No matter what food you use to attract the ants, remember to label the container.

How to Keep Ants Out of Your House with a Natural Ant Killer

If an ant infestation is underway in your home, the only logical solution may be to use an ant killer. Using natural remedies like diatomaceous earth or baking soda kills ants without posing a threat to pets or small children.

A boiling water and dish soap mixture is a natural way to wipe out colonies of ants in the garden. Pour it over the ant hills or spray the entrances with the solution.

When adding diatomaceous earth to your pest control routine, lightly dust the outside perimeter of your home and sprinkle it in common problem areas inside your home. Use the food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the kind used as pool filters, and do not let it get wet, as dampness causes it to lose its effectiveness.

Baking soda is especially helpful when getting rid of sugar ants. Mixing equal parts powdered sugar to attract the ants and baking soda creates a deadly ant bait the ants carry back to their nests to share.

Ants carry acid in their bodies as a way to digest food, which reacts with the baking soda, killing the ant. Imagine your sixth-grade science fair volcano erupting inside the ant’s stomach.

These natural pesticides and repellents will keep ants out of your home for good. Start by trying your favorite one based on whatever ingredients you already have in your pantry. Not all ants are alike, so trying different methods will help you find the solution that works for you.

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Learn how to answer “what do ants hate?” with homemade pest control. Discover how smells ants hate will keep them out of your food. Try natural repellents like peppermint oils and lavender to keep ants away and make your home smell great. #ants #repellents #essentialoils

We hope you enjoyed these tips for how to keep ants out of your home. If so, let your friends and family know just what do ants hate by sharing on Pinterest and Facebook.

This Trick Will Get Rid of Most Insects Around Your Home


Protasov AN/Shutterstock

Before you reach for the chemical-laden bug spray and store-bought insect repellents, there’s a natural solution you can try—peppermint.

Insects hate peppermint. In fact, the stick bug uses a milky substance it can emit from behind its head that fills the air with the scent of peppermint. The bug uses this to fight off predators, as the scent is an unbearable irritant to most insects.

Using Peppermint Around the Home

If you have spiders, ants, mosquitoes and other bugs around your home, try using peppermint oil. The scent may also help keep mice away.

To get started, pick up some peppermint oil at your local health or grocery store. Look for 100-percent pure peppermint oil with no additives.

Next, try putting a little peppermint oil on a cotton ball and place the ball in an area where you often see insects, such as on a window sill or near a door. The scent should detour insects in the area.

Make a Diffuser

Try mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with some hot water and place it in a spray bottle. A good ratio is 5 to 10 drops of essential oil per ounce of water. Use the mixture to spray down countertops, furniture, curtains and blinds and hard-to-reach areas of the home where insects are often present. Always test in a small area first to make sure the oil doesn’t damage the items you want to spray.

Store the diffuser in your refrigerator to make the scent last longer.

You can also use the mixture on your skin if you’re planning to be outside, but be sure to do a test on your skin first since some people with sensitive skin may find the oil irritating.

Originally Published: May 30, 2019

Rachel Brougham

Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.

Essential Oils For Ants

This post may contain affiliate links so I earn a commission.

Are you curious about using essential oils for ants?

Essential oils have been touted for their myriad benefits.

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They can be used in cooking, for cleaning, and even for medicinal purposes.

However, they can also be highly effective when it comes to pest control.

Keep reading to learn more about the best essential oils for ants — and tips on how to use them.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are basically just extracts from different parts of a plant.

The extracts can be derived from bark, leaves, stems, fruits, or other parts of the plant.

These are put into a press and squeezed until the juices are removed.

These oils are complex aromatic substances made up of fatty acids, terpenes, ketones, aldehydes, esters, and other compounds.

They are often used for aromatherapy and many other purposes.

There is growing evidence that essential oils can also be used to control pests like ants.

One way that they do this is by confusing them.

Essential oils, as you might expect, have strong aromas.

This disturbs the pheromones, or scents, that ants use to discover routes to food.

Applying essential oils can help kill the likelihood of other ants discovering the same spot — something that leads to an infestation.

Are Essential Oils Good For Killing Ants?

Essential oils offer an easy, all-natural way for people to get rid of ants.

These all-natural pesticides can kill ants in various ways.

There are several different types you can use, including peppermint oil and tea tree oil.

To use essential oils, all you need to do is buy a clean spray bottle and fill it with a quarter-cup of water and 30-40 drops of the essential oil of your choice.

Combine different types of essential oils for the best results!

Shake the spray bottle and apply the essential oil spray anywhere in which ants are frequently found, including on ant trails, around baseboards, and near doorways.

Be careful about using essential oils in areas where you prepare food, however.

Some can be toxic when consumed in high amounts.

Which Essential Oils For Ants Should I Use?

There are several types of essential oils for ants that are very effective at killing them.

While some are perfectly potent all on their own, there are some that work even better when combined with other types of essential oils.

Here are some of the best options to consider:

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a well-known insect repellant.

It can be used by itself or in combination with other types of essential oils, like lemon oil or tea tree oil.

The strong minty smell of peppermint oil is typically enough to throw ants off their tracks.

It is also nontoxic.

Tea Tree Oil — Essential Oils For Ants

This is another essential oil that can kill ant scent trails.

It also is effective in killing the ants themselves.

In fact, it’s one of the few essential oils that have this property.

You can use tea tree oil by itself or with other oils, like peppermint oil.

Because peppermint oil doesn’t kill ants but instead merely throws them off their scent trails, tea tree oil can add a dose of toxicity for that one-two punch you’re looking for.

Just be careful about using tea tree oil around pets, as it can be toxic to them in high doses, too.

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Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil actually contains citronella, a compound that is well-known for its ability to repel all kinds of insect pests.

Fortunately, ants are one of them.

Place 15 drops or so of lemon eucalyptus oil in water inside a spray bottle, then spray the area where ants are a problem.

This oil can be toxic to children and pets, so again, only use this essential oil in areas they can’t reach.

Cinnamon Leaf Oil

You can use powdered cinnamon to get rid of ants, but cinnamon essential oil tends to be much more potent.

This is an especially effective remedy when it comes to getting rid of stinging and biting red ants.

Just dip a few cotton balls in undiluted oil, allow them to dry, and place them in strategic locations around the house.

If you’re using plain powdered cinnamon, all you need to do is sprinkle it over window sills, baseboards, and other areas typically frequented by ants.

Citrus Oils — Essential Oils For Ants

Whether it’s lemon, orange, or some other type of citrus, one thing that all citrus oils have in common is that they contain d-limonene.

Though this compound is great for us, as humans, it’s actually toxic to ants.

Not only that, but it has the power to erase all chemical traces they leave behind.

If you have to choose between all citrus oils, go with sweet orange oil.

This essential oil has the highest concentration of d-limonene.

Other good options include grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, and mandarin.

Lavender Oil

Lavender is best known for its abilities to calm and soothe frazzled nerves (as well as for its ability to induce sleep).

So if the lavender oil doesn’t work to get rid of the ants, at least it can help relieve some of your stress about your infestation!

Just kidding, of course.

In reality, lavender oil is a powerful essential oil.

Ants hate the smell of lavender oil, so combining it with water is a great way to get rid of ants in your home and garden.

How To Get Rid Of Ants Permanently

If you’re looking for all-natural remedies to prevent and get rid of ants, essential oils aren’t your only option.

You can also turn to other solutions.

For example, a good clean-up is often all it takes to remove ants from your home.

Ants take advantage of invisible scent trails to root out sources of food.

Wash away any areas where you think scent trails might be likely (such as in your kitchen or near your dog’s food bowl) with some light dish soap.

Make sure crumbs and spills are cleaned up promptly, as are leaks from things like faucets and leaky pipes.

All of these can attract ants extremely fast!

Finally, consider natural solutions like poison-free ant traps (which use pheromones instead of chemical baits), diatomaceous earth, cinnamon, and white vinegar.

These remedies might take longer to work than store-bought chemicals, but you won’t have to worry about using them around your children or pets.

Of course, essential oils are almost always safe to use and effective, too — so feel free to give some of these essential oils for ants a try today!

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