How to Make a Kid Safe Homemade Ant Killer

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Ants marching

A few weeks ago we visited my family in Texas. Yes, I’m a Texas girl. Born and bred there till about age 12. Go Spurs! Anyway, while we were out and about in my hometown ants were having a house party back at my house.

After spending over 15 hours driving home… Yes, we drove. Crazy I know with two kids in the backseat. After unsardining ourselves from the Kia (it was our best choice for gas) the last thing we wanted to deal with was ants. They were everywhere. In drawers, on the counter tops, strolling across the floor. It was disgusting! It’s not like I left the house dirty either. I hate to coming home to a mess. Just seeing them I started to get hypochondriac itches. Eww!

We had some ants before we left but nothing like this. They must have noticed we were gone and thought “Hey, Parrrtaaaayyyy!!”. Before we left I had been experimenting with different homemade ant spray concoctions. I wanted to make something that would kill ants and yet wouldn’t freak me out if my kids touched it. Lord, knows they touch everything. I still have to tell my six year old not to pick up random things he sees in parking lots. And my youngest still randomly puts things in his mouth so spraying any harsh chemicals inside of my house was out of the question.

Ant on flowers

I tried mixing different essential oils (like tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender oils), vinegar, and soap. The mixture that worked best for me was water, vinegar, and squirt of soap. It stops them dead in their tracks and I have no fears about my children being around it.

To make this homemade ant killer:

  1. Get an 8 ounce bottle. You can find these at the Dollar Store or at places like Wal-Mart (look in the travel sized section inessential oils the beauty area or near the irons). Also, you could re-purpose an old spray bottle that you’ve recently emptied.
  2. Fill this bottle with about 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar. Ants get around by following scent trails and vinegar disturbs this.
  3. Squirt in a nice amount of dish soap and gently swish.

This spray has been working nicely killing the ants I see. Not to mention this recipe is a lot cheaper to make than to buy those harsh ant killers. Now I just have to work on a nice safe ant bait that some of them will take back to wherever they are coming from. What’s your best ant tip? Just writing about this is making me itch. Ahh!


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Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.


  1. I will have to give this solution a try. We had ants in our house earlier this spring seems to happen each year. I used some borax mixed with a little sugar they take it back with them and die. It seemed to work pretty well. But I will give this solution a try next time I see any ants. Thanks for the tip.

    • I’ve been thinking about the borax bait too. I just don’t wait my kids or animals to get a hold of that. They get into everything. The solution works great for ants you just want to kill right away.

    • Oatmeal works just as good as the borax solution without the safety issue to animals and children

    • I tried oatmeal but I couldn’t tell if it was working. I hope it was! I hate ants!

    • I also tried yellow cornmeal. It’s supposed to kill the ants when they ingest it after taking it to their nest. But I didn’t see a difference. I have about 20 ant hills pop up after the last rain..

    • Oh wow, 20 is a lot. I’ve also heard that ants don’t like citrus.

    • Corn meal and oat meal have been proven to be mostly ineffective at killing ants.

    • I’ve tried that trick before too and it never seemed to do much for me either.

    • if they are very visible in your yard about a cup of diesel fuel down the hole works good dont burn it just the vapours and oil will do’er !

    • Thanks! I haven’t heard of those before but I’ve heard of pouring boiling water down the ant hills.

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    I love this recipe. I am a gardener. I would prefer to use something that would not harm kids, animals or birds. This will do nicely AND, as you said, it is way cheaper. Thanks, :-), Susan Cooper

  3. Ok the picture gave me the creepy crawlies but when I got past that and read on thought what a cool idea…………

  4. Classic NYer says:

    Ew! Ew! You’re making me itch just reading about it!

    I’m glad your concoction worked, though, and that you didn’t have to use any harsh chemicals to get rid of them.

    Stopped in from SITS sharefest. 🙂

  5. Debbie Rhoades says:

    I am definitely going to try this. I live in FL and the ants are sized like chihuahuas down here. Mean little critters, too.

  6. Sue Hull says:

    I used to sell Avon many yrs ago and one thing that works great on ants,spiders or most creepy crawlers is Avon’s Skin So Soft. It’s not just an after your bath/shower oil. It works on multiple things. I spray it every month on my window sills,slider tracks,door frames,and things don’t crawl into my apt ever. It also gets soap scum off shower doors. Ask your Avon Rep for all it’s awesome uses. Good Luck on the bug problem!

    • I used to sell Avon too but I don’t really use it anymore that I don’t sell it. Skin So Soft does work well though!

  7. A great long term safe and effective ant killer is oatmeal!
    I’ve use it and the ants are gone with in a few days. But if you have pet geese or ducks careful to keep oatmeal away cause its poisonous. But other than that it’s completely safe! Any instant oatmeal, grits or cream of wheat.

  8. Kristine says:

    Thank you for sharing this awesome “anti-ant” spray! It totally worked for us! I’m going to use/share this great “recipe” for ever!

  9. Chelsey says:

    this recipe sounds great for my home.. kids and animals. My question is will it work on outdoor surfaces? vinyl siding or the wood of my front porch? and does it only kill ants? or does anyone know if it will repel or kill little gnats and tiny spiders that make invisible nests in your door jam for a cruel morning joke? Thanks!!

    • I think it would work on any surface. I’ve used it on concrete before. To be honest I haven’t tried it on other bugs but I’m sure it would kill them too depending on their strength. I really hate gnats too. I have a plant that gets them. I try misting it some with vinegar and that helps for a bit.

  10. Isabella says:

    Thanks so much for this great recipe. Everytime I put my computer down by my bed I find it crawling with ants in the morning. Hopefully this will get rid of my ant issues.

  11. Thx so much for this! Just sprayed this in the kitchen. Couldn’t deal with these big black nasty ants we have (think we disturbed a nest).
    Question: do u just spray and leave or do u wipe away or wipe away the following morning or….
    Thanks much hope this works!! 🙂

    • Hope it works for you! I usually sprayed it on the ants and made sure it killed them and then wiped the dead ones away. If you are trying to disturb their invisible trail I would just leave it alone for a while and maybe spray along borders.

  12. Cindi Blazina says:

    Thanks so much for this. Just moved to a new place last summer and there were ants everywhere and we just dealt with them. They just started coming back and I can’t take another summer with them but have a three year old who would get into everything and is always wondering what I’m doing so this is a cheap, easy and safe way to get rid of them and it works quickly. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • You are very welcome Cindi!! Glad it worked for you 🙂 My son used to like to help me “get” the ants this way.

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