The best two old fashioned tips for getting rid of ants

Long Lunch 08/08/2017

Ants can be a real nuisance in the summer but you don’t have to unleash nasty chemicals to get rid of them. Here are two old-fashioned tips to try:

  • Mix 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp borax. Put in a saucer and place near the ant trail.

  • Mix 2 tbsp borax with 1 cup icing sugar and leave out. Borax can be harmful to children and pets so put the mix in a container with a lid and poke holes in the side to let the ants in.

  • Mix 1 tbsp icing sugar with 1 tbsp baking soda. The ants love the sugar but the baking soda disagrees with them.

  • Simple, cheap and totally effective — talcum powder. Apparently ants breathe through their skin and talcum powder clogs that breathing function effectively when they come in contact. In their haste to escape they return to their nest thereby infecting the others and that nest. We had a bad infestation in our lawn so observed the movements to discover the nest. There were literally thousands of the little blighters. One squirt of talcum powder over the entrance (and in areas leading to and from) and within 48 hours not a single ant. Total time taken — about 5 minutes. Total cost — about 30 cents. Total risk factor — about zero.

  • Wipe down shelves and surfaces with neat vinegar. You can also put it in a spray bottle and spray the ants directly.

  • Sprinkle and wipe essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender or teatree oil to repel the ants.

*You can buy borax online or at your chemist.


What is Borax? This is an alkaline mineral which is a very effective antibacterial, fungicidal cleaning and bleaching agent which is widely regarded as being better for the environment than bleach. But it can be toxic in high doses and needs to be kept away from children and animals, so I restrict its use where I can. It is valuable as an emulsifier in these recipes, as a stain remover and deodoriser, and in the old days it was used to keep pests away. I only use it in recipes that won’t touch the skin, as have I read that when it is mined it can become contaminated with arsenic. I’ve also taken it out of many recipes without any problems.