How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants: 13 Failproof Methods & Preventive Measures

Sugar ants are some of the kitchen’s uninvited guests and getting rid of them could be tasking. They ruin food items and have a way of making you feel unsafe in your house! They climb into bowls and enter your packs of cereal, jars, and containers.

If you do not get rid of them on time, the infestation will become larger and there will be more damage. Sugar ants may be difficult to control but not impossible.

Methods to get rid of sugar ants range from natural remedies to chemical solutions. And I’ll discuss these methods in this article.

What are sugar ants?

sugar ants - millenora

Sugar ants are odorous house ants that move in colonies. They are attracted to sweet things like spilled drinks, soda, candy, food crumbs, fruit peels, honey jars, syrup bottles, etc.

Once one sugar locates your food and containers, the whole colony finds its way to your kitchen and invades it.

They do not stop until they have hauled enough food back to their nests. There are two classifications of sugar ants: outdoor and indoor sugar ants.

Types of outdoor sugar ants are acrobat, false honey, and rover ants. Indoor ants include carpenter, pavement, and Pharaoh ants.

Sugar ants have odor receptors (5X more than other insects) with which they smell food and trail the scents to where they are. They move through cracks, cervices, and other openings in your home to get to these food items.

As one ant trails, it leaves a pheromone trail for other ants in the colony to follow. Sugar ants may go the extra mile to create nests in corners and walls of your home.

Some places you can find their nests are:

  • Around leaky faucets
  • Holes and cracks in walls
  • In damaged insulation
  • Under stacked firewood
  • In loose soil
  • In empty termite nests

How to get rid of sugar ants

1. Eliminate the food source

Get rid of the attraction and the sugar ants will leave as well. Removing all food sources that attract the ants is a good way to say goodbye to the menace. If the food containers or bottles are broken, replace them.

Also, keep the containers airtight and clean. Wipe off spills and keep them in clean, dry areas. Before long, you will find that the sugar ants have moved out too.

2. Clean them away!

Make a solution of your glass cleaner with dish soap or liquid detergent. If you don’t have a glass cleaner, make a solution with water and dish soap. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray it on their nests or directly on the ants (when you catch them red-handed).

After clearing off the ants, lightly wipe the surface so there is a light residue to prevent future infestation.

3. Make a white vinegar solution

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water and spray it directly over the sugar ants or their nests. Vinegar solution doubles as a remedy for sugar ants and a cleaning solution to repel them and other insects.

The good thing is, after you cannot smell the vinegar, the ants can still smell it and they will steer clear of the disinfected areas.

4. Use a boric acid solution

Sugar ants cannot withstand the smell of boric acid solution. It is a poisonous chemical that can decompose their outer shells and stomachs within three weeks of exposure.

Make a solution with boric acid powder, sugar, and warm water. Soak cotton balls with the solution and put the cotton balls around the house. If you have located their nests, put the cotton balls directly on the ants.

Another way to get rid of sugar ants is to create a bait with boric acid. Mix the powder with their attraction – syrup, honey, or sugar – and keep it somewhere on the counter.

NOTE: Boric acid is poisonous to humans too. Wear hand gloves when handling it and keep it away from children, food items, and pets.

5. Use essential oils

Essential oils like peppermint, neem, cinnamon, and tea tree oils are natural insect repellents. Add 10 to 20 drops of any of these oils to a spray bottle with water. Spray the oil solution over their nests or directly on the ants.

You don’t have to wipe off the solution. You can leave it to dry because it is not toxic.

6. Kill them with boiling water

If you can locate the holes, crevices, and corners where these ants nest, you can exterminate them with hot water. Pour hot water directly over their hideouts, and they will die instantly.

7. Get rid of sugar ants with lemon juice

All ants do not like the smell of lemon juice and cannot stand it. If you spray lemon juice over the counter areas and around their nests, they will be gone in no time.

Also, lemon juice disrupts the pheromone trail that leads other ants to your food areas. It is both a remedy and a preventive agent.

8. Use coffee grounds

Spread coffee bean grounds over surfaces where these sugar ants tread, in corners, and on windowsills. Unlike other solutions, coffee grounds are not effective for long periods. They dry up and lose their potency after a few hours.

You can replace them for longer effectiveness.

9. Lemon eucalyptus oil

The lemon eucalyptus tree is a natural bug repellent. The oil also works the same wonders on sugar ants.

Soak a cotton ball in the oil and drop it around their nest and on surfaces where you usually find them. They will be gone in a few days.

10. Lure them with sugar and baking soda

Attract the ants with sugar and attack them with baking soda. When ants ingest baking soda, it dries them up from the inside. It is an effective measure you should try.

Mix equal parts of sugar and baking soda and generously spread it on the counter and corners of the kitchen and pantry overnight. Check for results in the morning.

11. Spray cinnamon powder in their hideouts

Cinnamon is a wonderful flavor, but only for humans. When ants smell or taste cinnamon, it kills and dries them up.

12. Seal up crevices

You can quickly exterminate these troublemakers by identifying the holes and cracks they come out from. Sealing up cracks and holes with caulk or cement will also help to prevent future infestation.

13. Get professional help

If you have tried all the above methods and these ants still won’t go, you should call a professional pest control agency to help you get rid of them.

How can you prevent sugar ant’ infestation?

  • Always keep your kitchen and pantry clean
  • Do thorough house cleaning once a week
  • Clean counters and surfaces with diluted vinegar solution
  • Do not keep used wraps, bags, and containers open and lying around carelessly
  • Also, keep jars of honey, candy, sugar, and syrups closed
  • Seal all entry points
  • Empty trash cans regularly
  • Fix all leaks and reduce the humidity level
  • Trash pet leftovers and keep their food bags tightly sealed
  • If you have plants like aphids, which produce honeydew, get rid of them, or put them far away from your kitchen
  • Store firewood away from the house
  • In addition, use natural ant repellents, such as herbs, coffee grounds, cucumber peels, citrus peels, and essential oils
  • Most importantly, do regular house inspections to identify entry points or damages that can attract sugar ants


Do sugar ants cause food poisoning?

Sugar ants may cause infections if you consume them in your food.

This is rare, but there is a likelihood because some of these ants carry E. coli, salmonella, shigella, and other types of bacteria. Also, ant bites can trigger skin irritation in people who are allergic to ants.

Can salt get rid of sugar ants?

Yes, it can. Salt dehydrates and repels ants. Sprinkling table salts around holes and corners where ants nest can help to keep them away. You can also spray insecticide on the salt for quicker and long-lasting action.

How long does it take to get rid of sugar ants?

Getting rid of sugar ants may take days to several weeks. How long it takes to get rid of these ants depends on the degree of infestation. A light infestation will be easier to deal with than a heavy infestation.


Getting rid of sugar ants might be difficult, but it is not impossible. With these natural remedies and chemical solutions, those ants had better be careful around the house. Know their hideouts and favorite corners and apply those solutions there.

Most importantly, putting the necessary measures in place will prevent ant infestation. Keep your house clean and tidy. Keep sweet substances in airtight containers. Trash used wraps, food boxes, papers, and nylons. Empty trash bags too.

Here’s another kitchen hack you should know. Learn how to get food dye off your hands with simple household materials.

Thanks for reading.