Nontoxic Pest Control


There are many tools and strategies for nontoxic pest control - using them together is known as Integrated Pest Management - a synthesis of combining tools from different areas to achieve a more total pest control.


  1. Primary to ant control is proper cleanliness, housekeeping, and maintenance. Next is to locate and destroy ant nest(s).
  2. Remove all clutter and debris inside and outside - it is often when doing this we locate the ant infestation.
  3. Trim all tree and bush branches that touch or overhang the building. Remove any landscaping that harbors or invites the ants into the building. Landscape mulch should be thin, less than 2” deep. Dig up ant nests / mounds repeatedly.
  4. Practice proper sanitation and improve drainage around building.
  5. Eliminate moisture problems and improve ventilation. Install and maintain dehumidifiers in damp areas.
  6. Caulk or seal all visible cracks, crevices or other openings around the perimeter of the building.
  7. Keep food and garbage properly stored away from ants. Make sure people eat only in designated areas.
  8. Routinely clean food areas: floors, counters, sinks, garbage bins, with a solution of Safe Solutions TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner (1 oz. per gallon water) with either a ½ cup of borax or baking soda per gallon of hot water. Use this cleaner to mop and wash surfaces. Crawling children should be kept off the borax cleaned floor. Spray kitchen surfaces with a solution of distilled white vinegar, or baking soda.
  9. Vacuum the infested areas thoroughly daily. If you are dry-vacuuming live ants, add a small amount of Safe Solutions Food-Grade DE, talcum or medicated body powder to the dry vacuum first. If you are wet-vacuuming live ants, add a small amount of Safe Solutions TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner or liquid detergent to the wet-vacuum first.

Nontoxic Ant Sprays

  1. Spray ants with a solution of Safe Solutions TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner (1 oz. per quart water), or diluted dish soap (2 oz. - 4 oz. per quart water) in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray ants with Safe Solutions Not Nice to Bugs®.
  3. Mix 10% salt and some white pepper or Tobasco sauce in water and spray to repel ants.
  4. Blend 1 clove of garlic, 1 onion, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper and 1 quart water. Steep mixture for 1 hour, strain, add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and spray it for ant control.

Ant Barriers & Repellents

  1. You can dust to deter ants with any of these nontoxic alternatives: Safe Solutions Food-Grade DE, talcum powder, medicated body powder, baking soda, Splenda, dried peppermint, cinnamon, salt, freshly ground pepper (cayenne), garlic powder, cream of tartar, bone meal, powdered charcoal, cedar oil, Tide®soap, calcium chloride Bon Ami® or Comet®. Lightly blow or sprinkle the powder into the corners, cracks, crevices etc. where you have seen the ants infesting or entering building. A light layer works better than a heavy layer.
  2. Cucumber peels and damp coffee grounds are also known to repel ants.
  3. Create a barriers where you do not want them to cross. Draw a line with chalk, or anchor a strip of duct tape sticky-side up in places where ants are seen crossing.
  4. Ant Repellent - Dilute geraniol in olive oil.
  5. Fire Ant Repellent: Sprinkle talc, medicated body powder, or Food-Grade DE onto exposed skin/clothing.
  6. Outdoor Ant Repellent: Mix 10½ oz. water, 3 oz. Tabasco sauce, and ½ oz. Safe Solutions TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner. Spray where ants are seen around the perimeter of the home or building.
  7. Find the ants' entrance and block it with a patch of petroleum jelly, toothpaste, white glue or tape. Spray them with Fantastic®, WD40®, Vaseline® or STP® oil treatment.
  8. Locate the place of ant entry, squeeze the juice of a lemon into it and leave the peel.
  9. Flood ant nests with a dilution of one of the following: Safe Solutions TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner (3 gallons warm water to 4 - 5 oz. TweetMint Enzyme Cleaner), Safe Solutions Food-Grade DE (4 tablespoons per gallon of water), or a dilution of orange juice, Lemon Joy®, Splenda®, peppermint or white vinegar.
  10. Ant mounds or nests can be gased with a carbon dioxide tank or a high pressure steamer.
  11. Ants nests in hollow tree trunks: First dust the nest with Safe Solutions Food-Grade DE, talcum powder and then fill the cavity with aerosol foam insulation, and turn the ants into "instant fossils". Put bands of cedar oil, Tanglefoot, Vaseline, fluoride toothpaste, or duct tape (sticky-side up) around the perimeter of the infested tree(s).

Nontoxic Ant Baits

Note: Baiting works best when proper sanitation measures have eliminated the ant's alternative food sources. Most ants living in a house or other structure are typically feeding on people food and only rarely on honeydew. Ant food preferences are often seasonal, and their foraging needs can and do vary hourly.

  1. Ant baits should be used when the temperature is above 70° F and less than 90° F, and kept out of rain.
  2. Place baits where you see ants. The only way to eliminate ants permanently is to destroy the queen(s), thefore the ants must be able to carry the bait back to the queen. If the ants are dying near the bait, it may be too strong. However, if you still have ants after two weeks, the bait is too weak.
  3. Ant baits should be made by first finding their preferred food source, (e.g. apple sauce, creamy peanut butter, shortening, sugar water, moist cat food, honey, light Karo Syrup, jelly) and then lightly mixing in a small amount of borax or boric acid (about 1% - 2%); or (3% - 5%) Food-Grade DE, or aspartame (Equal® or Nutrasweet®).
  4. Use a variety of baits. Try adding a little diluted Tagmet, aspartame or baking soda to your ant baits.
  5. Make a bait mixture of 50% baking soda and 50% powdered sugar.
  6. Make a bait mixture of 50% instant grits and 50% packets of Equal®.
  7. Make a bait mixture of 1/3 powdered sugar, 1/3 baking soda and 1/3 powdered Vitamin C.
  8. Spray dry dog food with diluted 1% borax or sodium borate; let dry and grind to powder and then use as ant bait. This bait will also kill rats and mice. If you are a smoker, wear clean gloves before handling bait. Keep borax / borate baits away from children, pets and wildlife.
  9. Bait until the ants quit taking the bait.

If you are still seeing ants, read the entire Chapter 15 - there is still more to learn about nontoxic ant control.

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