I Got Rid of the Ants in My Home with Just This $1 Natural Ingredient

published Mar 30, 2024
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Spacious kitchen with open shelving and solid oak work surfaces. The pendant lights and units are both by Ikea.
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I don’t care how obsessively neat you are, ants will find you. I know because they found me. I’m a champion decanter, and everything in my kitchen is sealed airtight — but still, I periodically see the dreaded parade of tiny invaders who have somehow appeared, despite my best efforts. 

I don’t love insecticides at baseline, and in the kitchen where I prepare food I can’t abide them. I’ve tried lots of natural remedies for eliminating pests, and recently I found a solution that solves my ant problem naturally with something I always have on hand: citrus fruit. 

How to Eliminate Ants with Citrus Fruits

D-limonene, the acidic oil found in the peels of oranges, grapefruit, and lemons, is an effective ant-repellent. Because trying it out was low-risk and potentially high-reward, I gave it a try. To my surprise and delight, the method worked like a charm! I placed the peels in the location the ants were frequenting and was shocked by how well it worked. 

The trick isn’t magical, of course. I’m sure if I’d left a pile of sugar on the counter, a few tenacious ants would have made their way around the pile of peels. If, however, you’re willing to do all the standard anti-ant precautions such as cleaning food spills immediately and sealing all containers, then all you need to eliminate ants is the ability to tolerate a pile of peels on your kitchen counter. I curled mine around a chopstick to make them prettier and less likely to be cleared to the compost on auto-pilot.

Credit: Meg Asby

Why I Like This Method Best of All

There are other effective natural remedies such as baking powder and sugar mixtures or DIY sprays, but I like the peel method because it uses something that is going to go in the compost anyway and requires almost no prep (if you skip the curling). 

It seems counterintuitive — eliminating ants with fruit? — but it works and I wish I’d learned this food-safe method sooner. I’ll never buy an ant trap again, and I’ll always keep oranges on hand. 

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