Does Vinegar Kill Ants? [5 Superior Solutions]

Vinegar will not kill ants. An ant sprayed with vinegar is extremely likely to survive. Although spraying vinegar can wipe out ant trails and temporarily repel ants, the ants in your home will find a new path to a food source. Because vinegar is ineffective at killing and repelling ants, don’t bother using it. Diatomaceous earth is one of the best natural remedies for ant infestation. Use ant sprays, baits, gel, and granular poison to kill ants permanently instead of trying a vinegar spray.

Does vinegar kill ants?

Why is Vinegar Ineffective at Killing Ants?

Vinegar is a mild acid that simply isn’t powerful enough to kill ants on contact. If you spray an ant with vinegar, it won’t die. The ant will likely try to flee because it dislikes being sprayed with vinegar, but you won’t cause any long-term damage to the ant. Within a few minutes, the ant will resume its regular activities.

  • Vinegar contains low levels of acetic acid—it’s not strong enough to poison and kill ants.
  • If you spray an ant with pure white vinegar, the ant will survive.
  • Ants sprayed with vinegar will flee for a few minutes, then resume their foraging once they dry off.

While some insects can be killed by vinegar spray, this isn’t the case for ants. They have tough exoskeletons that resist damage from most compounds. Because household vinegar is usually only 4–7% acetic acid, there isn’t nearly enough strong acid in pure vinegar to kill an ant. You’ll need to use more powerful natural or chemical compounds that can break through an ant’s defenses.

How Long Will White Vinegar Repel Ants?

If you spray a vinegar solution on ant trails, it may repel ants for 4–48 hours. However, it won’t kill ants or repel them permanently. The acids in vinegar destroy the scent trails ants leave as they travel between their nest and a food source. Ants are determined creatures, however. They may avoid an area that smells like vinegar, but they’ll create a new trail to your food in a different area.

  • Vinegar repels ants for 4–48 hours.
  • Spraying vinegar will not repel ants permanently.
  • Ants will create new trails around the vinegar.
  • Once the vinegar smell fades in 2–3 days, ants will resume walking through areas that have been sprayed with vinegar.

If you have a trail of ants along your baseboard or wall, you can destroy the trail by spraying it with vinegar in a spray bottle. Within hours or a couple of days, the ants will create a new trail. This one may be along a ceiling or your floor. Additionally, the smell of vinegar fades quickly. After 2–3 days, ants will start making trails in areas that you previously sprayed with vinegar.

5 Effective Ant Killers to Use Instead of Vinegar

Instead of wasting time with ineffective ant repellents and useless “ant killers” like vinegar, it’s time to use solutions that work. Below are the most reliable natural and chemical ant killers on the market.

Ant Spray

Instead of spraying ants with vinegar, use a spray designed to kill pest insects. A pesticide-based spray will kill ants quickly on contact, meaning you can destroy an ant infestation in minutes. In comparison, vinegar won’t kill ants on contact, so it’s far less effective than true ant sprays.

  • This ant-killing spray is designed to kill ants on contact.
  • Ants are rarely killed by vinegar, so vinegar is far less effective than other sprays.
  • If you have a glass cleaner with ammonia—such as Windex—in your home, it can be helpful for killing ants.

To kill ants fast with a product that’s probably already in your home, try Windex or another ammoniated glass cleaner. Although glass cleaner isn’t as effective as an ant spray, it works much better than apple cider vinegar or white vinegar for killing ants.

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Diatomaceous Earth

For a natural way to kill ants, use diatomaceous earth instead of vinegar. Diatomaceous earth doesn’t have the strong smell of vinegar, so it won’t irritate you and your family. Because it is a pesticide-free, natural product made of the fossils of tiny organisms, diatomaceous earth is also safe for use around food, children, and pets. In fact, there are several ways to use diatomaceous earth to kill ants.

  • Use this food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill ants naturally.
  • Diatomaceous earth is a natural, chemical-free product—it’s made up of the fossils of single-celled organisms called diatoms.
  • The tiny fossils in diatomaceous earth scratch the ants’ exoskeletons, which dehydrates and kills the ants.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth where ants walk to kill them in 1–2 days.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth powder is harmless to humans and pets. However, it’s deadly to ants. The sharp fossils in the powder make cuts in the exoskeleton of ants, which causes the ants to dehydrate and die. Spread diatomaceous earth in areas where ants make their trails. Walking through the powder will begin to dehydrate and kill the ants in 24–48 hours.

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Ant Baits

Natural remedies like vinegar, coffee grounds, and cayenne pepper are ineffective at killing or repelling ants. However, you can kill ants quickly with professional ant baits. Simply place ant baits in areas of your home where you have seen ant activity. This can be along baseboards, in cabinets, or under your sink. Just keep the ant baits off your countertop—if the baits get wet some of the poison could leak out of the trap and contaminate your food preparation surface.

  • Place these ant baits throughout your home where you have seen ants.
  • Avoid placing ant baits on countertops or where children and pets may come in contact with them.
  • Powerful ant baits will begin killing ants within days.
  • Homemade ant baits with boric acid take months to kill ants—don’t bother with these home remedies.

Although many online sources recommend making homemade ant baits from boric acid powder, these homemade baits are often ineffective or very slow-acting. It can take months for homemade boric acid baits to reduce or eliminate ants. Meanwhile, commercial ant baits can provide results within days.

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Ant Gel

You can kill ants quickly and keep them out of your home by using ant gel. Gel products smell attractive to ants, who gather the gel as food and feed it to their queen and colony-mates. Because the gel contains poison, it will kill the ants and the entire colony quickly. So, gel is a far more effective method than using vinegar.

  • This powerful ant gel will poison worker ants and their queen.
  • Apply a small portion of ant gel to areas where ants are infiltrating your home.
  • Ant gel begins killing ants quickly, but you can reapply it once each month to keep ants from returning.
  • You’ll kill and repel ants more effectively with ant gel than with vinegar.

To kill ants fast, squeeze a small portion of the gel into areas where you see ants entering your home. This can be around windows, doors, baseboards, or other cracks. Just make sure to apply the gel where any pets can’t get to it. Reapply the gel monthly to kill ants and keep them out.

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Granulated Ant Poison

You can stop ants from breaking into your home by applying granular ant poison outdoors. Like ant baits and gel, granular ant poison smells like food to ants. They will gather it and feed it to their colony, which will then kill all the ants. The smell of vinegar might deter ants for a few days, but applying ant poison will kill ants before they ever break into your home.

  • These ant poison granules are great for killing ants outdoors in your yard or garden.
  • Killing outdoor ant mounds can prevent ants from invading your home.
  • Spread poison near ant mounds or where ants enter your home in order to kill them.
  • The poison granules are capable of killing an entire ant colony—vinegar can’t do that.

You can apply granular poison around ant mounds in your yard, near areas where ants enter your home, or create a ring around your entire home to repel ants. As with other poisons, make sure pets and children cannot get to it. This way, you’ll kill ants and keep your family safe.

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Does Vinegar Disrupt Ant Trails?

Vinegar can disrupt ant trails. To do so, spray the area where ants have been traveling with vinegar, then wipe the surface. The vinegar will break down the scent trail the ants follow. However, don’t expect the ants to stay away for long. Ants will simply make a new trail to a water or food source. They’ll avoid the area you sprayed with vinegar for a short while, but there’s nothing stopping them from making a new trail around the vinegar.

  • Spraying a surface with vinegar will destroy any ant trails on the surface.
  • Vinegar breaks down the scent hormones ants use to follow a trail.
  • Destroying ant trails with vinegar won’t stop an ant infestation.
  • Ants will make new trails around the vinegar, or resume making trails in the same area once the vinegar smell fades.

Vinegar sprayed on a surface only repels ants for 2–3 days. So, if you spray an ant trail with vinegar to get rid of it, you may see a new trail in the same spot just a few days later. To truly get rid of ants, use ant baits and gel to entice the ants to bring poison back to their nest. Then, once the worker ants feed the poison to their queen, the whole colony will die.

How Effective is White Vinegar Against Ants?

White vinegar and all other forms of vinegar are not very effective against ants in your home. Here’s why:

  • Vinegar isn’t strong enough to kill ants on contact.
  • You can destroy ant trails with vinegar, but the ants will just make a new trail.
  • Vinegar isn’t capable of poisoning and killing an entire ant colony.
  • Use a true ant killer spray to kill ants on contact.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth in your cabinets and home to kill ants naturally. 
  • Ant baits, gels, and granule poisons are the best way to kill ants—they poison and wipe out the entire colony.

Don’t waste time and effort trying to kill ants with household items. Instead, it’s best to act fast by using a powerful ant killer. That’s the only true way to stop an ant infestation. Vinegar simply won’t kill ants or drive them out of your home.

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