Ants are everywhere, and most homes suffer from invasions and infestations on a yearly basis. Nothing is safe; once they are inside, they will find something to eat. If there is no food available, ants will simply go after the water in a sink or in a pet bowl. You might think you can only resort to spending money on poisons and chemical sprays that are dangerous to you, your children, and your pets, but there is another option. A number of herbs and natural compounds repel ants if used properly.
Strongly Scented Herbs
Any herb with a strong aroma will deter ants to some degree since these pests follow scent trails to collect food and water. Bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, cloves, and cinnamon have all been known to help with this problem. Either buy a dried variety or pluck some from your home garden and sprinkle it over the ant trail or in a line blocking where they are entering your home. Just remember to replace them outside after a strong wind or rain and inside after cleaning.
Pepper, whether black pepper or chili powder, is also an excellent way to deter ants. They work much like scented herbs, but it's the spiciness rather than the overwhelming smell that repels. These powders can also be sprinkled along the trail or in a line across an ant entrance. Alternatively, mix chili powder with water to form a paste and use it to block up any openings you can find. This will make sure the ants find somewhere else to invade.
Plant herbs outside your home as well to keep ants away. All of the aforementioned scented herbs are good options, but mint is especially effective since there is something in the oil that ants do not like. Tansy, while a lesser known plant, also repels ants. Consider setting up pots or creating a small garden bed near openings in your home for the best results.
Other Simple Options
While not an herb or spice, vinegar is an effective natural repellent as well. Spray it straight or in a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar on counters, windowsills, doorways, floors, and even outside. Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar will work. Repeat applications whenever you see more ants or just when you pass by several times a day.
A few drops of essential oils mixed with a spray bottle of water can work as well. Kill the ants in the trail and then destroy their scent with this solution. Afterward, spray openings as well to discourage more ants from coming in. Peppermint essential oil is especially effective for the same reasons as mint plants. However, be careful using essential oils as some contain chemicals that can injure your pets.