How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen – Best Killers, Baits & Traps

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Ant killers are a dime a dozen. You can walk into almost any convenience store and buy a can of aerosolized insecticide that’s “guaranteed” to make your problem go away. But, if you really want to learn how to get rid of ants in the kitchen, you need to understand that there are better alternatives to the classic spray can.

To kill worker ants, queens, broods, and eggs, you need to set the bait first. That’s why the following list includes ant killers that are all capable of both attracting and infecting ants with potent poisons.

6 Best Kitchen Ant Killers, Baits & Traps

The Home Plus Ant Killer is a four-pack of bait stations. They are very sturdy, made of metal, and can be used safely in the kitchen. Although the formula is quite potent, it’s an Abamectin-based mix which means that it’s not that harmful to pets or humans.

And either way, your cat or dog won’t be able to get into the bait stations and nibble away on the gel. Another reason why I recommend this ant killer is because it works on almost all ant species. It is particularly efficient against argentine and big-headed ants. It may not be as efficient against fire and carpenter ants, though.

Along with Abamectin as the active ingredient, the Home Plus Ant Killer contains several other natural ant attractants. The variety of ingredients is what ensures that you can handle most ant species with these bait stations. And, since you’re getting four of them, you can tackle multiple rooms at a time.

  • Four bait stations
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    Kid- and pet-safe
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    Can be used indoors and outdoors
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    Starts killing within 24 hours
  • Doesn’t work on carpenter ants very well

If your infestation is really severe and you need more bait stations, I recommend trying out the Terro Prefilled Liquid Ant Killer II. This bait comes in a four-pack, each pack containing six bait stations. Terro uses a patented bait station design which helps keep the formula fresh for a long time.

This makes it great to use in the kitchen since cooking at high temperatures won’t dry out the liquid. The main ingredient in the formula is borax and it’s present in quite a large concentration. Because of this, ants will die fairly quickly after taking the bait.

Setting up the bait stations is easy. All you’ll have to do is place a bait station down on the floor, somewhere with high ant activity, and peel back the protective cover. Then just wait for the ants to sense the bait and start feasting on the borax.

  • Good broadcasting properties
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    24 bait stations
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    Borax-based formula
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    Liquid will stay fresh a long time
  • Easy to tip over

The Harris Ant Killer is a borax-based formula designed to infect worker ants and spread the poison to the entire colony. Once the ants come in contact with it, the formula will start killing them off in less than24 hours.

It won’t take a lot of bait to handle an entire colony. And, since the bait has a long-lasting effect, a couple of traps should be enough to take care of a colony and a few strays too. I also like that the Harris Ant Killer comes with nine bait trays. That should be enough for at least a couple of rooms.

Although you can also use this formula outside, I recommend it for indoor use only. The trays can easily be tipped over, so they won’t handle wind and roaming pets too well. Due to the low concentration of borax, using this ant killer in the kitchen is relatively safe.

But, you may still want to restrict access to pets and kids, just in case. The bait is sweetened to mask the borax and attract the ants.

  • Broadcasts poison
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    9 bait stations per box
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    Works on all household ants
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    EPA registered
  • The trays can be tipped over

Sometimes, gel bait can be a superior ant killer because you can apply it in hard to reach places. You can apply the Syngenta Optigard in foundation and wall cracks, as well as under doors and around windows.

This will help you cover all the potential infiltration points, as well as entrances to the nest. The formula is efficient against most ant species with the notable exceptions being pharaoh, fire, and harvester ants. That’s because the main active ingredient, Thiamethoxam is known to be used mostly for other ant species.

With that said, pharaoh, fire, and harvester ants are not very likely to invade your kitchen, anyways. But anything else that nests in cracks and crevices – no problem for the Syngenta Optigard. The formula is slow-acting, but once it kicks in it can kill anything from eggs to queens, thus eradicating entire colonies.

And, you’ll be getting four tubes in each pack. The plunger has a smooth action which means you won’t have to worry about wasting the product.

  • Comes in tubes with built-in plungers
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    Easy to control the applied amount
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    Works on most common ant species
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    Can be applied in hard to reach places
  • Only works great if you find the nest first

You can get the Raid Ant Gel in packs of three, six, or eight tubes. Each tube holds 1.06oz of Raid’s proprietary formula. The gel has a powerful residual effect too, lasting for up to one month when used indoors. When used outside, exposure to rain and humid weather may take away some of its potency.

Because this is a gel, you’ll be able to easily apply it inside cracks and crevices. And, you’ll also be able to get it inside tunnels dug by burrowers like carpenter ants.  Although the formula acts as a time-released poison, it will start working in a matter of hours, which makes it very efficient.

Unlike many other insecticides, the Raid Ant Gel is odorless. This means that pets won’t be quite as attracted to it and you’ll be able to go about your daily business in the rooms you’re treating. Another reason why I recommend this gel is because it can provide some bug control, too.

It’s not very good at killing bugs and roaches but it will act as a repellent and keep your kitchen infestation-free for as long as the residual control remains active.

  • Efficient against most ant species
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    Can be used to repel bugs
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    Broadcasting poison
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    Odorless
  • Not the smoothest application control

If you’re looking for the ultimate pet-safe and child-safe solution for killing off kitchen ants, then you may want to consider some childproof bait stations. The Combat Max Ant Killing Bait Stations are among the best-optimized both in terms of kill potential and mammal safety.

The formula contains 0.01% Fipronil, which is a known and widely used insecticide. This will work on all ant species, but it will likely be most efficient against walker ants. Because the formula is nothing too special, most Fipronil-based insecticides are very similar in their structure, the bait stations are the key element here.

The top of the stations has been childproofed which means that neither pets nor kids can get in and touch the bait. Six bait stations are included in one pack, making the Combat bundle a good value ant killer.

This will be more than enough for a large kitchen and, given the bait’s long-lasting effect, the stations will also provide residual control. But, you should know that it usually takes up to one hour for the poison to start killing ants. This may make it difficult to target the queen, unless you find the nest and place a bait station near the entrance.

  • Childproof bait stations
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    Highly effective ant killer
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    6 bait stations included
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    Takes care of an entire room overnight
  • May kill ants too fast

What Makes an Ant Killer Safe to Use in the Kitchen?

Some insecticides, as you well know, can be very toxic. For an ant killer to be safe to use, it’s important that it contains chemicals which won’t harm mammals. That’s why Fipronil, Borax, and other similar insecticides, are becoming more and more popular.

Their impact on mammals is minimal when ingested in low quantities. And, the amount required to kill some ants is usually insignificant, to say the least. Now, that said, this doesn’t mean that you should let your pets or kids come in contact with ant killers.

So, how can you make sure that they’ll be safe without you monitoring them 24/7? If you still want to go about your daily business and avoid having to quarantine the kitchen for an entire day to let the ant killers work their magic, you should look at bait stations and gel-based formulas to get the job done.

Gels can be applied inside crevices and wall cracks that the kids and pets won’t be able to reach. The same goes for the bait stations. Properly designed bait stations will only have very small openings that allow ants to go in and out and transport the poison back to their nest.

Bait Station Designs

Bait stations are either open or fully enclosed. You should probably always opt for enclosed bait stations. When the bait sits in an enclosure, with just a few holes that provide ventilation and access to ants, it will stay fresh for longer and not dry out.

This also protects the bait from being eaten by pets or other larger bugs that can carry more than ants.

In terms of materials, bait stations are usually made of plastic. While that can be ok, it wouldn’t hurt looking at some metal bait stations, too. This is especially true if you’re using liquid bait or installing bait stations outdoors. Metal bait stations should have a heavier base and superior stability. They won’t be tipped over as easily by a pet, a kid, or by you if you’re not watching your step.

How to Optimally Position Your Bait Stations

If you pay attention and follow the ant movements, you’ll eventually discover where they’re all converging to. That’s would be the nest. It could be outside your home or inside. It could even be inside your walls or furniture if you have burrower ants.

Either way, the best place to lay down a bait station is near an entry point to the colony’s nest. Get the bait stations as close as possible to ensure that lots of workers will find them either on their way out or when they’re coming back.

This is even more important if you’re using an ant killer that kills on contact or that kills within minutes or hours. Shortening the distance between the bait and the colony will ensure that the poison has more time to reach the queen.

When to Use Gels

Using ant gels is perhaps most recommended when you’re dealing with burrower species, like carpenter ants, or with flyers. Pouring liquid into wall cracks won’t do you much good because it will get absorbed quickly. But, using gel instead will guarantee that plenty of worker ants will be able to carry it back deeper into the nest.

You can also apply gels in well-ventilated areas or wherever a draft is coming in. Again, liquid baits could get tipped over, evaporate, and pets can eat the granules. A gel will remain on the surface it was applied to longer and won’t be affected by draft or temperature changes as hard as liquid baits.

Use the Best Ant Killers to Save Time and Money

The ant killers showcased in this article are versatile and highly effective. Most of them, if not all, will also help you deal with other insects as well, making them valuable all-round kitchen treatments. As you can see, I’ve also offered suggestions for every budget, so that you don’t have to stock up on more product than necessary for a simple kitchen infestation.

Depending on the size of your kitchen, the type of ants infesting it, and your personal preferences and experience with ant killers, the choice is yours. Just don’t take too long to make it or getting rid of a larger colony might take you a lot of time.

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