Home > A 100% Foolproof Ant Barrier

A 100% Foolproof Ant Barrier

June 10th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Ahh, carpenter ants.

Those large, black and ugly ants have been the bane of my existence in the 15 years I've lived here. I live in a very woodsy suburb and my own property is certainly heavily wooded as well. Carpenter ants just seem to go with the territory.

Each summer, they find their way into my home. I've found them in just about every room of the house, but they are most often in the kitchen. Of course, this requires the kitchen to be kept meticulously clean. Dirty dishes can't pile up or it's just inviting trouble.

I've known for a while of at least one point of entry: a small crevice behind a hanging kitchen cabinet to the right of the sink.

I've tried chemical-laden Ortho sprays, but am loathe to use them due to their obvious toxicity. In recent years, I have been somewhat able to control ant infiltration by regularly sprinkling ant pellets around the foundation of my house outside. The stuff wasn't cheap. I ordered it from a website online. However, I had to time this so I was spreading the bait during a dry spell; rain will simply wash the bait away and waste my money. But, if I timed it right, I could usually count on being relatively ant-free (not 100%) inside the house for a period of a few weeks. But, once I start seeing an ant or two here or there, I must re-apply, and this is how it usually goes all summer long.

Here and there I've tried some less toxic alternatives, such as oil of peppermint right next to that kitchen cabinet, but this has not worked

Then, this spring, I completely by accident stumbled upon a 100% effective ant barrier. It's a common household product which I don't care to use for its intended use, but the item is so darn stinky that I thought I would give it a try.

You see, it's a very narrow crevice behind the kitchen cabinet where I've seen the ants coming in most often. For all I know, there's a giant hole behind the cabinet. I really don't know, but I do remember years back when I was replacing my kitchen stove that I found a large hole in the sheet rock behind the stove, about 6 inches in diameter! I didn't have time to close it up while the workman was there, and I wasn't really thinking about insect infiltration at the time, but I was thinking about cold air, so I did at last stuff a fistful of cellulose insulation in there before he positioned the new stove against the wall. So, it makes me wonder what kind of gap might exist behind the kitchen cabinet.

But back to my secret weapon against ants.

Have you guessed what it is?

It's Arm & Hammer Total 2-in-1 dryer cloths. I don't usually buy these things. They're so impregnated with chemicals that I'm reluctant to have them touch my skin, but I got a free-after-rebate offer, so I used it. When I opened up the box and sniffed them, I really couldn't bring myself to use them in the dryer. (And these days, I don't use the dryer much anyway.)

One day it hit me that I should try stuffing one of the dryer sheets in the crevice behind the cabinet. The thing just stunk like chemicals. So I took one and used a butter knife to wedge it up as far as it would go behind the cabinet. It was white, so it blended right in.


Carpenter ants, it turns out, have a strong disliking for Arm & Hammer dryer sheets, possibly more than me. Yes, the odor of the dryer sheet is apparent while I'm washing dishes at the sink, but after a week or so, the odor fades. But it still works to keep the ants away.

I have changed the sheet once every 3 or 4 weeks, just to be sure.

I have been so pleasantly surprised by these sheets. I have found very few ants anywhere in the house, and certainly not in the kitchen! I had assumed in past years that there were multiple points of entry. Now I'm thinking that it's entirely possible that ants meandered in via the highway known as Behind-the-Kitchen-Cabinet/Rt. 302 and crawled in various directions so that, when I discovered them elsewhere in the kitchen or even in another room, they fooled me into thinking they'd gained entry from some other location closer to where I found them..

Thank you, Arm & Hammer, for reducing the ant infestation inside my home by roughly 90%. No doubt it's due to the very special ingredients that make our clothes oh-so-toxic and artificial-smelling.

Have you found alternative or off-label uses for common household products?

4 Responses to “A 100% Foolproof Ant Barrier”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    That's hilarious--I'm sure the company would have mixed feelings about your recommendation, LOL. I'm glad you found a good solution! We had one apartment with a big ant problem and it was yucky.

    If they ever do find a way around the dryer sheets, I suggest Taro. It's this goo you put on little pieces of cardboard around the house. You have to let the ants crowd around and drink it, which is kind of gross because you want to kill them when you see them. But it's important you don't because they take it back to their nests and it poisons the whole population. One application worked for us, at least for the year or so that we lived there.

    As for me finding a surprising alternative use for something, after buying toys for my cat that he would quickly get bored of, my husband once tossed a plastic-wrapped peppermint to see if he'd chase it. OMG obsession! Apparently cats love mint scents (catnip is also sort of minty). Add in the rustling of plastic wrapper and he's in cat heaven. Cheapest toy we ever bought--we just buy another bag every few months since they don't last long with all the chasing and carrying.

  2. My English Castle Says:

    Man--I got dryer sheets free at the grocery store, and we usually air dry our clothes. I wonder if all brands work equally well? I'm going out there today!

    My dad loved ceejay's Terro ant stuff. Memories of my childhood always include those little cardboard blobs with the honey-like Terro on them.

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    Ceejay, you always have such interesting comments.

    I haven't heard of Terro but it sounds like it works similarly to the ant bait pellets I've used (called Advance). The idea is they carry it back to the nest and share the food so many more ants die.

    The peppermint candy sounds so interesting. I wouldn't have thought cats would like that smell, but I'll have to try it some time if i see peppermint hard candy anywhere!

  4. Elisabeth Says:

    A critter took up residence in a friends crawl space. They tried everything to get rid of it. Mostly cause the critter slept all day and dog would bark and chase it through the floor all night. I told her to put moth balls into a nylon bag on a rope and throw it under house, the critter will leave, rarely to return and then just pull the nylon bag out and dispose of it. Well, she did what I said except her husband nail a board over the animals enter/exit point. Within 1/2 hr the critter busted thru the board never to return.

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