Does Dish Soap Kill Ants Outside and Inside?

Although dozens of powerful pest control products exist, each designed to eliminate the ant problem at your house, they often contain caustic chemicals. While the chemicals do the trick, they’re not particularly friendly to other living creatures.

Key Points:

  • Dish soap can be an effective solution to eliminate ant infestations.
  • The soapy solution blocks the ants’ exoskeleton spiracles which prevent them from drawing in oxygen.
  • Boiling water and dish soap is a safe, natural way that is kid/pet friendly to get rid of ants.

In many cases, you need to keep pets and children out of range when using the product. For many folks, especially those with families and pets, evacuating the family for the ant-eliminating process is a hassle.

So, you may decide to look into more natural and less hazardous alternatives. As you search, you see a few recommendations for using dish soap. But it’s just dish soap. Does it actually kill ants? Let’s find out.

Does Dish Soap Get Rid Of Ants?

There are various explanations behind the efficacy of dish soap in killing ants, as a soapy solution seems to do the trick almost every time.

Some folks claim the ants won’t walk on the soapy solution, saying this is what keeps them at bay. However, since spritzing your floor (or wherever the ant infestation is) with soapy water is a recipe for disaster, leaving the solution isn’t an option.

While there are a few theories behind what actually kills the ants, it comes down to the specifics of their exoskeleton. In the sides of an ant’s exoskeleton are tiny holes known as spiracles. These holes function to bring oxygen into the body, distributing it throughout an extensive network of tubes that carry oxygen throughout the body.

Ants can close these spiracles when underwater, enabling them to survive for prolonged periods. Many say ants can survive 24 hours or longer underwater and even longer when the ants clump together. So, when you dump room-temperature water on the ants, you might see them create a clump in the middle. And, to your dismay, they’ll likely survive.

The key is to use boiling water. The intense heat from the water can kill the ants on contact, but if it doesn’t, the soap in the water should do the trick. The soap will block the ant’s spiracles, preventing it from drawing in oxygen. So, with boiling water and dish soap, you should be able to eliminate the problem.

How Long Does It Take For Dish Soap To Kill Ants?

Generally, hot, soapy water will kill ants on contact. Of course, if you’re working with an ant hill, more ants will emerge from the pile, so the process can take a while. You can douse the pile with hot water, causing the hill to collapse on itself and kill the ants inside.

Sometimes, it might take a few applications before the ant hill, and its inhabitants are completely gone.

How To Eliminate An Ant Problem With Dish Soap

Dawn Platinum Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Refreshing Rain Scent, 54.9 fl oz (Pack of 2)

If using a potent chemical cocktail to kill ants around your home sounds like an accident waiting to happen, as kids and pets manage to get into everything, dish soap can be the next best thing. It works wonders on ant infestations, especially with the help of hot water and a few drops of peppermint oil.

And the best part? The solution you’ll use is perfectly safe for pets and kids. While it’s still not intended for consumption, you won’t need to clear out while the application takes place. So, without further ado, let’s find out how to use dish soap to kill ants around your home!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boiling water
  • Dish soap
  • Peppermint oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Bucket
  • Paper towel

Note: If you’re using this solution outdoors, it will kill surrounding plants. The boiling water will cause the surrounding plants to wilt and die, so be careful to pour it only on the ant hill.

Locate The Problem

First things first, you need to find where the ants are coming from. So, look around in your yard for an ant hill. You’ll probably find it near where they’re entering your home, so start there. If you have already found the source of the issue, you can skip this step.

Prepare The Bucket

Once you find the ant hill, start with the source of the problem. Fill a heat-safe bucket or pot with boiling water and a few tablespoons of dish soap. Add 15 to 20 drops of peppermint oil for an added kick.

The peppermint oil is thought to mask the pheromones ants use to communicate, effectively confusing them and affecting their ability to navigate. On top of that, it serves as a powerful irritant that may trigger the ants to flee or die.

Once it’s ready, carefully bring the pot or bucket to the anthill and pour it over the pile.

The water will cause the ant hill to collapse in on itself, killing the ants inside. Once you deal with the pile, it’s time to prepare a solution to combat the miscellaneous ants outside the hill.

Mix The Solution

Next, prepare a bottle with hot soapy water and a few drops of peppermint oil for ants in or around your home. Don’t use boiling water for this method, as you’ll burn your hands holding the bottle. Instead, use hot water from your tap to fill a spray bottle about ¾ full.

Add a few teaspoons of dish soap and 10 to 15 drops of essential oil, then shake the bottle to mix the solution. Walk around your home to areas where you’ve seen ants, spraying them liberally with the solution as you find clusters of them. Give the solution about five minutes to work, then wipe up the residue with a paper towel.

Dispose of the paper towel in a bag, then directly into your outdoor garbage bin. You don’t want any surviving ants to escape the bag and re-enter your home, so escort the bag outside as soon as you finish cleanup.

Block Entry Points

Once you eliminate the problem, it’s essential to pest-proof your home to avoid the problem occurring again, potentially with different insects (or more ants). So, check your doors and windows, ensuring there aren’t any gaps where pests could enter your home. Sometimes, the weather stripping around these entry points wears out, creating cracks and holes where pests can enter.

Replace the weather stripping or recaulk as necessary. As a temporary deterrent, soak a few cotton balls with 10 to 15 drops of peppermint oil and place them near entry points. The peppermint oil serves as a strong irritant, which effectively deters most pests from attempting to enter your home.

Repeat As Necessary

As mentioned, some scenarios call for a repeat application. So, check the ant hill and entry points around your home a few hours after application or the following day. Look for more ants around the collapsed hill or the perimeter of your home. Use the same solution to tackle the infestation, following the same steps as before.