Bay Leaves: An All-Natural & Safe Home Remedy To Rid Your Kitchen Of Ants

closeup-of-ants-by-smile-pls.jpg About the same time Meredith was battling ants in her kitchen in Brentwood, I was dealing with my own ant problem in my kitchen in Franklin, TN — just a hop skip & a jump away .

I believe these are sugar ants.  They’re small and black (or dark brown).

As far as getting rid of the ants, I decided not to use any of the chemicals we had in the cabinet for insects & other pests.  (I guess all this talk of ‘going green‘ is starting to have an impact on me!)  Instead, searched for a natural home remedy that would work — hopefully using something that I already had on hand.

I found it… Bay leaves!

Yep, I tried the bay leaves and they worked.  The very first time!

Our Ant Problem
Since I buy many of my groceries at Costco, I just so happened to have a lifetime supply of bay leaves on hand.  That’s why I decided to try the bay leaf home remedy for taking care of ants first.  (I was going to try Cinnamon next.)

lifetime-supply-of-bay-leaves.jpgWhile I’m sure that just one bay leaf would have probably worked just fine, I had so many that I knew I’d never be using them all before their "expiration date"… so I strategically placed a handful of bay leaves in the places in the kitchen where I’d been seeing the ants.  Those spots were:

  • The corner of the kitchen where an outside wall and a wall to the garage meet.
  • The countertop near the back door in the kitchen.

I had seen a number of the ants coming in and out of this "space" between the hardwood flooring and the baseboard near the back door.  So I stuck an entire bay leaf there. (It’s not crammed in, and could easily "blow" away with enough of a breeze or by tapping it.)

Then, to make sure I had the entire area covered, I dropped a few between the garbage can and the baseboards in that same corner. (Our dog doesn’t even know they’re there.)

Finally, I placed a single bay leaf on the countertop area where I’d seen several ants recently.

bay-leaf-placed-near-baseboard.jpg bay-leaves-in-corner.jpg bay-leaf-on-countertop.jpg

The Effectiveness Of Bay Leaves
The end result?  No more ants!  Not a single one since I strategically placed the bay leaves in our kitchen.

And I’d been having some fairly serious ’bouts with those critters (the very small black kind) for several weeks up until this point.

So I can highly recommend trying bay leaves to deter an ant problem in whatever room the ants are bugging you!

One of the bigest reasons I like the bay leaf method of removing ants is it’s so simple and clean. Most of the other methods are messy, or sticky, or smelly.  Placing a bay leaf here & there is really simple and effective.

For the record, Meredith did a lot more research than I did — in search of an all-natural remedy for ants.  And she tried several different methods for repelling ants.  So be sure to check out her other ideas, as well.

By the way, bay leaf method also worked for this frugal home-remedy searcher.



UPDATE 6/5/08:
Believe it or not, the day after I wrote this, I saw a couple of ants walking all over the same bay leaves that had initially worked so well to deter them. Since I had that "lifetime supply" of bay leaves on hand, I decided to try this remedy one more time — with fresh new bay leaves. It worked! I’ve been ant-free again for 5 days and counting. I’m guessing the pungent odor from the bay leaves just naturally wears off after a few days. So it looks like I’ll be replacing the bay leaves with new ones every week or so, until the ants are gone once and for all.


As it turns out, I only had to "change" the bay leaves that one time. I thought I would have to change them regularly, after the ants returned that first time, but no. After that first change to fresh bay leaves, the ants never reappeared again. Maybe changing the leaves so quickly gave the ants a clue that I was serious! :o)



Recipe For Bay Leaf Ant Remedy – This one goes directly to the source & takes care of the entire colony!

13 Ways I’ve Tried To Kill Ants In My Kitchen – #13: bay leaves. It was the last one she was going to try. I’m guessing the reason the list doesn’t go to 14 is because #13 worked!

How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants – He also mentions bay leaves, but says it’s a method he hasn’t tried yet.

13 Natural Home Remedies For Ant Problems – A great list of ideas to try… if the bay leaves don’t work for you — or you don’t have any on hand.

Natural Insect Pest Control – This is where I first got the idea to try bay leaves for ridding the kitchen of ants.

Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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  • Ashia

    Worked within minutes!

    My neighbor and I have been trying Borax and other more natural remedies for a year to no avail. She bought a bunch of bulk bay leaves and gave me some. I found a long train of ants (tiny black sugar ants) from backdoor to kitchen and within 10 minutes of laying 2 leaves down in their paths, i walked back and could not find the trail. A few refugees hitting the road on their way out but that was it!


  • MVindum

    I will try the bay leaves. My sister said they work. Mom swears by cucumber pealing. (bay leaves sound less messy). I tried baby powder in 1 area and haven’t seen them since, but that’s messy too. I really hope the bay leaves work so I can place in my kitchen BEFORE they migrate there (they’ve left the front hall to the bathroom which is BESIDE the kitchen….)

  • MVindum

    Update-Had tried laying cornmeal out. Mom’s ant hills (big black ones) seem to have reduced and they seem to swarm it when first laid as food. Didnt work on these tiny ants (sugar ants?) Thus…

    ant (sugar ant?) experiment# 2-small toilet paper on the bathroom (where they’ve been) floor with dab of peanut butter. (they loved it on sons pants he left there yesterday afternoon to the tune of 100 happy ants, 1 upset mom!)
    Once I saw about 7 ants establish a trail of sorts (round the base of toilet, across the floor to toilet paper sample with a shreddie to weigh down the side) I placed 3 bay leaves. Keep in mind, I’ve lived here about 11 yrs, bought within the 1st year… Bay leaves had a mild effect (they looked confused, some went around/acted like lost) but some did still head to the toilet paper sample and find the PB.
    conclusion: Bay leaf as a potential deterrent…but didn’t work as I hoped. Given its age, Hubby is on way to buy fresh ones. If it’ll work, our cupboards will each sport a bay leave in back corner!

    Experiment #3-left the toilet paper with PB and shreddie. Ants had a mostly established trail. Sprinkled baby powder around the toilet paper (with some ants on it still, some off) like a ring.
    After about 5 min, the 5 ants stuck with in the ring are still stuck. Sampling around but not crossing the powder. (Pay special attn to be sure it is in cracks between floor tiles). Other ants outside seem to be randomly searching again.
    After 10 min, 1 ant crossed. I added a new one and he crossed. The others are staying or avoiding the other areas I placed baby powder on the trail….

  • Lam2846

    Bay leaves also get rid of roaches and spiders. I,ve used them for years. I put them any where small bugs hide even in between mattresses to ward off bed bugs. I live in the desert where roaches are a natural problem and believe me this works better than any spray you will find. No more exterminators either.

  • Jessica74

    I will definately try this, but another fantastic natural remedy for all bugs is diatomaceous earth. It’s safe enough to eat (food grade), and gets rid of everything! It acts as shards of glass on the exoskeleton of the bugs and slices them up at the source. It’s safe, natural, inexspensive and works! I think the DE used in conjunction with bay leaves will be the perfect combo.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Thanks for the great tip! I’ve heard great things about using diatomaceous earth, just haven’t tried it myself yet. We don’t have ants in the house anymore. But if ants in the mulch around our trees return again this year, I’ll be giving the D.E. a try!

  • miserableoldfart

    Every spring I make a couple gallons of a strong bay leaf tea (couple dozen leaves simmered in water for an hour or so) and then drizzle it around the perimeter of the house. I also put a few bay leaves in strategic places in the kitchen. It has reduced ant problems dramatically. I finish my maple syrup in the house, and I think the smell of the boiling syrup attracts ants and it can be bad without the bay leaf tea and leaves.

    • FunTimesGuide

      What a great idea! Thanks for the wonderful tip 😀

  • Jewlz Plewinski

    Really cool. I just started the bay leave tactics an hour or so ago. One question. Should you snap the Bay leaves to get that odor more pungent as you would do in a bolognese sauce?

    • FunTimesGuide

      Seems like a smart idea to me, Jewlz! I’ve never done that, but it makes sense. Thanks for the good idea 😀