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Does Vinegar Repel Ants? (Yes, But Only Briefly)

Ants are repelled by the use of vinegar owing to its strong acidic smell. Ants hate substances with a strong smell as that affects their ability to pick up scents.

Vinegar is made up of acetic acid and water. The acidic content of the vinegar gives it insecticidal properties. It has also been used for a long time for cleaning home furniture and utensils owing to its antimicrobial properties.

The strong smell of the vinegar can heavily affect the ant’s ability to pick up scents and can make it hard for them to locate the pheromones of their fellow colony members.

Does Vinegar Repel Ants

This will prevent them from communicating and from picking up each other’s trails. They will get disoriented and confused. So as their smell sensors will be blocked by vinegar, they will act confused and it will get hard for them to carry out their daily activities.

Fact File: Ants Have Very Sensitive Smell

Ants are excellent at picking up scents. Studies show that ants can pick up scents far more easily and effectively than us humans. This superior ability to smell things helps them to fulfil the three most important functions:

  • It allows them to differentiate between the castes of the colony as different members have got a signature smell of their own. So this helps them to easily follow and to locate each other’s trail by picking up pheromones of each other.
  • To locate the presence of any intruder within the colony.
  • For picking up food trails.

Will Vinegar Keep Ants Away?

The strong scent of vinegar makes it hard for ants to interact with each other and find newer trails of food. They can find it hard to recognize the members of the same ant colony and it can get hard for them to detect intruders.

As a consequence, their highly disciplined routine activities are hampered. The ants within the colony start to panic, and everything becomes chaotic.

This ultimately leads to the creation of pandemonium within the ant colony.

So, the ants start leaving the area and head to a different location.

So, yes, if you effectively spray vinegar all around your house (especially in the locations where they have infested) it is likely that they will leave your house at least for the time being.

1. Does Apple Cider Vinegar Repel Ants?

Apple cider vinegar that you buy off the shelf is a similar strength to white vinegar (about 5 to 7% vinegar and 93% water). It has that same strong vinegar smell that will disorient ants, so yes, it will likely be as effective as any other type of vinegar.

However, apple cider vinegar is not clear, so there’s a small chance it can leave stains when applied as a household detergent.

Apple cider vinegar also has more nutritional value than white vinegar, meaning you’re better off using it in your salad than as a household cleaner!

If you have regular white vinegar, you’re better of using it. But, at a stretch, both work.

Related Article: Does Cinnamon Repel Ants?

2. Does White Wine Vinegar Repel Ants?

White wine vinegar and red wine vinegar will also effectively repel ants. They contain similar amounts of vinegar to regular white vinegar. However, wine vinegars can cause stains, especially red wine vinegar.

Therefore, it’s usually best to use white vinegar for household cleaning.

White and red wine vinegar could be effective on surfaces that do not stain easily, such as outdoor areas or in gaps in concrete. However, they are not as good for the task as regular white vinegar.

Does Vinegar Kill Ants?

Vinegar does not usually kill ants. However, they are extremely irritated by the presence of vinegar around them.

Ants’ daily activity gets hugely affected because of the strong scent of the vinegar which prevents them from picking up pheromone trails of their colony members and also from detecting other scent trails.

However, certain species of ants can be more sensitive to vinegar than others and can end up dead. It will also depend on the concentration and amount of vinegar you will be using.

Vinegar contains a strong scent and, generally, it is not strong enough on its own to kill ants, unlike commercial ant-killing pesticides.

It is only suitable for repelling ants and for keeping them at bay. It is not a natural pesticide but more of a natural repellant.

Having said that, if you spray vinegar directly onto the ants, the ants that come in direct exposure to the vinegar may be very irritated and feel pain.

If you want to get rid of ants from your house without killing them, using vinegar can become a viable choice. The strong scent not only helps in preventing ant infestations but helps in decreasing all kinds of insect activity in the house.

How to Keep Ants Away from your House using Vinegar

Note: Vinegar may be an irritant to pets and children. Do not use it around pets and children or other people who are irritated by vinegar.

Ingredients needed:

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle

Procedure: Mix equal portions of water and vinegar in the misting bottle and shake it up a few times to let the components mix properly.

Then, spray it in the areas of your house that have got the most pressing issues of ant manifestations.

It can be in the kitchen as well as in the garden area of the house. Make sure you spray properly under the sinks, in the wall pipelines, cracks in the walls, adjoining regions of the shelves and the wall, in the food storage drawers, and all other likely locations.

DIY Vinegar Ant Spray Guide

  • Reapply Regularly: Even though this can give you striking results, the effect of the mixture will fade within a few days so make sure you keep the practice up weekly or every two weeks as per your needs.
  • White Vinegar Works Too: You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this project. Both contain a decent amount of acetic acid. However white vinegar is mainly used for cleaning purposes and apple cider vinegar for cooking purposes.
  • Mix with Lemon Juice: You can also experiment by mixing little amounts of lemon juice along with the vinegar, and in this case you can directly mix the lemon juice with the vinegar without adding any water in it.

How Long Does Vinegar Keep Ants Away?

Vinegar will only keep ants away as long as the smell of the vinegar lingers. This means you will need to re-apply the vinegar every 2 to 3 days to have the best effect.

If it rains, the vinegar will be washed away very quickly. Furthermore, some species of ants will head indoors to avoid the rain, meaning the vinegar is going to be particularly ineffective if left on the outside windowsills or doorsteps during rainy weather.

The best option is to reapply the vinegar spray every few days and not use it on surfaces likely to get wet. Furthermore, remember ont to use it around people, children, or pets who may be irritated by the scent.

Can Ants be Attracted to Vinegar?

No, we have found no evidence of any ants attracted to vinegar. While it may contain some elements that might be edible by ants, the strong smell appears to be enough to repel rather than attract ants.

This is contrary to other home remedies for ants, like coffee, which seem to both attract and repel ants, depending upon species and circumstance. Generally, potent vinegar (and even vinegar in a 50:50 dilution) will only repel and disorient ants.



Vinegar is undoubtedly one of the most effective natural home remedies you can use to deter ants from your house. The strong scent of the vinegar prevents the ants from picking up other trails of pheromones and food. It further confuses them and creates havoc within the ant colony. As a result of which they start leaving the location congested with vinegar and move to a new location.

In the majority of the cases, spraying vinegar with water won’t kill the ants but will simply repel them from the respective locations of the house with the strong vinegar scent. The best thing about this process is, it’s easy to implement and does not involve spraying harmful chemical pesticides all around the house. The downside is, the scent of the vinegar will evaporate with time so you will have to repeat this process every other week or so.

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