The dishwasher may be the last place you would expect to see ants, but it is a common problem for homeowners. You would think that the water that runs through the machine would quickly kill any ants, and they would stop seeking refuge in your dishwasher. Some methods work to rid your dishwasher of ants. We will give you some ideas to try before you call a professional exterminator.

Ants are attracted to your dishwasher because of the food smell. Here are four steps to get rid of ants in your dishwasher.

  1. Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain.
  2. Clean your kitchen.
  3. Setup ant traps.
  4. Run your empty dishwasher for one cycle.

These steps are simple solutions to solving your ant problem. Ants are attracted to food particles. Unfortunately, the smell of dish soap does not overpower the smell of food on your dirty dishes. You want to know why ants live in your dishwasher and the best solution for getting rid of them? You might wonder if you should use Raid pest control in your dishwasher or if there is a natural way to get rid of ants. We will answer all of these questions in this post. Keep reading to learn more.

Close up photo of ants marching together, Ants In Dishwasher - What To Do?

How To Get Rid Of Ants In The Dishwasher

Your goal is to find out how the ants are getting into your dishwasher. You also want to keep your kitchen clean of open food containers or residue on surfaces. If you don't provide ants with a free meal, they will be less likely to take rent-free shelter in your dishwasher. Here are the steps to ridding your dishwasher of ants.

Shot of ants hunting for sweet food on an empty dish

1. Pour Baking Soda And Vinegar Down The Drain

Vinegar is a natural pest deterrent that can also kill ants. It covers up the smell of food so that ants should no longer be attracted to your dishwasher. Baking soda combined with vinegar causes a chemical reaction and foaming. This will help clean any residue in the pipes that could attract sewer ants into your dishwasher. Start with a 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar. Wait 10-15 minutes and dump some boiling water down the drain. This will finish the process of clearing the residue from the drain.

Heinz White Distilled Vinegar

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2. Clean Your Kitchen

Ensure all food and residue are regularly cleaned from your counters, stove, and other surfaces in your kitchen. This is the primary step to avoid attracting ants into your kitchen. You may also use a water and vinegar solution to wipe down your counters since vinegar is a pest deterrent that also kills ants. While preventing ants, you can take steps to prevent pantry bugs by reading this guide, "How To Get Rid Of Pantry Bugs Naturally [5 Crucial Tips]."

3. Setup Ant Traps

Ant traps do not actually trap ants, as you would expect. Ant traps have a slow-acting bait that ants take back to their colony. The bait is then transferred between ants in the colony to eventually kill them. This kind of trap does not work on all kinds of ants but is another step to ensure the ants do not return. Try to locate traps near the ants' suspected entry; it should deter them from an ongoing search throughout your kitchen.

Terro Liquid Ant Bait

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4. Run Your Empty Dishwasher For One Cycle

After you have dumped baking soda and vinegar down the drain, you can follow it with an empty dishwasher cycle. This will make sure to wash away any ants that still remain. You can add some citrus peels into the silverware compartment to help deodorize the drain and machine. After running the baking soda and vinegar, you may notice a funky smell as more residue is loosened from the drain.

Why Would There Be Ants In The Dishwasher?

The reason ants find their way into the dishwasher is because of the food residue that exists on your dirty dishes. Even after the dishes are clean and the unit is empty, the ants can still smell the food. There are two ways that ants can get into the dishwasher. The most common way is through the drain. The baking soda and vinegar flush followed by hot water is the solution for sewer ants. Other ants might sneak in through gaps and holes around the dishwasher.

Can I Spray Raid In My Dishwasher?

Raid is a toxic pesticide that should only be used as a last resort. Fortunately, the natural method of using baking soda and vinegar should be sufficient for ridding your dishwasher of ants. It is not recommended to spray Raid in the dishwasher. You will not know how many times you need to run the dishwasher to be sure all the chemicals are removed. When you do run the dishwasher, the chemicals will drain into the water supply, which can be toxic to aquatic life.

How Do I know What Kind Of Ants I Have?

There are four kinds of ants that are typically found in the kitchen, according to this guide from Terminix. These ants are the black ant, pharaoh ant, odorous house ant, and Argentine ant. This post does not identify the sewer ant, which is a common ant to find in dishwashers.

Ants crawling on a kitchen counter

Black Ant

Black ants are attracted to sweet substances, like honeydew, produced by aphids and other bugs that usually infest fruit trees. Black ants tend to live in moist areas near logs or mulch. It is best to keep any logs or mulch away from the house's foundation, so they will not take a detour through the cracks into your kitchen. Black ants are 1/8 of an inch in length.

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh ants are yellow and 1/8 of an inch in length. They are very difficult to control because the colony will split to increase the chances of survival when attacked with pesticides or natural remedies. They can live in furniture or any place that allows protection. They prefer moist areas like the bathroom or kitchen. The only successful treatment for pharaoh ants is to use ant bait.

Odorous House Ant

Odorous house ants are 1/8 of an inch in length and black or brown in color. They are hard to control because they create many subcolonies. They also prefer to live outside under moist mulch or logs. They may create colonies in homes, walls, or hidden spaces. Treating each colony directly is the best opportunity for controlling these ants. If the colonies cannot be found, you may try using ant bait traps.

Argentine Ant

Argentine ants are dark brown or black and 1/8 of an inch in length. Argentine ants are likely to hide in moist areas with mulch or logs. They like to eat sweet honey and insects like aphids that like to be around fruit trees. They create many subcolonies like the odorous house ant and can be difficult to control. These ants are the most likely to come crawling up through the drain into your dishwasher.

How To Get Rid Of Ants Naturally?

Spraying toxic chemicals is not necessary for ant or pest control most of the time. If you catch the problem early, then baking soda and vinegar should eliminate sewer ants. Other natural ways to get rid of ants include peppermint, lemon juice, cinnamon, diatomaceous earth,  and cayenne.


Mix 10 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil with two cups of water to create a natural ant repellent. Put it in a spray bottle and spray near problem areas and potential entry points.

Handcraft Peppermint Essential Oil

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Lemon Juice

Mix one part lemon juice to three parts water to create a solution. Spray this in problem areas to mask the ant scent trails. Mask the scent trails to deter ants.


Culinary cinnamon may repel ants from a certain area, but it does not have a strong enough scent to repel ants entirely. Cinnamon essential oil is the most concentrated form and can be mixed at one percent oil to 99 percent water to create a natural ant deterrent.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a powder that is non-toxic to animals and pets but deadly to ants. It is comprised of fossilized algae that is razor-sharp for ants but soft and powdery to animals and humans. Apply a thin layer around baseboards and potential entry points.

Safer Diatomaceous Earth Ant Killer

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Cayenne is an irritant to ants, so it is a natural deterrent. You can sprinkle a thin layer around any potential points of entry as a natural ant repellent.

Will Coffee Grounds Keep Ants Away?

Coffee grounds have a strong smell that repels ants. The smell is even more potent when it is burned, so used coffee grounds would work the best. Caffeine will kill ants if they happen to consume any of the coffee grounds. To use as pest control, sprinkle the grounds around areas where you have noticed ants in your kitchen. Replace them with new coffee grounds every day for the best outcome. Coffee grounds have more uses in the kitchen. Learn about one other use for coffee grounds by reading "How to Remove Food Smells And Stains From Plastic Containers?"

In Closing

Ants find their way into your dishwasher because they are looking for a free meal. Luckily, some natural methods should work to repel or kill the ants that are infesting your machine. No matter what kind of ants you have in your kitchen, it is best to keep your kitchen clean of any food residue or debris. It is not advised to use toxic chemical pest control like Raid unless you have tried the other natural methods first.



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