15 Clever Ways to Keep Ants Off Patio Furniture

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While we all love hanging around the backyard, most of us have probably seen what happens when crumbs of food are left lying around.  In several short hours, it’s not uncommon to have hordes of ants scrounging for the remnants.

Those ants can seemingly come out of nowhere, crawling on everything in sight, including your patio furniture!  And, while just the appearance of ants can be irritating, some species may actually attack you as you’re innocently lounging in the sun.

As ant colonies continue to grow, they can eventually cause more issues than just a nuisance on your patio. For that reason, it’s best to get rid of them as soon as you spot them.  

In this post, we’ll show you how to keep ants off patio furniture using a wide variety of methods. Let’s hop right in!

Observe the Ants

As you first notice ants on the patio furniture, it’s often useful to take some time to observe them.  Many times, the scout ants will create a pheromone trail in search of food.  This trail is then followed repeatedly by other worker ants as they move to and from the colony.

If you can determine their trail or pattern of movement, this may help you locate their colony and determine which method of removal to take.  Getting rid of the colony is the best way to nip a potential ant infestation in the bud.

15 Methods to Keep Your Patio Furniture Ant-Free

There are plenty of methods that can help you get rid of ants outside, so let’s have a quick look at some of the most effective ones.

There are many various methods you can employ to keep ants off your patio furniture –some methods will repel ants, while others will kill them. But, it’s important to choose the right one for your situation:

1. White Vinegar

Kicking off the list is a tried-and-true method that is highly effective in repelling and getting rid of ants.

The secret here is that ants are highly irritated by the smell of vinegar, so you can spray it around the patio furniture to keep the ants away.

To prevent the vinegar from damaging structures, make sure that you dilute it with water (one part vinegar to one part water) before pouring it into a spray bottle.

You can also drown and kill the ants if you spray the solution directly on their colony or nest, which is usually in the shape of a dirt mound with an opening at the top.

2. Don’t Leave Food Remains Exposed

This one might be a no-brainer, but it’s very effective in preventing ant infestation.

Ants are always on the hunt for the safest and most convenient source of food for the colony, which is usually food remains that are left behind near the patio.

Always make it a habit that you put away the food, plates, and utensils when you’re done eating outside.

This way, ants won’t be able to pick up the scent of food, giving them no incentive to build a colony nearby, so they’ll simply move along while foraging for food.

3. Borax Bait

Borax is commonly used when washing clothes.  However, this chemical is very toxic to ants as it disrupts their digestive systems and kills them after a day or two. 

Luckily, borax isn’t as toxic to large mammals and humans, so you don’t have to worry about it harming your pets!

Borax on its own won’t attract ants, but you can easily make tantalizing bait.  If you mix some borax into sugar or other sweet powder, this will do the trick in attracting them.

By sprinkling some of the powder mixture around your patio, worker and scouting ants will not only eat it themselves, but will also carry it back to the nest.  This eventually will kill a larger number of ants and destroy the colony.

The only problem with borax is that it loses most of its effectiveness when it gets wet, so you’ll need to reapply the bait after rain.

4. Deterrent Essential Oils

Ants depend on their chemosensors to find food, which is similar to how our noses work.

However, ants can also pick a wide variety of scents, and they don’t particularly enjoy all of them.

In fact, there are plenty of studies that found that several essential oil scents are quite effective in deterring insects and keeping them away, such as:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Neem oil
  • Eucalyptus oil 
  • Lavender oil
  • Citrus oil

In fact, some of these scents are quite pleasant for many people, such as lavender and rosemary, which are used in making perfumes!

These essential oils also have additional benefits of deterring a variety of insects and having a soothing effect when we smell them, among many other health benefits!

You can actually grow some of these plants nearby for continuous performance and a lovely smell all day long!

5. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, also known as “D.E.”, is commonly used in gardens and also as a pool filter media.  It is an off-white powder that might seem harmless at first glance, but it’s remarkably effective in killing ants and other insects!

Under the microscope, this harmless powder is actually fossilized remains of diatom shells, which are quite sharp.

These microscopic shards are capable of piercing through the exoskeleton of ants and other tiny critters, which causes severe dehydration that leads to their death.

To use D.E., sprinkle it around the perimeter of the patio or your house.  The powder will stick to their bodies as they pass through it and will spread into the colony.

D.E. is typically harmless for humans, but it can cause coughing and shortness of breath if inhaled in large quantities.  Take care when sprinkling it around the area.  

6. Ground Coffee

Caffeine is actually a natural insecticide that coffee plants produce to keep insects away, so it’s no surprise that coffee grounds can be effective in eliminating ants.

For this method to work, you’ll need to grind coffee beans into a very fine size, or buy pre-ground coffee from a store.

Simply sprinkle some of the grounds around the patio and garden, and insects should keep their distance. The good news is that coffee grounds can also be a good nutritional source for plants!

7. Place Various Ant Traps Around the Patio

Ant traps come in a wide variety of shapes and styles to suit your needs. There are sticky paper traps and also plenty of borax based traps with nectars and attractants that are used to lure them in.

You can place some of these traps around the patio and near the area where they could gain access to your household, such as near door thresholds.

8. Commercial Ant Killers

If you want a simple solution to your ant problem, you can simply opt for commercial ant killers, and there are plenty of great options on the market that can get the job done in no time.

Among the best options on the market are granular Terro products.  These can be sprinkled around the area you’d like to protect, essentially forming an ant-killing perimeter.  

Aside from granular products, you can also find effective commercial sprays and liquid bait stations that can be used around the patio.  

9. Cover the Patio Furniture When Not in Use

If you simply want to keep ants away from your patio furniture without killing them, the easiest method is to simply cover your patio furniture when they’re not in use.  Use the draw strings on the covers to form a tight seal against the furniture to better keep ants out.

When you want to use the patio furniture, all you need to do is remove the cover and your furniture should be as clean as the last time you used it.

While choosing a cover, make sure that it’s large enough to cover all the furniture without leaving any exposed spots. This also protects the fabrics from sun damage!

10. Sprinkle Cinnamon and/or Chalk Powder Around

In addition to borax, coffee, and D.E., there are other powders that are also unique deterrents in their own way and many homeowners swear by their effectiveness.

For example, if you like the scent of cinnamon, you can mix cinnamon and chalk powder in equal parts and sprinkle them around your patio.

If you can’t find chalk powder, you can use talcum powder instead. This mixture works as both a scent irritant (cinnamon) and a dehydrating agent (chalk and talcum), keeping insects at bay.

11. Release Ladybugs or Other Ant Predators Nearby

If you don’t mind having other creatures hanging around your yard, you can actually use the help of some of nature’s most successful ant predators out there.

For example, if you buy some ladybugs and release them, they’ll not only hunt down roaming ants, but they’ll also find their source and eat their eggs and larvae.

Ladybugs are generally harmless to humans, but they can be a problem for pets who try to ingest them, so you have to be careful if you have pets.

12. Keep Trash Bins Away from Your Patio

Another precautionary measure that you can take to keep the ants away from your patio is to relocate the trash bin away from the area.

This is because insects will typically hang around trash bins as they look for food, and then roam the nearby areas. It’s also a secure place where insects hide from predators.

By keeping the bins away, it will be much more difficult for ants to find their way to your porch, especially if you don’t leave food remains outside.

13. Clean the Patio Regularly

Make sure that you remove all the falling leaves, grass, and debris around your patio, as it will eventually attract insects to your doorstep. Even dead bugs or other critters will often attract ants.

As you notice your patio starting to accumulate organic material, you’ll want to take care of it before the ants do!

14. Salt

Salt is an excellent dehydrating agent that has been used for ages to deter insects. It’s also quite cheap and easy to find.

It’s not the most effective solution, but it’s definitely the easiest and is quite effective when combined with other methods.

15. Boiling Water

If you’re able to find the colony or the mound where the ants come from, you’ll need to destroy it to get rid of them.

However, kicking the mount will spread the ants everywhere and create more problems. Instead, boil enough water to flood the entire mount and pour it down the opening hole.

Avoid using bleach and other harsh chemicals while doing this so that you don’t disrupt the nearby soil’s pH levels.

When Should I Call Ant Exterminators?

In most cases, the previously mentioned methods should be enough to get rid of ants around your patio, especially if you don’t suffer a serious ant infestation.

Of course, there’s no shame in seeking professional help immediately, especially if you want quick results in little time.

So, if most of these solutions aren’t doing much help and the ants keep reappearing, you can contact a local ant exterminator service to help you get rid of the ant infestation once and for all.

There are also some signs and problems that require immediate intervention from an expert, such as:

  • The infestation is growing and you can’t find its source
  • Signs of damage are starting to appear in your property structures
  • The ant infestation is somewhere you can’t reach
  • You have an allergy or medical condition related to ant bites

Final Takeaway

You now know a variety of methods that can be used to keep ants off patio furniture and even get rid of them altogether.

The important thing is to always remember that early action is key in preventing a minor ant problem from turning into a big problem.  As you first start noticing ants, experiment with one or more of these methods to find one that works best for you.

Always make sure that you keep the patio clean when you leave, and apply a repellent regularly even if you don’t see ants around.

While some of these solutions may work for other bugs, you may need to pursue other solutions if you have spider mites crawling on the patio furniture.

Happy (Ant-Free) Lounging!

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