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How to Get Rid of Ants in Carpet [DIY Guide]

It can be shocking to find a horde of ants hanging around your indoor carpets. Depending on the number of ants you’re finding on your carpet this could mean not much of anything, or it could be a sign of a larger problem.

What does it mean when you find ants in your carpet and how can they be removed?

Many ants crawling on a carpet exclusively is likely a sign that food or drink is embedded in the carpet fibers. Additionally, carpenter ants may be infesting the wood below a carpet and exiting and entering nearby. Vacuuming and applying ant baits are the best remedies to remove ants from a carpet. 

Let’s dive into the specifics of dealing with ants in your carpet and what products will work best to get rid of them. This guide will address all the possibilities as to why this could be occurring and offer effective treatment advice to remove ants from carpets and within the home. 

Why Are Ants in My Carpet?

Ants come in many varieties and they have differences in behavior. Unlike bed bugs or cockroaches, ants are usually not concerned with finding a home or people to feed on; it’s primarily food and water that they seek. 

Rarely, ants may also invade homes during periods of inclement weather such as thunderstorms. For the most part, the insects are seeking food and water though.

If you see a lot of ants on your carpet, this could mean that there are food crumbs or liquid residue on the carpet which draws in ants from far away distances. 

If it’s just a few ants here and there you’re finding on your carpet, then the ants could just be using the carpet to reach a food or liquid source in another part of your home. If you are ever in doubt, you can always follow the ant trail to see what it is that is drawing the ants in and across the carpet. 

Do Ants Live in Carpet?

Ants are not a pest that infests carpets. There is nothing at all appealing about the carpet to ants unless there is food or moisture that is feeding and hydrating the ants. Ants do not live in the carpet either, so you do not have to worry about ants laying eggs or anything like that. All of this activity is performed by the queen in an outside nest. 

The carpet is usually the source of food or is being used as a trail way to reach a food source. However, if the flooring underneath the carpet is made of wood, this could potentially be carpenter ants that are entering and exiting their nest via the carpet. 

Carpenter ants typically seek out rotting wood to burrow in and make their nest. If the wood underneath the carpet is attractive to them, they will cross the carpet regularly to seek out food since this species of ant does not eat wood and only lives within it. 

How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Carpet

Even though ants do not make homes in carpeting, the sight of ants on the carpet means that you will need to treat against the problem. Here are 4 steps to take to remove ants from your carpet. 

Step 1: Check for Food or Moisture Problems

9 times out of 10, the problem with indoor ants will be related to food or moisture. Just the smallest of crumbs or drops of sugary liquid can attract ants, especially in the spring and summer months. 

This is why it is important to only consume food and drink in the kitchen or dining room, and to sweep mop, and vacuum (more on this below) regularly. Inspect the carpet to see if you find any food particles or wet spots. If you feel wet spots, this could be spilled liquids or a leak somewhere contributing to your problem.

If you know you didn’t spill anything on the carpet but it’s still wet, you may want to lift the carpet and inspect further. A leak could be coming from the ceiling, running in from a wall, or happening from a pipe somewhere around your floors.

It’s also helpful to carefully identify your ants. If you have tiny black ants, those are likely odorous house ants (see our guide on how to get rid of tiny black house ants). These are probably after food, sugar, or water they’re finding in your house.

If the ants are very large and blackish, then they’re likely carpenter ants which means you need to search for wet and rotting wood.

Step 2: Vacuuming

Running the vacuum over the carpet is something we all likely do at least once a week. Ants are able to rally the colony much quicker than that if they find a good source of food or water, though. If you’re seeing a lot of ants on your carpet, you should double-down on frequent vacuuming.

You can easily vacuum up the ants you see on the carpet in addition to any food sources. Opt instead for a vacuum with a bag if possible or, be sure to empty the contents of the canister into an outside trash can to prevent scattering the ants inside the house

Additionally, regularly vacuuming carpets can prevent food particles from sitting too long and attracting ants. Be sure to use a vacuum with strong bristles to ensure that you are getting all of the ants and food particles up. 

Step 3: Apply an Ant Bait

One of the best overall methods for dealing with an ant invasion is the use of ant baits. Ant baits work by first attracting the ants on the carpet to the bait, allows them to carry the bait back to the colony, and then the slow-acting poison ends up killing them.

The food is shared among other ants, and most importantly, the queen that is responsible for reproducing. This method effectively kills all the ants in the colony over time. Common types of ant baits include:

  • Gel Ant Baits: Ant gels are great for treating holes, cracks, crevices, and other hard-to-reach areas. They can also be applied in a bait station or on an index card out in the open. These products typically come in a tube with a syringe for application. The gel contains a slow-acting pesticide and ants carry the bait to the colony to kill other ants. Ant gels are good for indoor and outdoor applications.
  • Granule Ant Baits: Granule baits are typically used for outdoor applications such as in garages and backyards but can also be used indoors. Granule baits are effective and hold their insecticidal properties for a long time after application. Also, granular ant baits typically have a broad pest range.
  • Liquid Ant Baits: Liquid ant baits are especially effective for sugar-feeding ants. This type of bait is the oldest and is tried and tested by pest control professionals.

Ant baits are highly effective for eradicating the entirety of an ant problem, either indoors or outdoors. Indoor ants crawling across carpet likely are worker ants carrying food to and from an outside nest.

Baiting works similarly for carpenter ants much in the same way since carpenter ants also eat the same types of foods as house ants. 

An important detail to remember about ant baits is that you do not want to use other products on the ants when using baits. The process is a bit slower but the poison is being spread to an entire colony, which means the problems will eventually be eradicated. Allow the ants to take the bait and slowly poison the entire colony. 

Step 4: Consider Additional Products to Eradicate Ants

If you do not want to wait for ant baits to get the job done, you have a few other options you could consider. 

Pesticide Dusts

Cimexa dust is a powerful pesticide and one of the rare examples of an effective pesticide that is also safe for humans and pets. This product is made from 100% silica dust, which is fine, small granules at a microscopic level made from materials like sand, rocks, and even bricks. 

Once insects crawl through the product, the waxy exterior of their bodies is cut which leads to dehydration in as little as 24 hours. This is a perfect product to use against ants since the product can spread across a wide area. 

Applying Cimexa dust is an important part of the process, and only a thin, nearly invisible layer of the product should be applied to all areas where the ants crawl. A dust applicator is most effective to ensure the product doesn’t clump and ensure that the ants walk around it.  

Best of all, the dust can be vacuumed up from the carpet once the ants are completely eradicated from the area. 

Pros:

  • Kills a wide variety of insects in addition to ants and even spiders
  • Safe to have around pets
  • Odorless and non-staining

Cons:

  • Not an immediate contact kill

Diatomaceous Earth (DE powder) is similar to Cimexa dust but is made of diatoms which are the shells of microscopic algae that live in the sea. This product will also work great against ants and is meant to be used exactly as you would apply Cimexa dust. 

This product also comes with a dust applicator.

Pros:

  • 100% natural
  • Kills ants within 24 hours
  • Can be vacuumed up

Cons:

  • DE powder is incredibly dry to the touch

Exterior Sprays

Since ants come from the outdoors, using a powerful spray insecticide with a strong residual effect is a great way to keep the insects from coming into your home. Bifen IT insecticide contains 7.9% bifenthrin which is an insecticide and termiticide that provides excellent control of over 75 insect pests. 

This product leaves a long-lasting residual for up to 3 months, is odorless, non-staining, dries clear, and is safe around children and pets when used as directed. Bifen IT can be used both indoors and outdoors, on lawns and ornamentals, and even in food-handling areas of commercial establishments. One quart of Bifen IT insecticide yields 32 to 96 gallons.

To mix the product, you will need a one-gallon sprayer and mix 1 oz of product with one-gallon water. Spray all areas around the home that could serve as entryways into the home; window seals, doorways, and along the edges of the house. This should help kill the ants before they form a sizeable population near your home. 

Pros:

  • 3-month residual
  • Kills ants upon contact
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors

Cons:

  • A bit potent when used indoors

How to Prevent Ants From Being On Your Carpet

A great way to prevent ants from coming into your home and congregating on your carpet is to vacuum carpets regularly to ensure that no food crumbs are left down for too long. Additionally, be sure to mop hard floors regularly and keep countertops wiped down and free of food and liquids. 

Ants are also attracted to moisture so be sure to check for moisture leaks in and around the house and spills that have collected into the carpet. 

To prevent carpenter ants, be sure to always inspect any wood within your home for rotting or moisture. It’s not easy to prevent these ants from infesting damp wood, but routine inspections of your floors underneath the carpet is a great practice. 

Since ants are outdoor insects, using a pesticide spray with a residual like Bifen I/T goes a long way in preventing ants from entering the home. Also, be sure to seal any cracks in the foundation of your home to prevent ants from finding a way to get inside. 

How Can I Get Rid of Ants in My Carpet Naturally?

Getting rid of ants naturally is possible granted that you use something that will kill the ants without the worry of spreading chemicals in the home. Something like boric acid or a borax ant bait is a great product for killing ants effectively in a 100% natural concentration. 

The mineral affects the digestive system of ants once ingested, and causes them to die eventually. Borax is a slow-acting agent which is why it is so effective for ant control.

The worker ants carry the poison back to the nest where it is ingested by other members of the colony. 

Also, DE powder is completely natural and can be easily vacuumed up once the product has eliminated all the ants. 

FAQs

Should I spray Raid Ant Killer on my carpet?

Using Raid Ant Killer to kills ants on the carpet is not a great idea. The pesticides can spread throughout the carpet and cause a lingering odor within the home. Additionally, this product can stain the carpet, which would ultimately be more of a costly mess than getting rid of ants the correct way. 
Spray pesticides like Raid are only good for contact killing and lack a residual. The best method to remove ants from the carpet is to vacuum up the ants and rely on effective ant baits to remove the colony. 

Should I use an ant bomb to kill ants in my carpet?

Any sort of ‘bomb’ pesticide is not a good idea since the application of the pesticide is not targeted. It also makes a mess and stinks up your home. Since the pesticide is not targeted, it simply releases into the air and falls onto surfaces. 
An ant bomb is just like a spray and is even worse than a spray since you cannot control where the pesticide is targeted. 

Can ants come up through my carpet?

Ants cannot likely come up from the carpet to reach the surface unless they are coming out of a hole, which could be the case with carpenter ants. The type of ants that come into homes likely wouldn’t have the means to cut through carpet and carpet fibers are not something they eat or would nest within. 

What kind of ants are on my carpet?

It is difficult to know exactly what kind of ant would be crawling on a carpet. Ants are not attracted to the carpet so there isn’t any research to show how a certain species would want to live on or in the carpet. 
The two likeliest culprits would typically be house ants or carpenter ants simply using the carpet as a trail way or congregating around food or moisture. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, ants are not interested in carpets and are likely using carpeting as a trail to bring food and moisture back and forth to a colony. Both house ants and carpenter ants are the two most common ants inside of the home. 

Ant baits and powders like Cimexa and Diatomaceous Earth are highly effective at removing ants from the home. Regular vacuuming of the carpet and cleaning up food and spills is also great at preventing ants inside the home. 

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Written by Wesley Wheeler

Wesley has over 10 years of residential and commercial pest control experience dealing with every kind of pest. He ran his own pest control company for 6 years and now shares his knowledge online.

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