I recently moved to a unit that was previously occupied by a family with very young children. Since rent has significantly dropped over the last couple years, to cut costs, instead of hiring professional cleaners our landlord cleaned the unit himself… Needless to say, he missed quite a few places. When I removed the kitchen vent filters to wash them (as it looked like they were never washed in all the years the previous tenant lived here), a whole bunch of debris fell over of the stove area. It was disgusting. There were also bits of food caked onto the areas above where the filters sat. The same sticky food substances were found in between the cabinets and by the side of the refrigerator. Upon trying to reach up in these crevices, that’s when I noticed a trail of ants.
This ant trail, which originates from a nearby door jamb was about 7 meters in length. Though I do not have children, I do have two small dogs who think their duty is to help “vacuum” the floors (they also try to volunteer to clean any dirty dishes). Because of this, I’m extremely careful about spraying traditional pesticides anywhere in the home. I also don’t like the idea of using industrial poisons in an area that I live in, and especially where I prepare food. Knowing that ants follow a chemical trail, I knew I just needed to disrupt the trail, clean up the caked-on food, and then mask it so that the ants will go elsewhere.
As a former chemical engineer who worked in research and development of products, I immediately reached for my arsenal:
To prepare a 1 oz (30mL) spray bottle of “bug spray”, I add:
- 5 drops of rose geranium oil (I use a massage oil that has rose geranium oil diluted in a carrier oil; if I had used pure 100% rose geranium oil, I probably would have only used one or two drops. You can also substitute this for lemongrass oil, as rose geranium can sometimes be hard to find here.)
- 2 drops tea tree oil
- 3 drops citronella oil
- and fill the rest of the bottle with witch hazel
I get all these ingredients from Mustafa Centre (level 1, near entrance 6). The tea tree oil is the only one that is a bit pricey, but it will last a very, very long time. I also use it in many other recipes for various household and personal care purposes, which I will share in later posts.
Spraying the area killed the ants and masked their chemical trail and masked the scent of the bits of food that I could not reach to clean. Every now and then, I will see a scout searching around in the same area for scraps of food, but the trail has not returned. Having to kill a couple of ants every now and then is manageable as compared to the army of ants that once was there. The most reassuring thing is that the kitchen prep area is safe, and my dogs can continue to help keep the floors clean with their “vacuuming”.