Informational Guide

Ants In Dishwasher (Why & How To Get Rid Of Them)

The dishwasher drain is one of the most common spots for ants to hide. Get the problem under control with these methods.

by Ian Haynes

It's not uncommon to find ants in your home, especially in the winter. One of the most common spots for ants to hide is inside the drain of your dishwasher. Fortunately, you can do a few things to get your ant problem under control before you have to call in the professionals.

We'll go over a few of those steps in the guide below.

To an ant, your dishwasher is an all you can eat buffet. There is almost always food residue in your dishwasher, making it an ideal spot for ants and other pests to take over.

It's also relatively easy for an ant to get in your dishwasher. They won't need a lot of space to get in, and they can easily slip through a tiny hole or small crack and get inside of your dishwasher. Be sure to check the back of the dishwasher, and you will likely find several gaps that could serve as an entry point for an ant.

They could also come through plumbing holes, the dishwasher's side vent, or through the lower kick plate.

If you leave your dishwasher door open, you are making it easy for ants to pick up the smell of food and head over to your dishwasher.


Methods to Get Rid of Ants in Your Dishwasher

1. Keep Your Kitchen Clean

If you see an ant in your dishwasher, there's a good chance it will eventually be all over your kitchen. That's why it's essential to keep your entire kitchen clean.

Start by removing all food particles from your counters and floor. Then remove everything from your cabinets or pantry and get rid of any food bits that might have fallen. Clean all surfaces in the cabinet before putting anything back. To make sure nothing in your kitchen gets infested, buy some airtight plastic containers.

2. Pour Vinegar in your Drain

Ants invade your dishwasher because they can smell the food used to be on the plates that have been washed. The smell of the leftover food on your dishes isn't covered up by the dishwasher soap you use. To mask the scent, pour vinegar down it. Pour at least a cup of vinegar down the drain. This will also clean your drain.

Vinegar is a natural pest control material that can kill ants without harming anything else.

3. Run Your Dishwasher Empty

Once you've poured vinegar through your dishwasher's pipes, rerun the dishwasher without putting anything in. This will get rid of any dead ants left in your dishwasher.

You can also rinse citrus down the drain before running the dishwasher a second time. If you'd like, you can use lemon juice on the empty run. As an added bonus, this will make the tub of your dishwasher sparkling clean. 

4. Locate The Ants Nest

Now you should figure out where the ants are coming from and locate their nest. It's much easier to deal with an infestation and prevent it from happening again if you just get rid of the nest entirely.

To find the nest, you can follow the ant pheromone trails. Their nests are usually outside the house. Depending on the type of the ant, though, the nest can be located inside the home.

5. Apply ant baits

Ant baits work slowly, but it's worth the wait. A worker ant will take an ant bait back to the colony, and after the ants in the colony eat the bait, the entire colony will die.

Some ants like only certain types of baits. That's why you need to figure out what type of ant you're dealing with before getting an ant bait.

6. Contact Pest Control

And, finally, if none of these tips worked, call your local pest control service.

Common Type of Ants in Dishwashers

Black Ants

Black ants are about 1/16 inches and, as their name suggests, black in color. They typically eat other insects, but they are attracted to grease and oil, so they often find their way into houses.

That's why it's common to find black ants in your dishwasher. If you see black ants in your dishwasher, you need to get rid of them and keep your dishwasher and kitchen clean at all times.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants like moist and humid environments. That's why the area around the dishwasher is perfect for them. They can range from 1/4 to 3/8 inches in size and are usually dark brown or black. Carpenter ants establish colonies in rotten wood. If you fund carpenter ants in your dishwasher, you need to locate the nest and eliminate it. If not caught in time, a carpenter ants colony can reach up to 50,000 ants in just a few weeks.

Sugar Ants

Sugar ants are different ant species that are attracted to sugar and other sweets. Sugar ants will invade kitchens looking for sweets they can carry back to their colonies. These sweets are often found in dishwashers.

How Ants Can Damage Your Dishwasher

More often than not, an ant infestation is more of an annoyance than anything else. An infestation shouldn't cause any real damage to your dishwasher. That is unless you find carpenter ants.

The carpenter ants in your dishwasher could have a nest in the wall void behind your dishwasher or in any surrounding wood that is moist or rotten.

You can easily spot a carpenter ant because they leave piles of sawdust material as they are chewing through the wood. Carpenter ants should be removed immediately to avoid any damage to your dishwasher or the areas surrounding it.

DIY Anti-Ant Solution: How to Make One

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral found in cosmetics, toothpaste, soaps, and weed killers. It is most often used as an alternative to chemically laundry detergents.

If an ant eats Borax, it will interfere with its digestive system and eventually kill them. But it's not immediate death, and it will take a while to destroy the entire colony. For adequate ant control, you need to eliminate the queen and the rest of the colony.

The worker ants will consume the Borax and bring it back to the colony for the other ants to eat, eventually killing the entire colony.

Here's a simple DIY Anti-Ant Solution:

  1. 1
    Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp Borax, and 1.5 cups of warm water.
  2. 2
    Soak cotton balls in your mixture, and then put them bear your dishwasher where you saw the ants.
  3. 3
    The sugar will attract the ants, and they'll take the deadly Borax back to their colony.


Can dishwashing liquid kill ants?

Dishwashing liquid is an effective solution for killing ants. Prepare a DIY solution by mixing equal parts of dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle.

Will coffee grounds kill ants?

You can spread used coffee grounds around your dishwasher and other areas where you need to repel ants. Ants hate the strong smell the brewed coffee grounds put out.

Can salt kill ants?

If you spread salt near nooks and corners from where ants enter the dishwasher, it will help keep the ants away. Table salt is an excellent and cheap way to get rid of ants naturally.

Does killing ants attract more into the home?

To avoid attracting more ants to your home, don't squash them. When you squash them, you are releasing a scent that will attract more ants.

How long does it take for vinegar to kill ants?

It takes vinegar about one hour to wipe out ants.


It is relatively easy to get rid of ants in your dishwasher if you follow the guide's tips. Some ants are harder to get rid of than others and will require more time and dedication.

But, you should never leave them unattended in your dishwasher because they can cause severe problems.

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.