Ants in Dirty Laundry
It can be disturbing to find ants crawling through your laundry when you put it in the washing machine. Your first concern might be that they can bite, and you do not want them to survive and be able to take a nibble when you put on your pants. You are also probably wondering why they are there in the first place. Let’s explore the issue of ants in your laundry and how to get rid of them.
Why Are Ants Attracted to Dirty Laundry?
The first thing that you need to know is that ants have an excellent sense of smell. They have about 400 distinct odor receptors. Mosquitoes only have 74-158, and honeybees have 174.
What this means is that they are efficient at detecting odors that will lead them to food at levels well below what humans can sense. Your laundry might not be smelly to you, but an ant can smell it from quite far away.
The next question is what they are attracted to in your laundry. Ants are attracted to several things that tell them food is near. They love sugar and salt, and your sweat contains plenty of both. They also love the sugar in baby formula and food debris on clothing.
Ants are also attracted to water, so if you place wet towels or clothing in the wash and allow it to sit, you can find yourself with an ant infestation. Ants will send out scouts for food, leaving behind a trail of pheromones that they will follow back to the nest and alert the others that there is a food source nearby.
They are quite efficient, and every ant in the colony has a job to do, which is why it can seem as if they suddenly just appeared in your laundry basket overnight.
How Do I Get Rid of Ants in My Laundry?
The next question is how you get rid of them. Many websites recommend commercial ant sprays, but these contain pesticides that can be harmful to humans. You should not use these products where they could be absorbed through your skin. This is especially important if you have babies or children in the house.
You can wash your clothing to get rid of the ants, but that will not keep more from coming right back. Some recommend a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar. Place it along the ant trail. They do not seem to know the difference between baking soda and sugar, and they will consume it and die.
Cinnamon also repels ants, but if the scent of the food is overpowering to them, they might be willing to ignore their aversion to the oils. Lavender oil is another ant repellent that might work. Some people also use sugar and boric acid or diatomaceous earth. The smell of cucumbers also repels ants.
Ants also have an aversion to:
- Baby powder
- Coffee Grounds
You need to know that once an ant trail is established, it gets stronger the more ants use it and the longer it remains. This means that if you do not clean the area around your laundry, they will only return. It also means mopping your floor with vinegar or another natural product that removes animal and insect odors.
Can Ants Survive in a Washing Machine?
Of course, the best way to eliminate ants from your laundry is to get rid of what is attracting them in the first place, but we all know that it is not possible to keep your laundry done all the time.
Using one of the natural methods to kill or deter them should help or eliminate the problem. You also want to make sure there are none in your clothing when you put it on, so shaking it might be a good idea.
The good news is that laundry soap, hot water, and the heat from the dryer kills ants. They cannot survive. If you wish, you can shake the clothing outside before you put it in. One thing to be careful of is that any stains or smells are thoroughly removed. Otherwise, the ants might be able to find your clothing in your closet or drawers.
One simple way to discourage ants from entering your house is the mix equal parts laundry detergent and water and spray it on their trail and where they are entering the house. This will poison them quickly.
You can also pour detergent and water on their hill if you can find it. If you decide to use this method, be sure to keep it away from pets and small children because it can harm them, too.
Keep in mind that anything with a sweet or salty smell is likely to attract ants, especially in the summer when they are building their food stores for the winter. They are most active between sunset and midnight.
If you want to see their trail and where they are getting into your home, this is an excellent time to find them and follow them to their source. You could even bait with a little sugar and keep a watch out for them when they begin to leave their nest to search for food at night.
Ants in your laundry are a nuisance, and they will bite in defense. The good news is that they are not known to spread disease or actively seek out humans to bite unless they feel you are a threat to their colony. Killing the ants that you can see will not resolve the problem permanently. You need to either kill them at their source or use something that repels them.
Cleanliness and filling in any holes with caulk are the best ways to keep ants out. Ants have a highly developed social system, and you have to circumvent this system to get rid of them permanently.
Ants are a nuisance, and they can be persistent when they think they have found a reliable food source, but with a little planning, you can rid yourself of them for good.