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How to Get Rid of Ants in Dishwasher: Control & Prevention Guide

If you notice ants in a dishwasher, you have to start acting immediately. Ants prefer to live in big colonies, and if you give them a chance to settle down in your kitchen, they will never leave. If you don’t know how to get rid of ants in dishwasher, read my recommendations here.

Don’t worry, I can teach you how to solve the problem without spending a fortune on pest control and expensive insecticides. However, if you believe that the problem is too big, my advice is to call a professional. This article might help you with less severe cases of infestation.

Ants in Dishwasher: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Problem

These creatures can become an unpleasant surprise for anyone, no matter where you live or how carefully you clean your house. There were ants in my dishwasher as well, coming from my neighbor’s house.

If you think that it is impossible to live in a dishwasher since there is hot water inside, ants can disagree with you.

These insects are tiny and usually choose cracks they can live in and holes to hide. They will easily survive the washing cycle, attracted to the unlimited source of water.

ant on fingers

While you may easily kill ants with pesticides inside the dishwasher, you may not get rid of their “friends” that were outside. Apart from that, spraying toxic substances near your plates and cups is not the brightest idea.

Don’t worry, I will teach you how to handle ants around sink and dishwasher without pest control.

Why are there ants in my dishwasher?

There are numerous reasons for their appearance. The dishwasher is a source of food and water, in the first place. Apart from that, there are places inside dishwashers that can’t be reached by human beings so easily.

This is a perfect hiding spot if you know how to survive the hot water. So if you notice ants coming from behind the dishwasher, you have to act.

Ants biting man hands

The first thing you need to do is to check whether there is no leak in the pipe. Make sure that the water does not fill the dishwasher when it is not working. Once the machine stops working, check for any leftovers from the plates.

How are ants getting in the dishwasher?

Ants are small insects that do not need much space. They can easily crawl through the small hole or tiny crack you don’t even notice at the beginning. It can be the hole near the wire or a small gap behind the machine. Dishwasher offers numerous options for ants to get into:

  • side vent;
  • plumbing holes;
  • lower kick plate;
  • ants in dishwasher door. Opening the doors of the dishwasher after the work is finished is the easiest way to get into it.

If you checked out the main entrance and did not find any traces, you can continue the further investigation. They can easily come from behind the machine. Moreover, this is a favorite way to get inside for the carpenter and black ants.

These two types of ants can build a nest under the dishwasher and under the floor. If there is no gap, check out for the nest inside the wall. The place is almost unreachable, so they consider it a perfect hiding spot. If the nest is behind the dishwasher, you can call professionals.

ants carry melon

Ants can also crawl into the machine from inside. The so-called sewer ants get inside the dishwasher by drains and pipes. These places usually contain moisture and food. If you found sewer ants, you will have to clean the whole plumbing system in your kitchen.

Make sure that there are no nests in the pipes. My personal advice is to start with something simple like boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda. You will need these ingredients in certain proportions:

  • ½ cup of vinegar;
  • ½ cup of baking soda;
  • 1 quart of water.

Pour baking soda first, and then add vinegar there. Wait for up to 10 minutes after the mix starts bubbling. Now add the boiling water. This simple but working recipe kills ants and cleans pipes from leftovers.

Step by Step Guide on How to Get Rid of Ants in Dishwasher

Are you asking yourself: how do I get rid of ants in my dishwasher? If the answer is yes, pay attention to this simple step-by-step instruction. There are different ways to get rid of the problem. I describe all of them below:

Vinegar in the drain

This is the simplest solution that costs you nothing. I believe you already have vinegar in your kitchen. If you don’t, go and buy. Vinegar will not kill these insects. Instead, it will mask the smell of the food that attracts the ants so much.

Add a cup of vinegar to the drain. You can also wash your dishwasher with vinegar. If you want to get rid of ants in the dishwasher with borax, you can mix it with the vinegar and pour it into the pipe;

Empty cycle

Run the dishwasher without dishes if you notice the ants. It will clean the drain. Add the vinegar inside for a better effect. Ants will not be able to enjoy the food leftovers and quickly escape the machine;

Detailed inspection

You have to find the source of food and water that ants use. They would not risk their colony getting inside your house without the water or food. You have to inspect every inch of your house.

The best way to locate the nest is to find one ant and follow it. If you can’t find the ant, set ant traps in different corners. You will notice ants stuck in the trap near the nest. If you can locate the nest, you can eliminate all the ants in no time;

Ant baits

Once you found the nest, you can set up ant baits there. It may not work at the very same moment, but you will achieve great results if you are patient enough. The bait can act immediately, killing the ant once it consumes the poison, or can spread the poison in the colony and kill all the ants in the nest.

Pick the one you need and wait for the results. You have to repeat the procedure several times until you are sure that there are no ants in your kitchen left.

Pay attention to the fact that there are specific baits for specific types of ants. Not all ants can eat the same type of poison. This is why it is highly important to find out which type of ants dwells in your home for identification and control of the insects;

Protect your dishwasher

Start with cleaning the dishwasher. Make sure it is dry once the plates are washed. It does not have to keep the smell of the food afterward.

You can remove the food in advance before you place it in the dishwasher so nothing is stuck. Take the cloth in vinegar and wipe the dishwasher after the cycle is finished. Since ants can’t stand the peppermint oil smell, you can easily spray it inside the dishwasher.

Colony of ants in an artificial environment

If you notice cracks or holes inside the dishwasher, you have to cover them. It’s important to seal the cracks before ants can get inside.

If you find severe infestation, you can use specific insecticides. However, I don’t recommend you to do it near the dishwasher or kitchen in general. If the nest is far from your kitchen, use the insecticide without a doubt.

However, if the area you want to spray is near the food, it is better to use natural and non-toxic remedies. The most popular natural remedies I recommend are:

  • peppermint oil;
  • vinegar;
  • baking soda or borax.


red ants on the corner of the wall

I have noticed numerous questions about the dishwasher problem on the Internet. Since I can’t answer all of them based on the amount, I decided to pick the most popular.

Read my answers and make sure you use them while you are fighting against ants in your home. If you have more to add to my answers, you can do it in the comments below.

Can you run a dishwasher with ants in it?

There’s a high probability that you have already done it. If you notice the ants in your dishwasher, they may have already settled down there. Unlike many other pests, these are pretty hard to kill. Ants are small and quick.

Once they notice that you turn on the dishwasher, they crawl back to their hiding spots and wait until the danger is gone. Some of them can hide inside the pipes. This is why I recommend running the empty cycle with vinegar to make sure that there are no ants.

How do tiny ants get in a closed dishwasher?

These creatures are highly creative. They use all the cracks and holes they can find. Moreover, they use pipes and sewer systems to get to the food they smell. Nothing can stop them on their way to the treats.

Apart from that, are you sure that you have never opened the door of the dishwasher after the cycle was finished? Can you swear that you have never left it even slightly open to make sure that the smell disappears? Usually, we don’t pay much attention to our actions until we notice ants.

Why are there ants behind the dishwasher?

This is a perfect hiding spot for ants. They are close to food and water and unreachable to humans. They can easily build a nest behind the dishwasher without having to hide each time you run the machine.

Apart from that, humans can’t clean there often, especially if the dishwasher is close to the wall. Ants can live there for many years if you don’t react immediately.

Since there are hard-to-get places, I recommend you to call local pest control if the infestation is severe. If not first, start with baits.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher From Ants

I believe that nobody likes to see ants crawling on the clean plates and cups. This situation can happen if you have the nest inside or near the dishwasher. In this case, use my helpful guide, and you will forget about ants for good.

I also recommend keeping your dishwasher clean no matter if you have ants there or not. This simple routine will prevent ants from your kitchen.

If you have more comments to add you can do it below. Let me also ask you a few questions. Have you ever had ants in your dishwasher? How did you get rid of them?

Also read:


  • Ants: identification and control(Department of Primary industries and Regional Development)
  • How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen(Kevin Carrillo)
  • Ants(University of Minnesota Extension)


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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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