Ants in Your Bathroom? Here’s Why (and How to Stop Them, too!)

The bathroom seems like a strange place for ants to congregate, but they might. Here’s what to do if you find ants in the bathroom.
Written by Matt Terzi
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Ants are attracted to dark, moist spots with water and food, so the bathroom is an ideal spot for them to nest. You can prevent ants from congregating in your bathroom by properly cleaning. Some household products can work as an ant eliminator, but you may have to call an exterminator to get rid of the infestation.  
The first time you find ants in your bathroom, it can be a real head-scratcher. Ants are attracted to food, right? It’s not like you’re sitting in there eating messy sandwiches. Why in the heck would ants congregate in a bathroom?
We all imagine ants zeroing in on human food—and that’s partly true, as the victims of ruined picnics will be quick to tell you. But ants eat (and drink) a lot of stuff we’d never think to call dinner, too.
In reality, your bathroom could be a sort of ant-oasis, even if you’re confident it’s clean. Bathrooms can check every box for their dream home. So you need to be vigilant in preventing ants from setting up shop to begin with.
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Why are ants in the bathroom?

Ant colonies see your bathroom the way you see your favorite vacation destination: it’s a beautiful paradise they never, ever want to leave. In fact, they love it so much here they might just move the whole family down and stay forever!
Ants are somewhat nomadic—they bop around from one place to the next in search of a forever home. Ants want to live someplace warm and sheltered from the elements, with steady access to food and water. Bonus points if it’s dimmer or darker, too.
That’s why a messy bathroom is more attractive to an ant than even a kitchen. Ants can eat (get ready to be grossed out) old rotting hair (we warned you) in your drains, pillage your trash bin for food, or turn the area behind your toilet into a buffet. Dampness and humidity mean the bathroom is warm and has drinking water, too. It’s an ant paradise!
Finding ants in your bathroom doesn’t mean your bathroom is super gross, either. It just means this spot has more suitable conditions for ants than wherever they were before. 
Clogged drains, damp and rotting wood, puddles of water, scented soaps and perfumes … these are like catnip for ants (antnip?). Until you encounter an ant infestation firsthand, chances are you wouldn’t think of these things as being problematic.

Preventing ants in the bathroom

Preventing an ants-in-bathroom nightmare is simple, at least on paper: make your bathroom less hospitable for ants. Get rid of their food, their water supply, and the other creature comforts that ants adore.
  • After a shower, make sure steam can get out of the bathroom. Turn on the overhead fan (if you have one) and leave the bathroom door open 
  • Keep the bathroom clean, and don’t forget bathroom tiles and shower curtains
  • Use an old rag or cloth to sop up puddles of water
  • Don’t just empty the trash bin in your bathroom, but clean it out with soapy water and rinse it thoroughly, too
  • Mop regularly, and don’t miss that strip behind the toilet. If your sink is on a pedestal with free space behind it, mop there as well
  • Make sure caps and lids on soaps, perfumes, toothpaste, and deodorant are secured properly
  • Regularly unclog the sink and the bathtub
  • Thoroughly and regularly clean shower mats, and replace them if they get even mildly funky
  • If ants are coming up through the drain, it’s a strong indicator you have a leaky pipe somewhere and should call a plumber
  • As needed, seal up cracks under window frames and repair and caulk tiles

How to get rid of ants in the bathroom

Finding a colony of ants in your bathroom is a nightmare scenario. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to prevent ants than it is to get rid of them. But don’t call the exterminators just yet. You might be able to get rid of them without spending all that money.

Eradicate whatever the ants are attracted to

Your first step in dealing with ants in the bathroom is to answer three big questions:
  • Where exactly are the ants colonizing?
  • How did the ants get into the bathroom?
  • What is attracting these ants to your bathroom?
Once you know exactly where the ants have colonized and what it is about your bathroom they’re enjoying, the rest is pretty straightforward. Take all of those preventative measures mentioned earlier. Eliminate their food and water and make your bathroom inhospitable.
Knowing how the ants made it into your home will help you prevent more from taking that same route. Fixing leaky pipes or plugging up cracks will keep future ants from showing up.

Mix up some vinegar-based ant repellant

Ants navigate using pheromone trails: roads of scent that direct ants to their destination. Eliminating these scent trails prevents other ants from the colony from finding their way into your bathroom.
Tried and true, a simple mixture of white vinegar and water is a surefire method of wiping out these pheromone trails. Thoroughly clean your bathroom using this mixture, with an extra focus on the more ant-friendly locales.

Take down the whole colony with ant traps

If the ants in your bathroom are coming from a colony elsewhere, you may want to wipe out that entire colony—and that involves setting up ant traps.
Remember how humans beat the alien invaders in the original War of the Worlds? Ant traps work sort of like that. Ant traps attract the unsuspecting pests and then poison them. The ants then return to their colony and infect all of the other ants with that poison, killing them too.

Still seeing ants in the bathroom? Call in the professionals

If the ant traps didn’t work and you’re still seeing ants in your bathroom, it means the problem is a bit worse than anticipated. If that’s the case, hiring a professional exterminator service might be your only solution.
Exterminators can be expensive. They use harsh, dangerous chemicals that pose a risk to children and pets. You’ll want to be extra careful when hiring exterminators, and be sure to hire a reputable company with good reviews.

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Ants are tiny, so they can get into your bathroom through even the smallest cracks in your walls, tiles, or flooring. Ants have been known to enter through ventilation ducts and fans, too. If you have leaky pipes, ants can nest in your walls and use the pipes to get in through drains.
All it takes is one ant to lead a whole colony to your bathroom. Ants navigate using pheromone trails that work as a sort of GPS, guiding other ants from their colony to your bathroom.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to kill or wipe out ants to get rid of them, at least not in most cases. The safest way to eliminate ants in your bathroom is to simply make your bathroom less attractive to them.
Empty and thoroughly clean your trash bin. Wipe down surfaces, including the floor and walls, with a mixture of water and white vinegar. Unclog sink and shower/ bathtub drains. Make sure you close up soaps, toothpaste tubes, and other odor sources in your bathroom.
If you’re more keen on killing ants than rerouting them, your best bet is to try a variety of over-the-counter ant traps, which poison and wipe out whole colonies. Ant traps work differently, so if one trap doesn’t get the job done, try another.
If ant traps ultimately don’t work, you may need to hire professional exterminators. But this option is expensive, and the sprays exterminators use can be dangerous for kids and animals.
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