Ants In Carpet: Can You Vacuum Ants?
Ants are very common home pests, and when they establish a nest, they are difficult to get rid of.
While harsh chemicals can help, they are dangerous to pests, pets, and humans. So what to do when the ants are found in larger numbers? Can we vacuum them?
Published: February 5, 2024.
Does Vacuuming Kill Ants?
First of all, not all vacuums are equal - they range in size, suction power, dirt disposal, available cleaning tools and attachments, filter type, filtration level, etc.
When You see plenty of ants in one spot, your first instinct is to grab the vacuum cleaner and vacuum them, right?
Well, it is a good thing to do, but there are a few things one must be aware of.
- So, can You vacuum ants? Yes, You can - it is an excellent way to get rid of them.
- Does vacuuming kill ants? Yes and no, depending on the many things we are about to explain.
The Best Vacuum For Vacuuming Ants
When vacuuming ants, one needs a strong vacuum cleaner with preferably a HEPA level of air filtration since nobody wants tiny ants' particles (potential allergens) to be released back into the vacuumed room.
The best cleaning tool is a Crevice tool attached to the corrugated hose for several reasons:
- A crevice tool is a long and narrow cleaning tool, allowing the user to focus the vacuum's suction on a very small area, helping with ants vacuuming in gaps, crevices, and other hard-to-reach areas.
- As strong suction carries vacuums through the corrugated hose, ants get slammed into the walls of such hose, causing them injuries and, eventually, death. However, they are strong insects protected by tough exoskeletons, and many of them will survive such a voyage.
So, what is the preferred vacuum cleaner type for vacuuming ants? A wet-dry shop vac with a water air filter, corrugated cleaning hose, and a set of cleaning tools that include a crevice tool.
As the ants are vacuumed with such a vacuum, they get trapped in the water filter. After vacuuming, empty the dirty water, and the ants are gone.
But this also raises two additional questions:
- What about the ant's nest?
- What if we don't have a wet-dry shop vacuum?
Ant's Nest: As long as You have ants nest at home, ants will appear from time to time. But, even when You don't see them, they will roam your home, transporting various bacteria and other germs on their bodies, digging holes in walls and furniture, etc.
To get rid of an ant's nest, one has to use various chemicals - the easiest ones come in spray bottles which can be rather effective, just be sure to use them as instructed. And if they don't help, call professionals, and stop wasting your time and money.
No Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum: If You don't have a wet-dry shop vacuum, use the vacuum what You have, just be sure to use it in the most efficient way.
Carpet cleaners, with or without a cleaning hose, feature two tanks, one for cleaning liquid and another for dirty liquids.
If You notice an ants infestation, fill the dirty liquids tank with water (50% of its capacity is usually enough) and vacuum the carpets using "dry passes" - as the ants get vacuumed, they are trapped in the dirty water tank.
Note: carpet cleaners also have mechanical air filters, but they are rarely HEPA air filters, which is why it is important to fill a dirty water tank with water - the water itself acts as a filter, capturing the ants.
If the carpet cleaner features a cleaning hose and cleaning attachment for the hose, use them to vacuum ants in hard-to-reach areas.
After cleaning, empty the dirty water tank, and the ants are gone.
Similarly, if You have carpet spot cleaners, which are very similar to carpet cleaners, just smaller, feel free to use them to vacuum ants from the carpets, sofas, stairs and other surfaces, just be sure to have a dirty water tank filled with water (at least 50%) which acts as an air filter, capturing the ants and other dirt.
Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
Bagged vacuum stores the vacuumed dirt in the onboard vacuum bag, which provides a certain level of air filtration.
After vacuuming, keep in mind that most of the ants will be alive, some of them will be injured, but those alive will want to return to their colony. Nobody wants this to happen.
Thus, if You have a bagged vacuum cleaner, vacuum the ants and immediately replace the old vacuum bag with a new one. Put old vacuum bag in the trash and dump the trash right away (vacuum bags with dirt are often considered as "general trash").
What to do if the vacuum bag is not disposable?
If the vacuum bag is not disposable (yes, they still make/use such vacuums), empty the bag into the trash and dump the trash. Also, wash your vacuum bag and let it dry out completely before returning it to the vacuum.
Bagless Vacuum Cleaner
Bagless vacuum cleaners usually feature cyclonic air filtration combined with mechanical air filters, ensuring good air filtration. Also, such a filtration system will kill many ants, but not all of them.
Thus, after vacuuming ants with the bagless vacuum cleaner, be sure to empty the dirt bin in the trash as soon as possible and dump the trash right away.
Just in case, wash the dirt bin and clean the air filters.
Mattress Vacuum Cleaner
Mattress vacuum cleaners are intended for vacuuming bed bugs from beds, sofas, upholstery, and similar surfaces, including stairs, area rugs, and even carpets.
The main limitations of the mattress vacuums are their size, vacuuming strength, and the lack of cleaning hose and cleaning attachments, crevice tools included.
But, a good mattress vacuum cleaner combines high-frequency vibrations with a narrow nozzle but with relatively strong suction, UV light, and often a hot air blower. Also, a good mattress vacuum cleaner MUST have a HEPA air filter, or all the vacuumed allergens will return to the vacuumed area.
Thus, if your carpet is not sensitive to UV light and You spot ants in the carpet, feel free to grab the mattress vacuum cleaner and vacuum the carpet. Right after vacuuming, empty the dirt bin in the trash, dump the trash, and clean/wash the dirt bin and air filters.
Obviously, mattress vacuums are not ideal vacuums for ants, but they will do their job well.
Humane Vacuum Cleaner
Human vacuums allow the user to catch the bug/insect and release it outdoors without harming it.
While this sounds great, this can't be applied to ants since they always try to return to their nest, their colony.
But, if You notice winged ants getting out of their nest and trying to find the place in order to establish a new colony, I guess that You can try to catch them alive using humane vacuum cleaners and release them outside.
Baking Soda vs. Diatomaceous Earth vs. Cornstarch
Baking soda is commonly used in homes for many purposes, including cleaning.
Many people and websites suggest vacuuming some baking soda after vacuuming ants to kill them.
The effect of vacuumed baking soda on vacuumed ants and other bugs was tested by several universities, and even some vacuum manufactures, and the result is - inconclusive.
So, does vacuuming baking soda kills the trapped ants? Maybe - most of the ants will eventually die due to the sustained injuries and will suffocate because of all the dirt around, but how much baking soda will cause them to die is not exactly known.
Diatomaceous earth is a very fine powder, often used as a mechanical insecticide, which is safe for pets and humans.
In contact with insects, the Diatomaceous earth absorbs lipids from the exoskeletons, causing the insects to lose water, dehydrate, and in the end, die.
Diatomaceous earth is not as common at homes as baking soda, but if available, feel free to use it.
Another ingredient commonly found at home that we can use to kill ants in dirt bins or vacuum bags is cornstarch. So, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cornstarch and vacuum it.
Cornstarch can also be sprinkled over the ants and their trails - as they get in contact with it, cornstarch absorbs moisture, and over time, it gets hard, almost like cement, at least from the ants' point of view.
And the best of all is that cornstarch is absolutely safe for pets and humans.
Note: after vacuuming baking soda, Diatomaceous earth, or cornstarch, be sure to replace or wash the vacuum bag (if present), to empty and wash the dirt bin (if present) and wash or replace air filters - small particles can easily clog even the best vacuum bags and air filters, causing loss of suction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most popular Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about vacuuming ants.
Can You vacuum ants on the carpet?
Vacuuming is a recommended method of removing the ants from carpets and other surfaces at home. Just be sure to clean the vacuum cleaner properly and to dispose of vacuumed ants properly.
Can ants survive being vacuumed?
Yes, ants can survive being vacuumed, even when vacuumed with a corrugated hose and crevice tool into a vacuum cleaner with a cyclonic air filtration system.
Can ants get out of a Dyson vacuum?
Eventually, surviving ants will find their way out, even from the Dyson vacuums. Spraying some insecticide/insect killer sounds good, but it MUST NOT be done since such chemicals will also eventually find their way out.
If You can't empty the dirt bin and dispose of the dirt from the trash can, consider vacuuming some Diatomaceous earth, or at least some baking soda - baking soda is nowhere efficient as Diatomaceous earth.
Can You vacuum fire ants?
Of course, You can vacuum fire ants, it is much better than picking them one by one by hand, right? :)
When vacuuming fire ants and similar insects in general, be very careful when disposing of such dangerous bugs - a wet-dry shop vacuum with a water air filter is highly recommended.
Can You vacuum ants without cleaning or replacing the dirt bin, the vacuum bag, air filters, and similar?
Actually, yes, You can vacuum ants and other bugs without the need to actually clean or replace the dirt bin, vacuum bags, and air filters.
Solution? Simple - take an old sock without holes or, even better, pantyhose and place it at the beginning of the cleaning wand or cleaning hose.
As You vacuum, ants will get trapped in the sock and, after vacuuming, easily disposed of in the garbage.
Note that many ants will still be alive after vacuuming, so be sure not to let them escape.
Few Final Words
Ants can be vacuumed from various surfaces, including carpets, using suitable cleaning tools, including crevice tools and similar.
While water air filters are best for vacuuming ants and similar insects, all other vacuums with good air filtration can be used.
When disposing of the ants, be sure to empty the dirt bins completely and clean them right away. Also, dump the trash outside immediately.
If not possible, vacuuming some Diatomaceous earth can kill the ants in the dirt bin/vacuum bag without danger to people or pets.
Vacuuming some baking soda maybe can kill ants in the dirt bin/vacuum bug, but the results of tests are inconclusive.
Vacuuming chemicals like insecticides/insect killers, WD-40, or anything similar must not be done - it is dangerous, can harm people and/or pets, can damage the vacuum cleaners, etc.
In the case of heavy ants infestation, contact professionals to help You get rid of them.
And whatever You do, stay safe...