Do Ants Like Coffee Grounds? Understand the Science

do ants like coffee grounds

Have you ever accidentally spilled food particles around the house or on your clothes and forgot to clean them? And you see ants crawling around in your home after a few weeks?

Ants aren’t harmful, but you sure want to eliminate them immediately. The fastest natural way of getting rid of ants is by using coffee grounds.

Related: Why are ants attracted to clean clothes?

Do Ants Like Coffee Grounds?

Coffee grounds contain caffeine, 2% nitrogen, and diterpenes that can interfere with the ant’s sensory system, making navigating and locating food sources difficult. The effectiveness of coffee grounds can vary and, in most cases, isn’t a permanent solution.

Coffee ground isn’t potent enough to kill ants and, in some cases, ineffective. Some ant species may even show interest in coffee grounds.

How to Repel Ants with Coffee Grounds?

Step 1: Find Entry Points

Identify the entry point of ants in your house. Usually, ants enter from cracked spaces, holes in walls, gaps in doors and windows, or areas near food sources.

find ants entry point

Step 2: Clean the Affected Area

Ants leave scent trails behind, which helps them to communicate and travel. Clean such areas with a vacuum cleaner first and then with soapy water. This will disturb their communication and help to increase the effectiveness of using coffee grounds.

clean the affected area

Step 3: Sprinkle Coffee Grounds

Sprinkle coffee grounds at the entry points to make a barrier. Make a layer of coffee grounds along windowsills, door thresholds, or other areas where ants are likely to cross.

sprinkle coffee

Step 4: Keep Reapplying

You may notice that the ants have found an alternative route or pushed the grounds away. To tackle this situation, keep sprinkling coffee grounds from time to time. We recommend you sprinkle coffee grounds after every 12 to 16 hours.

reapply coffee

Step 5: Dispose of Coffee Grounds

After controlling the ant infestation problem, properly dispose of the used coffee grounds. Consider composting or using them as a natural fertilizer in your garden.

Note: If the coffee grounds method isn’t ineffective, we recommend you consult a professional pest control service. 

Related: Do ants like Cinnamon?

dispose coffee grounds

Scientific Study on Using Coffee Grounds as an Ant Repellant

Ants use chemical signals like pheromones to communicate and navigate their surroundings. Some people believe that coffee grounds, due to their strong aroma and potentially repellent compounds, can disrupt these chemical trails and deter ants. However, the effectiveness of coffee grounds as an ant repellent is still largely anecdotal.

It’s important to note that the efficacy of any ant repellent, including coffee grounds, can vary depending on the ant species, environmental factors, and individual preferences of the ants. What may work as a repellent for one ant species might not have the same effect on another.

Chemical Composition of Coffee Grounds and Effect on Ants

Coffee grounds contain various chemical compounds that could potentially contribute to their repellent properties against ants.

  1. Caffeine: Some studies suggest caffeine may have repellent effects on certain insects, including ants. It is believed that ants may be sensitive to caffeine and find its presence aversive.
  2. Other compounds: Coffee grounds contain various other chemical compounds, including fatty acids, diterpenes, and nitrogenous compounds. These compounds may contribute to coffee grounds’ overall odor and composition, potentially influencing their repellent properties. However, their specific effects on ants have not been extensively studied.
Chemical CompoundFunction/Effect on Ants
CaffeineActs as a central nervous system stimulant; potential repellent.
Phenolic CompoundsMay interfere with ants’ sensory perception or trails.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)Emit characteristic odors that may deter ants.
Fatty AcidsContributing component to the overall composition of coffee grounds.
DiterpenesPresent in coffee grounds, potential contribution to repellent effects.
Nitrogenous CompoundsFound in coffee grounds, the role of repellent properties is yet to be determined.

The studies done so far are still limited; further research is necessary to establish a clear connection if coffee grounds can be used to repel ants.


Coffee grounds can be used as a natural ant-repellant, but the results can not be predicted. If you don’t get a satisfactory result, we suggest you contact a professional pest control service.

Related: Get Rid of Ants in Closet.