Why Are Ants Attracted To My Clean Clothes? [Proven Steps to Remove Them]

girl holding clothes with ants on it

Are you wondering why are ants attracted to my clean clothes? Or are ants attracted to washed clothes? There are many reasons for ants to get attracted to clean clothes. This situation may pose a risk to you and your loved ones. Some of the reasons ants are attracted to your clean clothes are the residue of salty sweat, food, or moisture.

It’s believed that the ants have 400 different odor receptors and can leave a trail of pheromones as a track for other ants to follow the path. If your clean clothes attract even one ant, many will become attracted to your clothes.

Has ants from your clothes also spread in your closet? You must read: How To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Closet

4 Reasons Ants Are Attracted To Clean Clothes

  1. If you poorly wash and rinse clothes. Half-done washing retains the smell/odor from your sweat or food/drinks spilled on your clothes, sending an invitation to the team of ants. Ants are attracted to sugar and salt. Sweat and food/drinks have it in ample quantity.
  2. When you store washed clothes in the wardrobe without waiting for them to be completely dried up, the moisture in the clothes may attract ants.
  3. The wardrobe/cupboard/closet is not aerated and accumulates moisture. During hot weather, ants will search for dampness and may find your moisturized clothing storage an ideal place to inhabit.
  4. Check heavy cotton clothes at least once every four weeks. These types of fabric trap air and build moisture, attracting ants.

Ants and cockroaches can coexist in the same environment. If you’re also looking to get rid of cockroaches, then you must read: How To Prevent Cockroaches In Clothes And Wardrobes

What Will You Need

  • Detergent
  • Peppermint or lavender
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Pesticides

How to Get Rid of Ants From Clean Clothes?

1. Check For Stains

  • You should first check for stains caused by food or drinks and wash with appropriate detergents.
  • Also, check for stains caused by sweat and wash the clothes thoroughly to remove the salty odor.

Related: Does laundry detergent expire?

food stain on white cloth

2. Use Ant Repellants

  • Keep ant repellants such as peppermint and lavender in your cupboard/wardrobe/closet to prevent ants from infesting your clean clothes.
  • Use a lavender-scented detergent to avert ant infestation, as the washed clothes will emanate a lavender aroma for some days.
lavender spray

3. Soak Clothes in Soapy Water

  • Soak your clothes in soap water and then rinse them properly to keep the sweet odor away after washing them.
white shirt soaked in soapy water

4. Wipe With White Vinegar

  • You can wipe your cupboard/wardrobe/closet with a wet towel soaked with white vinegar to kill ants and avert their infestation.
women cleaning closet with white vinegar

5. Block The Source

  • You should find out the source of the ants from where they are coming and block their entry to rid the problem permanently.
ants coming out of cracked closet

How To Get Rid Of Ants From Laundry?

Now you know the reason why ants would come to your laundry. Any damp clothing or clothes with food or sweat residue will eventually send an invite to the ants, and in a short time, you will see the army of ants attacking your laundry. Therefore, you should keep your laundry clean and dry to prevent ants from coming there.

However, if the laundry is infested with ants, here are a few simple measures to rid the ants.

1. Washing Dirty Clothes

The foremost thing you will do is wash away the dirty clothes in your laundry. Unwashed clothes help the ants to survive in the washing machine, so it’s inevitable to empty your laundry and keep it dry.

women washing clothes in washing machine

2. Spray Boiling Water With Detergent on Anthills

In case of anthills near your laundry, flood it with boiling water with detergent to destroy the anthills and get rid of the ants. You can also procure ant killer powder from laundry detergent companies that attract ants and poison them.

spraying detergent hot water on anthill

3. Baking Soda And Powdered Sugar

Place a mixture of baking soda and sugar along the trail of the ants. 50% of your work is done at this step, as the ants will get attracted to the sugar from the mixture, while the baking soda will be hazardous to them and terminate them. You can also use boric acid or borax in place of baking soda.

mix baking soda and sugar to kill ants

4. Vinegar

Clean the floor around the laundry with an equal quantity of vinegar and water. Ants dislike the smell of vinegar and will avoid coming there.

In addition, vinegar removes the pheromones oozed out by the ants, which wipes away the track marked by the ants.

Related: Will Vinegar Bleach Black Clothes

bottle of vinegar

5. Pest Control

Use insecticides/pesticides in case carpenter ants invade your laundry. We recommend you call a professional to do pest control of your house.

You can also use Cinnamon, Lavender Oil, Cloves, Baby Powder, Mint, Chalk, Coffee Grounds, Citronella, Lemon Juice, etc., to keep the ants out.

Related: Do ants like coffee grounds?

pest control in house

Can Laundry Detergent Attract Ants?

If the detergent has a sweet smell, it will attract ants. The sweet smell indicates the presence of sugar in the detergent, and the ant takes the detergent as a food source. Though they are poisonous to the ants, they will come closer, requiring you to take action to get rid of them. Ensure there’s no detergent left unwashed and the clothes are rinsed well with clean water.

Scented soaps, shampoos, and lotions also attract ants. To avoid ants, ensure you have the bottles sealed and don’t leave a residue behind.

Do Dead Ants Attract More Ants?

Since the dead ants release pheromones, the other ants are alerted and attracted to them and gather in large numbers.

  • Why are ants in my clean clothes?

    If you don’t wash your clothes properly, they may still have the odor of sweet and salt due to the stains formed by the spilling of food/drinks or your sweat. The sweet and salty smell is the reason why ants are attracted to your clothes.

  • Will washing clothes get rid of ants?

    Washing clothes will rid the ants only if you wash away all the soap or detergent, ensuring no residue remains with the clothes.

  • Can ants be attracted to laundry detergent?

    Yes, if the laundry detergent has a sweet fragrance, the ants may be attracted to the sweetness considering it a source of sugar.

  • What kind of ants eats clothes?

    Carpenter ants and Pharaoh’s ants will eat clothes. Worker ants, if hungry, will chew on cotton.

Wondering what other insects can eat holes in your clothes? If yes, then you must read: Bugs That Eat Clothes


Ants are a menace when they infest your house or clothes. Therefore, keeping your home clean and tidy should be a priority.

Ants may get attracted to your clothes and laundry. The stains caused by your sweat and food/drinks have sugar and salt content, which is the main reason for attracting the ants. 

Ants are also attracted to damp clothes and may infest your closet/cupboard/wardrobe if you stock your clothes before drying them.

Dead ants may also attract more ants and other contaminants, resulting in a foul odor. You need to clean every infested part with vinegar mixed with water. It will completely wipe out the track generated by the ants.

Related: Do ants like cinnamon?