The front lawn of the house we rent is infested with ants. Can I use laundry detergent (liquid) to kill them without damaging the grass? I know dishwashing liquid will kill the grass, but will laundry detergent, too? I currently use to kill them with the smell from the shared septic tank which overflows when it's raining but the rain dilutes it until it doesn't kill anything.

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    Mia, why would you want to kill ants in your lawn? The don't hurt anything and go nicely with a lawn's ecology? And I have to tell you, 'the tide comes in and the tide goes out and then the tide comes back in again and again'. I am being so philosophical this morning, grins. Ants will come back no matter what you do.
    – stormy
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:30
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    I just read Bamboo's link but I disagree that they hurt the roots of your grass. They are definitely aerating your soil and topdressing at the same time. Take a broom and just sweep the mounds into the grass. I assumed as did Bamboo that you have warm season grasses as in the article. Where do you live? Do these ants sting? To control ants there are always more ants in the neighborhood that will take their place. I have ants galore in our soils, even ones that bite and sting but they are part of our property as well as the neighbors. And we all get along fine...let us know more, ok?
    – stormy
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:37
  • They bite. I paint and I garden, I even like to relax in the garden just reading a book or eating lunch. None of this is possible unless I want to end up covered in ant bites. Not just me, my husband and daughter are allergic to the wretched things and we had several doctors visits last summer as a result. We are sitting on one huge ant hill, out the front, out the back and out the side. They don't come inside but they sure as heck make the outdoors unusable. Mar 27, 2017 at 11:14
  • fireant.tamu.edu Well, that sure changes the paradigm for me. Major ugh. Like all of these other sites talking about ants, try killing them, even the queen and they will be right back. I was contemplating a idea, kinda weird, but the idea of putting a blanket down or having a picnic on our land is a no go. I've seen these trampolines made into a hanging soft patio with pillows, fixed tables and an easy to let down rain cover for downpours. Beautiful colored fabrics that move in a breeze, steps made from a few boulders...just an idea. I'm watching this question closely.
    – stormy
    Mar 27, 2017 at 15:26
  • Need some tall trees or lessons on levitation, grins! 'Collars' on the attachments so the ants don't find your floating patio. But for an artist? Sure make a nice place to concentrate.
    – stormy
    Mar 27, 2017 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


Yes, it will kill grass if you use it neat. You can try a 3% solution of dish soap mixed with water and sprayed on the area, that might kill the ants but shouldn't harm the grass. There are other suggestions in this link https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/how-to-control-ants-in-lawns.htm


Mix Dawn and water, 1 teaspoon per quart. Amazing insecticide, and a great spritz on dishes before a wash. Won't kill plants but they might notice.

My all-purpose plant soap is 1 gallon water, 4 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons Dawn, as per the Cornell Formula. It won't hurt your plants and doubles as a fungicide, but it might lack the oomph you need.

As others have said, ants aren't necessarily a bad thing. Fire and carpenter - I can see banishing these from your yard. Worse comes to worse, find the nest and pour Dawn directly in, then hose it to make it runny enough to flow in. (Had to do this once with a nest of aggressive fire ants).

But regular old garden/field ants - they're welcome around the house.

In my area, the only ant nests that are noticeable are fire ants. Identify your cohabitants - that's step one. If they're carpenter ants (unlikely) - hey don't worry, you're renting! If they're fire - Dawn them and flood them. The damage to grass is insignificant - and who knows what your landlord will use to get rid of them? Better a biodegradable solution than Ortho Home Defense or a visit from an exterminator.


My sister-in-law used to "sweep" her front lawn with a straw broom and a bucket of water with a capful of original green Palmolive dish soap...she had no problems with insects and she also had the best looking - and greenest - lawn in the neighborhood!

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