How do you rid a toaster of ants?
November 21, 2019 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Tiny ants invaded my toaster, and there doesn't seem to be a way to adequately clean it. I think I can address the ants in the cupboard, but how do we prevent this in the future?

We live in an old apartment building and there are ants in the walls. In the several months we've lived here, I've killed a few scouts and promptly sanitized the area they were in. But ants found the toaster in a lower cabinet a couple days ago and now the toaster is sitting outside. Yesterday I tried to knock all the crumbs out of it, clean the crumb tray, and the exterior... but today it's crawling with ants again so that didn't work. I can remove a bottom plastic piece, but they're in the interior too. I've turned it on a few times and driven some out, but not all leave the bottom where it's not hot. I have thoroughly cleaned the cupboard twice also and I'll get some bait traps.

I don't ultimately care about this $10 appliance, but I don't know how to own a toaster and keep this from happening again in a crappy old building. Are there more cleanable toasters? Can I somehow fully remove them from this one and ensure it stays clean? If I bait the cupboard with Terro, do I just hope this situation won't recur?
posted by rawralphadawg to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might be worth it to keep the (new) toaster in a sealed plastic bin or other container that ants can't crawl into. It may simply be too difficult to thoroughly clean it between each usage so blocking access may be the best option here.

Have you consulted with an exterminator to see what your potential solutions could be for the general issue? Obviously, being in an apt building means that your options are limited to how much impact you can really have in terms of a building-wide infestation but maybe they can offer some good suggestions.
posted by acidnova at 11:03 AM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

They seem to like electrical things and they will seek water. They dislike cinammon, so I clean them out of my mailbox (rural, on a post) every summer, and douse it with cinammon. Cheap, non-toxic, mildly effective. I have also used ground cayenne pepper.

Boric acid works well. Find an ant path, set out a jar lid with water, sugar, boric acid; they'll take it back to the nest. My house is older, so when I got new cabinets, sprinkled boric acid behind them. It is somewhat toxic to children and pets, so use common sense. When I had a big infestation in a yard, Terro comes in many treatments.
posted by theora55 at 11:07 AM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

To keep the ants out of the toaster, consider storing the cooled-down toaster in your refrigerator.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:26 AM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a seasonal ant problem that I couldn't manage with cleaning and sealing up food this year, and bait traps cleared it right up.

After putting out bait traps to lure most of them out of the toaster, I'd put the toaster in the freezer overnight to make sure any ants are dead, then shake them out. Then a hairdryer/vacuum maybe, if you want to be thorough?
posted by momus_window at 12:01 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I swear by Terro Liquid Ant Bait. Put one near the toaster and in a few days it will be clear. You may also get rid of all the other ants too.
posted by Splunge at 1:19 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

> Splunge:
"I swear by Terro Liquid Ant Bait. Put one near the toaster and in a few days it will be clear. You may also get rid of all the other ants too."

If you aren't able to go get some terro now but have some laundry Borax on hand, Terro is basically just borax in a thick syrup. I've used some pancake syrup to mix up my own, and had good results. I want to say 1 tsp borax to 1 tablespoon of syrup.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Buy some diatomaceous earth, or boric acid will also work. Get 4 bottle caps bigger than the feet on your toaster and fill them with either product. Place one under each foot of the toaster. Ants won't be able to cross the borax barrier and your problem will be over in a few days. Diatomaceous earth will work on all insects, not just ants.
posted by amelliferae at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Smooth glass marbles epoxied to a ceramic tile makes an ant proof platform .
posted by hortense at 4:17 PM on November 21, 2019

Thanks you! I've read about those exact Terro traps and that's what I had planned to get. I used to keep Borax around and don't have any on hand at the moment.

I had inititally put the toaster in the freezer after its first cleaning, but my husband put it back and it became reinfected. Keeping it either cold or sealed permanently hadn't crossed our minds yet, so thanks! I don't think we have an out of control infestation (before this, I hadn't seen a scout in a few months), but they definitely picked up on a weakness in our cleanliness that we need to solve.
posted by rawralphadawg at 5:10 AM on November 22, 2019

it was roaches that invaded my toaster. Disgusting! My new toaster lives when not being used, in my fridge, just like ShooBoo said.
posted by james33 at 6:36 AM on November 22, 2019

This isn't an answer per se but I always refer to this calming assertion whenever I find myself fretting about ant infestations.
posted by onehundredand80 at 9:25 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

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