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How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Sandbox

Summer is here once again, and with its arrival comes more than just the beautiful weather – it’s time for the frustrating work of trying to get rid of ants. Ants in our homes, in our yards, and because ants love to play in the sandbox, for many of our children, ants in their pants!

Child playing in sandbox

As children, we master the art of making mud pies and ruining all of the little toys we fill up with mud. It never seems to fail, though, that our good time in the sandbox is short-lived when ants start crawling up our legs.

Kids might only think it’s just a funny tickle, but if you’re a parent, there are good reasons to worry about ants. This article has everything you need to know about the dangers of ants, how to get rid of them, and how to keep them out of the sandbox for good.

Why It’s Important to Get Rid of Them

Once ants have found their way into your child’s sandbox, it can certainly seem like they’ve made it their home. But, is it such a big deal that they have moved in? We certainly think so.

Depending on the type of ant, it can be a tall order to get rid of them, and that’s why we suggest taking immediate action at the first sign of an ant infestation. 

One of the most serious issues to be concerned with is an allergy to ant bites.

Parents who live in the southern part of the United States should be especially concerned about fire ants in the sand. The risk from these red ants is the venom secreted when they bite. Although the average human will only get a swollen bump for a few days, this bite can be deadly to a child who is either allergic or has gotten multiple bites.

Children looking at ants through magnifying glass

If you are a parent who lives in the western part of the United States, particularly California, keep an eye out for Argentine ants. These insects are sneaky and will bite for the fun of it. So, if you have a curious little one who gets into everything, especially a cool ant hill that looks irresistible to step on, watch out for these golden brown ants.

Carpenter, House, and Pavement Ants can be found anywhere you can find pavement and older wood, such as a house or indoor structure.

Pavement Ants are the ones whose mounds you see all over sidewalks and driveways. Keeping your curious kids away from the mounds can be hard, but these pests will sting when provoked.

House Ants can be found anywhere in your house or indoor structure. They will not sting you or your kids, but they do pose the possible threat of contaminating food from their waste.

Carpenter Ants can be found in wood — in tree trunks, piles of firewood, or in the wood of a sandbox. They are very territorial and will sting if they are disturbed.

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Why Do Ants Like Sand?

Ants walking across a blade of grass

Ants live to make the perfect mounds for their colony. A mound or “ant hill” is like their version of our homes — safe and out of the elements. They find the best material possible for their structure and never stop working. These pests see sandboxes as a one-stop shop for all their needs. They don’t have to go anywhere to build when they can just live in your child’s play area.

Sandboxes also attract other insects like wasps, termites, crickets, beetles, spiders, and other creepy crawlers, so they not only provide the perfect shelter for sand ants but a stocked kitchen full of food sources! Ants love to feast on pretty much anything that they can get their six legs on. And if they want a sweet treat, no problem. Your kids probably left that behind — in the form of spilled juice boxes and snack crumbs. It’s not easy to get rid of ants if you have an environment that’s pretty much perfect for them, as they’ll want to keep their new paradise.

How to Get Rid of Ants in a Sandbox

One or two ants in your sandbox aren’t a big deal, but it could be an indication that you need to look more closely to ensure there isn’t already an infestation below the surface. Unfortunately, if you discover there’s an infestation in the sand, your only option is to replace the sand.

  • Remove and dispose of the old sand.
  • Wash the box with dish soap and water and wait for it to dry.
  • Line the bottom of your sandbox with landscaping fabric. This fabric is a thin, breathable, black fabric used predominantly for gardening and can be found in any hardware or gardening store. It allows water to flow through while also preventing ants and other bugs from getting in through the bottom.
  • Refill your kid’s sandbox with kid-safe play sand.

How To Keep Ants Out of a Sandbox


To prevent future infestations in a sandbox, follow these steps:

  • Mix ground cinnamon powder (which ants hate) into the sand.
  • Spray the sand and the outside of the box with a mix of water and white vinegar. Simply add one part water and one part vinegar to a spray bottle.
  • Rake and turn the sand regularly to check for bugs and debris and to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Keep your sandbox covered with a lid or tarp when the box isn’t in use.
  • Remove ant hills that form near the sandbox.
  • Don’t allow food or drinks in the sand.

If there are ants in your children’s sandbox, but they haven’t found their way into your home, it’s only a matter of time until they do. Sand ants are very tiny and have no problem attaching themselves to clothing or hitching a ride in your child’s pocket.

If you discover them inside your home or other structure, Stay Away® Ants has got you covered!  While the natural botanical fragrance of this ant and cockroach deterrent is pleasing to humans, ants find the scent very unpalatable. They know if they bring food back to their colony that has been exposed to the smell, they’ll be rejected, and they certainly don’t want to lead their colony back towards the scent. All they want is to keep their family safe (who could blame them!?) and will be left with no other choice but to find their way back outside for food and safety. Stay Away is great for ant control in and around your home!

EarthKind® pest control products are made from botanical ingredients. Unlike the ants, when used properly they won’t harm your little ones if they somehow manage to get their hands on them.