If it’s never happened to you, it might seem like quite a bizarre problem, but having ants in your laptop is a thing – and once they get in there, they seem to be quite content to stay there, making it devilishly difficult to persuade them to vacate their comfortable new home.
However, most people will understandably not be so happy about allowing these industrious little insects to co-habit their working or gaming space – so for anyone facing a similar problem, in this post, we have all the details about how to get rid of ants in a laptop.
How to Get Rid of Ants in a Laptop
When it comes to removing ants from a laptop, there are quite a few techniques that you can try, from the simple to the frankly zany. However, most of them seem like reasonable ideas, so here’s a list of the techniques you might like to try.
1. Give it a shake
The first way to discourage ants from making a home in your laptop is simply to give it a shake. This is probably the best thing to try first if you see a solitary ant crawling beneath one of your keys or into a ventilation outlet.
Shaking the laptop will make the ant realize this is not such a great place to hang out after all – and hopefully, the little creature will then move out of its own accord.
2. Open the laptop and clean it
A more involved and labor-intensive way to rid yourself of ants from your laptop is to give it a proper clean.
This will involve opening the laptop and cleaning it inside. This will also allow you to see the extent of your infestation, permitting you to remove all the ants you find in there, one by one if necessary.
The only problem with this is that not every laptop user feels comfortable playing laptop mechanic and opening the hood, in which case you can either take it to a professional to have it cleaned by someone who knows what they’re doing, or you can try another method.
3. Use a vacuum cleaner
Another way to get ants out of your laptop is to set about it with a vacuum cleaner.
To do this, take your vac and hold it near any gaps where ants can get in and out like the keys or the vents and then turn it on.
If you want to try this, you should preferably use a small, handheld vacuum cleaner or at least one with a suitable nozzle attachment, and you also shouldn’t use anything too powerful.
Don’t press the vacuum too close to the laptop either – because if the vacuum is too powerful or you hold it too close, it might end up ripping off your keys and sucking them up too.
4. Wipe with disinfectant
Alternatively, you could try wiping your laptop with a cloth soaked in disinfectant.
The idea is that the smell of the disinfectant will be highly unappealing to the ants, causing them to evacuate your laptop en masse.
Obviously, the cloth you use shouldn’t be dripping wet when you wipe your laptop with it – otherwise, the water and disinfectant will splash into your laptop, causing it to stop functioning.
This means you should wring your cloth out thoroughly before wiping so that it leaves only a small trace of moisture on the surface.
Wipe all over your keyboard as well as over the rest of the device, paying special attention to any gaps where ants might have access.
Then all you need to do is place it on a surface somewhere and leave it for thirty minutes or so to allow the ants to make their way to the exits.
5. Seal in an airtight bag
Some people have suggested sealing a laptop in a plastic bag to suffocate the ants might work, and in theory, this could do the trick.
However, the problem with this is that ants can hold their breath for around 24 hours – and even after this, since they only need a very small amount of air to breathe, there will still be plenty of O2 in the plastic bag, so it will take them a very long time to die.
This technique might conceivably work by starving them to death because they won’t be able to come out of your device and go off in search of food – but this will depend on the size of the store of cookie crumbs and other morsels they’ve found beneath your keyboard.
Sealing your computer in a plastic bag might be worth a go if you won’t need to use it for at least a week or so – but for most people, that’s never going to be practical, in which case, there are probably faster ways to resolve this problem.
6. Place in the sun
Ants don’t like it when it gets too hot, so placing your laptop in direct sunlight can persuade them to move on.
This is an effective technique that doesn’t require any special skills or IT knowledge – but if the sun is too hot, you risk melting your laptop, so don’t try it in the middle of summer if you live somewhere with a particularly warm climate.
7. Play a game
Similar to the idea of placing your laptop outside in the sun but far less risky is simply to play a game or otherwise launch a program that requires lots of CPU resources.
This will cause your laptop to heat up, and since the ants won’t appreciate the newly sauna-like conditions of their residence, they will soon pack up their bags and move out.
And you’ll also have a good excuse to spend a few hours working on your high scores, just to make sure they’re all gone.
8. Laptop island
Surely the craziest idea on the internet for clearing ants from a laptop, but one that deserves a place on our list for its ingenuity – or perhaps just pure insanity – is the “laptop island” technique.
It goes like this.
The idea is that ants don’t like to feel insecure, and placing them on an island in the middle of a pond makes them feel decidedly anxious.
As a result, if you place your laptop on a stand balanced over a bowl of water and with only one way off in the form of a bridge made of a fork or a spoon, the ants will make a beeline for the exit.
We’re not sure if there might be a bit too much anthropomorphism going on here since ants aren’t capable of the feelings we’ve just attributed to them, but people say it works, so why not?
In any case, if you can’t quite picture how this works, you can check out this video – and then you can decide for yourself if balancing your laptop on a couple of upturned glasses over a bucket of water seems like an idea that’s worth trying.
9. Bait them
A far more reasonable approach to coaxing ants out of your laptop is to bait them – with poison.
To do this, mix up some borax with some water and some sugar and place it in a bowl.
Next, place your laptop in a plastic bag with only one exit and put the borax and sugar mixture near that exit.
The ants will find the sugary scent irresistible and will make their way out of your laptop to head off in search of the treat.
However, once they consume the mixture, it will poison them, and they will all quickly die.
Some of them may make it back inside your laptop before they perish, in which case you’ll then have dead ants inside it instead of living ones – but at least they will probably be a bit easier to remove by vacuuming or something similar.
Why are ants attracted to laptops?
So now we know how to get ants out of a laptop, but why do they go in there in the first place?
Well, if you have the same habits as just about any other human on planet Earth, the answer should be obvious. It’s because we all like to eat while we’re using our laptops, and that means cookie crumbs, chips and all kinds of other tasty bits and pieces end up inside them.
Ants are then drawn to this rich food source, and once they’re inside, depending on what they find, they may decide to stay put.
It’s unlikely that a queen ant will set up a nest in your laptop – and you’d know if she did because you would have hundreds of the bugs crawling in and out of your computer the whole time.
However, if ants are attracted to the food remnants in there, they might start making regular trips into your laptop to harvest it.
The lesson is clear. Don’t eat while you use your laptop.
To prevent the ants from entering your laptop, open it up and clean all the food out – and then make sure you avoid dropping more crumbs back in there in the future.
Is it bad to have ants in your laptop?
But is it a problem if you have ants in your laptop? After all, they’re so tiny, and they’re not really hurting anyone, right? And in fact, they’re providing a valuable service by cleaning out the crumbs from inside your computer.
Ants may be small, but you still don’t want them walking all over the delicate, fragile components inside your laptop.
In fact, if they happen to step on the wrong part, they can cause your laptop to short-circuit or even catch fire, so it’s best to get them out of there ASAP.
Plenty of techniques to attempt
In this post, we’ve given you quite a few techniques that you might like to experiment with for removing ants from your laptop. However, we’ll leave it up to you to decide which ones sound the most useful or effective.
In any case, once you have ants in your laptop, you’ll need to get them out again – and if you manage to evict them, they won’t come back again if you stop refilling your laptop with crumbs.