We have dealt with multiple any infestations over the years. And we are talking hundreds and hundreds of ants.
We have tried several chemicals in the past and some of them made it worse.
So how do you exterminate ants ideally without toxic chemicals that could harm your kids or pets if they get into them?
TL;DR: Vacuum and then apply Diatomaceous Earth
As soon as you spot the ants, take note of how they are getting in. This is important to check for before dealing with the ants as they scatter all over and make this difficult otherwise. Now go get a vacuum with a hose such as a shop vac and some Diatomaceous Earth.
Now starting with the farthest point from where they are coming in, start vacuuming up the ants. This way the ones closest to the opening do not scatter yet throughout your house.
Once you have sucked up all the ants you can, grab a small handful of Diatomaceous Earth and scatter it at their entrance so they cannot get in the house without walking through it. You can even throw it against a wall if they are getting in from a vertical surface and it will stick somewhat.
Diatomaceous Earth looks like flour to us, but it works like magic against ants. When they crawl over it, it gets between their exoskeleton plates and stabs them microscopically to death.
If you can find where the ants are getting into your house, scatter diatomaceous earth along their path in outside also. Come back in an hour or so and verify the ants are gone. Scatter more earth if necessary.
We have had ants nests in plant pots that we brought inside before, so if you suddenly see ants after bringing in a plant, that is a possibility.
If getting rid of ants in your garden, scatter the earth around your plants.
You can smash or vacuum up any additional ants that you find remaining. Now empty your vacuum outside. If you really want to, you can dump some Diatomaceous Earth on top of them all within the vacuum. Or you can dump then into a bucket of water and spray some on top. Simply relocating can do too if you prefer.
Other methods: we have also had success using a chemical called home defense which is supposed to be non toxic after it dries. The Taro poison strips did not work well with the amount of ants we had. In fact, it seemed to invite more in and their dead just piled up for weeks. Bleach got them to stay away for a while when diluting it in water and spraying. Home defense and diatomaceous earth had the best results. Home defense leaves a sticky coating on the floor which easily comes off with water while diatomaceous earth can be vacuumed up a day or so after the ants quit coming.