When you’ve got ants in your home, it can feel like they’re practically impossible to get rid of. Nothing seems to work, but you may not have tried everything yet. There are tons of products out there on the market, with so many to choose from that you may feel overwhelmed.
Instead of trying all of those, you may be wondering if you are able to use borax as an ant killer. Before you try though, it’s important to learn more about borax and the nature of these pesky ants first.
Table of Contents
- How Does Borax Kill Ants?
- Step by Step Instruction: How to Use Borax Powder to Get Rid of Ants:
- What is Borax and What Is It Usually Used For?
- 5 Common Types of Harmful Ants in Your House
- 6 Other Natural Ant Solutions
- Why Are Ants So Hard to Kill?
How Does Borax Kill Ants?
Borax kills ants by interfering with their digestive system. It won’t kill them immediately, but it works gradually to work overtime.
The speed at which the borax works is long enough for the ant to get back to its colony and share the poisoned bait with its fellow ants, effectively killing most, if not all, of them.
You may be doubtful about how toxic borax can be to ants because it’s a pretty common ingredient in household items like soap or toothpaste. However, while it has low toxicity for humans and larger animals, it has largely disruptive effects on ants.
Plus, it’s still toxic for humans or small animals, but only if critical amounts are ingested. It’s still pretty irritating when it gets in contact with your eyes, so it’s not totally harmless to humans or pets. As a matter of fact, some ant baits use borax as their active ingredient.
Step by Step Instruction: How to Use Borax Powder to Get Rid of Ants:
Borax alone will not be enough to entice an ant to consume it, much less think of it as food. In other words, you’ll need to mix it in with something more enticing. For this reason, use other foodstuff like powdered sugar or sweet syrup to bait the ants with.
Borax Ant Killer Recipe: Borax (and Sugar) for Ants Inside the House
We tested a couple of different recipes. It turned out that this homemade ant borax proves to be the most effective one-
- Gather borax, white sugar, any kind of syrup and water.
- The recipe will need a 1:3 ratio of borax and sugar – mix these two ingredients first.
- Mix water in roughly the same amount as the borax. Mix just enough to your borax-sugar mixture to make it thick. You’ll need a pasty consistency, not runny.
- You’ll need to get the borax powder to dissolve in the water, so stir it in slowly to your borax-sugar mixture. It can help to use warm water for better dissolution.
- Then, add syrup into your mixture. It can be any measurement, depending on what you want.
- Mix until the entire thing is of one color.
- Put the mixture into small containers that you are able to cover. You are able to reuse old plastic containers for homemade house traps.
- Drill small holes into these containers just enough to act as both an entrance and exit for your ants.
- Afterwards, put the mixture in the containers.
- Cover the traps then set them up somewhere you know ants already are in your home.
Borax Ant Trap: Borax For Ants Outside the House
- Put a roofing nail through the center of a bottle cap; this will act as the ground anchor of your outdoor ant bait.
- Cut the bottom portion of a used plastic water bottle and use it as a bowl for your mixture.
- Add a 5% jelly solution to your powdered borax and stir together well.
- Spoon the borax-jelly mixture into the bottle caps that you made or you are also able to mount them on the ground outside first before putting the mixture in them.
6 Tips for Homemade Borax Ant Solution
- The indoor solution can also work for outdoor ants as long as you put the traps where the elements can’t get to them. For instance, don’t drill holes on the cover, as rainwater can mess with your mixture.
- You need to make use of heavier traps so that they don’t get blown away by the wind.
- Likewise, the jelly-borax powder mixture can also work for indoor ants. Just use the indoor traps to secure them.
- Adjust your borax in the outdoor formulation accordingly. There’s too much if most of the dead ants are around the trap. That means they didn’t get to bring the spoils back to the colony, so try a mixture with less borax next time.
- Similarly, there might be too little borax in your mixture if it’s been a while and the traps don’t seem to have worked.
- Place the traps away from the access of humans (especially children) and pets. This is because your child might accidentally rub it in their eyes, which children are prone to do.
What is Borax and What Is It Usually Used For?
If you’ve taken a couple chemistry classes, you may know what borax is already. Known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, borax is a boron compound.
To put it simply, borax is a natural mineral and can refer to a group of related compounds, depending on the water content. Usually, powdered borax will be white and will look like soft colorless crystals that will dissolve in water.
When you buy it commercially, it will be partially dehydrated.
If you read the ingredients in many of your cleaning products, like detergents, you’ll see borax listed there. You might also find borax in cosmetics and enamel glazes, in buffer solutions in biochemistry as a fire retardant as well as an antifungal compound.
Many people have begun using borax to keep ants, water bugs and cockroaches away. Spraying borax and sugar (for ants) in equal parts can deter bugs, while sprinkling sodium borate on floors can get rid of rats.
You are also able to apply it to the carpet to get rid of fleas and leave it there for an hour before vacuuming to keep it away.
Borax can be used as a dishwasher detergent if you mix one tablespoon of it with equal parts baking soda. People have also used it to clean outdoor furniture, toilets, porcelain and stains from stainless steel.
It works great as an all-purpose cleaner in laundry and on the walls and floors too.
For Pets and Trash
If you’re seeking to get rid of the smell of kitty litter, you are able to add a few tablespoons of borax to the litter box. The same can be done for your trash, fridge, or to remove urine stains and smells on mattresses or carpets.
5 Common Types of Harmful Ants in Your House
Ants can be annoying, but there are more reasons than that to get them out of your home. If you don’t clean them out, you can be in for even more serious problems in the future, depending on the type of ant.
If you have carpenter ants in your home, these can be very destructive. They love damp and dark places and will begin chewing drywall and wood. Since you don’t see these ants for a while after they invade, they can cause significant damage before you even know they exist.
Carpenter ants invade your home, so this is one species that you’ll want to get rid of as quickly as possible. If you do successfully kill off your infestation using bait or a natural method, you’ll want to have someone inspect your home.
An inspection is required to ensure that the home’s structure is safe. When carpenter ants are allowed to roam in the home for too long, they can cause significant structural damage. Repairs may need to be made as in the most severe cases, it can be dangerous to remain in the home.
Crazy ants are very adaptable, and this is a species that spans just 2.2 mm to 3 mm in length. Long legs and antennae, along with a black-brown body, is the general appearance of these ants.
You may find these ants outside, but crazy ants will also nest under carpets, in walls and even in house plants.
These ants do not pose a danger to you, but when interrupted, they will go into a “craze.” The ants will move around crazily, and this is why these ants have their “crazy ant” name.
Considered a home invader, they will overtake your home unless you choose to use a natural ant killer or some form of an insecticide to kill them off.
Fire ants can do the same to you and your pets. These ants are very aggressive and will attack both you and your pets. Their bites are painful and can even be so serious that you may need to be hospitalized.
Fire ants live in very large colonies, so this is a species that can bite and be very difficult to kill. If you’re dealing with fire ants, it may be better to deal with them using a professional form of ant control rather than an all-natural method.
Ghost ants are clear in color on their abdomen and legs, but they do have darker areas on their body. Florida is where most ghost ants can be found, but they have migrated all over the country.
Ghost ants prefer heated spaces, and they engage in budding quite often.
These ants are very smart, and colonies may have multiple queens. The queen may choose to leave at any time and start her own colony. When threatened, it’s not uncommon for the budding process to occur making one colony turn into multiple sub colonies.
If you have ghost ants, they can be difficult to get rid of simply because they have so many colonies.
There is luckily no version of the super ant, but ants can definitely be a super big problem. They work together to achieve the same goal, but they are not homogenous insects.
Some of them have wings, some bite and sting, some have strong jaws and others will even chew up larger objects. Over time, these many types of ants can cause serious damage.
6 Other Natural Ant Solutions
If you try other ways together to get rid of ants naturally, here are five more natural ant killers that are relatively easy to find.
Ants function as a highly-trained army. Foragers go out of the nests to discover food and mark their route using pheromones. Other ants use their antennae to smell the path and follow them to the source of food.
Essential oils tend to interfere with this type of communication, as they mask scent trails and make it impossible for ants to find their way around. Some of the most effective ones are peppermint, tea tree and clove essential oil.
To get the ants out of your house and yard, place a few drops of oil on cotton balls and wipe down the entry points.
Then, leave some of the cotton balls in pantries, cabinets and other places you have seen ants or think they might show up. Repeat this process every few days, until they are completely gone.
Clove essential oil is particularly strong and it should always be used in small amounts, mixed with some other carrier oil. In addition to disrupting the communication, it is also a fast-acting contact insecticide, thanks to its main component, Eugenol.
Have no concerns, as it acts quickly and leaves no harmful residues, although its scent will linger for hours in the room.
Another substance that is toxic for ants but not harmful for the environment – pets and humans alike – is d-limonene, which can be found in citrus essential oils. Like any other essential oil, this one masks their scent trails as well.
You are able to use these oils on cotton balls to wipe around the places you see them appear and spread them across the surfaces with food and possible entry points.
In addition to that, you are also able to mix them with water, alcohol and other essential oils to make an effective ant away spray.
If you don’t have citrus essential oils around your home, you are able to use your lemon, orange and grapefruit peels to make a natural ant repellent. Simply add peels to a pot, pour ½ water and ½ vinegar.
Heat the pot until steaming and allow it to cool down overnight. Then, drain and pour the liquid in a spray bottle.
Powdered substances will both attack their exoskeleton and dry them out, or they will act from the inside, inflating their bodies until they die. It sounds cruel, but it does exactly what other insecticides do, but with no harmful side effects on you and your family.
One of these substances is Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a powder made out of fossilized planktons. It binds to the waxy coating of the ant’s exoskeleton, dehydrates it and kills them within a few days. On the other hand, this substance is completely safe for humans.
You should use it around possible entry points – such as doorways and window sills – and on your rugs, carpets and any other places you have seen them appear.
Going to the garden and putting down a ring of DE around anthills will ensure that most of the colony will soon be affected as well. Uncooked farina is another substance deadly for ants, but safe to consume by humans.
When ants eat it, it will expand inside of them and cause their death soon after. Put about a tablespoon of uncooked cream of wheat, mixed with a little bit of powdered sugar wherever you have seen ants appear.
You are also able to use it around the ant hills in your garden. However, make sure the ground is dry first. Another commonly used substance is baking soda.
As it is not very attractive to the ants on its own, it is usually mixed with powdered sugar or another sweetener to attract the ants and make them eat it. After consumption, it causes a reaction to their bodies and they quickly die.
Last but not the least, black pepper is an efficient natural repellent as well. Just sprinkle it wherever you have seen ants and around possible entry points to your home too.
Vinegar may be used on its own, as its properties will prevent ants when sprayed around the areas they appear. The smell of vinegar interferes with their communication. The best results are achieved by mixing it with some other substances, such as essential oils or citrus peels.
Fill a spray bottle with a solution of 50% water and 50% vinegar.
Spray the substance on ants or their trails as a means of disrupting them and keeping ants away. You can spray it on the ants themselves, too.
Vinegar should be used alongside some of the other recommendations we make in this section. DE is a great substance that can be used with vinegar to not only deter ants but also kill them with the DE.
If you wish to be effective and go for the source, you are able to pour water directly to the anthill in your garden. A lot of people recommend boiling water, and while it may be effective, you also pose a major risk of burning yourself in the process.
Boiling water will kill the ants that it’s able to reach, but ant colonies can form several tunnels underground spreading from the colony. You’ll need to pour enough boiling water to fill these chambers and to reach the queen.
I don’t recommend using a pot of boiling water. Instead, it’s better to use a tea kettle or some other safe way to pour the boiling water on the mound.
If you don’t want to use boiling water, you do have another option.
One trick that seems to work for a lot of people is to put their hose on the ant’s mound and leave the hose running for 5 to 10 minutes.
But there’s another issue: ants can float.
Ants (most species) may not be able to swim, but water cannot penetrate their body, so they’ll float naturally. When the ants are washed away, some may die but most of them won’t.
You’ll remove the colony, but the ants may choose to rebuild in the area.
Water is just a temporary solution and should be used alongside other methods listed above for the best result.
Cinnamon smells great, so why not spread it around the entrances of your home along with some cloves? You see, cinnamon and cloves should be placed in areas that you know ants are entering the home.
This DIY method of ant control makes the home smell good and is also effective at keeping ants away.
Ants do not like the scent of cinnamon, and you can use cinnamon powder and essential oil for this trick.
Sprays will also work well.
You want the spray to have an abundance of cinnamon, so this means that you’ll need a high concentration of cinnamon for it to be effective. Add water into a spray bottle with either a lot of cinnamon (shake it up well), or you can choose to use cinnamon essential oil (10 drops or more).
Spray the perimeter of the home and even the ant mound.
If you see ant trails, where the ants seem to traverse, you should spray the mixture on the trails, too. The scent will interrupt the scent that ants use to follow their own trails to food.
Peppermint can also replace the cinnamon oil in this mixture and will work as well.
Why Are Ants So Hard to Kill?
When the warm weather hits, you might suddenly notice ants everywhere. You might see them outdoors near your home, or even within your home itself. So why are ants so notoriously hard to kill?
1. Strength in Numbers
To put it simply, one of the biggest difficulties with ants has to do with the fact that they live in colonies of hundreds of thousands. There are so many that it’s tough to actually kill them all.
Even if you locate the nest and destroy it, all the ants that were out foraging will survive and live to plague you another day.
2. Difficult to Find
Ants usually build their colonies in places where you can’t easily access, like underground, behind cabinets, inside walls and under pavements. If you can’t find them, your task of killing them will obviously be a lot harder.
Ants are smart enough to move when they’ve been disturbed. They will quickly relocate to a safer place when you do find them, making it even more difficult to figure out where they’ve moved to and eliminate them.
Trying to eradicate some species of ants will actually lead to “budding.” Budding is the process of ants trying to find another place to form a colony. These ants may grow wings to be able to fly to the new colony, too.
Budding can happen on its own naturally, but a lot of species have evolved to go into the budding cycle when threatened. Insecticides can cause some of these smart ants to relocate.
4. Less Potency
The problem with commercial pesticides is that they are often not strong enough. They don’t have the same potency as professional products to, so they might kill a few dozen ants. However, they won’t have any effect on the thousands of other ants you need to get rid of.
If you use these types of products repeatedly, ants can even begin developing immunity.
Immunity will make it very difficult to get rid of ants. Exterminators often rotate their pesticides or will choose to use stronger concentrations of pesticides or insecticides to control ant populations.
If you’re having no luck trying to kill the ants that are in your home or yard, it may be because the ant has immunity to your control methods. Try changing the type of bait, paying close attention to the active ingredient, so that you have a better chance of killing off the ants.
How long does it take for ants to die from borax?
Usually, it takes 12-48 hours to be effective. However, it takes up to 24-48 hours if you use products like Terro.
Where can I buy borax for ants?
Most big online stores have what you are looking for.
If you are facing a serious ant problem, we recommend you to check out the best ant killers for your home.
Is Borax Ant Bait Safe for Pets?
Thankfully, a borax mixture is much safer compared to commercial insecticides with harmful ingredients that are unsafe for your family and pets. It’s a natural mineral that won’t harm your pets, even if they do ingest a little.
Borax can be metabolized by your pets’ bodies, so if they end up ingesting some of it, they’ll be safe. However, make sure that your dog or cat isn’t getting everything in the traps, as too much borax in your pet’s system might still cause some problems over time.
This is where the traps come in handy, particularly the covered ones. The drilled holes will ensure that the ants can get in and out of them with the sugary sweet borax, but your child or pet won’t be able to have similarly easy access.
Nonetheless, if your pet has a habit of getting into places where it shouldn’t, it would be good to take measures to keep it away from your traps altogether.
Ants are very persistent pests, as they multiply fast and are as efficient and organized as a real army. If you don’t treat the problem right away, soon it may become very serious and out of your hands. Try using borax to resolve your ant problem and avoid the need for professional help.