It makes complete sense that the question, “Does baking soda kill ants?” is asked by homeowners all the time. It’s in most homes already, and many people know people who recommend using it to deal with ant infestations.
But can you really use baking soda to kill ants? Or is it just a myth?
This guide will break down how effective it really is, and the best ways to use it.
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Does Baking Soda Kill Ants?
There are many DIY ant killers out there. While most are familiar with natural substances like diatomaceous earth or borax, baking soda is a lesser-known alternative. It’s a staple in kitchen pantries across the world, but does baking soda kill ants?
We’re happy to say that baking soda does indeed kill ants. It’s not just a myth! However, you need to use it properly to see any results.
Quick Tip: On its own, baking soda won’t do much to keep ants out. In fact, most don’t like baking soda and will avoid it altogether. If you want to add baking soda to your ant-killing arsenal, you’ll have to pair it with other substances and perform some prep work (more on that later).
Why It Can Kill Them
Chances are, you already have some baking soda lying around your home. This affordable substance has many applications.
It can act as a leavening agent in your baked goods, absorb odors from your fridge, and clean surfaces. Baking soda is also in tons of products you use daily! You can find it in the deodorant that keeps you fresh, the toothpaste that polished your pearly whites, and so much more.
Baking soda is a base compound. It’s scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate. A naturally occurring salt, baking soda is an odorless alkaline substance that reacts with acids to create carbon dioxide.
That light and fluffy texture you get from a perfectly cooked cake? You can thank baking soda and its penchant for creating bubbles for that!
Many people confuse it with baking powder, which is also used in desserts. While they look similar, baking soda is about four times stronger than powder and doesn’t contain any acids.
So, how does baking soda kill ants?
Well, the alkaline nature is what makes it so effective against these insects! When an ant ingests it, the basic compound mixes with the acidic environment of the stomach. Like most living creatures, ants rely on stomach acids to break down food.
Quick Tip: If you’ve ever performed the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment, you know that the mixture can be devastating.
Most experts agree that ants don’t violently explode. However, they do become dehydrated and die out. It’s a similar effect to what happens when you pour salt on a slug. The baking soda kills the ant from within, essentially acting as a poison.
Advantages Of Using Baking Soda For Ants
Using baking soda to kill ants is so much more than a myth. Sure, there are plenty of strong chemical products that can address infestations pretty well, but baking soda offers a few benefits that you can’t get anywhere else.
First of all, it’s completely safe. Baking soda might be lethal to ants and other small insects. But if you, your child, or your pet were to ingest it, nothing would happen. The worst thing you’d experience is a disgusting salty taste.
Aside from that, baking soda is safe. After all, we use it in food!
It’s a much safer alternative to chemical-based insecticides and extermination treatments. When you use those, you have to wear protection, make sure your home is ventilated, and keep everyone out for several hours. That’s not the case with baking soda.
Another big perk is that it’s cheap and readily available! Who wants to pay big bucks for an expensive chemical? As we said earlier, you likely have some baking soda in your home already.
If you don’t, take a trip to your local grocery store! You can find a box of it for around a dollar! It’s super cheap and won’t break the bank to use.
How Long It Typically Takes For Baking Soda To Kill Ants
So here’s the thing about baking soda, it’s not a contact killer. Some say that applying baking soda to ants directly has similar results to diatomaceous earth. However, most agree that the best way to utilize this basic compound is to use it as bait.
That means to get the best results, ants have to eat it first.
After consuming the baking soda, death for individual ants can occur anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours. Either way, it’s not instantaneous.
That might sound like a negative, but it’s one of the best things about using baking soda for ants. Scout ants can mistake the substance for food and consume some of it to check that it’s safe.
Because it doesn’t kill them quickly, the scout will think it’s all safe for the colony. In turn, they call worker ants to haul the soda back to the nest.
By the time the first ant to eat it dies, it’s already spread to other ants! If you’re lucky, it may even make its way to the queen. Once she dies, the rest of the colony will soon follow.
Quick Tip: With baking soda as your main weapon, it will take a few days for infestations to die off if it gets shared with the colony. Smaller nests may take between two to four days to spread the baking soda around. Meanwhile, larger ones can take upwards of a week.
Baking soda takes time to work, but using it to kill ants is actually one of the more consistent extermination methods around.
Effective Mixtures To Try
The key to success when using baking soda to kill ants is making sure it’s enticing by mixing it with bait food.
Like we said earlier, baking soda alone isn’t going to do much to attract these pests. They don’t like it and have no interest in eating plain soda, so most will avoid it and move onto something else.
Fortunately, there are a couple of mixtures to try out. The right mixture for you will depend on the types of ants you’re dealing with.
Baking Soda & Powdered Sugar
Powdered sugar is the most common additive to DIY baking soda ant traps. Most ant species gravitate towards sweet food items. Sweets closely mimic the task of aphid honeydew, so it’s an excellent attractor.
Mix equal parts baking soda to equal parts powdered sugar. You may need to add more sugar if you find that the ants don’t take it. However, an even ratio is a good place to start.
Baking Soda & Peanut Butter
Some ants prefer to eat proteins! These species often eat decaying animals, bugs, and other protein-rich foods in the wild.
Peanut is a fantastic source of protein. Plus, it has a decent amount of fat in it to attract grease-loving species.
To prepare this safe and natural mixture, use about two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of peanut butter. You can scale up or down based on how much bait you need. The mixture should be doughy, allowing you to stick it pretty much anywhere.
Baking Soda & Vitamin C
Did you know that some ants are naturally attracted to Vitamin C? However, it’s also powerful enough to kill them!
You can use that knowledge to your advantage and create an ultra-effective bait food. Mix equal parts baking soda, Vitamin C powder, and powdered sugar.
Once ingested, the Vitamin C will increase the acidity of the digestive system to make the baking soda even more fatal than it already is.
Baking Soda & Cooking Oil
A simple cooking spray mixture is good for ants that prefer to eat grease (aka grease ants). It’s a little messier than the alternatives, but it’ll get the trick done nonetheless.
Mix about a teaspoon of oil with an equal amount of baking soda. The mixture should be runny and slightly thicker than the oil alone.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Finally, we have the good old baking soda and vinegar trick!
This mixture isn’t meant to act as a bait trap. Instead, it’s used for destroying nests. You can use the two ingredients on mounds you see near your door outside.
Sprinkle the baking soda over the mound and follow up with a healthy pour of vinegar. The explosive reaction should get into every nook and cranny of the nest. Not only that, but the acidity of the vinegar will damage the ant’s exoskeleton.
The damage is so severe that all ants should die pretty quickly from the acidic assault.
How To Use Baking Soda To Kill Ants
Now that you understand a little more about how baking soda kills ants, let’s put that knowledge to use! Baking soda is incredibly easy to use. It’s cheap, readily available, and flexible enough to work on infestations big and small.
Here’s how you can use the all-natural compound to tackle your ant problem.
1. Choose A Mixture
The first thing you should do is choose the right mixture.
Many ant species could potentially invade your home. While they’re all a nuisance, not every ant acts the same! These pests have their own preferences and dietary needs.
Understanding what kind of ant you’re dealing with will give you some insight into the mixture that works best.
Quick Tip: For example, little black ants enjoy eating protein-based foods. Meanwhile, carpenter ants and Argentine ants like sweets instead.
Carefully observe the ants in your home and do some research about their lifestyle. It also pays to look for established trails or entry points. Once you have all that information noted, you can choose the baking soda mixture that will have the greatest impact.
2. Find The Right Place To Put It
After you make your ant-killing baking soda bait, it’s time to apply it.
If you’re using a powder-based bait or liquid, place it into a shallow container. The container needs to be easy enough for the ants to scale and enter. A shallow lid works best.
If you’re using a peanut butter mixture, you should be able to stick it anywhere. You can use a container to keep things clean, but it’s not necessary.
So, where do you put the traps?
The best places are next to known scent trails, nests, or access points. Look around your home and observe the ants carefully. You should see them lining up to travel to and from the nest.
There’s a good chance that the insects travel through cracks and voids. They can take advantage of cracks in the foundation, small holes in the walls, and more.
Put the baking soda bait as close to those spots as possible if you want it to kill the ants. The goal is to make the bait accessible and easy enough to carry back to the nest. If the ants have to travel far, they’re less likely to take the bait.
Quick Tip: You can also put some bait in high-traffic areas with lots of food and water. For example, kitchen cabinets and pantries are a good choice.
3. Be Patient & Reapply When Needed
Now, it’s all about waiting.
Larger colonies can take up to a week to kill with baking soda. Be patient and keep an eye on the ant population in your home.
Hopefully, you’ll notice a steep decline in the number of ants you see roaming around. If you don’t, consider changing the bait recipe.
Quick Tip: Some ants can be a bit more cautious, so you might have to increase the ratio of the food ingredient. Add a little more powdered sugar or peanut butter to disguise the baking soda and attract the ants.
You can also consider moving the traps or placing a few more.
If you still see ants here and there after a week, reapply the baking soda traps. Bait can become stale after a week. You want it to be as fresh, tasty, and aromatic as possible.
Repeat the applications as much as you need to eradicate all the ants in the area. It can take some time to exterminate them all, so be vigilant!
How To Prevent Ants From Coming Back By Using Baking Soda
Even after you kill the ants with baking soda, there’s a chance that they can come back.
Do your part to prevent future infestations from occurring. Seal all cracks and voids. Then, adopt a cleaning schedule to keep your home as unappealing to these insects as possible.
You can also take advantage of baking soda to deter ants from your domain. Sprinkle the soda around the perimeter of your house. Pay special attention to doorways, windows, and any known access points.
Want to go the extra mile? Create some traps to put outside!
The best way to prevent future ant issues is to get rid of ants in your yard. Make large quantities of bait and put them into empty soda cans. The outdoor ants will bring them back to the colony all the same.
Before you know it, your property will be devoid of ants!
How Effective Is Baking Soda For Ants Compared To Other Methods?
As a whole, using baking soda to kill ants is pretty effective. However, it might not work for everyone in all situations.
Ants are living creatures that can act unpredictably. We can guess their behaviors and motivations, but ants don’t always behave like we want them to. Some will willingly eat bait food and bring it back to the nest. Others won’t.
It’s all a matter of trial and error.
The good news is that you can easily experiment with baking soda to get things right. If you’re not seeing results with the basic recipes, consider altering them a bit. Add more of the food ingredient to make the natural mixture as enticing to these pests as possible.
You can even try combining recipes to create the ultimate ant-killing cocktail!
If you still don’t see success, you can always try other natural ant killers. For example, killing ants with borax is considered to be just as efficient as baking soda. It kills ants in a similar fashion and is adaptable enough to mix with different bait ingredients.
Quick Tip: If all else fails, you can always turn to chemical products. While many homeowners prefer to go the natural route, there’s no denying that store-bought insecticides provide quick and reliable results.
We understand it’s not ideal. But in the event of a serious infestation that just won’t go away, the harsher route might be worth the added efficiency.
How Safe Is It?
Compared to the common alternatives, using baking soda to kill ants is very safe.
We use this stuff in everything from decadent dessert recipes to cosmetics. If it weren’t safe, it wouldn’t be as prevalent as it is.
Like we said earlier, accidental ingestion is not a problem with baking soda. It has a bitter and salty taste, but you won’t experience any dangerous side effects.
Even other natural extermination methods are more dangerous than baking soda. With things like diatomaceous earth and borax, you have to be careful about natural ingestion and inhalation. That’s not the case with baking soda.
You can touch it without experiencing any irritation. Compared to all other ant-killing methods, it’s probably one of the safest.
Yes, baking soda does kill ants. However, it’s important to understand how to use it properly if you want to see success.
We hope you found this guide helpful and feel equipped to tackle your ant problem with this simple ingredient. If you have any questions, let us know!