Using borax to kill ants is an incredibly effective form of pest control that we recommend all the time. It’s easy, affordable, and safe!
This guide will teach you about the different ways you can use borax to get rid of ants, plus the various recipes you can use for maximum success.
Table of contents
What Is Borax?
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in consumer products for decades! It also goes by many other names. In scientific circles, it’s sometimes referred to as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate.
Whatever you call it, borax is quite versatile. Many industries take advantage of it! In addition to its use in commercial insecticides for pest control, you’ll find borax in cleaning products, toothpaste, weed killers, cosmetics, and so much more!
So, what exactly is borax? It’s a boron compound that appears naturally when seasonal lakes evaporate. Suppliers mine the substance from massive saline lakes. However, synthetically extracted borax is available as well.
Borax is usually refined further after collection, resulting in a versatile powder that you can use anywhere.
Quick Tip: While borax does have some risks, it’s a low-toxicity compound. As a result, it’s safe to use in homes and gardens with proper protection.
Many confuse borax with boric acid. The two minerals are boron compounds, so they share many similarities. However, borax is technically a salt of boric acid.
Borax is a raw, natural mineral. Meanwhile, boric acid is the product of mixing borax with colemanite, boracites, or mineral acids.
Both boric acid and pure borax are effective at killing ants. In fact, many experts recommend employing both minerals to get the job done. However, boric acid has a higher toxicity level and requires a bit more safety to handle.
Does It Kill Ants?
Using borax to get rid of ants is not just an old wives tale. The compound is very effective at killing ants. Not only that, but it can eradicate many other common household pests!
Borax handles ant problems a little differently than other popular insecticides. While the powder may kill some ants on contact, borax primarily works through ingestion.
Despite its low toxicity for humans, borax is downright lethal for ants! It messes with the digestive system and leads to a gradual death. While you would think that a slow-acting insecticide wouldn’t be effective, this feature is exactly what makes borax such a great ant killer!
You see, ants will bring the borax back to the colony. In doing so, they’ll create pheromone trails that help worker ants haul borax-laced bait to the nest.
More and more ants consume it, causing a massive domino effect that could eventually reach the queen. Killing the queen will demolish the ant population.
Borax doesn’t just kill individual ants, it can eradicate entire colonies. This is what you want when dealing with an ant infestation. The compound is a slow killer that can effectively deal with your ant problem once and for all!
Quick TIp: It’s important to remember that borax only works when ants eat it. The substance isn’t very appealing when used alone, and most insects will ignore borax in raw form.
To be effective as an ant killer, you must mix it with bait. Luckily, that’s not too difficult with some simple food ingredients around the house.
What Types Of Ants Does It Work On?
The best part of using borax for ants is that it doesn’t discriminate between species. These insects all have a similar digestive system that borax can destroy.
From basic little black ants to more robust carpenter ants, borax will kill them all!
That said, not all baits are going to work with every species. You see, food preferences vary from one species to the next. Some enjoy protein-based foods, while others exclusively feed on sugary snacks.
Not only that, but ants in different life stages will only eat certain kinds of foods. For example, adult ants cannot eat solids, so they resort to liquid-only diets. Meanwhile, larvae will convert solids into liquids for the queen to eat.
The key to success with borax is to provide many different kinds of baits. The best course of action is to create several recipes that every ant in your home will eat. Even if adults find solid foods, they’ll bring them back to the colony for larvae.
Ants function like a well-oiled machine to benefit the entire colony. While that usually leads to ant proliferation, throwing borax into the mix uses their efficiency against them!
How Long Does it Take to Kill Them?
How quickly borax kills ants depends entirely on the infestation at hand. Several factors come into play, and each situation is different.
Individual ants typically die within 24 to 48 hours after eating the borax. However, it takes a bit longer for the compound to spread. Here are some rough timelines to expect:
- With smaller ant colonies, you might see a decrease in activity and numbers in about a week
- Larger populations can take several weeks of continued treatment to be exterminated
That means you must not only play the waiting game, but you must regularly replenish the bait as well.
Quick Tip: How you prepare the borax ant poison will impact the timeline as well. More potent formulas tend to work faster. The same goes for borax that’s placed in a more accessible area to the hungry ants.
How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax
Ready to start using borax to kill ants? This compound works fantastically on all ant species, but it’s only going to get the job done if you employ it correctly.
To get rid of ants with borax, you must act fast and early. Addressing your ant problem as soon as possible helps you avoid headache-inducing issues later. A mishandled infestation can become a significant problem that you’ll need professional help to handle properly.
Fortunately, borax is here to save the day!
1. Find Trails Or Nests
The first thing you need to do is figure out where the ants move. If you saw a few stray ants in your kitchen, they were likely scouts. Scout ants are responsible for finding food sources and creating a pheromone trail that workers can follow as they bring meals back to the colony.
If you want to use borax ant bait successfully, you must find the scent trail. Keep an eye out for those worker ants! They’ll march along the route in a single-file line. In some cases, you may even spot them carrying food.
Quick Tip: Follow the trail as close to the colony as you can get. Make a note of these various locations. They’ll come in handy later when you’re setting up the traps.
2. Identify The Species You’re Tackling
Next, you need to figure out what kind of ant you’re trying to eradicate. Remember how we said that different ant species have distinct food preferences? Understanding what species are invading your home will make figuring out those preferences much easier!
If possible, snap a few photos for reference. Also, pay attention to their size.
There are thousands of different ant species out there. Fortunately, the number of species that are commonly found in households is closer to 25.
Use those photos you took earlier and compare them to reference pictures. Read up on the species’ lifestyle, behaviors, and dietary needs.
You’re going to war with some clever and tough little insects! Do some homework and figure out as much as you can about your enemy!
3. Gather Bait Containers
Borax isn’t as toxic as some other chemical-based insecticides out there, but that doesn’t mean that you want to leave little piles of it around your home.
This compound can still harm young kids and pets that accidentally eat it. Prolonged exposure can irritate the skin, too.
The best way to keep it out of reach is to use a small dish or container. Find something that will keep the borax contained while still making it accessible to the ants.
Quick Tip: For solid or gel-like formulas, you could use a small condiment dish or an empty bottle lid. If you’re using a liquid borax recipe, try dabbing a cotton ball or sponge in it.
4. Create Your Bait Recipes
Now it’s time to create your borax ant killer recipe!
There are many unique solutions to try. We’ll go over some of the most effective in a bit.
For now, the vital thing to remember is that you need to craft your borax recipe to the preferences of the ant species you’re trying to get rid of.
Don’t forget to make several kinds of recipes! Mix things up to ensure that there’s borax-filled bait for all the ants in your home.
5. Place Traps Strategically
Once you have your homemade borax ant killer recipes mixed and separated into vessels, you have to choose a spot to put the traps.
Aim for places near the scent trail or colony nest. The goal is to attract the scouts. You want them to create those scent trails and encourage workers to bring the borax to the nest.
To do that, you have to make the trap accessible. Putting it near established pheromone trails improves the likelihood that the ants will find it.
6. Wait & Repeat Application
Using borax to kill ants is a big waiting game. The compound works slowly, so don’t expect to find a ton of dead ants around. In fact, you might see the ants going about their business as usual during the first few days.
Keep an eye on the traps and replenish them every week or so to keep things fresh. Larger colonies may require multiple traps to feed the entire population.
7. Address The Root Of The Problem
Once you’ve used borax to get rid of the ants, you need to address the main reason they entered your home in the first place!
Take some time to clean every corner. Vacuum carpets to remove food remnants and wipe down solid surfaces to eliminate scent trails.
Then, look around for cracks and holes. The ants had to have an opening to get into your home. There’s a good chance that you have small voids around your doors or windows.
Seal them up with some caulk to prevent future infestations from occurring.
Borax Ant Killer Recipes
Borax ant killer recipes are super simple. You can use simple ingredients you have around the house. Beyond basic protective gear, there are no special tool requirements either. Because of this, it doesn’t take much to whip up some bait food.
Here are some DIY, borax-based recipes that will get rid of ants and kill colonies.
Sugar Water Solution
Here’s a simple recipe that appeals to sugar-loving ants. It’s a thin, water-based borax recipe. The finished product is quite runny, so you’ll need a cotton ball or sponge to make it accessible to adult ants.
To create this solution, you’ll need:
- 1 and a half tablespoons of borax
- 1 and a half tablespoons of plain sugar
- 1 and a half tablespoons of warm water
Mix the ingredients until everything dissolves. It should be clear and water-like.
If you want to make multiple traps, scale the recipe up. It will be effective as long as you have an even ratio between the three ingredients.
This recipe is also geared towards ant species that eat sugar. However, it’s solid and easy for the bugs to transport. The ingredients you’ll need include:
- 1 tablespoon of plain white sugar
- 1/3 a tablespoon of borax
Use a plastic fork to incorporate the ingredients and remove lumps. Then, put the powder in a dish for the ants to take.
Like the previous solution, you can scale this one up or down. Just keep the same 1:3 ratio of ingredients.
Using a thicker syrup solution for your borax ant killer is very versatile. It’s a sweet and sticky mess that ants can’t resist. This recipe walks the line between a solid and liquid, making it easy for most ants to eat.
To create the syrup, use the same ingredients as we listed in the recipe above. But instead of finishing up and putting the powder in a dish, add a few drops of water.
The goal is to moisten the sugar until it’s a thick syrupy paste.
Quick Tip: A shallow dish works best for distributing this bait.
Honey Borax Bait
Ants can’t resist honey! It’s a sweet, all-natural treat. Use it to your advantage to draw those pests in!
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Half a cup of honey
- 1/4 a cup of borax
- 2 tablespoons of water
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it up to a boil. Let the mixture cool, and you should have a thick paste.
Put a dollop on a clean dish or plastic lid for easy consumption.
Peanut Butter Paste
Last but not least, we have the ever-popular peanut butter paste recipe. This solution is great because you can easily stick it in discrete areas. The finished product has a thick consistency that holds up well on ceilings, under furniture, and anywhere else you need it.
The required ingredients are:
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons of borax
Mix the ingredients until you have a smooth paste, and you’re good to go!
Making Your Own vs. Buying
Making your own borax ant killer is a pretty easy process. However, several commercial products use borax as the main active ingredient. These products are heavily tested for efficiency and convenience, making them a pretty enticing choice.
So which one is better? Here are some advantages and disadvantages to mull over.
Store-Bought Borax Ant Killers
The most apparent benefit to commercial borax and traps is simplicity and ease of use. Not everyone wants to go through the trouble of creating recipes from scratch. In that case, it’s much easier to buy one at your local store.
Plus, premade solutions limit your contact with the borax. While natural, borax is not without its risks. In addition to skin irritation from exposure, inhalation or ingestion can lead to vomiting, nausea, respiratory problems, and more.
Store-bought borax ant traps already come in self-contained vessels. They’re expertly designed to allow ants while keeping pets and kids out! There are even sprays you can buy to apply directly to ant hills outside.
The final noteworthy advantage is efficiency. Manufacturers have fine-tuned formulas that are often the product of years of intense research. Commercial products tend to have higher concentrations of borax without sacrificing the inherent attractiveness to ants.
Quick Tip: Experts believe that a concentration of around one percent borax is enough to kill ants. Several bait products have concentrations of over five percent.
Now, let’s move onto the disadvantages.
As we mentioned earlier, ants have different preferences based on species. Those that like to eat protein are not going to consume sugar-based bait solutions.
When you use manufactured trap products, you don’t get a ton of versatility. The ants in your home might not respond to these traps at all. As a result, your investment would be useless.
Speaking of investments, you also have to consider the costs. Borax ant traps that you buy in a store aren’t always cheap. They come with a limited amount of bait, too. That means you might have to spend a pretty penny to kill larger colonies.
DIY Borax Ant Killers
You have a lot to gain from making your own borax ant bait!
For one, you have greater control over the ingredients you use. If you understand the kinds of ants you’re dealing with, tweaking the recipe to work for your situation is a cinch. That’s not the case with premade baits.
Another considerable benefit to DIY recipes is that you can mix things up to improve efficiency. While commercial products have higher concentrations of borax, that potent solution isn’t going to do much if the ants won’t take it.
Making your own bait allows you to incorporate different textures and ingredients that appeal to all ants in the area.
Finally, homemade borax ant killer is cheap! In most cases, the only thing you have to buy is borax. Everything else is sourceable from your pantry.
So, what are the disadvantages of making your own ant killers?
The most significant downside is exposure to borax. There’s a lot of room for error and accidents. If you’re not using proper protection, you can do some real harm to your health.
In addition to that, homemade traps are easier for pets and children to mess around with. While there are ways to keep the bait food secure, those methods don’t hold a candle to a well-designed borax ant trap from a leading pest company!
As you can see, using borax for ants is an effective pest control method that any homeowner should consider. There are very few situations where we wouldn’t recommend giving it a try.
Let us know if you have any questions about using these recipes (or store-bought traps) to get rid of ants. We’re always happy to help!