Ants | Home Pests

Can You Use Borax to Kill Ants? A DIY Guide

Ants are tiny insects that can very quickly become a menace. If left unchecked, they can form colonies and cause extensive structural and economic damage. 

They can come into your home through various spaces such as doors, windows, and cracks. Typically, you’ll find them trying to get in when it’s rainy out. And when they start getting in, you must do something before it gets out of control as they reproduce quickly and, within a few days, can become a large colony.  

If you have an ant problem, and you’re wondering if you can use borax to kill them, the answer is yes; borax is effective for killing ants. 

What is Borax? 

Borax is a mineral that is naturally occurring in several places around the world. It was first discovered in Tibet and Kashmir. It has been used for centuries around the world. 

Borax goes by several names: 

  • Sodium tetraborate
  • Sodium borate
  • Disodium tetraborate

It’s a boron compound that is used in a variety of ways. It can be found in detergents, mouthwash, cosmetics, disinfectants, toothpaste, soaps, and several other items in your home. 

Additionally, it’s found in some welding materials as well as glass and pottery glazes. 

However, despite the fact that it’s a common compound, it’s not completely safe and could result in irritation of the skin or eyes following prolonged exposure. 

Can you use borax to kill ants?

Is Boric Acid the Same as Borax? 

Many people tend to think that boric acid is the same as borax. They are actually two forms of the same compound – boron. Therefore, they do have a few differences. 

One of the most obvious ones is how they are sourced. Borax comes straight from the ground as a mineral while boric acid is a byproduct made from processing and refining borax. It’s created by combining boracite and colemanite with borax. 

Therefore, without borax, there would be no such thing as boric acid. 

Boric acid, also known as boracic acid, hydrogen borate, or orthoboric acid is found in insecticides and antiseptics. It acts as a flame retardant and a neutron absorber. In mineral form, it’s known as sassolite. 

Both borax and boric acid work well for killing ants and can be used as a substitute for each other. Therefore, if you find that borax isn’t working for the ant problem in your home, consider switching it with boric acid. 

Neither of these is dangerous when handled but is toxic if ingested. This is why products containing either one of these compounds are labeled “External use only.” 

Therefore, no matter which one you choose, make sure that you are cautious when using it and keep them out of reach of your pets and children. 

Does Borax Kill Ants? 

As mentioned earlier, yes, borax does kill ants. They don’t stand a chance when they come into contact with borax because of what it does to their bodies. 

While it’s not toxic for humans, it will kill all types of ants that you may find in your home: sugar ants, fire ants, and carpenter ants. 

It is an effective ingredient for quickly getting rid of your ant infestation without you doing much of anything short of putting it out. 

Additionally, it’s not nearly as costly as some of the other ant baits you may find on the market. 

How Does Borax Effectively Kill Ants? 

To understand how borax kills ants, you need to learn a bit more about the biology and social structure of ants. 

They live in colonies and are assigned different roles. The queen lays eggs. Then there are the worker ants and the reproductive ants. The workers are sent out to find food and are typically the ones that you will find in your home. 

It’s lethal if ants come into contact with Borax. When they ingest it, it wreaks havoc on their digestive system, eventually leading to their demise. 

Of course, the effect isn’t immediate. It’s a slow-acting poison, which gives the workers time to get back to the colony and share it. Then, as the other ants and the queen ingest it, they all eventually die out.

How Long Does it Take to Kill Ants? 

As long as you are using the appropriate bait containing their favorite foods, the borax shouldn’t take long at all to kill off the ant population in your home or yard. 

Typically, it takes 24 to 72 hours for an ant to die after consuming borax. This works well because it gives them time to spread it around. 

After consuming it, the worker/forager ants take it back to the colony to share it. The borax is slowly spread through the colony, which will ultimately eliminate it, including the queen. When there’s no queen, the colony can’t be rebuilt. 

The amount of time it takes to get rid of the entire colony with borax depends on its size. You won’t see results overnight, it will take 2 to 3 days. You’ll need to exercise patience and perseverance because it may take a few weeks. 

However, it will work – so don’t give up! 

Of course, you must also understand that you will not eliminate ants entirely with just one application. You’ll need to reapply the bait in various areas of your home as well as get rid of any potential sources of attraction to eliminate them for good. 

ants on wood

Killing Ants with Borax 

One important thing to keep in mind is that ants are not attracted to borax when it is used without combining it with some sort of bait. 

It needs to be something that they would normally go after such as something sweet like sugar, or peanut butter, almond butter, jams, or honey. The borax is not going to work unless you can trick them into consuming it. 

When it comes to preparing to kill ants using borax, there is more to it than simply applying the bait. 

There are three critical steps and it’s a process that you must get right from the beginning to the end. The three steps are: 

1. Identify The Species of Ant You’re Dealing with

You need to know what species you’re dealing with because some ants will be attracted to solid baits while others are more attracted to liquid baits. 

Therefore, before you choose your bait, make sure that you know about the ant species so that you know what will be the most effective. 

2. Choose A DIY Bait Or A Store-Bought One 

You can purchase pre-made borax baits from the store. These are made by brands that have done the research and appropriate testing to come up with an effective bait. 

On the other hand, if you prefer, you can make your own bait as well. 

Making your own borax bait is really easy and it doesn’t cost a lot either. Of course, if you want to get the best results, store-bought traps may be the best option for you. 

You might consider using both liquid and solid baits to figure out which one provides the best results. Adult ants typically prefer liquid, while larvae can break down the solid bait into a liquid form for the queen to eventually consume. 

3. Use The Bait Properly 

In order to achieve the best results, you’ll want to make sure that you’re placing the baits in the appropriate areas. 

The first thing to do is figure out how the ants are getting into your home. The reason for this is because the ants leave a pheromone trail when they locate a food source that attracts other ants to assist in carrying the poison back to the nest. 

The trails are great places to set up the bait – but you may also want to place them right where the ants are entering your home. This should keep them from getting in, to begin with. 

Additionally, if you find that your lawn is infested with ants, you can use borax there as well. Simply find their trails and mounds and apply the bait as needed. 

However, don’t apply too much or you could end up killing the grass and plants. The best way to treat your lawn is to apply the bait to container lids and place them around your garden/lawn. 

How to Create Your Own DIY Borax Ant Bait 

Regardless of the species of ant, their digestive systems work the same way. 

Therefore, no matter what you have, borax will be an effective ant killer. 

No matter what type of bait you decide that you want to use, you’ll need some kind of container. This can be a small plastic container, a plastic lid, a cotton ball, or a paper plate. Just make sure it’s something that’s easily accessible for the ants. 

Now it’s time to decide the type of bait you plan to combine with your borax. It’s perfectly fine to experiment with several different ones until you find the one that works for you. 

Below, we’ll take a look at a few DIY recipes that you can use to eradicate your ant problem. 

Borax and Peanut Butter 

Combine 2 tablespoons of borax with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and place it in a container with a lid. Then, punch a few holes in the lid and place the bait close to the nest.

Putting it in a container with a lid should keep your kids and pets out of it. 

Borax and Sugar 

When you combine borax with sugar, you can make a liquid bait or a solid bait. Following are the directions for both: 

Liquid Bait

To make a liquid sugar/borax bait, you’ll combine 1.5 tablespoons of borax with 1 ½ cups warm water, and 1 ½ cups sugar and blend well. Then, soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them near the nest or where they are entering your home from. 

On the other hand, you can combine 1 part borax with 3 parts sugar and blend well. Then, add ¼ cup syrup and enough water to create a thick, sticky solution. 

Solid Bait 

If, on the other hand, you would prefer a solid bait, you can combine 1 part borax with 3 parts sugar without adding any liquid. Then, sprinkle near the trails and nests. The worker ants will eat it, gather it, and take it back to others. 

Borax and Honey 

Combine ¼ cup borax and ½ cup honey and mix into boiling water. Stir until you have a thick, gel-like substance. Then, place the substance on a lid and place it near nests and trails. 

Is Borax Safe Around Children and Pets?

We know that borax is highly effective for eliminating ants of all kinds. However, it would be wrong to assume that it’s 100% safe around children and pets. 

For the most part, as long as it’s not ingested, it should be fine. However, you still must be cautious when using borax. Experts recommend, due to the potential risk of ingestion by children and pets, that borax be used outdoors only. 

When preparing the baits, you should wear safety gear, including masks and goggles. Make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets. 


If you are dealing with an infestation of ants in your home/yard, you should know that borax is an effective way to kill them. 

As you can see, there are several ways that you can use it – from store-bought baits/traps to DIY baits/traps. As with other insect treatments, you must exercise caution when using them. 

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