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Does Bleach Kill Ants?

Warmer weather brings a lot of joy with outdoor activities, grilling, and extended family time. Unfortunately, spring and summer also bring ants.

One of the possibilities to kill them is bleach, but does bleach kill ants? The simple answer is no, but bleach can still be helpful to repel them.

How Ants Survive

One reason ants survive so well is that there are so many of them. One mound can be just a few but can also contain thousands of insects. Typically, there is one queen but a large mound can have several queens.

Using any method, including bleach, on a mound or directly on ants can kill some of the bugs but the thousands that remain will work to move the mound. If the queens survive, they will continue to reproduce.

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Does Bleach Repel Ants or Destroy Ant Trails?

There is some debate over using bleach to kill ants. Most claim it isn’t that effective, but others claim it does work if used in certain ways. The general agreement is it can work on some of the mounds, but isn’t effective in destroying the entire mound.

There are five listed ways to use bleach to kill ants:

  • Spray it directly on them.
  • Mix it with a sugary bait mix for them to ingest.
  • Mix it with boiling water and pout it on the mound.
  • Pouring bleach directly on an anthill.
  • Use a bleached cloth (a cloth dipped in bleach) and wipe away the ant trail.

Most agree bleach can be used both to eliminate ant trails and repel ants from places like kitchen counters. Ants smell out sweet things like fruit, candy, and soda. Using bleach on the ant trail and counters eliminates the sweet smell so they aren’t attracted to that area.

Plus, ants leave their scent along trails for others in the mound to find and follow. Bleaching it out removes the scent, keeping other ants out.To use this method, mix bleach to water in a 1 to 9 ratio. Use gloves and a scrub brush or cloth to scrub down surfaces like counters, floors near doors, and patio furniture.

The Problem with Bleach

Part of the reason experts steer people away from using bleach is that it is toxic to plants, children, and pets. Those using bleach should take extra precautions to use it away from pets and children. It should be kept safely away.

When Not to Use Bleach to Kill Ants

Some other precautions are necessary if you consider using bleach to kill ants. There are two concerns with using bleach for any purpose.

  1. Bleach can discolor fabrics and other types of materials so it could discolor outdoor furniture or certain counters.
  2. Bleach has an extreme odor and can be hazardous to your or your family’s health if it is used in enclosed spaces. Be sure to open the windows and doors when you use them!

Proactive Steps

Experts say the sooner people start their war with ants, the easier they will be able to take control of any infestations. One thing you should do is kill the first few you see. These are scouts looking for food. They go back and tell others. Killing them will offset an infestation.

Be sure to keep everything clean. Put away food, wipe counters, keep dishes washed and clean up any food messes. Use sealed trash bins and use silicone caulk to seal off any entries ants are using.

Creating a Barrier

Creating a barrier can prevent ants from approaching. You can use cinnamon or black pepper to build a thin line at major entry points.

Alternatives to Bleach for Killing Ants

Many alternatives exist to using bleach. One method that is both popular and effective is boric acid. Boric acid can be purchased at pharmacies and some hardware stores. To use this method, mix the boric acid with something sweet like sugar, honey, or syrup and put it near where ants enter. They eat it and die.

The bonus with this method is it also works on other bugs like roaches. The downside is that it’s a toxin so, like bleach, it is dangerous to children and pets. You also need to be careful while handling it by using gloves so it doesn’t hurt your skin.

Diatomaceous earth or silicon dioxide is another substance that can be used. While it isn’t designated as a poison, it kills insects by sucking out oils in their skeletons. However, it is still an irritant to humans so you must avoid getting it on your skin or breathing it.

Two other things commonly found in homes can be used as ant repellent. Some have found combining liquid dish detergent with a spray-on glass cleaner works to remove their scent trail. Spray it in ant-prone areas. You can also use hand soap if the scent of glass cleaners irritates you.

Are There Natural Cleaners To Use?

People who prefer to steer away from toxins and chemicals have some natural alternatives to kill or repel ants. One item that can be used is peppermint. This is a natural repellent to many types of bugs including ants and mosquitos.

To use this method, mix up to 20 drops of essential oil with two cups of water and spray on windows and baseboards. One warning is the oil can make some pets, especially cats, ill.

Lemon eucalyptus oil can also be used to repel ants and other bugs. It has citronella which is also used in anti-bug candles.

White vinegar is a great, safe, all-purpose substance. Mixing half vinegar with half water to wipe down everything will keep it clean and repel ants. The vinegar scent remains strong to ants even after it dries even though humans can’t smell it. Straight vinegar can kill ants directly.


Many ways exist to kill ants and keep them out of your home and garden. While some methods are more toxic than others, various substances can be safely used. Bleach is one item to use to repel ants and keep them out of your space.

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