How Does Borax Kill Ants? (Find Out Now!)

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Ants are not a big deal when you see them outside but having them crawling around in your house is not so great. Nobody wants to open up a box of cereal and see ants in their breakfast. And if you have fire ants, their bite is painful, so you want to get rid of them fast.

Borax is toxic for ants, and it disrupts their digestive tract when they consume it. The borax slowly causes the ants to die and can keep more ants from visiting the area. Exercise caution because borax can be unsafe if you directly touch it with your skin or get it in your eyes or mouth.

What makes borax so good for getting rid of ants is that it is safer than other toxic insect killers or repellants. In fact, it is a mineral that we use in toothpaste, soap, and cosmetics. But borax is fatal for ants after a while. They will live just long enough to take the food back to their queen so she can have a taste.

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Borax Bait

When ants find food, they immediately give off pheromones. Other ants can smell this and will follow their trail to the bait. That is why it is good to place the bait on any of the ant trails you have seen.

You cannot just sprinkle borax around the house though. The ants do not just eat the borax by itself. You have to mix it with something they like. Many people use sugar water or some other sweet treat.

But you need a solid bait to kill the larvae. Adult ants do not eat the solid bait, but they will bring it back to the colony to feed the larvae. Try one of these recipes for borax bait.


Sugar Water

Half cup of sugar1.5 tablespoons of borax1.5 cups water

Mix ingredients together and soak cotton balls in the mixture. Place them where you have seen the ants.

Solid Sugar

Three parts sugarOne part borax

Mix the two together and sprinkle it on window sills or doorframes. The adults will take this back to the larvae so they can get the poison too.

Peanut Butter

One teaspoon peanut butterTwo teaspoons of borax

Mix together and place in a bottlecap or lid. Place wherever you see ants.

Jam Bait

One teaspoon of jam or jellyTwo tablespoons of borax

Mix together and place in a piece of cardboard or box.

Honey or Syrup Bait

Two teaspoons of honey or syrupOne tablespoon of borax

Mix together and place in a piece of cardboard or box.

Not So Safe for Skin, Kids, and Pets

Even though borax is relatively safe for humans, it can irritate your skin and it will make your children or pets sick if they eat it. You should always wear gloves when you are working with borax and wash your hands afterward.

Do not let your pets or other animals come into contact with the borax bait either. Although it is not fatal, it can make them sick if they eat too much of it. And if it is mixed with sugar or other sweet stuff, pets and children are attracted to it as well, so you have to be careful where you put it.

Other Types of Insecticides

There are many other ant killers that you can try but they may not be as effective or safe as borax. Some of the most common are included in the table below.

PermethrinThis chemical is very potent and will kill on contact. While this may seem good, it does not let them take the poison back to the colony. That means the queen will not get the poison because they do not leave the colony. The queen will go on reproducing and you will never get rid of them that way. It is moderately toxic to humans and pets in high levels.
CyfluthrinJust like permethrin, this chemical kills the ants instantly. This causes the same problem though. The queen does not get the bait so she can keep on reproducing. It may work short term, but it is not good to get rid of them completely. It is toxic to humans and pets, causing nausea, vomiting, and other effects up to and including death.
AvermectinTargeting carpenter ants, fire ants, and Argentine ants, this chemical has high toxicity for ants but not people. However, it kills them on contact like the other two, so it is not a long-term solution.
HydramethylnonThis chemical is made for fire ants, carpenter ants, and Argentine ants but will work for others as well. Similar to borax, it is a slow-acting poison that helps in killing the whole colony. It kills them by disrupting energy production in their cells. It also works with other bugs like roaches and termites. It has low toxicity to humans and pets but is corrosive to skin and eyes.
FenoxycarbSpecifically targeting fire ants, this chemical comes in a granular form. It kills the ants by affecting their growth so they cannot grow from a juvenile to an adult. The good thing is that it is non-toxic to humans or other animals.
FipronilAnts do not like fipronil, and it will kill them easily. It disrupts their central nervous system and binds to their nerve endings. Fipronil is moderately toxic to humans and pets and can cause vomiting, dizziness, and even seizures.
NeonicotinoidsThis insecticide has many names like dinotefuran, nitenpyram, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid. It is considered to be a neonicotinoid pesticide that is used to kill ants and other insects by causing aggression, so they attack each other. It is made with nicotine and is not as toxic to humans as other pesticides unless it is ingested in high doses.
MetaflumizoneUsed mainly in controlling fire ants, metaflumizone blocks the sodium channels and causes them to be paralyzed. So, this chemical does not get carried back to the colony. It only kills the ants that are exposed. It is often used for fleas and ticks in dogs. Its toxicity on humans and pets is very low even with high doses and is commonly used to treat cardiac arrhythmia.

What Else is Borax Good For?

Borax can also be used in many other household chores. You may have noticed that Borax is sold as a clothing detergent for washing machines. It can also be used for:

Washing Clothes

To help remove stains in your clothing, add a half-cup to your laundry. It is also a natural deodorizer and will refresh your clothes without a strong scent. To pre-treat stains, mix a half-cup of borax to a half-cup of water and soak your stained clothing for 30 minutes before washing.

Household Cleaner

You can use borax for all sorts of cleaning around the house. For example, to get rid of crayon and pencil marks from your walls or degreasing appliances. Mix two tablespoons with two cups of hot water. Put it in a spray bottle and shake until it is dissolved. Then just spray it on stains or grease and wipe it away.

Unclogging Drains

To unclog a drain, just mix one-quarter cup of salt, one-quarter cup of Borax, and a half-cup of vinegar. Mix well and pour it into the drain and wait 15 to 30 minutes. Run warm water into the drain for several minutes. If it is not unclogged, do it again and leave it for 45 to 60 minutes.

Removes Sink Stains

You can also remove stains in your sink with borax. Add one cup of borax to a quarter-cup of lemon juice. This will make a thick paste. Rub it into the stain using a sponge or cloth. Leave for 15 to 30 minutes and then rinse well with hot water.

Removes Rust

Borax can also remove rust. Add two tablespoons of borax to one tablespoon of lemon juice. You can also add a bit of water if needed to make a paste. Use a cloth or sponge to scrub the rust and then rinse it thoroughly afterward.

Cleaning Your Refrigerator

Mix one tablespoon of borax to one quart of warm water to clean grease and grime from inside the refrigerator. Spray it directly on spills and stains then wipe off with a clean cloth. The spray will help get rid of any stale odors in the fridge as well.

Killing Weeds

Borax also works for getting rid of weeds outside. You can either dust your weeds with dry borax or mix one-half cup to one cup of warm water to spray it on. Do not get it onto any plants that you want to keep.

Cleans Your Carpets

For dirty carpets, just mix a half-cup of borax to one gallon of warm water. Spray or pour it into your carpet cleaner before using it. It gives the cleaner extra power to get rid of stubborn stains.

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Related Questions

What is the Difference Between Borax and Boric Acid?

Borax is from the mineral boron, which is a natural mineral. But it also has two different kinds of sodium in it. Boric acid is extracted from the mineral and processed to turn it into a refined powder. Borax is a salt of boric acid but is not chemically the same.Borax is actually more toxic than boric acid. Borax is sodium tetraborate and boric acid is hydrogen borate. It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned borax from being used in food since it is not safe to ingest.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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