How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax

Ants are the worst! Whether they’re in your garden or finding their way into your home after a big rain, they’re a huge pest! And those store bought ant traps only kill the worker ants who actually find their way to the trap. Luckily there’s a really simple way to get rid of ants (including the larvae and queen!) with borax and sugar!

How To Get Rid Of Ants: All you need to kill the whole colony is borax and sugar!

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We had so many ants find their way into our house after the crazy rain storms we had in spring; they were everywhere! We put down bait traps but it only seemed to kill the ants that actually ate the bait; they didn’t take it back to the queen because, sure enough, the next day/week/month we had more ants finding their way into the house!

And in my garden there were so many ants all over my chamomile plants that they drove away all the ladybugs I released to help with the aphid infestation! But after I put out this borax solution, all the ants disappeared from the garden and I was able to release ladybugs who ate all the aphids. Win-win! And, even better, we haven’t seen a single ant in the house since!

How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax And Sugar

You only need a few things: (affiliate links below)

First, let’s talk about the difference between borax and boric acid. In the most basic terms, borax is a mineral that is mined from the ground, and it turns into boric acid with further processing (usually exposure to an acid such as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid). The borax you can buy in stores is usually 20 Mule Team Borax, which is labeled for use in laundry. It’s actually only 99.5% borax (the mineral), but that’s close enough! So for the purposes of this tutorial, I mean 20 Mule Team Borax when I say borax.

Both borax and boric acid are toxic if ingested. I don’t want to spark an argument over just “how toxic” they are; you can do your own research and form your own opinions. But in my opinion, when the labels say “Toxic if ingested, keep out of reach of pets and children”, it means it’s toxic enough that I don’t mess around with it!

In terms of using borax and boric acid as a pesticide, boric acid is labeled for use as a pesticide, while borax is labeled for use in laundry. But because of the high concentration of borax (the mineral) in borax (the product), it seems to work just as well as boric acid when used in this sugar mixture.

So, all of that to say, for the purposes of this tutorial, you can use either boric acid or borax to kill ants! And, whichever one you use, remember to keep it away from children and pets, and be cautious as it might cause irritation on your skin or mucous membranes if touched or inhaled!

What do ants eat?

It may seem like ants eat anything and everything, but that’s not true! Adult ants only eat liquids; they can’t digest solid foods. Larvae, on the other hand, can process solid foods into liquid form, and the queen feeds on that liquid. So to fully kill an entire colony of ants you need bait that is both liquid and solid so that the worker ants eat the liquids, and bring the solids back to the nest for the larvae and queen.

Directions:

For both the liquid and solid ant baits, you want to mix the borax or boric acid into the sugary bait in a 1 to 3 ratio.

I used maple syrup for the liquid bait, but honey would work just as well. Microwave the syrup (I used 3/4 C) for a few seconds until warm. Then mix in your borax or boric acid (I used 1/4 C). Stir until combined.

For the solid ant bait, mix the borax or boric acid in with powdered sugar (again I used 3/4 C sugar and 1/4 C of borax or boric acid). Stir well to make sure it’s completely mixed.

For ants in the kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else in your home:

Go outside and find a trail of ants. Using a spoon, drop a big glob of the liquid mixture right onto the trail of ants. Even if the trail of ants goes up a wall, just drip some liquid down the wall on top of the ants. This ensures the ants can find the bait; if you drop it even just a few inches away, they might walk right past it on their way into your house! (See how the liquid on the white trim has ants all over it, but the liquid a few inches away on the wood fence post has no ants? The ant trail went up the white trim, not the wood post, so they didn’t even notice the bait on the wood!)

How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax-3

If you find an ant trail on the ground or any other horizontal surface, sprinkle some of the solid mixture a few inches away from the liquid glob. Alternating liquids and solids every few inches, drop each kind of bait onto the trail of ants two or three times.

How To Get Rid Of Ants: Kill the whole colony with borax and sugar!

Then find another trail of ants and repeat the process! Just make sure your globs of liquid are pretty big; otherwise they’ll evaporate too quickly before the ants can drink it all.

How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax-4

Within 20 minutes you should see tons of ants flocking to your liquids! Don’t worry if you don’t see a bunch of ants on the solid bait; they will carry pieces of it back to the nest for the larvae. After about three days the ants should be gone!

For ants in the garden:

If you have ants in your garden, do NOT drop the ant bait directly onto the soil! Borax and boric acid can act as herbicides and may harm your plants! Put the mixtures on tupperware lids and set those in your garden instead. As long as you’re careful when you water your plants, and you pick up the lids/bait before it rains, the ants can get to the bait but it won’t soak into the soil and harm your plants!

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Garden: Kill the whole colony with borax and sugar!

I’m so thrilled with how well this worked for the ants in our home and garden! It definitely works better than the store bought bait traps that we tried. How do you deal with ants in your home?

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Anne says

    6 years ago

    This really works! I had little black ants in my kitchen–in the sugar, in the honey pot, everywhere! The would not eat purchased ant bait. We could not find the trail outside; could not find the nest. I used the liquid form of this and put it on cotton balls placed in 2 or 3 places on my counter. I put the cotton balls on a jar lid for easy removal. Soon after I put out the cotton balls, they came! After 2 or 3 days I never saw another ant! This was about 4 months ago and they have never returned.

  2. Lola says

    6 years ago

    Sweet & Low kills the ants too! So I would use sweet and low instead of powdered sugar. Give em a double whammy!

  3. aina sakina says

    7 years ago

    Hi! I am so glad I found this post.. Thank you so much for sharing.. In my house (I am from Malaysia), they go to our plain drinking water too! Ants drives me crazy!! Since I am living in an apartment, can I use your tips inside our home? Is it safe? I have a 15mth old baby..

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Borax is harmful to humans and pets if they eat it, but it’s not harmful just to be in the same room with it. If you can put it somewhere where the baby can’t get at it for 3-4 days, then it’s perfectly safe to put it indoors! I would just put the mixture in a small dish so that you can easily clean it up later, and if you have any pets, make sure to put it somewhere they can’t reach it as well!

  4. Renee says

    7 years ago

    I have 2 dogs and fire ants. Any suggestions for a pet safe solution?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Hmm, the only pet safe solutions I’ve tried (those little bait traps) didn’t work so well for us in our home. Is it possible for you to keep the dogs inside for a few days after you set out the borax mixture? If you set it outside on flat tupperware lids, it only takes 2-3 days for the ants to eat it, then you can pick up the lids and let the dogs back out. Or if there’s another way to keep them away from wherever you set the bait out, like if it’s on the other side of a fence or something, that could work. I wish I had a better answer for you!

      • Renee says

        7 years ago

        Thank you, I will try keeping them out. I can close the area off, I will make sure I can before I set out the trap.

        • Kelly Edwards says

          6 years ago

          I used this in my yard, dog yard and the house. The ones I used in the dog yard I set a large wired dog crate up and set the borax mixtures in that and set it over the ant trails. TAADDAA!! the dogs can’t get to it and the ants can.. It works unless you have mischief dogs.. same in the house to keep the cats safe. I used the smallest cat crate I had and put the mixtures in there and closed it up and put it on and even helped the ants in the crate with a tiny bit of JUST sugar mixture. Works great!!

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            6 years ago

            Super smart! I’ll have to try that because we have ants in the house again after all the rain last week!

      • Corinne from Florida says

        6 years ago

        You might try putting it in a clean, dry squeezable mayonnaise jar, laid on it’s side with the top open across an ant tail or near a colony. Maybe you could also put a bucket or something over it with something heavy on top. Ants are small enough to get in and out (for the other ones out foraging to get to the nest) but it should discourage your dogs for a couple of days. That’s what I’ve been planning to do anyway; I have the same problem and also have horses to deal with as well. The ants get in their food and I don’t like spraying with more toxic chemicals. I have used borax in both forms for years but if you don’t use it as a bait they just come back. Also there are some types of ants that go for protein so maybe the mayo smell might attract them as well. Also, I bought some borax (the chemical) at a dollar store (always the cheapest place to get it) but the nozzle keeps getting clogged up when you try to “puff” it, so I am planning on using a Parmesan cheese container (the kind that has the holes on one side of the lid) to make it easier to sprinkle it around where animals can’t get to it.

        • Corinne from Florida says

          6 years ago

          That’s ant “trail” not “tail”–although if you get it on their tail end I’m sure that would work too!

        • Lynn says

          12 months ago

          Try one of those ketchup or mustard refillable containers with the long conical tip for squeezing into crevices

      • Bonnie says

        9 months ago

        Give dogs milk if they eat the cotton ball. It really won’t hurt the animals.
        Do not induce vomiting.
        Found it on Borax box.

    • Ann says

      3 years ago

      Try using those clam shell containers like what you get from the grocery store that strawberries / berries come in. They have holes in the sides so the ants can get in but pets (or birds) can`t.

  5. Courtenay @ The Creek Line House says

    7 years ago

    One of my favorite tricks ever for sure! I’ve used a similar recipe in my living room and was so amazed at how quickly all those ants were gone!

  6. Gwen says

    7 years ago

    What a great way to deal with those suckers! I’ll have to try it out!

  7. Rachel Rockwell says

    7 years ago

    Gotta love Borax! It’s great for so many things. I need to try this recipe next time the ants come marching in!

  8. Julie V. says

    7 years ago

    Thanks for the liquid vs solid information.
    When I did liquid bait, I put it on pieces of plastic wrap to make it easier to clean up. I have since taken to using dry bait at a resurgence of ants, but now will try using both since I now know better 🙂

      • Zella Harvey says

        5 years ago

        what was the measurements for the ingredients again?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          5 years ago

          It’s a 1:3 ratio of borax to sugar (for both liquid and solid). So 1 part borax and three parts syrup or sugar or honey; it doesn’t matter what measurement you use as long as it’s consistent, like 1 teaspoon borax and 3 teaspoons syrup, or 1 cup borax and 3 cups syrup. But I used 1/4 cup borax and 3/4 cup syrup and it was plenty to do indoors and outdoors; you probably don’t need more than that!

          • Lisa says

            3 years ago

            can I use corn syrup?

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            3 years ago

            I haven’t tried it but it should work. Anything sweet should attract them.

    • Patty says

      4 years ago

      What is your dry bate

  9. keri @ shaken together says

    7 years ago

    So glad I found this post, Jessi – the ant hills in Florida need their own address!

  10. Ace says

    7 years ago

    We are currently having a bit of an ant problem, what with the changing seasons and all that. This is a really helpful article for our situation! Thank you very much

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