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How To Kill Ants With Baking Soda [The Safe And Non-Toxic Way]

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In nature, ants can be quite fascinating to watch. After all, one little ant can carry up to 50 times their body weight! But when they’re in your kitchen, they’re nothing but a nuisance.

Whether you keep an immaculate home or tend to be a bit messy, it’s easy for ants to find their way indoors. But it’s just as easy to get rid of them — and you don’t even need to use any harsh chemicals or pesticides to do it.

You can get rid of your ant problem once and for all with a simple household ingredient that you probably already have in your pantry: baking soda.

Ready to learn how? Here’s how to use baking soda to kill ants.

How to kill ants with baking soda infographic

Does Baking Soda Kill Ants?

While baking soda alone can kill ants, you need to mix it with powdered sugar to make it work.

Why? Because the entire concept of killing them with baking soda depends upon the ants being attracted to it. Baking soda alone won’t attract them. But when you mix it with some sugar, you’ve got a surefire way to lure those ants right where you want them.

The Science Behind Killing Ants With Baking Soda

Not convinced that something as simple as baking soda can cure your ant problem? There is some scientific evidence to back this theory up.

Baking soda alters the body’s pH balance. While it’s okay for humans, in ants, it’s deadly.

Here’s how it works:

When the ants eat the baking soda, it reacts with the ant’s digestive chemicals and produces carbon dioxide. Some internet theories say that baking soda will make ants explode. While we don’t know that for sure, we do know that it dries out their bodies to kill them.

To understand how the baking soda method can be effective, just think about how ants live and behave. Ants live in colonies, and different ants have different roles to play. Some ants tend to the eggs after the queen ant lays them, while others are tasked with going out and collecting food.

The worker ants that go out to find food bring that food back to the colony to feed the other ants. So when they pick up your baking soda mixture and take it back to their nest, they’re actually helping to kill all of the other ants in their colony.

If you’re fortunate, they’ll kill the queen. Once the queen ant is dead, you won’t have to deal with any further infestations, (at least not from that colony).

Related:  How to Deal With a Mouse Infestation

Are Ants Something to Worry About?

But before you go killing all your ants with baking soda, it’s worth considering whether or not your ants are really an issue.

Most ants are harmless. However, it’s not usually the ants themselves that you have to worry about. Instead, you need to worry about what the ants might be carrying. Ants can bring bacteria into your home, including bacteria that can cause illness, asthma and allergies.

So, if you’ve been noticing more than just a few ants here or there around your home, it’s worth finding a (safe) way to kill the ants in your home. Luckily, baking soda is an effective, all-natural ant killer.

How to Use Baking Soda to Kill Ants

directly above of baking soda on the wooden background

Ready to put an end to those pesky little ants once and for all? Here’s how to mix up the baking soda concoction:

  • Take equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar.
  • Mix it together.
  • Pour it in a shallow container (like a lid from a jar).
  • Place that container close to where you see (or have seen) those annoying little ants.

If you don’t have a shallow container to use, you can sprinkle the mixture directly onto the floor, counter or window sill. It’s safe to place it wherever you’ve seen those unwanted intruders.

You can also add a bit of water to make it into a paste. If you know that the ants are coming through a certain crack in the wall, add the paste at the base of that crack so no more ants can get in.

Benefits of Using Baking Soda to Kill Ants

So what makes baking soda a better alternative to pesticides and bug repellents? For one, it’s non-toxic.

Baking soda is natural, and it’s perfectly safe for human use and consumption. It’s a common ingredient in baking recipes, and it’s also used in toothpaste. It’s safe for humans to touch and ingest.

Have babies or young children at home? They won’t suffer any harm in touching baking soda. Pesticides and toxic bug sprays, on the other hand, can be extremely harmful to little ones.

Another reason we love this method is that it’s super simple to make. You probably already have the ingredients you need right in your kitchen pantry. If you don’t, you can buy a small box of baking soda in any grocery store for as little as $1.

When it comes to sugar, it’s essential that you use powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar). Don’t swap that out for granulated sugar.

Why? Because powdered sugar and baking soda have the same look and texture. The ants won’t be able to distinguish between the two, so they’ll likely get a little sugar and a little baking soda in each bite.

But before you go killing all your ants with baking soda, it’s worth considering whether or not your ants are really an issue.

Most ants are harmless. However, it’s not usually the ants themselves that you have to worry about. Instead, you need to worry about what the ants might be carrying. Ants can bring bacteria into your home, including bacteria that can cause illness, asthma and allergies.

So, if you’ve been noticing more than just a few ants here or there around your home, it’s worth finding a (safe) way to kill the ants in your home. Luckily, baking soda is an effective, all-natural ant killer.

Other Natural Ways to Kill or Deter Ants Beyond Baking Soda

white vinegar for home cleaning chores, natural householding detergent, affordable product for housekeeping. rubber glove and kitchen sponge next to sprayer bottle

Don’t have any baking soda on hand or looking for an alternative — but still natural — way to kill or deter ants? Here are a few other options.

Pepper

If someone tossed a little sprinkle of pepper your way, it might make you sneeze a few times, but it otherwise wouldn’t be a big issue — but just think about how that little sprinkle would look to an ant! These granules of pepper can pose big problems for ant colonies, who find them irritating, just like a human might. Sprinkle some pepper from your spice cabinet around wherever you notice the ants and watch the insects flee.

Peppermint

Peppermint is often used to deter a range of insects and pests, and it works for ants, too. Mix peppermint essential oil with water, add it to a spray bottle and then spray the mixture around your ants’ points of entry.

Just remember — while peppermint essential oil is safe for use around humans, it can be irritating to pets, so try to keep the oil away from any areas where pets typically congregate.

Vinegar

Combine equal parts vinegar and water and spray the mixture onto any ants you see, as well as any points of entry that you suspect the ants are using. The quick fix helps kill ants on sight while also deterring future ants from entering your home. It might not smell the best, but it is a very safe solution.

Tea tree oil

Just like peppermint essential oils, tea tree oil can also be used to deter ants. Mix a few drops of the oil with water and spray it around your home, or soak cotton balls in the mixture and then place those cotton balls around windows and doors.

The one downside to using tea tree oil is that it’s not safe for use around pets.

Chalk

This solution may not help long-term, but it will confuse a line of ants that is making its way up your driveway or across your picnic area. Chalk interrupts the ants’ sense of smell, sending them scattering. Draw a line of chalk wherever you see ants outdoors.

Water

Yes, you can even use water to kill ants. If you haven’t yet noticed a lot of ants indoors, but you have noticed colonies of ants or ant mounds outside around your paved areas, boil some water and then pour the boiling water onto the ant mounds. The water will flush out the colony and kill the ants. However, you’ll have to pour the water on each ant mound that you find. Leaving one untouched will mean you’ve left some ants behind, too.

Salt

Make a strong mixture of salt and water and add it to a spray bottle. Then, spray the mixture directly on the ants. The ants can’t process the high amount of salt and will die. The only downside to using this all-natural and safe method is that it only kills the ants that you directly spray.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon actually suffocates ants. If you have any in your spice cabinet, sprinkle it around where you know ants are likely to come into your home or directly on any ant hills or colonies you see, and then let it work its magic, both killing and deterring ants.

Coffee grounds

Don’t throw away those coffee grounds if you’ve got an ant problem. Toss some coffee grounds around any places where ants are likely to pop up. The grounds will act as a short-term deterrent.

Related: Gnat Traps: 17 Ways To Get Rid Of Those Pests

Other Household Items That May Take Care of Your Ant Problem

Still coming up short of finding a way to get the ants out of your home for good? You may want to use one of these household items before you call the exterminator or other pest control professional.

Glass cleaner and soap

If you have a little dish soap and some standard glass cleaner in your cabinet, you can create an effective cleaner that will confuse the ants in your home, preventing them from coming back, even if it won’t kill them.

Ants leave behind a scented trail as they walk, which tells the other ants where to go. If some curious ants found their way into your home, then they’ve left behind a clear trail for their colleagues to follow, letting them know where to go for some tasty food. Wipe that ant trail away with a mixture of glass cleaner and soap.

Mix the two in a spray bottle and then spray the mixture onto areas where you suspect ants are entering your home.

Citrus and dish soap

This solution is a mixture of natural and not-so-much, as it requires you to use some dish soap, but if you have these ingredients handy (as well as a few days to wait), then you’ll be set.

If your family frequently eats oranges or lemons, you can keep the peels and use them as an ant repellent. Just add all the peels to a jar, cover them with water and then let the mixture sit for a few days. Drain the resulting liquid into another container and then add some dish soap and something sweet (like honey or molasses). Place the liquid in a spray bottle and spray it on ants to kill them instantly.

Boric acid or borax

While boric acid may not be a super-common household item, it is something that you may have on hand if you’ve ever dealt with any sort of bug infestation in the past, as it’s a fairly common remedy for both roach and ant infestations. Borax is also used for cleaning.

If you have any on hand, mix a little with some sugar (to attract the ants) and then set the mixture out in a shallow container. The ants will come by, grab the sugar and then take it back to the colony to share, but the boric acid on the sugar will kill them.

Just be careful with this popular remedy, though, as boric acid is toxic to humans, too.

The Ants Are Gone…Now What?

Once you’ve gotten rid of your ants, try to determine where they were getting in. If you can identify a crack in the wall or a hole in a window, seal it so that they can’t return!

Ants can find their way into any home, but the cleaner you are, the less likely they are to want to encroach upon your space. Keep your kitchen counters, windows and floors free of food and crumbs. The fewer food sources you provide, the less desirable your home will be to future ants!

If you have a constant ant problem outside, there’s one other thing you can do to keep those infestations at bay. Put some of your baking soda and sugar mixture into an empty soda can and place it outside. The ants will crawl into the can to get at and crawl right back out to carry it to their nest.

The can method is a way to protect small pets or other animals outside. The small opening in the can will make it impossible for animals to reach or be harmed by your poisonous ant killer.

Keeping Ants Out of Your Home FAQs

An infestation of ants with wings (termites?) crawling out of a baseboard

Have more questions about keeping ants out of your home, whether you use baking soda or any other method? We’ve got answers.

How long does it take to kill ants with baking soda?

If you’re looking for an instant ant killer, you’re likely going to need to look to the more traditional ant killers that you might find at the big box home improvement stores. Natural remedies typically take a little bit longer to work. 

If you only have a small ant infestation, baking soda and similar tactics may work within a few days. However, if you have a larger infestation, it may take up to, or longer than, a week.

Even if you think that your ant infestation is small and a certain remedy should only take a few days to work, though, remember that the ant colony that’s invaded your home is much bigger than whatever ants you see along your baseboards or windows. Even after you’ve killed all the ants that you see at one time, there are other ants waiting in the wings to come to your home. So, if you think your natural ant-killing method isn’t working, that might not be the case — you may just need to wait a little bit longer until the entire colony is taken care of.

Will baking soda kill every type of ant?

Most household ants are harmless. As mentioned above, the real danger comes from the bacteria that the ants can bring into your home. However, there are a few types of ants that prove a danger, whether to your actual health or to your home, such as fire ants and carpenter ants.

If you have a benign ant species in your home, then you can feel safe using baking soda to kill the ants over the course of several days or a week. If, though, you have a case of one of these more dangerous ant species, you likely want to eradicate the problem faster, meaning it might be time to opt for a more serious solution.

How can I make sure the ants don’t come back?

The best way to ensure ants inside your home don’t make a comeback is to practice good hygiene. However, even the most strenuous cleaning routine can sometimes leave room for an ant infestation. If you know you’ve been keeping things neat and tidy, look for ant attractants in or around your home and see if you can remove them. Pet bowls, trash cans, heavy foliage and compost bins can all attract ants and provide extra food sources.

Additionally, look for easy entry points for ants. You may need to repair some siding, floorboards, window sills or doors if these are allowing ants to easily come into your home.

If you’re looking for a more long-term natural ant deterrent, you might want to consider adding plants to your landscaping that will attract ant predators, who can help you keep the problem at bay. Frogs, lizards, caterpillars and beetles all eat ants, so look for plants that attract these. You can also plant flowers and herbs around your home that will actively deter ants all on their own, such as chrysanthemums, rosemary and basil.

How much will it cost to get rid of ants?

It entirely depends on what method you use. If you use baking soda or another one of our all-natural ant-deterrent solutions, then you may find that you can take care of your problem quite cheaply. However, if you have to call in a professional, then you may find that your bill runs into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on how bad the infestation is and how long it takes to treat.

Do I have to call an exterminator for an ant problem?

If you’ve tried some of the above natural repellents and ant killers, and you’re still not seeing the results you’d like, you don’t necessarily need to immediately jump to calling a pricey exterminator. Instead, visit your local big-box home improvement store and find some commercial repellents, insecticides, pesticides or bait traps that may be able to take care of your problem.

Is baking soda safe for use around pets?

If you’re looking for all-natural, DIY home remedies for how to get rid of ants, it’s probably because you want to keep your family safe, including your pets. If you’re considering using baking soda for your ant problem, though, you’ll want to take caution. 

Baking soda can be dangerous if your pet consumes a large quantity. A “large quantity” is considered as little as a third of a tablespoon of baking soda for dogs under 10 pounds and as much as 27 tablespoons for dogs that are extra-large and more than 90 pounds.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested any of the baking soda that you were planning to use for your ant problem, keep a close eye on them. Within a few hours, you’ll notice signs or symptoms that you need to call your vet, such as vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues, lethargy, tremors, shortness of breath or disorientation.

How to Kill Ants With Baking Soda

For a safe, non-toxic way to kill ants:

  • Mix equal parts baking soda and confectioner’s sugar.
  • Put the mixture in a shallow container or sprinkle it directly onto your counter, floor or windowsill.
  • The ants will be attracted to the sugar and will carry it back to their nest, killing the ants that eat it.

The next time you see ants in your home, resist the urge to use those stinky chemicals and spray cans full of pesticide. Instead, head to your pantry, mix up a quick concoction of baking soda and powdered sugar and let nature take its course!

You might also be interested in: How to Get Rid of Mold [And Identify it]

Holly Riddle

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