Can You Eliminate Insects With Borax?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Kittisak Kaewchalun /iStock/GettyImages

When ants or cockroaches invade your home, you want a quick solution. Borax has been touted as a simple homemade solution for getting rid of unwanted insects, but can you actually eliminate insects with borax? Unfortunately, even though borax is a popular household staple, it's better used for cleaning than for getting rid of pests quickly.



If you want to eliminate an ant or cockroach invasion in your home, use boric acid instead of borax for a homemade pesticide solution.

What's the Difference Between Borax and Boric Acid?

Borax and boric acid are often confused because they're both created from the chemical compound boron, but they're two different products. Borax, also called sodium tetraborate, is best used as a cleaning solution in laundry detergent or to remove stains. Borax is often touted as a natural cleaning solution. However, it's still toxic to humans and pets if ingested and can cause eye irritation, nausea, skin rash, and vomiting in some people if they inhale it or are exposed to it.


Video of the Day

On the flip side, boric acid is mainly used as a pesticide to kill ants, cockroaches, and most arthropods that groom themselves. It can also be used as an herbicide against molds and fungi. Boric acid is sold in liquid, powder, and tablet form. You can also find it in store-bought insect traps and repellents.

How Do You Use Boric Acid for Pest Control?

Boric acid works as a poison against ants and cockroaches when they ingest it or by scraping away at their exoskeletons when they come into contact with it. Often, boric acid will get stuck to pests when they walk across it, and they end up ingesting it when they clean themselves afterward. Homemade bait traps are also popular to attract ants and cockroaches to the boric acid.


To attract ants, you can mix boric acid with sugar to create a trap and entice them to ingest it. Mix 1 teaspoon of boric acid and 3 tablespoons of white sugar in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup with warm water to the 1 3/4 line and stir the mixture together. Pour the mixture into small containers with a cotton ball and place it in spots with high ant activity in your home.

If you're looking for a quick solution, boric acid may not be your best bet since it will take a few days for results. To poison the unwanted invaders, it needs to build up in their system over a few days.


How to Safely Handle Boric Acid

Though boric acid is a natural component with a low toxicity rate, it can still cause issues and be hazardous if mishandled or ingested. If you're using boric acid as a pesticide around your home, keep pets and children away from the area to avoid contact. Do not use boric acid near your pet's food and water dishes or near any surface where it may come into contact with food.


For the best protection, make sure to wear gloves and safety glasses when handling boric acid. If a human or pet in your household ingests boric acid, call poison control at (800) 222-1222 for further guidance.



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...