Does Baking Soda Kill Ants or is it Just a Myth?

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Does baking soda kill ants, or is it just a myth? While you can test this out for yourself right now, it’s probably best to do a quick read before you do it.

You see, the go-to sink de-clogger is a unique kind of an ant killer. People use it in certain conditions, but we can’t say that it’s as effective as many believe it to be. If you’re dealing with a severe infestation, you might want to know what baking soda brings to the table before you decide to use it.

Most Common Ant Killers

Insecticide sprays are perhaps the most common ant killers. Since most homeowners don’t want to bother with targeting nests, aerosolized spray treatments make the most sense. You can keep one on hand and immediately spray it on the ants that you can see.

Most sprays, made from either synthetic or natural ingredients, should kill ants in a few minutes. Some will even kill on contact.

Another tried and proven method of killing ants is with bait stations. You can place them anywhere inside and outside your home. The bait usually contains a powerful attractant that lures ants to it, making them believe that it’s food.

Once ingested, the bait releases a slow-acting toxin that remains active even after the ants die. People also refer to this type of poison as broadcasting. That’s because it can broadcast or spread the poison among all the ants in a nest, all it takes is a handful of infected ants.

Traps are also among typical options. They’re even preferred in some cases as they allow homeowners and exterminators to kill ants passively. And, even better, it keeps dead ants out of sight and out of mind. They also involve less cleaning afterward.

So Where Does Baking Soda Rank Among Ant Killers?

You can sometimes hear that people put baking soda in bait stations and traps. Mixing it with water or sugar water is supposed to help deal with an ant infestation quickly. In reality, it can kill ants but a lot slower than many of the other alternatives.

But some people swear by the baking soda and traps. Is there any truth to this myth? Yes and no. You can use baking soda with many homemade ant killer solutions. It’s an active ingredient but not one that causes the most damage.

It’s also important to understand that most ants will instinctively avoid baking soda. Therefore, you may not want to overuse it when making your DIY bait stations or ant traps. Powdered sugar and other attractants will mask its scent, easily fooling ants into eating baking soda.

When used alone, it works better as a repellent to keep ants away from your home.

So if you think about it, water, sugar, and baking soda traps don’t need any baking soda. Since the goal is to attract ants and drown them in the liquid, an ingredient with repellent properties shouldn’t be your first choice.

How Exactly Does It Work?

Baking soda is a salt that can cause a violent reaction when mixed with acid—kind of like how it does when combined with vinegar. So, the theory is that baking soda will trigger a violent chemical reaction in ants when they ingest it and that it will eventually cause the pests to explode.

In reality, it doesn’t happen that violently. That’s because ants can only ingest tiny quantities of baking soda, and even those are likely to be diluted. However, the chemical reaction, albeit slow, will still kill them.

The problem is that it can take days, sometimes even weeks, for it to happen. That’s not ideal since many natural insecticides cause death within minutes after ingestion or after contact. These are derived from essential oils that are just as safe to use as baking soda.

A Common Issue

Believe it or not, ants won’t always ingest the baking soda even if other attractants mask it. It’s also common for ants to simply carry the baking soda back to the colony, without it affecting them in any way.

That means that while it is a natural ant killer, it’s not only slow but also not guaranteed.

DIY Alternatives to Baking Soda Baits and Traps

There are other ways to repel or kill ants in your home without having to buy any insecticide. These methods involve widespread ingredients that you can find in every home.

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Soap

You can use just water to kill ants. But you’d probably have to boil it first. Pouring boiling hot water into a mound opening is a surefire way of exterminating an entire colony. Provided, of course, that you use enough water and that it’s piping hot so that it can reach the queen before it cools.

The water and soap mixture is a tested and proven classic. It’s a powerful solution, being thick enough to coat ants entirely and suffocate them. While you can’t target an entire nest with this mixture, it’s still an excellent way of killing off any strays.

Many homeowners have tried to use vinegar to kill ants. While it’s not nearly as effective as some might believe, it’s still useful in its way. You can use a mixture of vinegar and water as a repellent and prevent ants from infesting your home in the first place.

Just make sure that if you use it, you’ll use it on the most common entry points for maximum effect. Spraying your floors with it won’t have the same desired effect.

To Use or Not to Use Baking Soda?

Although it is useful, its efficacy is not too high. I prefer using more proven insecticides, both synthetic and natural. Of course, baking soda is considerably cheaper than both.

But, think of it this way. How long are you willing to wait until you’re sure all the ants in your home are dead? If you don’t want to wait or you can’t afford to wait, then you might want to try baking soda alternatives. You have traps, bait stations, sprays, powders, and numerous DIY solutions at your disposal.

3 thoughts on “Does Baking Soda Kill Ants or is it Just a Myth?”

  1. Commercial products don’t seem to be that fast acting either. I bought ant bait station and instructions said that ants should be gone in 2-4 WEEKS. That’s not very quick.

  2. I use talcum powder. I pack it into the cracks and it does tend to kill on contact–I had some old Johnson and Johnson baby powder that had talc as the only ingredient, and it works like a charm.

    Unfortunately, this week I ran out of that old baby powder and the ants are back with a vengeance. Trying the baking soda and sugar bait but I will keep the Windex trick in mind! I woke up this morning to a huge line of tiny black ants crawling across my countertop to the sink. Evicted those but definitely laid out the baking soda bait, and packed their entry point with plain baking soda. Ergh. We shall see how that works.

  3. The original Windex spray is by far the fastest, easiest, way to kill ants in your house (especially the little red ants). I have tried many homemade ant killers but none ever worked nearly as well as Windex. I discovered this by accident when my child spilled some sugary treat under the kitchen table and it went unnoticed until the next day when I found it covered with literally hundreds of little red ants! I ran to my stash of household cleaners and just happen to grab the Windex. I gave the sugary ant covered mess a few sprays of the Windex and instantly all the little red ant were dead in their tracks! The ants and mess all stuck to my paper towels and the whole cleanup was fast and easy. I have been using Windex ever since to clean up any similar ant infestation in my house!


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