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Does Baking Soda Kill Ants?

If you’re a homeowner in Florida (where 231 species of ants thrive) and are stuck with a pesky ant infestation,  you’re likely seeking a quick fix that’s still safe for your family and pets. One common household item, baking soda, is often touted as a remedy for ant problems.

The rumors are true—this versatile compound is not just good for cooking and cleaning, but is in fact a natural ant killer too.

To understand how baking soda might affect ants, it's essential to consider the biology and behavior of these pervasive insects.

Ants are attracted to the sugars and proteins found in our homes, leading them to invade kitchens and other living spaces. Once one ant discovers a food source, it lays down a pheromone trail to lead others to the bounty. If baking soda can disrupt this cycle, then it could be a crucial tool in deterring ants.

Key Takeaways

  • Baking soda is a safe DIY remedy for killing ants.
  • Ants' foraging behavior makes them susceptible to consuming baking soda left out by homeowners.
  • Baking soda must be ingested to potentially affect ants, requiring strategic placement where ants are active.

Does Baking Soda Actually Work for Ant Control?

Expert Insight 

While Baking Soda or sodium bicarbonate has some effects on different pests it is not an effective solution as there is no consistency to the effects it has. They will eat it and the ones that do can die however the rest of the trail will identify it as the killer and avoid it. For any sight or major ant issue nothing will beat baits and exclusion of the cracks or crevices they are using to enter the home. Baits used by professionals will be delivered back to the colony and affect the colony before it can be identified as toxic by the targeted pest.

David Smith, Native Pest Specialty Tech and Branch Manager

Comparing Baking Soda to Other Ant Remedies

There are several other natural and synthetic ant killers available, including:

  • Vinegar: Works as a repellent rather than a killer due to its acidity and strong smell (which messes with scent trails).
  • Boric acid: More toxic than baking soda; it disrupts ants' stomachs and nervous systems.
  • Diatomaceous earth: A fine powder that absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing dehydration.
  • Borax: Similar to boric acid, it is often used in ant baits.

Baking soda is less toxic than boric acid and borax, making it safer for use around pets and children. However, it may not always be as effective as these stronger substances.

DIY Baking Soda Mixtures for Ant Control

Baking soda is a common ingredient in home ant control remedies. A simple mixture can be made by combining baking soda and powdered sugar. Ants are attracted to the sugar and will carry the lethal baking soda back to their colony.

  • Recipe for Ant Bait:

    • 1 part baking soda
    • 1 part powdered sugar
    • Mix well and sprinkle in areas where ants are observed.

How to Make Your Bait Better

To increase the attractiveness of the bait, homeowners can add natural additives. Peanut butter or syrup can be mixed with baking soda to entice ants that prefer protein or greasy substances.

  • Natural Additives:

    • For sweet-seeking or “sugar” ants (i.e. carpenter ants): Mix a small amount of syrup with the baking soda.
    • For protein-seeking or “grease” ants (i.e. fire ants): Combine baking soda with peanut butter.

Adding a few drops of essential oil, like peppermint, can also deter any ants due to the strong scent and its interference with scent trails.

Alternatives to Baking Soda

While baking soda is effective, other substances can be used. 


Using these simple but effective homemade solutions can help control ant issues in a safe manner without the use of harsh chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Baking soda has become a popular home remedy for ant control due to its ease of use and availability. Below are some pointed questions and answers regarding its effectiveness and application methods.

What's an effective DIY ant killer for outdoor use?

To tackle ants outdoors, people often use a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar. The sugar attracts the ants, and the baking soda, which is toxic to them, is ingested along with the sugar.

Is it true that fire ants can be eliminated with baking soda?

There is anecdotal evidence that baking soda can affect fire ants (especially when combined with a “grease ant” bait like peanut butter). However, it may not be the most effective method for complete eradication of aggressive fire ant infestations.

How do I make an ant-killing solution with baking soda and honey?

One can create a bait by mixing baking soda with honey to a consistency that’s attractive to ants (particularly sweet-seeking ants). The sweet scent lures them, and they carry the toxic bait back to their colony.

Can baking soda be used to safely get rid of ants in my garden?

Baking soda can be sprinkled around the garden to deter ants. It is important to use it sparingly and avoid plants, as a high pH can affect soil quality and plant health.

How can I craft a homemade ant trap without using borax?

Mixing baking soda with a sweet, sticky substance like syrup can serve as a homemade ant trap. Place the mixture where the ants' activity is noticed.

If I mix baking soda and vinegar, will it exterminate ants?

The reaction between baking soda and vinegar can kill ants on contact due to the fizzy reaction (and release of carbon dioxide) it creates. This mix is useful for spot treatments rather than long-term control.