Diatomaceous Earth vs Borax For Ants – Tested

Dealing with an ant infestation is not fun… ever. Whether you have a growing colony in your kitchen, bathroom, or any other room of the house, you will want to get rid of them. Before you pick up the phone to call a pest company, you can try some home remedies. In this guide, we’ll be comparing two common home remedies and testing their effectiveness. This is Diatomaceous Earth vs Borax for Ants!

Naturally getting rid of any pest, in this case ants, is always the best solution. Being mindful of the environment and the people or pets in the house makes finding a solution that gets rid of your pesky ants naturally, a good goal.

diatomaceous earth vs borax

Which is More Effective Against Ants – Diatomaceous Earth vs Borax?

Both diatomaceous earth and borax can be great solutions to your pesky ant problem. But when you stack up diatomaceous earth vs borax for ants, how do they fare? Diatomaceous earth is a better choice for an ant infestation for several reasons. 

  1. You don’t need to use any other ingredients mixed with it.
  2. It is safe for human consumption.
  3. It is safe around food, pets, children, and other household items.
  4. It works faster to kill the pesky ants compared to borax. 
  5. The ants don’t need to eat diatomaceous earth, just walk in it for it to work. 

What Attracts Ants?

Like many other bugs or insects, ants are attracted to food and moisture. They are looking for a place where their colony can thrive. If you happen to leave some food out, particularly sweet food, they will find it. Making sure food is put up is a good way to prevent ants from coming, but sometimes they make their way inside regardless. 

So what can you do to get rid of them? Treating an ant infestation with either diatomaceous earth or borax are two of the best ways to get the job done. Both are natural and therefore, can be used around humans and pets alike, although some precautions need to be taken.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a type of sand that is naturally derived from the earth. It is mainly composed of fossilized algae skeletons called diatoms. The diatoms are composed of a chemical compound, silica which is what kills the pests. 

There are two types of diatomaceous earth, one is food grade meaning it’s safe for humans and other mammals. The other type is filter grade and is not safe for humans. 

What is Borax?

Borax is a natural mineral that has a wide variety of uses. Most people have seen the powdery white version which is a common ingredient to many household cleaners and laundry detergents. 

Even though borax is a natural ingredient and is used throughout the house, it is not safe for human consumption and should also not be inhaled. 

Read our guide on using borax for ants!

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth to Get Rid of Ants

To use diatomaceous earth as an insecticide to get rid of unwanted ants, you will need the food grade kind. The silica that makes up diatomaceous earth is what attacks ants and other insects. The silica works by removing the outer layer of the ant’s exoskeleton which causes the ant (or other insect) to die of dehydration. 

The diatomaceous earth will stick to the ant as it walks through it but, the diatomaceous earth doesn’t kill instantly – which is a good thing. This gives the ant time to bring it back to the rest of the colony and kill them all. 

To be effective against ants, it’s best to notice where their path is and act quickly to treat the problem. There are a few ways to use diatomaceous earth when treating an ant problem.

  1. Sprinkle lines of diatomaceous earth where the ants will be traveling so they have to cross over it. Ants are smart and may alter their route if needed, so be sure to watch out and reapply the diatomaceous earth if needed. 
  2. If you see ant hills, you can use the diatomaceous earth directly on it. Simply sprinkle a thin layer over the entire ant hill.
  3. If you notice the ants are coming in the house, try dusting diatomaceous earth at the door thresholds, any cracks around the house, and any other doorways to prevent them from coming in. 

Pros of Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a top choice for people that are dealing with bugs, insects, and other pests. Let’s look at some of the benefits of this natural insecticide.

  • Easy to find – because of its many uses, diatomaceous earth is easy to find and is relatively inexpensive.
  • Safe around humans and pets – when using the food grade variety, diatomaceous earth is safe for human consumption. This is a definite benefit when needing to use it in your kitchen or around small children and pets.
  • Many uses – diatomaceous earth can be used in a variety of ways and has many benefits, such as: insecticide, anticaking agent, and even some health benefits. 

Cons of Diatomaceous Earth

Although there are many benefits to diatomaceous earth, you should be aware of the risks associated with it. 

  • Cannot be inhaled – even though food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for human consumption, it is not good to inhale. When it is inhaled, it can cause damage to your lungs.
  • Not enough evidence – many people claim diatomaceous earth has many health benefits, however, there is just not enough evidence to prove one way or the other. 

How to Use Borax to Get Rid of Ants

Borax is very effective at getting rid of ants. There are some things to keep in mind and you will need some other supplies and ingredients to safely treat your ant problem. 

The goal is to get the ants to consume the borax which is done by making a solution. Once ingested, the borax mixture will work from the inside out, killing the ants. There are a couple of methods to try when using borax to kill ants.

  1. The first method to try is  to make a solution of: borax, sugar, and water. Ants will not be attracted to borax alone, so you need to lure them with sugar. By dissolving sugar, borax, and water you can then soak cotton balls and place where the ants are. Be sure to use gloves when handling borax and do not reuse any containers or utensils that come in contact with the borax. 
  2. The second way to use borax to treat your ant problem is by making a powder of 3 parts sugar to one part borax. Mix this together in a bowl with a fork (use a plastic fork that you can throw away). You will still need to use gloves when handling the borax and do not reuse the bowl or fork for food. You will then dust or sprinkle the powder where the ants trail is for them to walk over. The sugar will entice them to bring the food back to the other ants. 

Pros of Borax

Borax is widely used to treat all sorts of insect infestations. Let’s look at some of the other benefits of using it.

  • Used in cleaning products – soaps and other cleaning products use borax as a main ingredient. It is great as a booster for laundry detergent.
  • Eliminates mold and mildew – with the high salinity and ph level of borax, it does an excellent job of getting rid of mold and mildew.
  • Insecticide – borax is known as an effective way to treat pests.

Cons of Borax

Even though borax is a naturally occurring mineral and has a wide variety of uses, there are some major disadvantages to using it.

  • Not safe to ingest –  borax is not safe to touch, ingest or inhale. When working with borax, you must use gloves and keep out of reach of children and pets. 
  • Toxic – because borax is toxic, it is not recommended to keep on hand.

Final Thoughts On Diatomaceous Earth Vs Borax For Ants:

Having an ant infestation is never fun. If left untreated, the ants can take over quickly making it even harder to get rid of them. Once you realize you have an ant problem, you must act quickly to remove them. 

Using a natural solution is a good idea to treat ants and other pests. It is quicker than waiting on an exterminator, cheaper than using one, and also does not use chemicals. Using either borax or diatomaceous earth to treat your ant problem are both good solutions. 

By making a sugar and borax solution you are serving up a tasty treat to the ants that will kill them. However, when using borax, you must exercise great caution as it is harmful to ingest, touch, and inhale it. 

Alternatively, using diatomaceous earth to treat ants, is a quick and easy solution. By simply spreading some of the powder where the ant trail is, they will walk through it and bring it back to their colony where it will cause them to die of dehydration. Be sure you are using the food grade diatomaceous earth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on diatomaceous earth vs borax for ants. I hope it’s given you a bit more clarity on these home remedies and how you can successfully use them for your ant infestation!

Resources:

http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7411.html

https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/what-diatomaceous-earth

About The Author:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. His main goal is to provide accurate and helpful DIY tips to keep your home pest-free and how to identify different types of household pests!