Borax vs. Boric Acid for Pest Control: Safe and Effective?

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Original photo by Walkerma

Borax and boric acid are essentially the same thing and normally associated with making homemade laundry soap. Both materials contain the element boron. Usually, Borax is mined and refined from tourmaline, kernite, and colemanite. Boric acid is mined from the mineral sassolite. In general, the two materials act the same and, in theory, can control pests equally well (although that wasn’t my personal experience).

The way that these materials work is by eroding the waxy coating on an insect’s skin, which causes it to dehydrate and die. Usually, to get insects interested in the powder, you may have to add a bait to the powder, by mixing it with sugar, honey, jelly, peanut butter, or another tasty material. Wasps are attracted to boric acid-laced meats. Within a few days, the insects that touch or eat the powder will die.

Toxic Risks of Borax and Boric Acid

Although Borax and boric acid is a more natural pest control than the sprays available through your local pest control source, or at the grocery store, it is not non-toxic by any means. If you (or your children, or your pets) eat borax or boric acid, the powder can cause nausea, vomiting, throat swelling, and other health problems. If you (or they) eat too much, a hospital visit may be necessary. That’s never a good thing.

To use the material safely, apply the powder in cracks and behind appliances, and do not use within a child or pet’s reach. Some people also report success with using the powder as a barrier around the foundation of their home and in any openings leading into the house.

My Borax Pest-Control Experience

A few years ago, some of the small roaches, often known as German roaches, invaded our kitchen. They not only invaded the kitchen, but they also decided that our electronic items were the perfect nesting grounds. Needless to say, we wanted the pests gone as soon as possible.

Since we have a young child in the home, we wanted to avoid strong pesticides, if possible, so we tried using the Borax mixture to control the pests. We mixed the powder with sugar, just like most instructions say. We sprinkled the powder along the cracks and crevices of the walls in the kitchen. After a few days, nothing happened. I don’t think the powder killed a single roach. Perhaps we had the ratio of powder wrong, or maybe the roaches were too smart to eat the bait – but we saw exactly zero dead roaches after trying to use this pest control method.

More Pest Control Resources:

Have you used Borax or boric acid to control pests in your home? Do you have any tips?

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About the Author


Brenda has loved preparing for things since childhood. She has been known to plan events sometimes years in advance, and loves finding better ways to prepare for emergencies and the future.

You can follow Brenda at her two blogs, Daily Mayo and Schooling a Monkey.

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Comments

  1. Jerry Eckardt says:

    I have used boric acid on several occiasion as pest contro ans each time ith success. Keep in mind that it is not an immediate process – the insects must pass it to others and It take time, yet is is effective. Effectiveness is increased if one is thorough in placing boric qcid in as many of their pathways as possible.

    • Years ago while living in Houston, we were prone to roaches.. The roaches would come in through the sewers. I bought boric acid in a squeeze bottle which is still available today. I would squeeze the powder around the back of my pantry shelves and under my appliances. Whenever the roaches walk through it, they will clean their feet by licking them and ingest the powder. It takes awhile, but eventually the roaches disappear for good. I think this is the main ingredient in most roach traps.

  2. Candace says:

    I can not take it a single second longer! I want them OUT of my house! i HAVE SO MUCH boric acid applied to my kitchen that it looks as if i have chalked my entire kitchen! It has been two weeks and i only see a few bugs dead every morning, The powder seems to draw them out of their hiding places,where i have to actually see them! How did this happen to me? We have lived here 20 years and NEVER had so much as water bug indoors. Even with three of the piggiest teen aged boys with pizza under the bed did we have a bug, The only thing I can think of is that 6 months ago we bought a like new side by side refridge from an home owner,maybe they hitched a ride.

  3. george milton says:

    Sounds like you always had perfect conditions for roaches but never had them introduced to the environment until you brought them home in that new appliance. Getting rid of them if they are now dug in through all your furniture and appliances would likely mean not only killing the live bugs but also their hatching eggs.

    This involves cleaning and dusting every place they might hide with boric acid (never ever use sugar which can make it worse – yeah if you want a billion roaches in your home sprinkle sugar everywhere and sit back) if you want to mix it with anything mix it with baking soda which neutralizes their ability to eat and causes them to become very agitated and mobile as they slowly starve.

    Next step after a few weeks of the initial steps to purge them with common boric acid and baking soda and motel traps would be to use a aerosol bomb to bomb the home twice. Once to kill the bugs and second time a couple of weeks later to kill the hatching eggs and any possible survivors. After the first stage you should have an idea where they may be hiding, so place the foggers near those problem appliances and areas. Finally clean all surfaces off again and dust with boric acid again. If you keep the place clean moving forward they should then be gone and if somehow one survivor turns up you should have him on his way out with little challenge.

  4. george milton says:

    Oh one thing I forgot to mention is soap water. Your number one first line of defense and primary weapon against pretty much ALL insects should always be simple SOAP WATER.

    Soapy water can be made by melting a bar of soap in a jar of water and load it into a spray bottle and it will work as a mostly non-toxic (to humans) completely toxic (to insects) bug spray. Some people use “dish soap” and it usually works in a pinch but I prefer real bar soap like KIRKS brand (or home made bar soap) for the higher oil content and better quicker kills and I don’t mind it on my skin as much as the fake Polmolive type liquid dish soaps (but most of those I have tried work to kill bugs too)

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