The early signs of a termite infestation might start with finding tiny, white insects working their way around a pile of firewood in your yard or building narrow mud tubes on the side of your house.
Once termites have established themselves, they’re often difficult and expensive to exterminate.
But if you see the beginnings of an infestation, you might be able to use these home remedies for termites to slow them down — giving you time to get professional termite treatment.
Do Home Remedies for Termites Work?
Home remedies for termites aren’t very common, since most people don’t know they have termites until the infestation has already become severe.
After all, termites are rarely found wandering around your home. Once termites are already in the walls and foundations of your house, it’s difficult to locate exactly where they are and where they came from.
The home remedies below are effective for killing small termites that you see or catch, but they won’t help you eliminate an infestation.
For lasting protection against these wood-destroying pests, you’ll need a professional to help you either exterminate the entire colony or install termite-proof barriers in the soil around your home.
Home Remedies for Termites
Borax (Sodium Borate)
Borax, also referred to as sodium borate, is a home remedy that can be used to kill both subterranean termites and drywood termites. This substance can be used in powder form or mixed with water to be used as a spray.
When ingested, it dehydrates the termites and shuts down their nervous systems.
Borax can be applied both directly on any termites that you see, or it can be sprinkled or sprayed around areas where termites are active. The termites must come into direct contact with the borax for it to work.
We recommend coating infested areas with the borax powder or spray and repeat every other day for at least a week.
Diatomaceous earth is another home remedy that can kill both subterranean and drywood termites. This substance is made from sharp, fossilized skeletons of tiny organisms called diatoms.
In order to be effective, diatomaceous earth doesn’t need to be ingested. As long as the termites come in contact with the powder, it can kill them.
On a microscopic level, diatomaceous earth is made up of tiny cylinders that have incredibly sharp edges. These sharp edges are able to cut through the outer shell of a termite’s body. In a few days, their shell dries out resulting in the termites dying from dehydration.
Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled on carpets, furniture items, hardwood floors, and in corners and crevices. Outside, the powder can be spread in a 2-inch layer around the home or structure. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask during the application process. The abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth can cause skin irritation and damage to your lungs and nasal passages.
Orange oil, which can be purchased from most food stores, can be useful against small-scale termite infestations. This essential oil contains 92% d-limonene, a substance known for being deadly to termites but low in toxicity to humans and pets.
In one study, researchers found that 5 days of contact with vaporized orange oil extract resulted in a mortality rate of 68-96%. When the oil is applied directly to the termites using a syringe or spray, it causes their outer shell or exoskeleton to dissolve and lose moisture.
Another way to use orange oil as a home remedy for termites is to drill holes in infested wood and inject the oil into the holes. This kills any termites that come into direct contact with the oil while deterring others from feeding.
Neem oil is another essential oil with properties that make it a natural, eco-friendly pesticide. This oil comes from pressing the seeds of the neem plant.
You can use neem oil as a spray or a liquid to kill termites. When it comes into contact with a termite’s body, it prevents them from molting and interrupts their reproductive system. When ingested, it disrupt their feeding and cause them to starve.
To use this home remedy, apply neem oil to infested areas or wooden furniture and wait for termites to eat the treated wood. While this won’t get rid of all of the termites, it can be used to limit the damage while you find an exterminator.
If you suspect termites are in your home, wet cardboard can be used to make a simply yet effective trap. Since termites are attracted to both moisture and cellulose, damp cardboard serves as attractive bait to lure them out.
To use this home remedy, place a small stack of wet, corrugated cardboard next to areas where termites are active (e.g. baseboards, walls, corners, or furniture). As worker termites forage for food, they’ll venture out to feed on the cardboard.
Leave the trap out for a couple of days. Once you see termites congregating in and around the cardboard to feed, take the cardboard outside and burn it. Again, this method won’t get rid of all of the termites, but it can help slow down the infestation.
Soap and water is another option for short-term DIY termite control. All you need is a few tablespoons of dish soap, a few cups of water, and a spray bottle.
The soapy water forms a seal around a termite’s body that blocks its ability to breathe and causes it to suffocate. It also damages the outer shell of termite eggs, which stops them from hatching.
To use this home remedy, spray the soap and water solution on wood or soil where termites are active. As termites move around, they’ll get caught in the soapy mixture. You’ll may need to repeat this several times to keep these areas soaked.
Professional Termite Control
Generally, home remedies won’t help you eliminate a termite infestation. They can only help you slow them down so and buy you time to get professional help.
At MMPC, we have over 25 years of experience as termite control experts in New York City and the Tri-State Area. We offer fast and reliable termite inspections, as well as advanced termite treatment programs to exterminate existing infestations and prevent new ones.
If you need help with termite control, or have questions about termites, call (212) 219-8218 or click the button below to contact us.