Ants are incredible survivors who can stay underwater for twenty-four hours without dying. If that wasn’t bad enough, ants can also float on water, making them incredibly difficult to drown.
Luckily, with a little science, you can get rid of those pests. I will teach you what you need to know about why ants die in soap so you can get rid of them without the nasty chemicals you find in most ant sprays.
Soap alone will not kill an ant. Only when soap is added with water will it block their spiracle breathing tubes causing an ant to suffocate and die. Normally the ant can stay floating on the water’s surface without breaking the water tension and falling through. However, soap breaks the surface tension, making it easier for them to drown.
Table of Contents
Do Ants Die From Soap
Soap alone will not kill an ant. Instead, it is the effect the soap has on the water you mix it with. There is one exception to the rule, however. Laundry soap will often kill ants.
You can mix the laundry soap with water or water and sugar. When mixed with water, it breaks the surface tension like liquid dish soap.
However, when mixed with sugar water, it causes the ants to take some of the poisonous detergent back to their hill, thus killing many more ants.
How Do Ants Die From Soap
There are three ways ants die from soap:
- First, an ant can drown. When soap breaks the surface tension on water and lubricates their breathing tubes, the soap causes them to drown.
- Second, the ant can asphyxiate. A soap and water-covered ant will eventually dry off, but only the water evaporates, leaving a coated ant that cannot breathe through its blocked spiracles. The spiracle tubes are how ants passively exchange air. Though they don’t breathe the same way humans and most animals do, ants need air coming in and going out to survive.
- Finally, the soap may poison the ant. If you use the laundry detergent soap method, you can poison a lot of ants fairly quickly. The only drawback is that this isn’t a hundred percent effective.
Does Irish Spring Soap Kill Ants
Irish Spring soap is good for a lot more than washing your armpits. This particular soap is effective against many mammalian pests as well as ants. Moreover, this brand is useful against other insects as well.
Notably, no soap and water method is perfect. While Irish Spring will kill the ants it comes in contact with as well as other soaps, it won’t make the colony disappear.
Does Liquid Soap Kill Ants
Liquid soap is among the easiest ways to kill ants. Because solid or powdered soaps take longer to dissolve in water, they are far less efficient.
Meanwhile, you can easily shake up a blend of water and liquid soap in a few seconds. When you have an infestation on your hands, every second counts.
Additionally, liquid soap, specifically liquid dish soap, is the number one recommended DIY ant killer.
If you cannot afford an exterminator, don’t want chemicals sprayed all over, or live too far outside a city for that to be a practical solution, water, and liquid soap are your best bet for pest control.
Pour or spray the recipes in this article any time you see ants.
If you need to elevate your water-soap mix, you can split it into thirds and add vinegar. This stinky liquid can help kill ants, but it also helps destroy the scent trails ants leave behind.
It will smell vaguely like pickles for a while to a human, but for the more olfactory sensitive ants, that overpowering odor lingers much longer.
Are Ants Attracted To Soap
Ants are not attracted to soap. However, if that soap has added fragrances, it can draw ants into your home. Since ants have a superb sense of smell, anything sweet can easily catch their attention.
If you want to prevent your scented soaps from enticing ants into your home, there’s a simple solution. Keep all your soap, and shampoo bottles closed, and make sure to wipe away any residue on the outside.
As for dry soaps like bars and laundry detergents, please put them in Tupperware or Ziplock bags that seal airtight. Doing this will prevent the scent from escaping. After all, ants are not bloodhounds.
Dish Soap On Ant Hill
You can go outside and toss dish soap on an anthill. Sadly, that’s not the most effective way to get rid of ants. The survivors will pop back up a few feet away as fast as they can dig.
Instead of pouring concentrated dish soap on an anthill and wasting your soap, try this instead.
- Take a large pot of water and fill it most of the way.
- Boil the water on the stovetop.
- Turn the heat off.
- Add a cup of dish soap and stir. Blue Dawn is preferred because it’s gentle on animals and people.
- (Optional) Bring the temperature back up to almost boiling. If you were quick, you could skip this step.
- Carry the pot carefully to any anthills you have outside and dump the near-boiling, soapy water on top. Aim for the hole and pour slowly. Doing this will prevent splashing and get more water inside the hole.
Does Soapy Water Kill Ants On Plants
Not only does soapy water kill ants on plants, but it is also the best solution for the job. To do this, add a fifty-fifty mixture of Dawn and plain water into a spray bottle.
Shake it well so the soap and water mix, then set the sprayer to a fine mist.
When you spray ants on your plants with this blend, it does not harm the plants. More importantly, it won’t harm people or animals who come in contact with it, and it will wash off easily in the next rain.
The secret to this trick is the opposite of drowning ants in water. Instead of water getting into their breathing tubes, the soap covers them over, leaving behind a residue and smothering the ants.
Does Dish Soap Kill Ants Outside
It doesn’t matter where they are, inside or outside; soap and water will kill ants. You can use the spray method or the pour method, but either way, soap works.
Remember to blend it with at least fifty percent water for the best effect. Alternately, when you add too much water, the soap won’t have the same effect because it will be too far diluted.
Helpful Tips To Know About Ants and Dish Soap
- People often think the soap interferes with ants’ ability to float when it only affects the water’s surface tension.
- Almost any kind of soap works. As long as you mix it with water, either the spray or drowning methods will kill ants. This method is safe to use on indoor plants and surfaces. However, it is a slip and fall hazard for humans if you use soapy water on the floor. Please be safe and clean up when you’re done.
- Some soaps contain essential oils or other ingredients that can interfere with your plants, so always read the ingredients list before mixing a batch to spray outdoors.
Ants are surprisingly buoyant, and on top of that, they can survive underwater for an entire day. Adding soap to the water causes the surface tension to break and helps water get inside the very small spiracles these insects breathe through.
If the soap and water dry, enough soap will still block the spiracles or tubes ants, need to breathe. Killing ants around the house and in your yard is a lot easier than pest spray companies want you to believe.