Will Bleach Kill Termites? Here’s All You Need to Know

Bleach is a liquid chemical used either industrially or domestically to whiten or remove stains or the natural color from fibers, textiles, and paper. Its corrosive nature can be used against bugs. In this case, household bleach that is available in local stores is always used to kill termites.

Common bleach like Clorox can kill termites because it contains sodium hypochlorite which can erode and burn the termites’ cells. Bleach will also cause severe dehydration on contact and this will dehydrate the termites to death. 

The amount of bleach used and its strength will determine how long it takes. For example, pure concentrated bleach will kill termites instantly while that which is mixed with water may take 15-60 minutes depending on the concentration.

How it works

The active ingredient in Clorox bleach is sodium hypochlorite. A compound that is responsible for stain removal and disinfection functions of the bleach. This compound makes Clorox bleach a potent chemical capable of causing cells to die by denaturing proteins in living organisms. 

On the other hand, let’s see what makes termites susceptible to Clorox bleach. Termites breathe through the simple diffusion of respiratory gasses from the environment through a moist porous wall on their soft exoskeleton. The exoskeleton absorbs moisture that helps in the diffusion of the gasses in and out of its body.

Therefore, after spraying Clorox bleach on termites, the sodium hypochlorite compound in bleach will be absorbed by the moist exoskeleton and get dissolved in the body of any termite that comes into contact with the bleach.

The compound will then start killing the termite by attacking the amino acids present in the termite’s body. These amino acids are responsible for manufacturing proteins in the termite’s body.

Eventually, the amino acids will get depleted. This will in turn make the proteins present in the body of the termite start losing the shape of their cells causing the termite to die. In this case, bleach will take at least five minutes or less to kill the termites.

Can bleach destroy wooden surfaces when using it to kill termites in them?

Yes, bleach destroys wooden surfaces. Despite the fact that bleach is helping you kill termites either in or on wood surfaces, the bleach is also destroying the wood.

It is therefore advisable to mix equal amounts of water and bleach when killing termites on wooden surfaces. However, you may use pure bleach if you can aim directly on the termites while spraying

To prevent Clorox bleach from destroying the wooden surface further, you must rinse the wood with clean water and dry the surface immediately after all termites are killed. The longer the bleach stays on the wood surface the more damage it will cause on both the surface and the wood’s structure.

Points to note when using bleach to get rid of termites on or on wooden surfaces

Let’s see how bleach manages to destroy wooden surfaces.

First of all, wood is generally made up of lignin in its structure. Lignin is an important component of wood. In that, it facilitates the strengthening of cell walls in the wood’s cell structures, providing rigidity and mechanical support for resistance to stress.

This is how bleach manages to destroy wooden surfaces. Some brands of bleach also contain chlorine in it. After landing on wood, bleach seeps into the wood after which the chlorine will start destroying the lignin in the wood. 

Bleach will not only destroy the strength of the wood by weakening it, but it will also affect the color of any wooden surface. It will either be decolorized or brown stains will start to show up afterward. This can really mess up a wooden floor or erode the beauty of any wooden structure.

Can you mix water and bleach to kill termites?

It is okay to mix water and bleach but not just water of any temperature. The water to be used must be of the correct temperature for the bleach to serve its purpose effectively in killing termites. 

Hot water that exceeds room temperature must not be used since it will decompose the active ingredients of the bleach making it ineffective. In fact, using hot water for the mixture is hazardous. Steamy hot bleach fumes will be produced from the mixture in the air. These fumes will irritate both your eyes and nose when inhaled.

Therefore it is imperative to use cold water that is of room temperature for mixing with bleach to kill termites. The use of cold water will minimize the chances of the fumes being produced by the mixture.

The ratio that you will use to mix cold water and bleach has a key role in how effective the mixture will be. A ratio of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 250ml liter of water is appropriate for the mixture to be effective. Prepare a mixture using the ratio mentioned above, then place the mixture in a spray bottle for spraying the termites.

How to kill termites with bleach

Bleach can be used to get rid of termites. As long as it is applied directly to termites, they will die in a matter of minutes if not instantly. Here is what you will need:

  1. Rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a gas mask if available for protection.
  2. 50 ml of bleach for a small colony of termites. You will require more if it is a larger colony.
  3. 1 liter of water or more for a larger colony of termites.
  4. A tablespoon for measuring the amount of bleach to be used.
  5. A spraying bottle.
  6. A mixing bowl, large enough to occupy more than a liter of the mixture.
  7. A stirring rod.

How to use it

First of all, find a place that is well ventilated for preparing the mixture to be used. If it is indoors, make sure all windows are opened for proper ventilation. Then proceed with these steps:

  1. Where rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from harmful chemicals. A gas mask is to protect you from inhaling the fumes that the bleach might produce when mixing.
  2. Pour a liter of water into the bowl.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons of Clorox bleach to the bowl containing water.
  4. NOTE; for every liter of water use 4 tablespoons of Clorox bleach, not more.
  5. Stir the mixture and allow it to settle down. Wait for about ten minutes for the bleach to dissolve properly in water.
  6. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and close its top tightly.
  7. Locate the termite’s colony.
  8. Start spraying the mixture directly toward the termites.

If the termites are located on a flat surface and are widespread on the ground, adjust the spray bottle to spray the mixture over a wider radius to cover more space. This will help prevent overconcentration of the mixture at one point.

Alternatively, if the termite’s colony is located on the ground where the termite’s galleries are located, you will have to adjust the spray bottle to spray a smaller radius. Galleries are the tunnels or holes that the termites have created. This is to enable the bleach to penetrate through the galleries and flood them hence reaching more termites. 

Caution

Using bleach for termites is not a bad idea. However, it has some disadvantages like discoloring surfaces. It can also alternate the soil’s PH if used on grass or in the garden. Bleach has a high pH level. On exposure to soil, the bleach will raise the ground’s pH level, blocking the soil’s naturally occurring nutrients.

Additionally, sodium hypochlorite in Clorox bleach is toxic to plants. This is due to the sodium content that will interfere with mineral absorption by the affected plant.

Despite all of that, there are other simpler methods that are rather less harmful to the environment than using bleach. These include:

  • The use of salt to eliminate termites. Upon contact, the salt will dehydrate the termites causing them to die of dehydration.
  •  Using powdery pepper. Spread the pepper on the termites’ dwelling places until they all die.

With the help of sodium hypochlorite, bleach can also be used against other bugs like roaches, maggots, spiders, including termites which is our focus on this topic. Bleach can also get rid of mold, bacteria, and fungus.