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 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, dehydrating 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.
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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:
- Rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a gas mask, if available, for protection.
- 50 ml of bleach for a small colony of termites. You will require more if it is a larger colony.
- 1 liter of water or more for a larger colony of termites.
- A tablespoon for measuring the amount of bleach to be used.
- A spraying bottle.
- A mixing bowl is large enough to occupy more than a liter of the mixture.
- A stirring rod.
How to use it
First, find a place that is well-ventilated for preparing the mixture to be used. If it is indoors, ensure all windows are open for proper ventilation. Then proceed with these steps:
- Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from harmful chemicals. A gas mask protects you from inhaling the fumes that the bleach might produce when mixing.
- Pour a liter of water into the bowl.
- Add 4 tablespoons of Clorox bleach to the bowl containing water.
- NOTE; for every liter of water, use 4 tablespoons of Clorox bleach, not more.
- Stir the mixture and allow it to settle down. Wait for about ten minutes for the bleach to dissolve properly in water.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and close its top tightly.
- Locate the termite’s colony.
- 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 enables the bleach to penetrate through the galleries and flood them, reaching more termites.
How bleach works against termites
The active ingredient in Clorox bleach is sodium hypochlorite, a compound responsible for the bleach’s stain removal and disinfection functions. 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 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 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 you mix water and bleach to kill termites?
It is okay to mix bleach and water for termites. However, use clean distilled water at room temperature. The same can be done when using vinegar to kill 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, using water at room temperature when mixing with bleach to kill termites is highly recommended. 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 the mixture’s effectiveness. 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.
Bleach for termites on wooden surfaces
Bleach destroys wooden surfaces. Despite the fact that bleach helps 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 at 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 the surface and the wood’s structure.
Points to note
Let’s see how bleach manages to destroy wooden surfaces.
First, 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 the wood, bleach seeps into the wood, after which the chlorine starts 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.
Using bleach for termites is not a bad idea. However, it has some disadvantages, like discoloring surfaces.
Be careful when using bleach because it can also alternate the soil’s PH. 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 that, other simpler methods are less harmful to the environment than 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, and termites which is our focus on this topic. Bleach can also get rid of mold, bacteria, and fungi.