Does Vinegar Kill Termites? Here’s How to Use it

Vinegar comprises acetic acid, water, and traces of other chemicals. The acidic content in vinegar can be used to kill insects like termites depending on the type and how it is used. In this case, white vinegar is one of the most effective in killing termites, while Apple cider vinegar is good at repelling them. 

White vinegar can kill termites because it contains acetic acid enough to corrode their exoskeleton. The acid will soften the termite’s exoskeleton on contact, thus leaving it soft and weak. Once the acid penetrates through the outer layer, it will dissolve the termite’s body contents until it dies.

The type of vinegar used will determine how long it takes to kill termites. For example, if the vinegar used contains more than 10% concentration of acetic acid, it may take 12 to 24 hours to kill them. A lesser concentration may take at least two days to be effective. 

For successful results, use white vinegar containing 15 to 20% acetic acid concentration. As an alternative, you can add lemon juice to raise the concentration of acetic acid.  

How it works

The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. The acid is responsible for great cleaning and disinfection functions. It also gives it a sour taste and pungent smell. When vinegar comes into contact with living cells, it is capable of regeneration depending on how concentrated the solution is.

On the other hand, termites breathe by 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 vinegar on them, the acetic acid in it will be absorbed by the moist exoskeleton and dissolved in their bodies. The acid will then start killing the termite, causing its cells and tissues to swell. Eventually, all the cells and tissues in the termite’s body will be denatured, and decomposition will kill them.

How to get rid of termites using vinegar

To use vinegar to kill termites, here is what you will need:

  1. White vinegar
  2. 2 lemon fruits
  3. Hot water oiled at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more
  4. Spray bottle
  5. Rubber gloves and safety goggles for protection.

Steps on how to use it:

Before you start, protect your hands with rubber gloves and keep the solution for your eyes. Then proceed as follows:

  1. Mix the juice of two lemons with half a cup of vinegar and a cup of hot water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle for easy spraying on infested areas.
  3. Spray this combination onto mud holes entrances to the termite’s galleries or places you suspect termites in your house.
  4. After 2 days, check to see if the termites have been eliminated. If not, spray the area again.

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 their colony is in the ground where the termite’s galleries are located, you must adjust the spray bottle to spray a smaller radius. Galleries are the tunnels or holes that the termites have created. This enables the vinegar to penetrate through the galleries and flood them, reaching more termites.

What kind of vinegar kills termites?

Knowing the type of vinegar to use when killing termites is important. Some are weak, while others are strong. How strong a particular vinegar is against termites is determined by the percentage of acetic acid content in them. Below is a table showing common types of vinegar alongside their respective acetic acid concentration:

Type% Acidic StrengthResults on Termites
White Vinegar15 – 20Very good
Apple cider vinegar5-10Good
Rice wine vinegar6.6 – 7.6Average
Balsamic vinegar6Below Average
Vinegar for termites

The best type to use is white vinegar because it contains a good percentage of acetic acid that will kill termites faster. But this does not mean that the others can’t get the work done. They will all kill termites but slowly as compared to white vinegar.

Can apple cider vinegar kill termites?

As an alternative to using white vinegar, apple cider vinegar can be used to kill termites. However, It is considered weak when it comes to killing termites due to low acetic acid content. It contains a 5 to 10% concentration of acetic acid and about 95% percent of water in it. 

Therefore apple cider vinegar is better at repelling termites than killing them due to its concentrated pungent smell. It will take longer for it to kill termites due to the low concentration of acetic acid in them. If used, it must be done regularly to attain effectiveness.

How often to spray vinegar for termites?

The termite infestation level will determine how often you will use vinegar against them. The larger the colony, the longer it will take to kill them. Also, the type of vinegar used will play a role in determining how long it takes to kill them.  

You can use vinegar at an interval of two days apart within the week if it’s outdoors. While indoors, once a week should be fine. Using white vinegar is more effective than apple cider vinegar since it kills the termites faster. Hence you will spray less often to kill the termites.

Does vinegar kill termite eggs?

Vinegar destroys termite eggs by acting on the proteins present in them. Termites’ eggs are mainly made up of proteins in them.

Vinegar will break the chemical bonds that hold the protein strings. This will in turn make the proteins present in the termite’s eggs start losing the shape of their cells hence destroying the egg.

Why do termites hate white vinegar?

Termites hate white vinegar because it contains enough acetic acid content to kill them. They have a soft exoskeleton that is permeable to moisture from the surrounding. Hence vinegar being in solution form, makes it easily absorbed by the termite’s exoskeleton.

The exoskeleton will be softened upon absorption, exposing the termite’s cells and tissues to the acid. Afterward, the acid will cause the cells to swell, killing the termite slowly.

Can you spray vinegar on wood to kill termites?

Spreading vinegar on wood to kill termites is okay, but this should be used sparingly. Just like when using bleach for termites, it is advisable to dilute the vinegar with water at room temperature when using it on wood, especially if the wood is not coated with any finishing. 

Due to its high acidic content, white vinegar may damage the wood’s finishes and cause decolorization. The finish protects the wood floors; vinegar may destroy the wood if there is no coating. The acetic acid will break down the finish on the surface of the wood. Eventually, the wood will shine less and have a dull appearance over time.

Caution 

When using vinegar to kill spiders, you’ll have to consider the following:

  1. Vinegar can burn when it comes into contact with the skin.
  2. Avoid soaking clothes in concentrated vinegar because it might destroy the fabric.
  3. Finally, avoid getting vinegar in your eyes. Prolonged eye exposure may cause loss of vision.
  4. 4 The same steps in this article can also be applied when using vinegar to kill maggots.