3 Home Remedies for Termites – The Best Way to Kill These Pests

I was curious after my friends debated if insects like termites bite. While inspecting my attic I discovered them, and just seeing these wood-chewing insects produced visions of my paycheck disappearing to pest removal professionals spraying chemicals. I decided to locate home remedies for these insects as a money-saving idea.

I discovered basic questions need answering prior to picking up a home remedy for insect control. First, do you have subterranean, drywood, or dampwood termites? Next, are your dealing with pest or insect prevention, or control? Finally, are the insects localized in a small spot, or in several areas?

Best Way to Identify Subterranean, Drywood and Dampwood Termites

The University of Missouri Extension Service identifies about 2,500 termite species worldwide, with 45 species in the United States, but only three are worthy of consideration, and they are subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. Your geography helps identify termite species.

A winged insect doesn’t always equal a termite; It might be an ant.

There are two distinguishing aspects between an ant and a termite, which are that ants have pinched waists and bent antennae, whereas termites have thick waists and straight antennae.

Subterranean termites live in the ground, or in wood contacting the ground. They exist in all parts of the continental U.S. and into Canada, contributing to most of the estimated $4.5 billion in annual damage of these insects do throughout the country.

Drywood termites live in trees and untreated lumber and are known to move into the wood used to build homes. These insects reside in a narrow band along the southern portion of the U.S., from Florida to California. Drywood termites are larger than subterranean termites.

Dampwood termites reside in wood containing a high level of moisture, but not necessarily in contact with the ground. They live in coastal areas of the U.S. that experience a cool, damp climate. These are the largest of all termites, located primarily in the Pacific Northwest.

Use Extreme Temperatures to Kill Termites

Termites enjoy the ever-present warmth of your home away from extreme temperatures. Pull the temperature down below freezing and the insects die. Clemson University suggests using a freezer as a home remedy for killing these insects, especially in small wooden furniture.

First, wrap the wooden item in plastic. Place it in a freezer for at least two weeks in order to thoroughly kill any insect infestation, and then leave the plastic on once removed from the freezer to protect the wood from water marks, due to condensation after it warms up.

On the other end of the temperature spectrum, you can borrow a termite killing technique employed by professionals by using heat. Termites cannot endure temperatures over 120°F (50°C). Some pro pest specialists use massive tarps and heaters to kill termites in a home.

You should leave this approach to the professionals, but heat is available in other forms, such as a household steam cleaner similar to the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner. A half hour of a steam cleaner produces enough heat to kill termites within a section of wood.

Use Boric Acid Wash to Get Rid and Prevent Termites

One way to stop termites from entering wood in your home is to purchase boric acid, or borate solution, in a commercial formulation and spray or brush the material onto the wood, usually prior to construction or on a remodeling construction project to an existing home. Boric acid works on ants, and will likely work with other insects at the same time.

This method is great if you want to get rid of the termites as well as prevent them from coming back. Many people have been using it throughout time to kill the little pests, and get rid of them forever. ​Read the instructions, before doing anything as there is always a proper way to do it.

Tim-bor® is such a product and it should be applied twice on separate days to bare wood. Watch the following YouTube video to see how this boric acid wash is applied during a remodeling construction project to a World War II-vintage home in Austin, Texas.

Boric acid is extremely toxic to a wood-eating insect, such as termites, yet it contains a low toxicity to humans and mammals, such as your dog or cat. With a couple of treatments, wood treated with borate or boric acid is effective against these insects for a very long time.

If there is a problem to this approach, it’s that water is the carrying agent, so wood treated with boric acid cannot become wet. In other words, this is only a treatment adequate for interior wood, not wood exposed to the outside elements.


Chemicals are usually used to kill termites, but you have three easy home remedies for termites at your disposal, which are:

  • placing small wooden furniture into a freezer for a couple of weeks;
  • using a steam cleaner, such as a McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner, on wood inside your home for 30 minutes; or
  • treating bare wood during construction or remodeling with a boric acid wash, such as Tim-bor®.

These are easy to accomplish do-it-yourself tasks that will not only kill these insects, but keep them from infesting your home in the future. So get rid of these pests with the products that actually work!

Find more termite and pest related tips on the Attic Pest Authority.