How to Kill Termites: 5 Home Remedies for Termites in Your Walls

Termites infest a hole in a wooden wall board.

Perhaps you were “lucky” enough to witness a termite swarm. Perhaps you found piles of discarded termite wings on your floor. Or perhaps you got a big surprise when you opened your wall in preparation for that big home improvement project you’re working on.

Regardless, you’ve discovered that you have termites active in your walls.

The damage termites cause can get expensive quickly and by the time the average homeowner knows they have termites, the problem is often quite extensive. You need to get rid of them fast, but how do you do it? Here are some popular DIY ideas to get rid of termites in your home. We explain how well they work and how your can eliminate termites for good.

1. Does Soapy Water Kill Termites?

Termites use oxygen, but they don’t have lungs and don’t breathe the way humans do. Instead, they essentially breathe through their skin. In fact, most insects “breathe” this way and that’s why soapy water is effective at killing most types of insects. The soapy film covers their bodies and basically suffocates them.

Mix 6 tablespoons of liquid soap with 8 cups of water in a spray bottle and shake it up. Spray the area where you’ve discovered termites and watch them start dying off. Repeat as needed for several days.

The great thing about soapy water is that you don’t have to worry about toxicity. Pets or kids might get in the soapy water, but it won’t cause any serious harm.

2. Does Vinegar Kill Termites?

A spray bottle and bottle of white vinegar.

White vinegar is another effective substance for killing termites and other insects. There are multiple ways you can use it:

  • Straight
  • Diluted in water using a 1:1 ratio
  • Mixed with lemon juice 1:2  
  • With a bit of oil 1:4

All these solutions are effective and kill termites on contact. Experiment and see which one works best in your home.

Again, spray the affected area as well as any nearby areas that are also likely to have termites. Remember, you won’t always see termites hard at work, but they are there, slowly destroying your house or business.

Vinegar is another great solution when you need a non-toxic remedy.

3. Orange Oil for Termites

Readily available orange oil contains a compound called d-limonene that is quite effective at killing termites. To apply it, put on a pair of gloves and use a rag to slather it around areas where you’ve noticed termite activity.

You can also inject the oil into the walls if you can identify the areas where the termites are most active. Continue to apply the oil over a few days to give more termites a chance to run through the oil and meet their maker.

4. Water Your Yard

Subterranean termites build their nest outside and underground. If you know where the termite nest near you is, try flooding the area with your garden hose. Subterranean colonies live underground and with this method you have a shot at killing their queen — the most effective way of neutralizing the threat.

Termites also create a network of underground tunnels that they use to travel between your house or business and their queen. Soaking the yard can flood these tunnels and cause them to collapse. This will kill some termites as well as limit their access.

5. The Old Wet Cardboard Trick

Cardboard that has been chewed by termites.

Why do termites eat wood? They’re after the cellulose found in it. And wood isn’t the only source. Cardboard boxes also contain a high concentration of cellulose.

Termites also need moisture to keep their bodies cool and moist. If they get too hot and dry, they will die. So, give them exactly what they are looking for — a rich source of cellulose and a moist place to be. Wet a cardboard box and place it near where you’ve noticed termite activity.

This delightful buffet will draw the termites out. Once you see a high concentration, soak them with one of the previous methods to start the slaughter.

Why Do Termites Keep Coming Back?

Every one of these methods is an effective way to kill termites. You can see them working as you use them. But will these DIY methods exterminate termites permanently?  

Unfortunately, you might kill thousands of termites but they: Just. Keep. Coming. Why?

Even a small termite colony has around 60,000 individuals and larger nests can easily host a million. That’s a lot of termites! You can literally kill thousands and thousands more will take their place. Furthermore, termites are notorious for being sneaky. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Termites

A termite queen being fed by smaller workers.

The only way to wipe out a colony is to kill the queen. Otherwise, she will keep producing more termites and the problem will never end. The problem is the queen is always tucked away safely deep in the termite colony. She doesn’t need to venture out when she has thousands of worker termites to bring her food.

So, how do you reach the termite queen?

You don’t. You give her workers poisoned food to take back to her. That’s why we here at Buckaroo Pest Protection love the Sentricon® baiting system. We bury bait stations at key locations with a delicious buffet that attracts termites like horse apples attract flies. The workers take the poisoned food back to the nest and share it with the rest of the colony, including the queen.

A short time after she dies, your termite problem is over. Additionally, your baiting system keeps working to prevent new colonies from moving in and setting up shop.

If you’re concerned that you have termites attacking your Texas home or business, call the professionals here at Buckaroo Pest Protection. We offer free in-home inspections to find and determine the extent of your termite problem. Then we set to work eradicating it.