How to Kill Termites in Furniture

Nina Makofsky

One of furniture's biggest enemies is the drywood termite. This breed of termite nests, feeds and lives in wood that has little to no moisture. Since they do not need to nest in soil, as do other breeds of termites, they can subsist in wood furniture for lengthy periods, wreaking havoc.

They are typically found in the southern United States, along the border of Mexico, extending up to Virginia and Northern California. There are a few tactics for killing termites when they nest in furniture.


In certain situations, you can set up traps with bait to lure termites out of their nests. This is a slow process, because the termites must carry the poisonous bait back to the nest.


Localized treatments can only be used when the infestation is limited in scope.

  1. Assess the damage. Depending upon the amount of pieces affected, you can either do structural fumigation or attempt localized treatment. It is possible to have the furniture fumigated, which some people do by injecting the fumigant with a syringe. This method requires a professional to determine the galleries, or passages, that the termites have dug into the wood.

  2. Consider the non-chemical option. Because powderpost and drywood termites cannot survive in extreme temperatures, some people opt to have professionals treat the furniture pieces with heat or cold. Termites cannot survive being in a chamber heated to 150 degrees for 90 minutes, or a chamber at 140 degrees for 4 hours. In cooler climates, moving furniture outside can be enough to kill termites. The furniture must be in a temperature of 15 degrees for 4 days. This method can also damage furniture, however.

  3. Purchase a kit for killing termites. If the problem is localized, you can attempt to kill the termites yourself. Consult the website e-Pest Supply (see Resources) for a variety of options as well as tips for a successful termination of your termite infestation.

  4. Protect furniture from further infestation. Once the termites are killed, it is imperative that you adopt measures to prohibit their return. Examine lumber and firewood for signs of infestation. Never use wood that has been damaged by rain or snow in construction projects. You can use termite-resistant woods such as redwood and cedar, or treat wood with Timbor, a preservative that helps prevent infestation.

  5. Ensure your home is also resistant to a subsequent termite infestation. Doors, windows, ventilation ducts and any openings near the rooftop (such as attic windows) should have screens. Walk the perimeter of the house and check for any holes that could allow termites entry into the home.