Home Pests & Problems What Is Insecticidal Soap? How To Make It At Home
DIY Insecticidal Soap

What Is Insecticidal Soap? How To Make It At Home

by Helen
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Welcome to the world of gardening! If you're an avid gardener, you know how challenging keeping pests away from your plants can be. These unwelcome visitors can cause severe damage to your favorite plants, from fruit trees to vegetable gardens, affecting their growth and overall health. While chemical pesticides are commonly used to control pests, they can harm the environment and pose a risk to non-target organisms. In this regard, insecticidal soap is a safe and effective alternative that can help you keep your plants healthy without causing any harm. 

This article will look closely at insecticidal soap, how it works, and how you can make it at home. So, let's dive in and explore the world of organic pest control with insecticidal soaps! Homemade insecticidal soap can be very effective at controlling plant pests.

An Organic Alternative for Gardeners

For a long time, gardeners have used soap sprays as insecticides. In the past, they used to boil water with Fels-Naptha soap to make a soap insecticide. However, these traditional remedies became less popular as more potent and more toxic chemicals replaced them. An increasing interest in organic, sustainable, eco friendly and less chemical-intensive gardening leads to a significant comeback of insecticidal soap sprays. While several effective insecticidal soap products are available on the market, many of which include supplemental ingredients, you can make your own soap spray if you have the right ingredients.

How Do Insecticidal Soaps Work?

Insecticidal soap works in multiple ways. The soap infiltrates insects' cuticles, leading to cell collapse and desiccation. In simpler terms, the spray erodes the bug's exoskeleton, causes it to dry out, and results in dehydration and death. These sprays also act by suffocating insects like scale.

Bonner's Liquid Soap
Insecticidal Soap

Tips for Safely Using Soap Sprays in Your Garden

When using soap sprays, it's essential to keep in mind that while they are less harmful to gardeners and nonpest animals, they can still cause damage to certain plants, especially if you add oil to the spray. To avoid any potential harm to your plants, it's advisable to test any spray on a small section of the plant first and wait at least 24 hours to see if there are any adverse effects, such as spotting, wrinkling, and browning on leaves. It's best to stop using the product if you notice any negative signs. Some plants, such as beans, cucumbers, ferns, gardenias, and peas, are more susceptible to damage from soap sprays than others.

It's worth noting that when making a DIY insecticidal soap spray at home, it's essential to be careful about the ingredients you use. Clear dishwashing detergents differ from soaps; you should not use them in insecticidal soap sprays. Dishwashing liquid soap can also harm plants and should be avoided. Instead, opt for pure liquid castile soap and avoid any product with added fragrances, moisturizers, or other additives.

READ NEXT: Sustainable Gardening: Easy Guide To Create An Eco Garden

Warning:  There is conflicting information online regarding using certain liquid dish detergents for making DIY insecticidal soaps. These detergents are typically designed to remove grease and oil from surfaces, but they can harm beneficial pests and may also cause plants to dry out severely. Use a clean spray bottle to store your mixture to make an insecticidal soap spray without oil.

How to Make DIY Insecticidal Soap Recipe

To make a homemade insecticidal soap spray without oil, take these steps: 

Insecticidal Soap Recipe 1: To begin, start with the weakest solution possible, mix between 1 teaspoon and 3 to 4 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water, and use it immediately.  We like to use Bonner's liquid castile soap.  Soak both the top and bottom of leaves when spraying, and be sure to spray directly any visible insects. The spray must make direct contact with the pest insect to be effective. 

To make a base for homemade insecticidal soap spray with oil, take these steps: 

Insecticidal Soap Recipe 2: Use any clean jar with an airtight lid to make an insecticidal soap spray with an oil base. Start by mixing 1 cup of cooking with 1 tablespoon of soap, shaking vigorously to emulsify. When making the spray, mix 1 to 2 1/2 teaspoons of the base you just made with every 1 cup of water in your clean spray bottle and spray it on your plants immediately.

Insecticidal Soap

Nerdy Tip:  You can improve soap sprays with additives to control fungus and insects. Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), copper fungicide, or pyrethrin can be added safely, depending on your needs.

Soap sprays can control mites, chiggers, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, leafhoppers, mealybugs, and scale insects to varying degrees. However, it's important to note that they are ineffective against chewing insects like caterpillars and beetles.

Final Thoughts: How To Make Homemade Insecticidal Soap For Plants

In conclusion, insecticidal soap is a safe and effective way to control soft-bodied insects like aphids and mealybugs on both indoor and outdoor plants. It is an excellent alternative to stronger and more toxic chemicals and is becoming increasingly popular among gardeners who prefer organic and less chemical-intensive gardening. Suppose you plan to use insecticidal soap, following the guidelines and testing the spray on a small plant section first to avoid any potential harm. With the right ingredients and proper use, insecticidal soap can help keep your favorite plants pest-free and healthy.

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