Dirty Bugs – Give Them A Soapy Bath

DIY-key latch DIY door latch using an unused house door key.

Not all soap is created equal for soap to most effective it must contain Detergent. Many of the dish washing soaps no longer contain detergent and are far less effective in killing / removing insects from your garden plants. I use original formula Blue Dawn dish soap, it has worked well for me in the past.
Read the label carefully before investing your time and effort in treating you garden for insect pest by soap washing. Soap without detergents is not very effective.

You will find a number of soaps formulated for insect control at your local nursery. These products are most times expensive and may not be worth the investment.

I have not used dog / pet soaps but have been told that they work well when used as an insect killer / removal plant washing mix. I would use caution when selecting a pet soap. Read the label ingredients carefully. Pet soaps may very well contain chemicals that you do not want in your vegetable garden.

Not only will soap wash away and kill many garden pest it will also help your soil absorb water more effectively by breaking down soil surface tension allowing water to penetrate your soil with less wasted run off water. I have found that using 1/4 cup of Blue Dawn dish per gallon of water works very well in insect control.
Hint: Fill your container with water ‘Before’ adding the soap.

Whether you use a simple soapy water spray or a commercial store bought insecticide, Always carefully wash all garden vegetables under cool running water before feeding them to your family.

Colorado State University has a good fact sheet on using soap for insect control. Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents

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8 responses to “Dirty Bugs – Give Them A Soapy Bath

  1. Thanks so much for a great informative post. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been meaning to try soap with mealybugs on my cacti – have you had any experience of using it with these?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you sure it’s mealybugs? generally speaking, mealybugs are attracted to plants with high nitrogen levels and soft growth.

      * control light infestations, dab insects with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.
      * Use soap water followed by strong water source to hose off plants with a strong stream of water and reduce pest numbers.
      * Washing foliage regularly with any product made from neem oil will help discourage future infestations.
      * Insecticidal soap that contains potassium salts of fatty acids, which penetrates and damages the outer shells of soft-bodied insect pests such as mealybugs will cause dehydration and death within hours.
      Good luck
      Happy Gardening


      • Wow thanks for your detailed response! Yes they are definitely mealy bugs. They like to hide in the crevices and make it very difficult to get at them. I usually go round and skewer them individually! (nice) But washing them with some soap every now and then may help.


  3. I’ll keep this in mind. I so very much wish I could by Dawn over here – I don’t have a dishwasher and that stuff was the best – but there must be something comparable here for garden work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t done the research, but, I’ll bet there are other dish soaps and maybe dishwasher powders that will work well and as a last resort or maybe first choice insecticidal soaps are readily available.
      Happy Gardening

      Liked by 1 person

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