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How to Use Dish Soap to Control Garden Insects

Bugs invading a garden or flowerbed don't necessarily call for a costly pesticide that may raise concerns about human or pet health or populations of beneficial insects. In fact, this simple, homemade solution can effectively control many soft-bodies garden pests


What You'll Need

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Measuring spoons

  • Garden sprayer or spray bottle

Make Your Mixture: Combine 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water to create a solution that is slightly less than 1% soap. Mix well. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

Test for Toxicity: Spray the mixture on a small section of each plant you wish to treat for insects. Monitor that area for any damage for at least 24 hours (ideally for 48 hours). If no damage is apparent, you can proceed to treat the plant more broadly. If injury does occur, dilute the soap mixture further or choose a different, milder soap.

Treat Affected Plants: In the early morning, spray the affected plants throroughly with your soap mixture, focusing on concentrated areas like leaf undersides and axils. The mixture must come into direct contact with the pests to control them. Repeat the application every 4-7 days until the pests are sufficiently controlled.

Tips & Warning: Make sure to only use a mild liquid dish soap that does not contain a degreaser and is not intended for use with a dishwashing machine. Don't apply the mixture to drought-stressed plants or when temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid spraying mixture on fruit trees that are in bloom.

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