Dish soap is one of those cheap, household ingredients that many gardeners claim has superpowers. But is it true? Can you use soapy water for plants? Does it really kill aphids? Let’s find out what effect dish soap is having on your plants when you use it in your garden.
I enjoy reading comments on blogs and other places Facebook, where all of us gardeners are helping each other. Whether trying to identify why their plant is dying, when to plant their seeds, or trying to identify a plant in their garden, everyone looks forward to collaborating with virtual gardening friends. Is.
In many of these comments, I have people sharing their gardening hacks, DIYs, and tricks that they use for everything from making their plants grow bigger faster to reusing household items.
One I see mentioned all the time. Using Dish Soap on Plants as a Pesticide, It came up so much that I thought it was time I talked about it!
I use dish soap in my garden, but there’s a problem. This probably isn’t the same type of dish soap you might feel inclined to use.
Let’s talk about the effects of soapy water on plants. What you will learn in this article:
Make sure you’re using the right soap for plants
I want to take a second to clarify what I mean by dish soap. Most of the big brands like Dawn, Palmolive, and Sunlight are commonly known as dish soaps.
But they are actually a detergent. And the difference between soap and detergent is huge.
Soaps are made from natural oils and fats, while detergents are made from synthetic chemicals called surfactants. Both are effective at cleaning away dirt and grease, but one is more natural than the other.
Popular dish detergents contain lots of surfactants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which are laboratory-made foaming agents. They are not good for the environment, as they take a very long time to biodegrade. These are also difficult to filter in water, so they persist for a long time.
If you are spraying dish detergent in your garden, It can live in your soil Long after the rain has washed it off your plants.
Castile soap for plants
so, which soap Is Safe for plants? I make my own biodegradable dish soap from Castile soap. this is a soap made from vegetable oils, traditionally from olive oil but now commonly from coconut or palm oil. It is a potassium based soap and is completely natural unlike detergents. This is a true soap, friends!
you might have seen Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap Because it is more easily available. You can use it in your garden, but it needs to be diluted. More on that below!
you also want Avoid using Castile soap with fragrances or essential oils, You want pure, Unscented Castile Soap Just for your plants.
Will dish soap destroy plants?
If we use dish soap to clean our utensils and then eat them, they will be safe for our plants. Correct?
Dish detergents are known to remove the plants’ natural waxes and oils that are used to protect the leaves. They are a little too good at what they do, potentially weakening the plants.
The effects of soapy water on plants are not definitive science, but high concentrations of soap can certainly burn foliage. Anyone using DIY methods using dish soap as an ingredient should exercise caution.
Dish soap spray for the garden should be highly diluted, containing only 2% dish soap. This means you will only need two tablespoons of dish soap per pint of water.
Some plants are highly sensitive to any amount of soap, such as sweet peas or cherries. You should always test a small area before applying soap spray to the entire plant.
Using Dish Soap as a Pesticide
The most popular reason to use soapy water for plants is for pesticides. Although we’re not entirely sure how this works, our best guess is that Washes off some of the protective layer of insects on their bodies, causing them to dry out.
Soapy water is one of the most common uses for aphids, but it also works on other soft-bodied insects such as whiteflies, thrips, and mites. However, it does not work on larger insects like caterpillars and beetles. But it also means Safe for most pollinators and large insects,
I use dish soap (Castile soap) in my insect repellant spray. This makes the mixture stick to insects or animals, helping to keep them away from your plants.
True Dish Soap (Castile Soap) works best when you Spray the insect directly. If you are spraying the plant it will not be as effective, and we want to avoid getting soap on the plant as much as possible so as not to harm it. Turn the leaves over and wrap the insects as best you can.
Using Dish Soap for Fruit Flies
Soapy water not only works for pests on plants but for more than just Same for fruit flies.
Some time ago, I conducted a small experiment with a fruit fly trap at my home. I first made this when I had a lot of fruit flies in my kitchen. I filled my trap with water and apple cider vinegar (you can see how I did it in this fruit fly trap tutorial), but I didn’t add any soap to the mix.
The fruit flies were able to fly straight into the trap, but they were not dying. Instead, they kept flying around inside the net until some of them eventually died.
But when I added a few drops of dish soap, the fruit flies fell into the liquid as soon as I touched it.
Dish soap breaks the surface tension on the water, causing the insects to sink and drown. It makes a lot of difference when making a simple fruit fly trap at home.
Since this mixture is not going to be on your plants, feel free to use any dish soap or dish detergent.
Using Dish Soap and Vinegar in the Garden
Another common DIY mix is Dish soap and vinegar mixtureAs well as salt, as a natural weed killer.
I’ve already talked about this in depth in my post about using vinegar in the garden, but I’ll mention it again here. This is simply not a good alternative to weeding.
Vinegar can be harmful to plants, soil, wildlife, and microorganisms. Yes, it can kill weeds, but it can also harm other things in your garden.
Dish soap and vinegar spray also have a tendency to kill only the leaves, not the roots. so, The plant will probably come back after spraying.
questions to ask
Just as dish soap can remove essential oils from plants, it can also harm grass. If you have an infestation and want to use soap water as a household insecticide, make sure you dilute the soap with water in a ratio of about 2%.
If you dilute dish soap properly, you don’t need to wash it off your plants. That being said, I highly recommend that you test a few leaves before spraying the entire plant and keep an eye out for any adverse reactions!
Although I haven’t personally tried it, some people leave scented soap bars in their patios to help keep away unwanted pests. Like dish soap, it can also be potentially harmful to plants. Instead, I suggest you try hanging bars of soap in your garden to scare away plant-hungry animals like rabbits and deer. This homemade Irish Spring soap would work well!
So this is how I use dish soap and soapy water for plants! Or, more accurately, very small, measured, and Diluted Concentrate of Castile Soap, If you have any more questions let me know in the comments below.
Other Common Household Materials to Consider