Wash The Bugs or Kill Them



Detergents clean the bugs. Soap kills them. What is the difference.

Remember, don’t kill the good bugs. This soap solution only kills the bug if you spray directly on it. There is no residue left behind to harm the good critters. I mostly use this soap recipe for the aphids and those nasty Japenese beetles. 

Detergent’s like most of your home cleaning solutions are made with chemicals. When diluted, they clean your bugs but don’t kill them. Most of your liquid dish cleaners are detergents and not soaps.

Soap is made with animal fats and lye. Soap spray will dissolve the exoskeleton or soft bodies of the bugs you target. The spray has to come in contact with the bug.

Use perfume free Soaps with no dyes.

Dr. Bronners, Ivory Soap, Fels Naptha are all soaps.

Mix 1 tsp. with 1 quart water. Dissolve the soap in the water. Wait till the afternoon when the sun is not shining on the plant and the temp has cooled a bit. Spray the bugs directly. If you have Japenese Beetles–use 1 tbsp in a quart of water—but check this strong solution per plant first to make sure the plant can take such a strong solution. I have increased the amt of soap till I get the right amt for the bug and not kill the plant.

This is organic and you can use liquid Ivory soap without the perfumes. If you are using the bar soap—-grate it till you have a tsp or tbsp.

I wrote this a long time ago and saw it on a google catched page. Just thought I’d stick it back on my blog. 

The photo is from my Airlie Gardens Post.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Noni says:

    In 2006 I hand-picked over 5000 (I stopped counting after I hit the big 5). Last 2 years about the same. They haven’t started here in Central Mass but I can tell they are going to be bad because my lawn and field, despite all the rain, is green on top and brown on bottom. Also, prime indicator, one of my dogs has been smelling and digging and eating the grubs for over a month. I used nematodes in 2007. Spent over $1000, No luck. I can’t use Milky Spore-too expensive to do 4 acres and won’t use Grub-X because of harmful effects. I have 5 dogs. It’s sad what they do to all my flowers. If they can send a man to space…!


  2. Rebecca says:

    Hate those darn Japanese Beatles. They attack my roses every year. I’ve tried the soap recipe before but I think I may have used too much soap. It damaged my roses. Thanks for your recipe. I’ll have to go a little lighter on the soap.
    Go lighter on the soap but not too much. And it won’t do any good to spray the leaves for maintenance. You got to hit the varmit square on. The soap is to dissolve the exoskeleton and not something that repels them. It’s ok if the soap kills a few leaves as the beetles will probably do it anyway. Better that the beetles don’t go on to munch the whole plant away. I can lose a few leaves and keep the good critters in the process.


  3. Catherine says:

    I definitely like anything without pesticides, especially since I have kids and a dog. Thanks for the recipe!
    And most people aren’t allergic to Ivory soap.


  4. Aerie-el says:

    Thanks Anna! It’s always fun to see recipes for home remedies.
    It’s cheap too! Gotta stretch our dollars these days.


  5. Thank you for the soap recipe! I try to hose them off first but they are determined! I have purchased expensive soap products so I am excited to try your wonderful recipe! You are so smart 🙂
    I pick smart friends! You included. Give it a try. I made something today that you are going to go nuts over. I’ll let you know when I get it posted. Kelli will make you get her one.


  6. Jen says:

    I’ll try this with the beetles this year. They were everywhere for a few weeks. Good to have a recipe.
    I have declared war on Japanese beetles. The strong solution will kill the beetles but it will most likely kill the leaf too. But the beetles were going to do it anyway. Right? At least this way they don’t go on to the next leaf.


    1. Diane Muenzner says:

      Beetles start on my Patio Peach trees, strip it
      move on to other plants.This year I am using the Fels Naptha
      I make it really strong. I spray twice a day. Are the
      bugs dying, or are these new bugs?
      Ww get them bad every year. Trying to stop them before
      they turn into grubs next year. Thanks
      I haven’t seen Japanese Beetles yet. You might have earwigs too. Best to capture them in a rolled up wet newspaper. Place it at the bottom of the tree, they climb in it the morning, you open the paper to discover them and discard them in a closed plastic bag. Earwigs are beneficial too as they eat the larvae of the Japanese beetles. Hope they aren’t too bad for you this year.


  7. Wanita says:

    Thanks for the soap recipes, Anna. I’m going to put it with my garden journal so I have it when I need it.

    I saw some really pretty journals at the garden center today. I’ve never had one but am trying to do better with the new gardens.


  8. Marnie says:

    Good soaps to use are: Fells Naptha,or Dr Bonner. Don’t spray during the hottest part of the day or leaf burn my result.
    We don’t want that! Thank you. I don’t want to kill good bugs either. I bet my neighbors think I’m nuts out there selectively spraying one bug at a time.


  9. nola says:

    I didn’t know there was a difference! I thought the stuff I bathe with and the stuff I wash dishes with was all “soap”; I gotta read labels more carefully! I haven’t seen Ivory soap in ages, I’ll have to look for it the next time I shop. I loved it as a child because it floated.
    My grandma said it was the only thing that would wash the stink off.


  10. Gail says:

    Great info and since I’ve only been spraying them off the plants with a water spray I might try this on the nasty phlox bug that I cannot get rid of! gail
    Boo hiss Phlox bug! My grandma use to make lye soap and her poor little hands were pitiful. I don’t remember seeing any bugs on them though 🙂


  11. Meems says:

    Hi Anna,
    I remember this from last year because it really helped me to know the particulars of soap vs. detergent. I used it when the buggies started getting on my tomatoes. Thanks for always providing such great information… it is very helpful!
    Blessings for your day.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel
    Goodie Meems and I’m glad it helped. I don’t even remember where or when I knew this about soap and detergent. It may have been when I worked at the nursery. Hey!, I like your new bird feeder. You did an awesome job. Very cool.


  12. Sunita says:

    Great post, Anna. I’m sure there’re a lot of gardeners who’re going to be thanking you for that recipe. I’ll just get ahead of the line, if you dont mind 🙂
    Thanks again, Anna!
    Awww, thank you. I had forgotten I wrote this until someone way out there in historical cyber land happened upon it and linked to me. It was on one of my old blogs and must have been cached on google.

    I got a seed packet today for some sunflowers today. On the back it stated that if you are having trouble with pest on your leaves then give it a spray every now and then–with a detergent spray. The bugs all cheered as they need a bath!


  13. Phillip (UK) says:

    Good repost Anna. Soap breaks down their protective coverings, causing the pests to dehydrate. A much more natural way to get rid of them.
    No wonder soap kills germs huh?


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