Dishsoap Spray for the Garden

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 15, 2010

Last year, y’all taught me about dishsoap spray. And I wanted to pass the information along to anyone who might not be using it.

Last year I had trouble with Mexican beetles eating my green bean plants.  While my green bean plants did a lovely job of producing green beans, I was not too fond of the little holes left in the leaves by said pests.

I needed a solution to this problem. And dishsoap spray was the answer!

To make: Fill the bottle up with water, then add a squirt full of dishsoap.

I spray it on the leaves of my pepper plants every so often. And so far so good…not too many holes.

(And be sure to wash any lettuce or produce well…to avoid any bites of dishsoap. blech.)

Here’s to a garden filled with Whole (not hole) Leaves!

Have any “how to rid of garden pests” tips or tricks to share?!?  We’d love to learn from you!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda June 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

I plant marigolds around my garden. It helps keep the rabbits out.


beth June 15, 2010 at 9:15 am

I used dish soap and baking soda with water in a spray for rose fungus. I also read that apple cider vinegar with water is good for that too!


Buddha Bear's Momma June 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

Make sure your soap is not ultra-concentrated, I burned up my string beans a couple weeks ago. The watermelon is slowly coming back, but I don’t think I will have string beans this year. I did get rid of my stink bugs and squash borers. I have some garlic water that I will probably use for my next line of attack.


Minjenah June 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

@Buddha Bear’s Momma,
The soap spray worked on the borers? I have them and I HATE them.


Buddha Bear's Momma June 21, 2010 at 9:17 am

It appears to have worked on the squash borers. I did lose my pumpkins completely, because I was too late identifying the issues. However, I do have my cucumbers plants still, which were infested, as well as one butternut squash and one crookneck squash. I think part of the success for the last 2 surviving was removing the borer, burying the plant even deeper and then spraying them as a preventative. Good luck!


Cupcake Mommie (Jessica) June 15, 2010 at 9:55 am

I just started doing this and I think it really helps!


Annie Harbert June 15, 2010 at 10:07 am

I have heard that marigolds work good as does pinwheels that are metalic. We have a problem with birds and cats getting into our garden. Mainly those pesky neighbor cats. They always squat! Grrrrr…..


PJ June 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I actually learned this trick from some organic farmers last year. They used baby wash instead of dish soap, but not sure if there is any difference or not.


Candi June 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

My momma does this too for her roses. It’s great against aphids. She adds a teaspoon of dish liquid and a teaspoon of baking soda to the water.


Crystal's Cozy Kitchen June 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

My mom found a great book called ‘carrots love tomatoes’ by Louise Riotte which tells which plants thrive when planted close and which you should not plant close to each other. It also tells if a plant is known to repel pests that attack another plant. For example: Both tomato and bean bugs are repelled by marigolds. Beans should not be planted near onions or gladiolus. Corn does well when planted near beans and poll beans can climb up con stalks. Beans help increase the soil’s nitrogen when the corn needs.
About the soap water – I just learned this year that spraying it directly onto spiders and wasps kill them quickly (my friend had an incident in her house and is deathly afraid of bugs.)


Tawra Kellam June 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

It does need to be applied at least weekly if you have major bug problems like we do here in Kansas.


Jovardy June 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I use dish soap, tsp cayenne or chili powder, tsp of baking soda, and a capful of canola oil fill with water in a spray bottle.


Mike June 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I had a bad issue with fungus and aphids on my roses. I heard about the soup trick. (As well as burying banana peals around plants.) Being the adventurous time I used a solution of Pine Sol and water that my wife had mixed in a spray bottle to clean the kitchen with. (You don’t see pine trees with aphids, right :o) Well not only did it get rid of the aphids, but the fungus disappeared as well. Plus the leaves have a really nice shine to them. I applied with a misting spray, but saturated the leaves so I don’t think that mattered much.


Joann Llamas June 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Insecticidal/Garlic/Capsaicin Spray
To control aphid, mealy bug, cabbage worm, white fly, and even spider mites, this all-purpose insecticidal soap spray is very effective. This is good for most all types of plants but be sure to do a test spray on some hidden leaves first, to make sure your plant is not too sensitive.

3 cloves garlic, finely crushed (or equivalent in garlic oil or juice)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, any kind will do
3 Tablespoons Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (the hotter the better)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon plain liquid dishwashing soap, such as Ivory

1.Combine the crushed garlic, cooking oil and hot sauce and let stand overnight.
2.Strain and add the water.
3.Add the dishwashing soap and stir gently.

Pour into a hand sprayer and spray the tops and especially the undersides of the leaves weekly or as needed.

Store in a closed container in the refrigerator.

Tobacco Spray for Insect Control
Nicotine is extremely toxic to insects but it’s effect is short-lived, only a few hours. This makes it a low hazard to your good insects such as bees and lady bugs.

This is a good defense against aphids, fungus gnats, immature scale, leafhoppers, thrips, leaf miners, and asparagus beetle larvae.

4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon plain liquid dishwashing soap
1/4 cup dried crushed or chewing tobacco or cigarette butts

1.Add the soap to the water and stir to dissolve
2.Soak the tobacco or cigarette butts in the water and soap mixture for 1 hour.
3.Strain through cheesecloth or other fine strainer to remove particles that would clogg your sprayer
Pour into a hand sprayer and spray directly onto pests and undersides of leaves. Use weekly.

Store in tightly closed container. Will keep several weeks.

Note: nicotine can be absorbed into the plant leaves and remain for several weeks. To be safe,
do not use on vegetables and fruits plants sooner than one month before harvest.
Do not use on eggplant, peppers or tomatoes, as these plant suffer from many of the same diseases which tobacco may carry.


Sally June 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm

My son & I did the same thing Buddha Bears Momma did a few days ago. We burned our cucumbers up .:( We added a little canola oil to ours. Should not have sprayed in the heat of the day . It also burned my corn, tomatoes,watermelon & squash not as bad as the cucumbers . I think my son got a little to excited spraying those cucumber beetles. I did hear him say we are going to win this war.LOL But , I must say everything is really trying to come back. We live and learn. We still have our herb garden. I’t doing great.


Amy June 16, 2010 at 10:01 am

Just yesterday I noticed holes in the leaves of our tomatillo plants. I’m so glad that I saw this.


Susie's Homemade June 16, 2010 at 11:46 am

I love this tip:-)


Heidi June 16, 2010 at 11:59 am

I have always used bleached flour for bugs. I put the flour in a shaker container and when I see little holes in my leaves, I just dust the whole area with flour. As long as you don’t get it too thick, the plants should do just fine. I have never lost a plant yet.

I also love the book Carrots Love Tomatoes as mentioned above. We use it every year.


Irene D. June 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I noticed little white bugs flying around my broccoli today. The leaves have a lot of holes in them. Any suggestions? Will the dish soap solution work for this.


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