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Mix Your Own Insecticidal Soap for Garden Pests

You can make your own insecticidal soap with just two ingredients and in three simple steps. Plus, read about other organic ways to prevent pests.

You can mix your own insecticidal soap—save money and feel more self-sufficient! Along with the other DIY gardening projects, like creating your own compost and growing your own food, creating our own pest and disease treatments gives us a greater sense of safety and ability.

insecticidal soap

You can mix your own insecticidal soap—save money and be more self-sufficient! Photo credit: getty images

How Insecticidal Soap Spray Works

Insecticidal soap kill harmful insects like mites, aphids, thrips, white flies and immature leafhoppers. The fatty acids in the soap dissolve the insects' exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate. Many gardeners turn to this foamy remedy not only because it's effective, but also because it is more eco-friendly. You can find readymade products, but many gardeners enjoy making their own.

3 Simple Steps to Making Your Own Insecticidal Soap

You just need two ingredients: dish soap and water. You need liquid soap, such as pure castile liquid soap, that does not contain additives (like fragrance, moisturizer and other additional chemicals). Then follow these steps:

1. Choose a clean spray bottle or sprayer for your mixture. If you're recycling a previously used bottle, make sure it is completely sanitized.
2. Mix 1 tablespoon of soap per quart of water, or 4 to 5 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.
3. Mix together thoroughly and use immediately. Make sure to evenly coat infected plants, from top to bottom, for best results. The soap-spray has to come in contact with the insects for it to work.

Notes of Caution

• Make sure that you are not using dishwashing detergent, which may harm plants and will not work on insects because it doesn't contain fatty acids.

• First test your spray on just a part of the affected plant; sometimes plants will negatively react to insecticidal soaps. If you see any signs of spotting, withering or browning of the leaves, don't use anymore. You can try to adjust the recipe or try another product.

• Hard water will reduce the soap's effectiveness. If you have hard water, try making your spray with bottled water instead.

Niki Jabbour, Horticulture's veggie-growing expert, has more tips for preventing pests organically. Read on!