How To Use Insecticidal Soap

Tips to Use Insecticidal Soap


When it comes to the world of insecticides there are so many to choose from that offer good results but the challenge with many of these insecticides is while they may get the job done many are harmful to pets and humans which is not good news.

The goal when seeking to eliminate insect pests is just that, eliminating them without causing harm to our family and pets. These soap sprays (insecticidal soap) were formulated for this intention and that is to keep everybody safe and happy including our pets.

In this article, we will be looking at how to use these insecticides and other advantages of these soap sprays.

Giving your garden plants a fighting chance

Garden insect pests can be a menace to a garden that is well manicured whether interior or exterior. This has been my experience working on many garden projects. To combat these insects pest one of the insecticides that I resorted to were insecticidal soaps that have gained recognition because of what they can do.

These insecticides can be used both indoors on garden plants and within the landscape and garden areas. I have had good success and recommend them to win the war on garden pests.

How to use insecticidal soap?

How do insecticidal soaps work?

Garden insect pest-how-to-use-insecticidal-soap
Garden insect pest

Insecticidal soaps work by penetrating the outer skin of the insects which is known as the cuticle. When this happens the insect’s skin dries out causing dehydration.

These soap sprays work also by suffocating insect pests.

Listed insects pest

Insecticidal soaps can eliminate garden insect pests such as

  • Immature leafhoppers
  • Thrips
  • Aphids
  • Immature whiteflies
  • Scales
  • Whiteflies
  • Spider mites
  • Eggs and pupae of other insects

How to apply insecticidal soaps?

When applying insecticidal soap adjust the nozzle so that the insecticide comes out misty, course drops will not give good results. When applying spray in such a way to get total coverage of the leaves both the top and undersides. Other factors to consider.

1. Plants should be in good health when applying these soap sprays. Ensure that plants are watered the day before using these insecticides.

2. Some plants such as azaleas, ferns, lantanas, succulents, etc… are sensitive to insecticidal soap so be careful when applying. Look for the plant listing on the label.

3. Always especially if it is a plant that you may not be familiar with apply spray to the lower leaves as a test and watch for 24 hours to ensure that application does not have a negative effect before spraying the entire plant.

4. To get the best results from these soap sprays, spray application should be carried out during the morning hours when it is cool which lessens the chance of plant burn ( outdoor garden) along with insecticides taking longer to break down.

Mealy bugs-how-to-use-insecticidal soap
Mealy bugs-how-to-use-insecticidal soap

Advantages of insecticidal soap

1. Insecticidal soap is biodegradable meaning that it breaks down so no need to worry about cleanup ( only in the case of treating indoor plants and soap gets on a piece of furniture then clean up may be needed).

2. Insecticidal soaps are non-toxic to people, birds, and mammals.

3. Insecticidal soaps can be used on none food bearing as well as food-bearing plants.

4. Has no residual effect. Once soap dries beneficial insects are safe.

5. This soap is safe for the environment.

6. kills on contact giving a quick knockdown.

Insecticidal SoapLimitations

1. Insecticidal soaps are less effective against hard-bodied insects.

2. These soap are contact sprays and can only eliminate insects as it comes in contact.

3. Some plants are sensitive to these sprays so read the label for listed plants.

4. Once dried it has no effect on targeted insect pests.

5. Don’t apply if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees.

Homemade insecticidal soap

What so amazes me with homemade insecticides is that many products which can be found in our kitchen cupboards and pantries can be used to make an effective insecticide that will eliminate insects.

Here is a homemade insecticide that has proven to give good results.

What you will need?

Gnats-how-to-use-insecticidal soap

1. A  32 oz spray bottle.

2. A gallon of Pure water

3. Pure soap.

To make this potent soap spray mix 4-5 tablespoons of soap in the gallon of pure water, shake well and you are good to go

Word of caution: As a safety measure it is good to rinse plants with fresh water thoroughly 2-3 hours after applying homemade sprays.

Brands of insecticidal soaps

There are many brands of insecticidal soaps that are at your disposal in eliminating insect pests. Here a just a few.

  • Safer Pyrethrin & Insecticidal Soap Concentrate, 1 gallon
  • Safer Soap
  • Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer
  • Insect-killing soap
  • Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer 
  • Safer Brand 5118 Insect Killing Soap
  • Bonide 652 Ready-to-Use Insect Soap
  • Espoma Organic Earth-Tone Insecticidal Soap 

The Final word

Insecticidal soaps have found their way into the hearts of so many home gardeners and have lived up to their name. These soap sprays even though they have their limits can get the job done once applied in the right way. So if you are in the market for an insecticide that can get the job done while keeping your families and pets safe then insecticidal soap is for you.

Remember before purchasing and applying to garden or indoor plants read and follow the label because the label is the law.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

9 thoughts on “How To Use Insecticidal Soap”

  1. I have a garden and I create food for my own needs. I usually used spray insecticides so far, and I was not so informed about other possiblities.
    However, after reading your amazing post I am definitely gonna try insecticidal soap.
    It clearly has great benefits, however I would never used them on vegetables and consumable plants just to make sure it is gonna be good for human use after applying insecticid.

    • Hello so good to meet you. I am so happy that I could help and it is so good to hear that you are growing your own foods. All the best of success and have a good day.

  2. Super interesting article and a great read. I just wonder how often you spraty as once its dry it is no longer effective. therefore – would you need to spray the plants every day? I have a huge garden and this would just not be possible

  3. I have never really thought to make my own insectidal soap spray until now!
    Thanks for all the great info.
    I like the fact that it is safe around humans and pets, meaning my daughter or dog won’t have to worry to much about it. This can be a very scary feeling if you aren’t sure if your child or animals should be near.
    Is there one product you would recommend over the other for any particular reason?
    I have found your website to be very helpful and I look forward to reading more for you!

    • Hello so good o meet you and so happy that I could help. If there is one brand that I would recommend it would be Safer brand 51122 insect killing soap, 24- ounce spray and here are the reason why.

      Targets and kills aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, harlequin bugs, leafhoppers, mealy bugs, mites, plant bugs, psyllids, sawfly larvae, soft scales, spider mites, squash bugs, blossom thrips and whitefliesDoes not kill beneficial insectsCan be used up until the day of harvest – no residual impact on the environmentOMRI Listed and compliant for use in organic gardeningContains potassium salts of fatty acids (2%) and seaweed extract

      Hopes this helps all the best to you and have a good day.

  4. Interesting, I didn’t even know people used as insecticides soap on their home gardens. I guess it makes sense but I thought people that had home gardens were more organic-oriented but of course that’s just my own ignorance of the fact.  Anyways great post. I can’t wait to read more.

    • So good to meet you  and so happy that I could help. Insecticidal soaps are pretty amazing in what they can do. All the best of success to you and have a good day.

  5. Thank you for this comprehensive post, you left no stone unturned! I love that your goal when seeking to eliminate insect pest is to eliminate them without causing harm to our family and pets.  There are some harmful products on the market and I find it difficult to tell the difference between what’s good and what’s not. I think your advice to test it first is really good advice. I also love the idea of homemade insecticidal soap, we have exactly what we need without even knowing it!

    • Hello so good to meet you and I am so happy that I could help. It is good to know there are safe products out there and we can make our very homemade insect soap sprays. All the best to you and have a good day.


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