Yellow and brown spots on the leaves of your tomato plant? That is a sign of spider mites. Fluffy white stuff on your Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera)? That is a sign of mealybugs. If you are like me and are hesitant to use strong pesticides on houseplants and vegetable gardens, then you should consider using insecticidal soap.
Insecticidal soap is one of the safest pesticides you can use on plants. It is literally just soap and water so it is not harmful to use around children and pets, making it the perfect pesticide for edible plants in your vegetable garden and for your houseplants.
What is Insecticidal Soap?
Insecticidal soap is a soap-based solution that you use as a pesticide to get rid of insects on plants. It kills soft bodied insects by causing insect cells to collapse when the fatty acid of the soap gets absorbed into the body. Insecticidal soap is effective in killing soft bodied insects on plants.
Which Insects are Insecticidal Soap For?
Insecticidal soap can be used to get rid of mealybugs, whiteflies, chiggers, earwigs, aphids, spider mites and mites. It’s effective on insects with soft bodies. Hard bodied insects like ladybugs will not be affected by insecticidal soap.
How to Make Insecticidal Soap
It’s easy to make insecticidal soap at home. You can make your own insecticidal soap solution in 2 easy steps. Below is a recipe for insecticidal soap.
Ingredients for Insecticidal Soap
- 2 Tbsp Baby Shampoo
- 1 Gallon Water
Steps to Make Insecticidal Soap
1. Mix baby shampoo and water. Mix soapy solution well.
2. Pour into a spray bottle.
I like to use baby shampoo because it’s gentler and definitely less harmful around kids and pets. You can also use dish liquid detergent instead of baby shampoo. If 1 gallon is too much, simply adjust the water quantity but make sure to keep the same ratio of soap to water.
How to Apply Insecticidal Soap on Plants
Insecticidal soap is only effective when it is sprayed directly on the insect. Insecticidal soap needs to be absorbed by the insect’s soft body to work.
Insecticidal soap no longer works when it dries up on the plant leaves. I recommend spraying your plant down with water to get rid of the soap residue. Wait a few hours before spraying your plant with water. When using insecticidal soap on plants outdoors, don’t use it in full sunlight.
Can I Buy Insecticidal Soap?
If you don’t want to make your own insecticidal soap, you can buy insecticidal soap to get rid of your spider mites, aphids, mealybugs problem.
A Word of Caution About Insecticidal Soap
Even though Insecticidal Soap is homemade and made with soap, oil and water, you should still use Insecticidal Soap sparingly on plants. Although not harmful to humans and pets, it’s not 100% non-toxic to plants.
You don’t want to overdo it with Insecticidal Soap. Avoid spraying too much that it seeps into the soil and gets absorbed by the roots. Treat Insecticidal Soap like any other pesticide and use sparingly.
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