DIY Insecticidal Soap

After receiving some great questions on our TikTok video, we wanted to dive deeper into this topic and provide more information.

How it works

Insecticidal soap is a natural pest control method that kills pests on contact. It disrupts the cell membranes of soft-bodied insects like spider mites, aphids, thrips, and mealybugs essentially drawing the moisture out of them.

Unlike systemic insecticides, it does not penetrate the plant tissue. It's only effective against pests when they're in contact with the wet solution. This makes it a safe option for use on most plants, especially edible ones. However, always test a small area before applying the solution more broadly to ensure it won't cause any damage to more sensitive plant varieties.

Our insecticidal soap recipe:

  • 4 tablespoons of Castile Soap
  • 4 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol 
  • 1 gallon water

If you're using a half-gallon sprayer like we did in the video, simply halve the proportions to 2 tablespoons of Castile soap and 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to half a gallon of water.

You can also add 1 tablespoon of oil to make the solution adhere better to the leaves. Neem oil would be a good one to use if you can stand the smell of it. We skip the oil altogether since we've found it can sometimes leave a residue.

When to use insecticidal soap

There are several scenarios where using insecticidal soap can be beneficial for your houseplants. Consider using it when bringing home new plants to prevent any potential pest issues from spreading to the rest of your collection. 

As a preventative treatment, spray every 7-10 days around the same time when you water your plants. Thoroughly soak the plant and let it sit for several minutes to give the solution time to work. Rinsing is optional. We tend to rinse since letting the soap dry can leave residue that is hard to remove once it builds up.

If you have an active infestation, spray every 3-5 days and DO NOT rinse off. It's important to know that sometimes, insecticidal soap alone can't eradicate a pest infestation completely. We recommend using it in tandem with another insecticide best suited to the kind of pest you're treating.