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DIY Organic Insecticidal Soap Recipe

DIY Organic Insecticidal Soap Recipe is an inexpensive way to control aphids and other soft bodied pests in your garden, greenhouse or houseplants.

Diy Organic Insecticidal Soap Will Kill Aphids

diy organic insecticidal soap will kill Aphids. Inset picture of an adult aphid courtesy of Wikipedia.

For years we have known dish soap and water would kill aphids and have used it sporadically in our outdoor garden with mixed results. Sometimes we killed the bugs. Sometimes the plants got very sick or died too!

We researched  and found better information about why we had those problems. Dish soap formulas are NOT consistently made. Dish soap formulas also have add ins like power boosters and fragrances that affect how well they work. Carelessly grabbing dish soap off the counter and mixing it with water for a fast solution to your pest problem may cause further problems!

Also, Beneficial insects have to survive the spray…right? Ladybugs, bees and other beneficials will not be bothered by the recipe we are sharing with you today. Although I would NOT directly spray beneficial insects. They may avoid your plants if they get a facefull of soap or their wings are soaked.

Diy Organic Insecticidal Soap

diy organic insecticidal soap does not bother ladybug larvaes!

A ladybug larvae, hunting aphids. The white flecks on the basil leaves indicate a large hatch out of aphids. The inset picture is a wikipedia shot of a nasty little aphid giving birth to more aphids. Yuck!

Bugs This Spray Will Control:

This Spray Recipe is effective for spider mites and soft-bodied insects on plants, such as aphids, young scales, whiteflies and mealybugs. Only a deterrent to caterpillars and beetle larvae but this recipe will control boxelder bugs when they are still in the small nymph stages.

How it Works:

  • This soap recipe kills insects by disrupting their cell membranes  and removing the protective wax that covers the soft bodied insect. This causes the insect to die of dehydration.
  • This Insecticidal soap is a selective insecticide. Beneficial bugs including lacewings, ladybugs and bees are not harmed by this spray. *
Diy Organic Insecticidal Soap

Ladybug Larvae hunting for the aphids our spray bottle of DIY organic insecticidal soap misses!

I have just sprayed this clump of basil with our DIY Insecticidal Soap recipe. The ladybug larvae is not bothered by it. We sprayed it yesterday too. Those little white spots on the leaves are baby aphids and aphids husks. This indicates a large hatch out.

Here is a video of me spraying the insecticidal soap and running into our friend the ladybug larvae!

DIY Organic Insecticidal Soap Recipe:

If you find this recipe is too harsh and burns your plants. Cut the soap amount in half or follow this spray with an immediate spray of plain water to protect your plant leaves. Also sensitive plants like ferns, succulents, azaleas and waxy leaved plants may be harmed by this spray.


Fill a 1 quart spray bottle with water
Add 1 Tablespoon organic dish soap (Look for a pure SOAP)

With regard to the soap. Any organic dish soap should work.  Right now I’m using a non toxic dish soap by the H2O company. It makes sense to me to keep our cleaners,(especially on edible plants) safe for human consumption and to fill our homes with human friendly cleaning products. I want that for plants I’m going to eat too!

The Hardness of your water matters! This recipe is most effective with average to soft water. A hard water will yield a less effective insecticidal spray recipe and can leave soap scum on your plant leaves.


Household dish soaps are tricky to use. Liquid dishwashing detergents like Dawn often contain add ins to their formulas that can change the effectiveness for insecticide use and burn your plants. We don’t recommend them.

Never use this spray on plants that are wilted or under heavy stress unless you have no other option. Never re-spray a plant that has been burned by your first application of this spray.

Add ins that may enhance your soap recipe:

Although the basic recipe will work as described you may wish to enhance your formula by adding

1/4 Teaspoon of organic vinegar to combat mildew.

A few added drops of lavender, peppermint, or orange oil in this recipe will help repel pests and smells great!

Where to look for Pests on your plants:

  • Aphids and some other pests live mostly on the undersides of plant leaves.
  • You may see pests clumped under flowers on stems or in a flower center.
  • Some Pests hide, very successfully, in the leaf joints and flowering bud crowns of plants.
  • Aphids may be responsible for your flower buds going brown and falling off your plants. leaves curling and growing in a deformed manner? Might be aphids sucking on them. Aphids also cause a sooty virus on the undersides of leaves.

How to apply your DIY insecticidal Soap:

  • DIY Organic Insecticidal Soap Recipe works on contact which means it must coat the insect to kill it.
  • This spray has No residual effect and must be applied several times at weekly intervals for best control.
  • Spray the entire plant with special focus on those areas of your plant where you can find the bugs.
  • Spray in the morning or evening in cooler temperatures and when plants are shaded. You want the spray to last. Once it dries the spray is ineffective.

For more information on controlling aphids organically read this article.


Plants can survive and even thrive under a minor pest attack. Use all organic controls with this in mind. Organic gardeners need to be ok with the idea of garden balance. Beneficial bugs NEED pests to consume or they will leave your garden. We encourage you to provide a good place for pollinators to thrive successfully in your garden. Minor pest damage should not bother you. When the pests start building a large population that you can see make this recipe and get to spraying!

Even with our fairly large infestation of aphids in our greenhouse we still harvested some lovely crops.

2016 Garden Tour

Corinto Cucumbers

The cucumbers are producing lovely, sweet cukes. Greenhouse PeppersThe peppers are FULL of several varieties ever ripening peppers. We harvested our first tomatoes last night!  The greenhouse has it’s challenges but we love it.

2016 Summer Garden Tour

Greenhouse Arbason tomatoes

*For more detailed information Go to Iowa State University Extension article
Today’s Homeowner  is also a good information source.

How to get rid of Aphids - The Contented Plant

Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

[…] Go to our Homemade Food Junkie article For more on this recipe […]

Cindy Dittfield

Saturday 26th of December 2020

Hello Enjoyed the blog and would like to ask if a product like Meyers hand soap would be as effective? Yes f not I’ll head out to the store. What on the shelf soap would be best. Many thanks


Saturday 26th of December 2020

Hi Cindy, Not sure how Meyers will work but I THINK so. I have used Dawn dish soap in the past. Organic with no additives is the safest for the plant if you have it. Best of luck!


Tuesday 13th of June 2017

Hi Kimberly, I have never attempted to start lavender from seed. I found this informative article on growing lavender from seed for you. It looks do-able but I don't know your climate zone. The best approach is looking for a local master gardener or your local cooperative extension service. They can also help you find information about growing lavender from seed in your climate zone. Best of luck!

Our Greenhouse Produce and Projects 2014 - Homemade Food Junkie

Monday 26th of October 2015

[…] Greenhouse Problems: There were a few. We had aphids almost the entire summer. We learned about organic pest control methods, insecticidal soaps and ladybugs. We had some problems with fungus on the tomatoes and pepper […]