Dish soap has been a popular remedy to control pests over the years. As dish soap is used every day to clean the dishes we eat from, then how can it be harmful to plants? Look through the bubbles and find out the truth for yourself.

What is dish soap?

Dish soap is a powerful degreaser. It is a detergent that can include bleach, enzyme, phosphate, dyes, fragrances and rinse aids. Chemically soaps and detergents are very different. Soaps are made from natural oils and fats while detergents are made from synthetic chemicals called surfactants. The primary purpose of both them is to clean but the chemicals in them are very different from each other. Dish Soap should have been named as Dish Detergent because of the chemicals in it. It works by dissolving greasy chemicals such as fats, waxes, oils.

What happens when dish soap is sprayed on plants?

As dish wash is an excellent remover of oil, wax and grease, it removes the natural oils and waxes that plants have on their leaves. These oils and waxes are beneficial to plants as they protect the leaves. On the removal of the protective layer from plants, it becomes easier for pathogens to infect the plants. So, spraying dish soap on plants removes the natural defense mechanism from plants. You practically set the stage for the plants to get sick and probably die.

What are Insecticidal soaps?

There are many gardeners that make homemade insecticidal sprays from dish soap and water. These are pesticides that are used in the garden. It is a true soap and not a detergent. Soaps are made by mixing sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide with fats. The final product is either potassium salt of fatty acid or sodium salt of fatty acid. These are very different from those found in detergents, although both of them are clean things.

The insecticidal soaps are made using only potassium which is mild and softer than a traditional soap. It also has long chain fatty acids present in it. It is typically made to be mild on plants. From the perspective of cleaning, insecticidal soap is a great soap.

It is effective against pests like aphids, spider mites, scales. The soap dissolves the waxy outer cuticle of the pests. The soap is however not as effective for beetles, bees, lady beetles, wasps and the insects that have hard outer coating like.

Insecticidal soap spray can be applied to pest affected garden plants after every 5 days to control the pests. This soap kills an insect only when it coats an insect. The spray is ineffective when it dries out. The spray may sometimes damage sensitive and weak plants. So, make sure that you take care of spraying it only to healthy and well-watered plants. If you are unsure about the plants, check for signs of damage within 48 hours by spraying an inconspicuous leaf. Also, ensure that you use the right fertilizer service depending on the type of plants.

Homemade insecticidal soap

Insecticidal soap cannot be made from things that are found around the house. A weak solution made from liquid dish soap is safe if prepared in a proper manner. Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. This won’t hurt most plants. Make sure that you do not make a strong solution as it may damage the weak and sensitive plants. The spray should not be sprayed when the temperature is too high.

Wrapping up

Small amounts of diluted liquid soap do not harm the plants. Soapy water is better than no water at all during a drought. When fresh water is not available for irrigation, the dishwater can be used. Although dish wash soap is not completely safe, applying with the proper guidelines can be beneficial. If you are still reluctant and aren’t so sure about insecticidal soap, go for a fertilizer service that applies the best fertilizers which are in every way advantageous to the plants.

Author's Bio: 

I'm a writer and illustrator. I did graduation in Journalism. For my Postgraduate thesis, I researched on Communicative Science and Disorder.