What Bugs Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill

What Bugs Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill?

If you talk of dish soaps that are household names, Dawn dish soap is sure to pop up as one of the most common, this is because they are effective in keeping our dishes spick and span.

You might be wondering if there are other ways you can put this soap to good use at home. Yes, indeed, you can use them to take care of bugs.

Different types of bugs can constitute a nuisance around. If you are environmentally conscious, you should not use harsh chemicals that harm the environment to care for these bugs. This is where the Dawn dish soap comes in. You can use it against different bugs, including bed bugs, aphids, ants, etc.

Why Is Dawn Effective Against Certain Bugs

It is unclear how Dawn soap dish, or any soap or detergent, can kill insects. Scientists are still researching how soaps can combat pests.

Unlike humans and other animals, bugs do not have bones or endoskeletons; they have exoskeletons, which are supportive structures outside their bodies. This exoskeleton protects the bug’s insides and gives it enough support to keep its shape and move around, and anything that affects the exoskeleton will affect these bugs immensely.

This waxy exoskeleton layer not only gives these bugs support but also keeps the bug moist inside and stops water from getting into the bug’s body. This waxy layer is very important in keeping the bug alive.

Some people think that some soaps wash off the outer waxy coating of the insect’s cuticle, and when this happens, it destroys the watertight quality of the insect’s body and causes the insect to dry up and die.

Some soaps have insecticidal properties, which may affect bugs’ nervous systems. Most of these soaps tend to have a toxic effect only on plant-eating insects, while they do not affect beneficial insects like ladybird beetles, lacewings, and predatory mites.

Another explanation for the ability of Dawn soap dish, or any other soap or detergent, to kill bugs is that the high-pressure sprays of the diluted soap may wash some insects off the plant. In contrast, others may be immobilized in soapy water, thereby making it quite easy to rinse off the plants.

Recommended: How To Get Rid of Waterbugs in Your House

What Bugs Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill?

Many harmful garden pests around us die when they come into direct contact with Dawn dish soap diluted in water. The soapy water washes away the protective coating of the bug, which causes the insect to dry up and die.

These are some of the common bugs and insects that can be killed with Dawn dish soap:

  • Ants
  • Carpenter Ants
  • Aphids
  • Fleas
  • Bed bugs
  • Boxelder bugs
  • Crawlers (immature scales)
  • Earwigs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Harlequin bugs
  • Grubs
  • Japanese beetles
  • Mealybugs
  • Planthoppers
  • Rose slugs
  • Leaf hoppers
  • Psyllids
  • Spittlebugs
  • Thrips
  • Scale insects
  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies

How To Use Dawn Dish Soap Against Bugs

Since you can see that Dawn dish soap is effective against many bugs and insects, you must know how to use it well. The beauty of this hack is that you only need Dawn dish soap and water.

Two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap should be mixed with a gallon of warm water. You need soft water or even distilled water to make this spray. The Dawn dish soap and water mixture should be properly mixed and poured into a clean spray bottle or portable sprayer.

For this spray to work well, it must come into direct contact with the bugs you are trying to kill because once the spray dries on the plant, it will no longer work.

You must apply Dawn dish soap solution when it doesn’t rain; this means you must check the weather forecast before using it. This is because you don’t want rain washing the bodies of these ants and bugs after spraying them.

It is best to spray the Dawn dish soap solution in the evening or early in the morning, before the sun comes out, and dry the spray before it has had any chance to work. However, you can apply indoor plants anytime.

When applying the Dawn dish soap solution, you should pay more attention to areas or plants with many bugs and damage. Ensure that you cover the tops and undersides of the leaves, around the stem, and all its buds and flowers.

To protect your plants from the toxic effect of Dawn dish soap solution, rinse the plant with fresh water when the spray has dried and the bugs are already dying or dead.

To completely eradicate bugs and insects with Dawn dish soap, treat the area every week or two until you are sure the pest problem is under control.

The Plants That Are Likely To Be Damaged By Dawn Dish Soap Spray

Most times, the bugs and even insects around the backyard usually attack our plants or hide around them. You will spray the plants with Dawn dish soap to eradicate these pesky insects.

Some plants can get hurt by Dawn dish soap spray, especially if applied frequently. Here are some plants that you should never use Dawn dish soap spray on:

  • All plant seedlings
  • All new transplants
  • Plants that have hairy or waxy leaves
  • Plants that are weak or affected by drought

These plants are very vulnerable, and using Dawn spray on any of these groups of plants could break down the plants’ natural defenses, which will make them susceptible to lots of pests and diseases.

The following plants do not do well when sprayed with Dawn dish soap spray:

  • Azaleas
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Begonias
  • Crown of thorns
  • Cherry trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Easter lilies
  • Gardenias
  • Hawthorns
  • Horse chestnuts
  • Geraniums
  • Japanese maples
  • Impatiens
  • Lantanas
  • Mountain ash
  • Maidenhair ferns
  • Nasturtiums
  • Sweet peas
  • Plum trees

Drawbacks To Using Dawn Spray Against Bugs And Insects

Despite how effective Dawn Spray is against some bugs and insects, there are a few demerits of using the soap as a pesticide. The first of such drawbacks is that all soap solutions, including Dawn dish soap spray, can potentially lead to phytotoxicity, which is plant injury or harm.

You can reduce the toxicity of Dawn dish soap spray by diluting it to reduce its concentration. You should also wash plants within 2 hours after the application to ensure the soap solution does not linger on the plant for too long. You can also limit the number of times you apply the home remedy pesticide because leaf damage can accumulate with repeated exposure.

Another problem with using Dawn Spray is that it is prepared at home, so the solution concentration needs to be standardized. It is possible to make the solution so concentrated that it becomes toxic to the plants and the environment. A diluted spray will surely not be effective in taking care of bugs.

There are environmental factors that can affect the effectiveness of the soap spray; one of them is the presence of minerals found in hard water, which results in chemical changes producing insoluble soaps (soap scum). This is why it is advised that only soft or distilled water should be used in making Dawn dish soap spray.


Dawn dish soap is one of the most common soaps used in washing and cleaning in the kitchen, but this same washing liquid can be used as a pesticide to take care of bugs and other insects. 

It needs to be clarified what it is about Dawn soap that destroys insects; there are different beliefs, but the reality is that it is effective against bugs if used according to specification. 

Too much of the soap will increase its toxicity to plants and the environment, while too little might not be so effective.

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We trust this article helped you learn what bugs Dawn Dish Soap kills. You may also want to know how to Get Rid of Little White Bugs in My House Plants.

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