Irish Spring soap is your secret weapon for pest control

Experts say Irish Spring soap can help with pest control - here are two ways to use it

Potted plants outside of a window
(Image credit: Curro D / Unsplash)

Other than being a majorly forgetful plant parent, nothing ruins the effort you put into your balcony herb garden or flower pots more than pests. We're big fans of making your outdoor space wildlife-friendly at Real Homes, and deterring pests often isn't as kind to animals and the planet as we'd like. Keeping them away while avoiding harsh chemicals is a hard balance to strike. 

Still, putting a lot of effort into a cute li'l tomato or basil plant only to find that some critter has beat you to it for dinner is super frustrating — but an interesting solution has popped up on our radars. Irish Spring soap (yep, that weird bar of soap you probably don't use) is apparently a great fix for keeping small mammals and bugs away from your plants.

How to use Irish Spring soap for pest control

Avid gardeners say that you can grate a bar of Irish Spring soap that you can buy from Amazon and sprinkle a barrier around your plants to make bugs and small animals, like chipmunks and deer, rethink their choice about chomping on your plants.

Admittedly, it doesn't sound like the most aesthetically pleasing to do to your cute li'l garden area, but if it keeps annoying visitors at bay, it's worth a shot.

Leslie Vincent, a gardening expert from Atkins, explains that animals find the smell of Irish Spring soap unpleasant, and will leave your edible plants alone. string pouch. 

For balcony gardens or small space plant areas, simply grate it around your pots and planters as a good non-toxic pest control solution. For larger gardens, Vincent recommends using a different method.

"Place some wooden sticks around the garden and tie the bags or pouches around the sticks," she says. "Keep an eye on how things go, obviously, for larger animals, you may need more soap — a deer is going to need a lot more than a mouse."

chipmunk in grass

(Image credit: Getty)

If you're finding smaller bugs are still making a feast out of your plants, there are other solutions. Irish Spring soap is known to deter insects and other bugs, but it might not always be enough. Andrew Gaumond, horticulturist, botanist, and director of content at Petal Republic says that from his experience, Irish Spring soap is most effective at deterring mid-sized animals like rabbits and deer. For smaller pests, he recommends homemade insecticidal soap.

"It can be easily made by mixing 1 spoonful of fragrance-free liquid soap (dish or hand-soap is fine) with 5 spoonfuls of vegetable oil with around 16 fluid ounces of warm water in a spray bottle," Andrew says. 

"Give the mixture a good shake and apply immediately and liberally on sweet peas and other growing matter in your garden," he adds. This homemade soap even works for your best indoor plants, too!

Other pest control options

While Irish Spring soap is a handy hack, there are plenty of backup options. Jill Sandy, a gardener and founder of home and gardening blog Constant Delights recommends using a soap that has eucalyptus oil, cinnamon, or mint in its ingredients.

"It is great to test which of the different soaps are effective in repelling the pests because they all have different formulas and ingredients," she says.

So if you're trying to keep your plants healthy and aren't down to share your labors with bugs and animals, grab a bar of Irish Spring soap in your next online order.

Melissa Epifano
Former Global Editor in Chief

Hi, I'm former editor of Real Homes. I cut my teeth in New York City, covering fashion and beauty but eventually made my way into the world of homes. I've spent several years writing and editing for The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, Forbes, MyDomaine, People, InStyle, Real Simple, Lonny and more. I track trends like it's a competitive sport but am equally excited about covering products and style ideas that stand the test of time.

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