Non-detergent soaps for homemade insecticide

firefly1013May 7, 2007

I've been researching recipes for homemade insect repellents on this forum, and see that diluted non-detergent soaps are frequently used. I'm just looking for some actual brand-names of such soaps. I've read that Ivory is no longer non-detergent, and that Dr. Bronners, since it is made from vegetable sources isn't as effective as animal-derived fatty acids. So that leaves Fels-Naptha but I'm wondering if there are any others... and what about Murphy's Oil Soap? Is that too strong? What about Woolite?

I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm interested in why you aren't willing to get the real stuff? Commercially manufactured insecticidal soaps are effective, efficient, safe to use, have real honest-to-goodness directions on the label, lol!

If you aren't going to use the commercial stuff, then you just might be 'stuck' with something that may not work as well. Dr. Bonner's soaps are a decent substitute, as is pure Castile soap. Murphy's has additives that could increase the chance of phytotoxicity. It's also veggie based, in case you're interested. (And there's no OIL in that darned soap!)

To be honest, I've not used a homemade soap spray so I can't give you a recipe that works. I've always believed that the real product is less costly in the long run, as well as very effective.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:49PM
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Thanks rhizo-- I was mostly thinking of the cost, but perhaps you are right about in the long run it being more cost-effective to stick with something like Safer. I appreciate your input!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:58PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I believe that Ivory Snow flakes are also "real soap", but can't say if they are animal or vegetable based, and they may well have altered the formula since I last checked. (I had allergies to detergent-based soaps, and got itchy skin if I used them for laundry.) You may also be able to get something usable from either buying handmade soap (although many will be vegetable-based) or making your own. DYI does mean messing around with lye, tallow/fat and heat, and can be a little dangerous - one reason I haven't even thought about trying! And the price to buy handmade, since it would be made in small batches, by hand, wouldn't be inexpensive, necessarily.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I think you'll be hugely surprised at the very low cost of plain ol' insecticidal soap. The concentrate is more cost effective. And be sure to compare prices. If the active ingredients are the same, always go with the cheapest stuff. Safer's isn't the only producer.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:55PM
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At $6.98 per quart for Insecticidal soap and $2.98 per bar of Fels Naptha from which I can make several thousand quarts of Insecticidal Soaps I don't think the commercial ones are "very low cost". You shave off some of the Fels Naptha and soak that in a wee bit of hot water to make a gel and mix 1 teaspoon of that in 1 quart of water, Very simple to make and very inexpensive.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 6:47AM
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Great, that's exactly what I was looking for Kimmsr-- thanks! The price is certainly right. Besides, I like to mix my own cleaning concoctions, I really wanted to try my hand at this as well.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 8:31AM
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At $6.98 per quart for Insecticidal soap and $2.98 per bar of Fels Naptha from which I can make several thousand quarts of Insecticidal Soaps I don't think the commercial ones are "very low cost".

The concentrates are to be diluted greatly with water and as such they are very inexpensive and will last most folks years and years (usually a couple ounces per gallon). Nothing wrong with making one's own, I have just read too many posts where a person made their own and then was asking why their plant was damaged to ever recommend it to anyone.

To each their own though.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 11:15AM
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What insects can you control with the fels naptha/insecticidal soap?

What vegetables do you spray them on?

I'm a beginner gardener and trying to learn about how I can control unwanted pests.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 1:28PM
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There are a large number of insects the insecticidal soaps work at controlling. Insecticidal soaps disolve the target insects exoskeleton so many hard shell beetles can be. Some people use IS to control aphids but that is unnecessary since a sharp stream of plain water works just as well on them. Your major consideration about using any pesticide should be "do I really need to do something" because often doing something results in the natural control to be controlled also.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 7:23PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

To be honest, I have used whatever kind of liquid dish washing soap/detergent I have on hand. We try to get Ivory dish soap just because hubby is allergic to a lot of other brands, but couldn't find it last time and the cheap stuff from Aldi works just fine. Have always had this solution work on killing bugs, and have never damaged my plants with it at the killing-bugs dilution rate. (If you double the amount of dish soap it does hurt plants, can be used to kill small weeds.)

I go with about 1 Tablespoon of dish soap per quart of water in a spray bottle. I also have Murphy's Oil Soap but didn't know that I could use that, besides it is kind of pricey. I used to use this spray on some kind of worms that attacked the pine trees at my previous home almost every year, and on ants and aphids. At my current house I have used them on ants, cucumber beetles, and Mexican bean beetles/bugs in the garden. It works, and you can just spray/soak the area afterwards to get most of the soap out. No aphid problems here since I have so many lady bugs.

I also don't see how a $1 bottle of dish soap that makes gazillions of quarts of bug spray (and can also be used for dish soap) doesn't blow away ANY prepared commercial product economically. Yes, I imagine you could hurt some plants if you were careless, but all you have to do is wash the plant off afterward with water anyway, so what is the big deal? I even rescue the worms I find in that area and wash them off with water, too.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 1:53AM
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I have sprayed down the yard with one tablespoon of joy liquid detergent in hose type sprayer before parties, and bugs are gone,even from the roses. It never hurt the plants that dilute. There were no mosquitos that day-an it was awesome all three graduation parties.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Is insecticidal soap (fels naptha and water safe for using on basil leaves and then eating them? Is it effective against japanese beetles?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:12AM
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Richard (chuggerguy)

I've tried the commercial stuff a time or two. It cost way way way too much and was simply not an affordable option for me.I suppose ones means(or willingness to waste money) can determine what gets deemed "expensive" or "inexpensive".

Just my opinion but... I'll definitely be making my own. If I had to pay $6.98 per quart I'd be forced to choose the non-organic route.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:13PM
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I just bought some Safer concentrate and was amazed at all the plants it's NOT recommended for use on. Wish I'd just made my own. The best thing about "make-your-own" is that when you are out of the store stuff you can make some up in a hurry.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:36AM
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