Should You Put Dish Soap In With Neem Oil? Experts Explain

Are you tired of dealing with pesky insects and pests in your garden or houseplants?

Neem oil is a natural and effective solution, but there’s one catch – it doesn’t dissolve in water. That’s where dish soap comes in.

But should you really mix the two?

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of combining neem oil and dish soap, as well as provide tips on how to properly use this organic insecticide.

Say goodbye to toxic pesticides and hello to a healthier garden with neem oil and dish soap.

Should You Put Dish Soap In With Neem Oil?

The short answer is yes, you should put dish soap in with neem oil. Neem oil is a natural insecticide that has been used for centuries to repel and kill pests. However, neem oil does not dissolve in water, which makes it difficult to use as a spray.

Adding dish soap to neem oil helps to emulsify the oil, allowing it to mix with water and spread evenly over your plants. The soap acts as an emulsifying agent, bonding with the neem oil droplets and distributing the molecules in the water evenly.

Without dish soap, the neem oil will float on top of the water and not mix properly. This can lead to uneven coverage and ineffective pest control.

Understanding Neem Oil As An Organic Insecticide

Neem oil is extracted from the pressed fruit of the neem tree, which is native to India and Africa. It has natural insect-repelling properties, making it a useful yet organic insecticide for plants.

One of the benefits of neem oil is that it can get rid of hundreds of pests and diseases, including spider mites, aphids, scale, mealybugs, blight, and leaf spot. It is also FDA and EPA approved for indoor use with plants and animals.

However, neem oil needs an emulsifying agent like dish soap to mix with water effectively. Adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of dish detergent to 1 gallon of warm water in a sprayer will help to emulsify the neem oil. This will create a creamy thick yellow liquid that can be applied to plants.

It’s important to note that neem oil can cause skin irritation, especially for those with skin sensitivities. Therefore, it’s essential to wear gloves and protective eyewear when applying it.

While neem oil is an effective insecticide, it’s not suitable for all types of garden pests. It can also damage plant leaves if used in excessive amounts. Additionally, it may be challenging to find in stores.

The Role Of Dish Soap In Neem Oil Mixture

Dish soap plays a crucial role in neem oil mixture by acting as an emulsifying agent. As mentioned earlier, neem oil does not dissolve in water, and adding dish soap helps to emulsify the mixture. The soap molecules bond with the neem oil droplets, breaking them into smaller particles and allowing them to mix with water evenly.

This even distribution of the neem oil mixture ensures that all parts of the plant are covered, including the undersides of leaves and hard-to-reach areas. This is important because pests often hide in these areas and can cause significant damage if left untreated.

Additionally, dish soap helps to increase the effectiveness of neem oil by improving its adhesion to plant surfaces. The soap acts as a surfactant, reducing the surface tension of water and allowing it to spread more easily over the plant. This ensures that the neem oil mixture adheres to the plant surface, making it difficult for pests to move around and feed on the plant.

It is important to note that only a small amount of dish soap should be added to the neem oil mixture. Too much soap can harm plants by removing their protective waxy coating, leading to dehydration and other problems. As a general rule, 1 to 2 tablespoons of mild dish soap per gallon of water is sufficient for most neem oil mixtures.

Benefits Of Using Neem Oil And Dish Soap

Using neem oil and dish soap together has many benefits for your plants and garden. Here are some of the benefits of using neem oil and dish soap:

1. Safe and Natural: Neem oil is a natural pesticide that is safe for humans, pets, and beneficial insects. It does not harm the environment or pollute the soil.

2. Effective Pest Control: Neem oil is effective in controlling a wide range of pests, including aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips. The addition of dish soap helps to increase the effectiveness of neem oil by making it easier to spread evenly on the plant surface.

3. Prevents Fungal Diseases: Neem oil has antifungal properties that can prevent fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. The dish soap helps to spread the neem oil evenly on the plant surface, ensuring maximum coverage.

4. Improves Plant Health: Using neem oil and dish soap can improve the overall health of your plants. Neem oil contains nutrients that can promote healthy growth, while dish soap can help to remove dirt and grime from the plant surface.

5. Cost-effective: Making your own neem oil and dish soap spray is cost-effective compared to buying commercial pesticides. You can easily make your own spray at home with just a few ingredients.

Drawbacks Of Using Neem Oil And Dish Soap

While neem oil mixed with dish soap can be an effective insecticide, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind.

Firstly, neem oil can be more expensive than other insecticidal soaps on the market. Additionally, it can be difficult to find in stores, which may require ordering it online or visiting specialty gardening stores.

Another potential drawback is the strong odor that neem oil emits, which some people may find unpleasant. This can be especially noticeable if you are using it indoors or in a small space.

Lastly, neem oil can cause leaf burn on plants if used in excessive amounts. It’s important to follow the recommended dosage and application guidelines to avoid damaging your plants.

It’s also worth noting that neem oil may not be effective on all types of plants or pests. Some plants may be sensitive to neem oil and could suffer damage from its use. Additionally, certain pests may not be affected by neem oil or may require multiple applications for effective control.

How To Properly Mix And Apply Neem Oil And Dish Soap

To properly mix and apply neem oil and dish soap, you will need a few items: 100% neem oil (cold pressed and unfiltered), mild dish soap, warm water, a gallon bottle, and a spray bottle.

First, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of neem oil to a gallon of warm water. Warm water allows for better emulsification. Next, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mild dish soap. Since oil and water don’t mix, adding dish soap helps emulsify the mixture.

If desired, you can also add 6 to 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to the mixture. The scent of peppermint deters insects.

Shake the gallon bottle a few times until the mixture looks slightly cloudy and soapy. Then, transfer the mixture into a spray bottle. Always shake the spray bottle before spraying to mix properly.

Lightly spray the mixture onto your plants as much as once a day to once a week during the early morning or evening. Gently rub the mixture on the leaves and stems. Protective gloves are recommended, especially if you have sensitive skin.

For severe infestations, spray the plant daily for up to a week. All other plants can be sprayed once per week. It’s important to note that unopened cold-pressed neem oil has a shelf life of about a year when stored in a cool, dry place. A homemade neem oil mixture is most effective within hours of being made and can last about three to four days stored in a cool, dry place before compounds begin to break down.

Precautions And Safety Measures When Using Neem Oil And Dish Soap

While neem oil and dish soap are safe and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides, it’s important to take precautions when using them on your plants. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind:

1. Wear protective clothing: When using neem oil and dish soap, it’s important to wear gloves, long sleeves, and pants to protect your skin from potential irritation.

2. Use the correct ratio: Adding too much neem oil or dish soap can harm your plants. Follow the recommended ratio of 1 to 2 teaspoons of dish soap per 1 gallon of warm water, and 0.5 teaspoons of neem oil per 16oz spray bottle.

3. Test on a small area first: Before spraying your entire plant, test the neem oil and dish soap mixture on a small area to ensure that it doesn’t harm your plant.

4. Avoid spraying in direct sunlight: Spraying neem oil and dish soap in direct sunlight can cause the mixture to evaporate quickly and reduce its effectiveness.

5. Store properly: Store the neem oil and dish soap mixture in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

By following these precautions and safety measures, you can effectively use neem oil and dish soap as a natural insecticide for your plants without harming them or yourself.