Dr. Bronner's

Eliminating Ants with Castile Soap Spray

Castile Soap Spray for ants

All right, so I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen Castile soap spray for ants work (see more in the previous blog on spraying for aphids and other insects). However, there’s something about ants that always makes me think they’re invincible. I really don’t mind ants outside. I mean the black ants, of course. Fortunately, I haven’t found red ants in my yard. The black ants don’t bother my plants too much, knock on wood. They’re good cleaner-uppers. They even aerate the soil a bit. I’ve also heard someone say that Southern California is built on one big anthill, so you can’t really try to get rid of them.

However, inside my house is another matter. Inside, they give me the heebie-jeebies. Even moreso than spiders, earwigs, or sowbugs. I guess it’s because spiders are usually solo, they don’t travel around the house too much, and they eat other bugs. Earwigs are pretty isolated too, inside. And sowbugs are just so slow and funny when they ball up, that who can really dislike them entirely? Ants inside are another story.

As you may have seen in some of my kitchen videos, my countertop has flecks of black in it, so the ants really blend in. Until there are a lot of them. Then, all of a sudden, I realize my entire countertop is moving. One day, I grilled some super yummy burgers and had them sitting on a plate on the counter. At least we got one serving out of them, because by the time we came back for seconds, the ants had already gotten there. Plus, I once found two crawling on my baby in her crib. That was not a good scene.

The only plus I can say for ants in the house, is that they really encourage me to keep my kitchen clean and free of crumbs.

So when I found a few ant scouts in my kitchen the other day, I grabbed my bottle of Castile Soap All-Purpose Spray and doused them. They shriveled up on contact.  As I said, I shouldn’t be surprised. However, I didn’t expect it to work that fast. It was immediate. I let the spray sit for a bit to make sure the area was cleared, and then wiped it off. Also, the tea tree essential oil that I had added to my spray messes with the scent markings the ants leave, and discourages any followers.

Please note! This concentration for the All-Purpose Spray is much higher than it is for the garden pest spray. If you use the All-Purpose Spray on your plants, you will burn them.

So, no nasty Raid fumes. No scary residue on food surfaces. No extra expense for additional products. And most importantly, no more ants.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

In a spray bottle, mix 1/4 c. (60 mL) of your favorite Castile soap and 1 quart (1L) of water.

Do not use this concentration on plants, as it will burn them. Here’s how to spray for garden pests.

Further reading

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Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!


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Aubrey Young says:

Can I use the unscented for palnts, and ants? Or does it need to be peppermint? Or could I just add my one EO if needed?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Aubrey- For ants specifically, I’ve found the Tea Tree oil to be helpful in eliminating their scent trails, but if you don’t have that scent, it’s worth trying a different scent – or yes, adding your own EOs if you’d like. The dilution for spraying plant is more diluted at 1 Tbsp. Castile Soap in a quart of water (vs. 1/4 c. soap in this ant spray recipe).

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kellie- An insecticidal soap spray made with 1 Tbsp Castile Soap in a quart of water will work against fungus gnats, but it does have to come into contact with them when wet. The challenge is, they are so quick to fly away at the slightest disturbance. Another reader shared that for larger plants she used a stone topdressing and for smaller plants, she had success sprinkling cinnamon on top of the potting mix. I have not tried either of these though. If you give it a go, let me know how it worked out.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Karen – Living in SoCal, I do not have experience with roach elemination, but I believe they are too large for this spray to work against them, though the tips on prevention would still be valid.

Other readers with roach experience, what low-tox methods have you found to work?

Meg says:

I noticed these have essential oils in them. Please be careful as some like Tea Tree Oil are poisonous to cats

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Meg – Thank you for the reminder. I agree that if the spray might come into contact with cats, it is best to use the Unscented Soap. It will still be effective in eliminating the ants.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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Print Now!

Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!