I have recently noticed mosquitoes in our home, something I am not happy with at all. I’ve been looking for a solution on how to control them without using pesticides inside. One of the solutions that I came across was the use of dish soap to kill mosquitoes. Intriguing, yet it sounded ridiculous. So I decided to put this home remedy to the test and the results have been surprising.
Does dish soap really kill mosquitoes? Dish soap kills mosquitoes by reducing the surface tension of water. This causes them to drown by preventing them from being able to stand on the water. The dish soap will also suffocate mosquito larvae.
I know it sounds a little far-fetched. I thought so too. We all hear the crazy home remedies that are thrown around for lawn care and pest control. Some are based on scientific merit while others are just pulled from thin air.
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That’s why I put this theory to the test. I wanted to know once and for all if this was a legitimate pest control solution or just another one of Aunt Tillie’s crazy home remedies.
My Goal Was To Prove Pinterest Wrong
So anytime I am in search of a pest-control solution, I go to pest control websites in search of kid-safe and pet-safe pesticides. My wife, on the other hand, heads straight to home remedies on Pinterest. While I was searching for a way to kill mosquitoes in the house, she offers up this dish soap idea.
I scoffed at the suggestion but she was adamant about not spraying chemicals in our house, especially in the kitchen area where we are having the mosquito problem. And so, I figured “why not?” I’ll show her that a dish soap cleaned mosquito is not as good as a dead mosquito and then I can move on to the heavy artillery.
How I Tested The Dish Soap Mosquito Killing Home Remedy
Using my kitchen area as a test center, (to my wife’s dismay but it was her idea), I placed a small saucer on our stove each night. The saucer was filled with water and two to three small squirts of dish soap. I did not stir or aggregate the soap in the water. I simply squirted it in and left it.
I made sure the overhead light on our vent-a-hood was left on over the stove. Although evidence of light attracting mosquitoes has been mostly debunked, it does help them to navigate. I wanted to make sure they could see the saucer of water. All the other lights in the house were turned off.
I also made sure that the sinks in the kitchen were empty and dry. I did not want to offer alternative water areas. By the same token, toilet lids were closed and bathroom doors were shut.
And so, I have a controlled test center. Let the battles begin!
Surprising Results of Dish Soap In Water For Killing Mosquitoes
Every morning without exception I awoke to find dead mosquitoes in the dish. Sometimes three or four but usually more. Clearly, the first takeaway from this unscientific study is that I have a mosquito problem in my house. Beyond that, however, there is real and verifiable evidence that dish soap in water truly is an effective solution for killing mosquitoes.
I cannot tell you how surprised I was with this. I literally went into this project with the intent of disproving a seemingly ludicrous tale that I was tired of reading about on the internet. I also wanted to mark this as the first time in history that I was right and my wife was wrong.
Night after night, mosquitoes found their way to the saucer and died in my deadly pool of surfactant.
If you are needing to kill mosquitoes indoors or outside, be sure to read our article on the 7 Things You Must Understand To Control Mosquitoes Inside And Out.
The Science Behind The Remedy
If this really worked, and clearly it did, then there had to be a reason. This sent me off on an exhaustive research quest. What I found was both informative and enlightening.
Mosquitoes Drown When Dish Soap Is Added To Water
Mosquitoes are able to stand on water because of the surface tension of the liquid (source). When dish soap is added, it disrupts the surface tension of the water. This is a critical distinction to understand as it explains why mosquitoes that are normally able to stand on the water suddenly drown when dish soap is added.
And as you will see below, this is supported over and over again by the experts.
Dish Soap Also Kills Mosquito Larvae
I came across a Ph.D. student’s blog on the University of Notre Dame’s website. This student is researching mosquitoes at an impressively detailed level. She explains that mosquitoes don’t actually lay their eggs in larger bodies of water like ponds. The reason for this is that the larvae require air to breathe (source).
What the student mentions that really caught my attention though is that the larvae use the surface tension of the water to suspend themselves. She explains that dish soap breaks this surface tension and prevents them from being able to breathe.
Blue Water Baltimore, a non-profit committed to improving the water quality of water in Baltimore waterways, recommends adding dish soap to rain barrels to prevent mosquitoes from breeding (source). They explain that the mosquitoes drown in the water due to the surface tension being broken by the surfactant in the dish soap.
Dish Soap Is Effective For More Than Just Mosquitoes
The University of Florida lists dish soap as an alternative to more aggressive chemicals as a part of an Integrated Pest Management plan (source). They recommending testing this solution on plants before moving to traditional pesticides.
Soap Has A Long History Of Use In Pest Management
This one caught me by surprise.
I assumed that the dish soap remedy was the creation of a DIY Pinterest-centric society. The truth is, however, that this home remedy actually precedes Pinterest by hundreds of years!
Between 1100 and 1600 A.D., soap was one of the pest control solutions used by the Chinese (source).
Rebecca Baldwin published an extensive study in 2008 titled Soaps as Insecticides. This study explains that soaps were used as insecticides in the late 1700s (source).
And so, not only is there science to support this, there is a history behind the claim as well. A history that precedes our insatiable appetite for quick and easy DIY solutions.
Pinterest wasn’t created until 2010 by the way. 🙂
As much as I wanted to call this home remedy debunked, I’m eating my words on this one. Dish soap in water really does kill mosquitoes. History supports it, science explains why, and my own testing has proven it effective every single night of this study.
If you have a problem with mosquitoes in your home, I am telling you this is absolutely worth trying. If it had worked once I would call it a fluke but every morning I have woken to find dead mosquitoes in my saucer of water and dish soap. And I’m not stopping. I’ll continue using this technique until we have our mosquito issue behind us.
And so, my wife was right again. Go figure! 🙂
Of course, I need to also address the mosquitoes outside that are coming into our home. If you have a similar issue make sure to read the 7 Things You Must Understand To Control Mosquitoes Inside & Out.