21 Natural & Homemade Pesticides That Work: {Recipes}

These homemade pesticides are cheap and easy to make with many being just as effective as some commercial products on the market. No fancy items required, everything you need is likely stocked in your kitchen and garden. Most of the ingredients are earth friendly and natural–no more toxic chemicals!

Tip: The best method of pest control in the garden is to keep your plants healthy so they don’t attract bugs. Fertilize as needed (see How To Make Compost Tea) and stay on top of weeds by pulling them as they appear or using weed killers (see Homemade Weed Killer Recipes & Tips).

Begin treating for insects as soon as you notice signs of an infestation, the sooner you start the easier it will be to get rid of the critters.

Update: As with all pesticides, take care when applying to food bearing plants, as well as handling and storage of the solution. No one needs reminding I’m sure, but wash all produce well before consuming.

DIY Recipes & Brews

Note: For batches that request liquid dish detergent, all that’s required is the basic stuff–nothing fancy with added bleach, nothing concentrated and no special antibacterial formulas. You can also substitute with something gentler such as castile or a perfume free, gentle hand soap.

Rhubarb Solution

1 C. rhubarb leaves*
1/4 C. liquid dish detergent or soap flakes

  • Cover rhubarb leaves with 6.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes then remove from heat and cool. Strain then add 1/4 cup soap. Good for aphids, june beetles, spider mites, thrips.
  • *These are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing varieties.

Garlic Tea

  • Make your own spritz by boiling a pint of water, throw in roughly chopped garlic cloves and steep until the batch cools. Strain.

Garlic, Peppers & Onion Insecticide

2 hot peppers
1 large onion
1 whole bulb of garlic

  • Toss in the food processor and add 1/4 cup water, blend until a mash is made. Cover mash with 1 gallon hot (not boiling) water and let stand 24 hours. Strain. Spritz on roses, azaleas, vegetables to kill bug infestations. Bury mash in ground where bugs are heaviest. Good for thrips, aphids, grasshoppers, chewing and sucking insects.

Tomato Brew

  • Crush leaves* from a tomato plant and soak in water for a couple days. Strain. Good for grasshopper and white fly control.
  • These are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing varieties.

Basil Tea

1 C. fresh basil (or 2 TBS dried)
1 tsp liquid dish detergent

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil then add basil. Remove from heat, cover and steep until cool. Strain. Mix in the soap. Good for aphids.

Onion Insect Repellent
*First published May 18, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

  • Save onion skins, peels and ends then refrigerate in an empty margarine-sized tub or ziploc bag until the container is full.
  • Once you have enough, place the pieces in a pail and fill with warm water. Soak for a few days, up to a week. Optional: You can keep this on the patio in the sun to steep.
  • After one week, strain the bits out and store the batch in spray bottles. Bury the onion bits around vegetation that are prone to aphids, spiders and other pests.
  • Spray both house and garden plants to fight aphids and pests.

*You could also toss in your garlic trimmings with the onion pieces, bugs hate garlic too.

Salt Spritz

2 TBS salt

  • Combine salt with 1.5 gallons water to dissolve, allow to cool to room temperature. Good for spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms and chewing critters.

Epsom Salt Formula

2 ounces of salt
2 gallons water

  • Benefits: Helps with Black Spot, Mildew, Wilt and Rust

Slug Bait Trap

  • Set out beer in shallow containers to attract slugs, they’ll drown in the beer. See more tips on this page.

Diatomaceous Earth

  • An all natural solution for insects of all kinds (ants, snails, slugs, etc.). Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around vegetation with pest problems.

Horticultural Oil Mix

1 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
2 C. water

  • Fill a spray bottle with the ingredients then shake well.

Pepper Recipe

1/2 C. hot peppers (or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper)
1 tsp liquid dish detergent

  • Bring 1 quart water to a boil, remove from heat and add peppers. Cover and steep until cool. Strain then add soap. If using cayenne pepper, no need to bring to a boil first.

Citrus Spritz

2 C. orange peels (or lemons)

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil, remove from heat and add peels. Cover and steep until cool. Strain. Ideal for repelling white flies.

Soapy Baking Soda

2 TBS liquid dish detergent
2 TBS baking soda
1 gallon water

  • Combine all ingredients together and it’s ready to go.

Peppermint Tea

1 TBS peppermint essential oil (an infusion made with mint leaves is also suitable, increase amount to 1 cup infusion)
1 quart water

  • Combine ingredients and treat as an insect spray (terrific for ants).

Japanese Beetle Bait Trap

2 C. water
1 mashed banana
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. wine
1/2 tsp yeast

  • Mix ingredients together and put in an old margarine container, cover with lid and set out in the sun for a day. When ready, remove lid and set in garden where the beetles have been spotted (select a shallow container).

Potato Tea

1 C. potato plant leaves*

  • Chop then cover with 2 cups hot water. Seal container and set aside for 24 hours in a sunny window. Strain.
  • These are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing varieties.

Neem Solution

1 TBS Neem soap (shavings)

  • Add to 1 liter water then let sit for an hour. Shake then it’s ready.

Mineral Oil Spritz

3 parts oil per 100 parts water

  • Benefits: Helps with Aphids, Codling Moth, Leaf Roller, Mealybugs, Scaled Insects, White Fly

Easy Solution

2 TBS soap flakes (avoid detergents)
dissolved in 1 quart water

  • Benefits: Aphid control

Pest Prevention Concentrate
*First published February 1, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization

Here’s a short and sweet recipe for both garden and houseplants. You can use this as a preventative spray as well as a bug and pest killer.

1 C. Sunlight dish soap
1 TBS vegetable oil


  • Mix ingredients together then store in a plastic, airtight container.
  • Ratio: Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of the concentrate and mix with a quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle.
  • When applying make sure to get underneath the leaves as well as the flower buds and new shoots.
  • In hot weather, repeat every third day (3 applications over one week).
  • Warm to cool weather, treat once a week for 3 weeks.


  • Apply the chosen formula on top of the leaves as well as underneath–don’t overdo it, excess can cause damage.
  • Most recipes are effective as a weekly treatment. Excessive use may affect vegetation as well as kill the beneficial creepers you want to encourage in your garden (earthworms, bees, ladybugs, etc.). If you aren’t seeing results with a 7 day treatment, you can bump it up to 5 but watch carefully to make sure plants can handle it without being damaged.
  • Avoid treating during hot sunny weather, do so later in the day to reduce the risk of burning.
  • If it looks like rain, delay until the weather is clear since any rain will wash away the new application. If it has recently rained, wait till greenery is dry before applying to prevent the mix being diluted with rain.
  • When trying a new solution, test on just a couple leaves first (apply then watch how they react after two or three days, if no signs of damage proceed with spraying).

Organic Aids

*First published June 5, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

With a little bit of planning you can help cut down on pests and disease organically by growing natural repellents near problem areas. Here are a few suggestions…

Rosemary, Mint, Thyme: Grow near cabbage
Benefits: Repels cabbage worms

Nasturtiums: Position near cucumbers, melons and squashes.
Benefits: Repels squash bugs

Summer Savory: Position near beans
Benefits: Repels bean beetles

Radishes: Grow near cucumbers
Benefits: Repels cucumber beetles

Related Posts


    • Margery

    Nasturtiums: work well to keep aphids away. Plant near roses and mums, etc.

    • Rose Ann

    I have a tiny but visible white flying bug on my plant outdoors. In a couple days ithas turned top leaves brown. Any ideas what it is and will the dish soap work? Thanks.

    • travis

    Hi I am looking for an effective pesticide for grasshoppers, my usual defense is surrounding my garden with squash and tomatoes and citronella since the leaves seem to repel them, but this year its like there’s a new breed that isn’t affected and my garden is being devastated, if anyone knows of a homemade recipe that won’t hurt fruit bearing plants and vegetables please let me know. Thank you

    • chaar

    I have something eating my basil and some of the leaves on my eggplant. I think it might be beatles herre in NH as I have seen some on hanging plants. Is there a natural pesticide to use to get rid of them? I hate to use the store bought ones.

    • karen

    great site
    thanks for all the great tips ive got for this years growing season
    no probs yet but who knows wats to come
    tc karen liverpool england

    • Lynne

    Any suggestions as to how I can get rid of grey leaf mould ( I think that’s what it is ) it seems to be only on my petunias in my hanging baskets. I would rather try cure than take them out but I need to do it fast so as not to infect the other plants the leaves look as if they’ve got mould on them then the leaves start to go yellowing and the plant along with the flowers droop thanks for any suggestions

    • Lucy

    You could buy the coyote urine at a plant store. Can you have a sprinkler system going to discourage the cats . It should keep them away because they will remember getting wet at your house.

    • Sherry

    Something is eating all the leaves on out pecan tree but have no clue what it is because we can’t find anything on the tree. Hardly has any leaves left on it. What do you suggest to use on it?

    • Jessica

    Help! Vine borers have been attacking my garden for years now. I don’t know what to do! I’ve even tried eliminating vine plants or growing them after they lay their eggs. Can’t get them under control.

    • Guion Leach

    I JUST planted a regular mint plant a few days ago in a pot with good soil. ALREADY something is eating holes in the leaves.
    I was planning to spread diatomaceous earth around my plants and some powdered milk for fungus prevention (WisconsinGardens idea. Then I heard about the Ajax dishsoap 1 T. per gallon. I was wondering if to the same gallon of water, I could add the 1 T. of liquid fish fertilizer my nursery said plants like to be sprayed with. Should I combine them so then the dirt around could get dry for the DE and the pwdr milk?

    My mint and oregano are in separate pots, in a separate container I have 2 cherry tomatoes, an alyisium and a marigold. On a depth of two bags of Miracle Grow Potting soil and Miracle Grow Moisture control soil, mixed together 1/2 and 1/2,(This was before I found out about organic! Wish I had known before planting.)
    I have planted in 4 spots to the right half of one set up 4 strawberry plants and one Asian basil. Can’t decide what to put in area big enough for 3 more plants. In the other set up I have 2 cilantro, 2 dill (one doing well, the other struggling) one rosemary and one tarragon and to the right of those 2 sweet basil. I have already learned all except the basil really want to be rather dry.

    So back to my question, can I spray with the mix of diluted Ajax and the Neptune’s organic fish fertilizer for all my plants? Help!

    • Guion

    I apologize this is my first time here and I am an ambitious newbie garderner, trying to use info from the Internet. (Just did not know about organic before I used Miracle Grow soils, now trying to do organic.)

    I mentioned a site where I was given an idea of using powdered milk sprinkled around dry plants after the Diatom. Earth was sprinkled around, to keep out fungus from tomato plants, but has to go on dry.

    Also, I did not see my question appear, so I clicked it again and that may have thrown me out. Then I see it might just not have been reviewed yet by administrator. So here is a more to the point, amended version, sorry for any repeat.

    Since the Ajax detergent for bug spray and liquid organic fish fertilizer both require mixing 1 T. with 1 gal water, can I put them in the same gallon of water to spray?

    I want to spray with the fish food, but also want to deter bugs as something is already eating my mint plant, so I want to get the stuff that needs to go on dry on as soon as possible. Instead of doing 2 wet rounds, can I combine them to spray? Can I use it on all my plants–cilantro, dill, rosemary, tarragon, sweet basil, strawberries, tomatoes, Asian oregano, regular and lemon mint. All are in containers.

    • Carolyn

    I have a problem with boring bees eating through the fascia board on our house. This section of the house is sided with cedar and stained. The fascia board is also stained but not cedar wood. How do I get rid of the bees without

    • Wendy Castillo

    Any safe way to get rid of ants in our kitchen? They are slowly taking over…

    • bj

    Hi, I have Tulsi plants (Indian plant) just similar like basil plant. After 2 days of I bought, all leaves are gone at every night. I dont know how I can stop this damage of my plants.

    • Robin

    I have green worms in the new shoots of my monkshood. The plant is about a foot high now..
    ..my question is, if i cut the plant off anf spray the ground and the plant with soapy water, will that make a difference? And will the monkshood grow back again this yr?

    • Kun

    Thank you for the tips, the Citrus Spray is a lifesaver! It was the best solution for my whiteflies problem. Appreciate it very much and thank you for the efforts!

    • Patricia

    What a fabulous site! Thank you so much for all the tips.

    I haven’t seen any answers for bark scorpion infestations yet. Can anyone help, please?

    Thanks, again.

    • JoAnn

    Is there a way to get rid of fire ants? I’ve use grits, chemical killer, home bug remedies and can’t find anything that really does the job. Please help…I can’t walk to/from my car without getting bit.

      • Robert Neumann

      on fire ants, i take 2 lbs of corn meal, mix 2 tbs of Martins Surrender Fire Ant Killer. buy at feed stores. spread on mounds.

        • Geri

        You meant to say 2 tablespoons of Martins? And nor 2 pounds of Martins? Just making sure! Thanks!

    • Nick

    Cabbage fan leaves decimated, ants, and beetles everywhere, help!!!!!

    • Martha

    For moles my husband goes to the feed store an gets poisin wheat. Its what the golf courses use in our area. We had so many that couldn’t hardly walk in our yard . It did the trick. Haven’t had any since.

    • gil jones

    Please please someone tell me what is the best recipe for KILLING leaf miners. YES I AM NEW TO GARDENING. The leaf miners have all but killed my cucumbers. I don’t want to kill the bees they are being killed toooooo fast as it is from pest sprays. If anybody knows something that works even if it is a commercial spray that DOES NOT KILL good bugs and bees especially I would really appreciate the name of it or the recipe. I also have some little suckers that are killing my beans and its getting worse as the days go by. I have tried a few things short of getting two pairs of tweezers and wringing their NASTY little necks. I don’t have time to stay on line and read 10,000,000 pages of ads from chemical companies. I have two jobs and have tried one organic spray and stood by while the bugs drink it for a after dinner cocktail. PLEASE HELP.

      • Zara

      I am having exactly same problem. My mint and basil have leaf miner. I just kept picking the leaves which had mines and this kept them under controlled but a few days after it rained I saw the whole basil is infested with leaf miner. I’ve cleared all the infected leaves and now I’m gonna try neem oil spray. Any other suggestion would be appreciated

    • john

    having squash bug problems also occasional squash vine borers will marigold flower solution as insecticide bother the blossoms or the pollinators?

    • Diane

    Fleas!!!!!! What gets rid of them? Tried everything!!

    • Joel Christiansen

    How do you get rid of chiggers

    • Reine

    Any suggestion for getting rid of alligator lizard naturally? I read about onions,but I worry that they might harm my dog.could making onion water mix and spraying it around still be dangerous for dogs?

    • Kika

    Hi! Great site! I was wondering if anyone knows how to get rid of squash borers? I’ve had to pull up all of my crookneck squash and zucchini. I still have some other squash and melons left and I would love them to live! This is a first year garden and completely organic. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Bartholimute

    I have a problem with tarantulas in my garden, any tips?

      • Perry

      I have the same problem, Rub some bacon on it.

    • Brenda

    How much tea tree oil do I and to mineral oil for ear canker in rabbits

    • kamal lochan

    kindly help me in how to control loopers in tea plant.

    • S.Snyman

    Thank you for all the handy tips for the garden etc…. this is a great website…..

    • Dazza

    I have a mate who has about 15 bee hives reduced from around 30, and his honey bees are being killed of with all the chemicals people are spraying around their gardens , properties, so his income is reducing , as with his bees.
    I have a small shade house with orchids, and outside are sweet potatoes growing and the grass hoppers prefer the sweet potatoes leaves to the Orchid flowers, and we have endless sweet potatoes for our meals.

    • LeeLee81

    Im in south east Queensland Australia and have noticed alot of itchy grubs in my garden n they also coming up onto concrete where we sit. Does anyone know an effective good natural remedy to get rid of them as i dont want my kids getting touched by them as they cause alot of discomfort. They are nasty. Thanks.

    • Ann

    Can anyone help me get rid of carpet beetles that keep coming in from outside. I used to have flowers in my yard at the back and a large pot in the front but due to ill health I am unable to look after them and I have noticed theses beetles by the front and back doors. How can I get rid of them because I hate them and I feel as if the house is dirty. Is there anyone who can help me please I am desperate.

    • jeannie

    I have tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers growing in containers. There are black dot looking things on the leaves of some of the plants. The leaves have turned yellow and now have holes in them. I’ve heard of the dawn trick, but what about Mrs Meyers? I was just wondering what the bugs are and if anyone has ever used the meyers product?

    • Colleen

    Is there any lingering odor when using the onion water around the yard?

    • Claire

    Our ornamental cherry has leaf rollers and looks like it is dying. A professional wanted lots of money to control them. What home remedy can we use.

    • Eric R Petz

    HI my name is Eric I planted some Radishes and now i am seeing holes in the leafs and little black bugs on the leaves what should i use to get my plants back?? i would much appreciate any tips thanks Eric

    • Nel

    Tiny grasshoppers and black bugs are devouring my coleus plants, lemon and zinnia. Help.

    • monique

    I have snails and aphids and something else I cannot quite place my finger on..eating my leafs of my citrus trees and avocado trees I am open to any and all ideas that will not harm my turtles my bees my chickens dogs and cats ( my cats are incredible hunters they have helped immensely they have gotten the pests almost eliminated I now feed my chickens the caught dead roaches and just watch my cats eat for the spiders and the flies. however the snails and the aphids and other little white mites that are attacking my citrus and avocado trees are where I need help…HELO

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