Home Remedies for Insecticides and Herbicides

There are many popular home remedies for dealing with pest weeds and insects that are often times safer than their chemical alternatives.

Home Brew Insecticides

Garlic, Onion, and Pepper sprays prepared at home often times work as a wonderful insect repellent for gardens and flowerbeds, since leaf consuming insects do not find the mixture palatable and tend to stay away. Recipes vary by personal preference, but general guidelines suggest using the following:

  • A few cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • A small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of hot pepper, or fresh chopped hot pepper
  • ~1 qt warm water
  • Allow the mixture to steep in a mason jar or container for up to two days, strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and apply with a spray bottle to leafy surfaces and stems of garden plants

Some recipes choose to include a few teaspoons liquid hand soap (potassium salts of fatty acids) to the mixture, but this can be harmful to some beneficial insects and sometimes the plant surfaces themselves, especially if the wrong kind of soap is used. Added benefits of including the soap include death to soft bodied pests, and more staying power on the plant surface. Spray concoctions without the soap need to be applied fairly regularly, especially after rain, to remain effective.

Oil Based Home Remedies

Other home remedies suggest using vegetable oils mixed with water, and garlic or hot pepper, however these treatments offer many of the downsides that the soaps do, depending on the situation.

Beer and Slugs

A common home method for dealing with slugs in the garden is to use beer in the corners of yards or around problem areas to attract the slugs and drown them. Some guidelines for using beer as a safe alternative to commercial pesticides:

  • Partially bury a wide, open container so that the rim lays near the ground surface
  • Add liquid hand soap to improve effectiveness when slugs contact the beer
  • Prop up a small cover above the container to reduce dilution by rainwater, with ample room for the slugs to enter underneath

Other effective methods for “slugicide” include dilute alcohol sprays, salt, or removal by hand.


Home Brew Herbicides

Common alternatives to synthetic herbicides like Roundup for weed killing include:

  • Equal parts water and vinegar spray
  • Boiling Water

These methods, however effective, are general to most plants, so will often times harm the plants you desire to keep. They should probably be reserved for weeds around rock beds, driveways, and sidewalk cracks.


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