I have used Dawn dish soap on my animals to combat fleas and I was wondering if it is safe to use on ants in my plants as well.

We have a real problem with ants in our yard and I had some of the houseplants outside for the summer. When I brought them in for the winter, they had a ton of ants in them.

I need to know if using dish soap to kill those pesky ants we get here in the southern US is safe for potted plants!?

  • I recommend contacting the manufacturer to find out the unlisted ingredients, first. Dec 17 '15 at 9:17

Dish soap will kill ants but it will not kill the queen in the nest or remove the cause that is bringing the ants to the plants.

Normally ants will only go great distances for food. They have everything else they need at their home! It is likely that you have scale or mealybug on some of your house plants that are excreting a sugary sap. This will attract ants.

This site indicates that plunging your plant into soapy water is effective

If ants are found in potted plants, remove the containers from the building, then place the pots for 20 or more minutes in a solution of insecticidal soap and water at a rate of 1 to 2 tablespoons of insecticidal soap per quart of water. Submerge so the surface of the soil is just covered by the water-soap solution

Please provide some pictures of the plants, particularly the underside of the leaves and we can make further diagnosis.

  • How do I send a picture. This is a large snake plant and I don't see any defect in the leaves other then small damage due to over exposure to sun. I don't see an area that uploads photos. ???
    – Pepper58
    Dec 11 '15 at 21:03
  • Go to your post, click edit. Over the area for the main text are various buttons. One looks like a camera. Click it and follow the instructions.
    – Stephie
    Dec 11 '15 at 21:29

Dish soap has chemical which can damage the roots of the plants. In large amounts it can start to discolor leaves or affect petals. Dish soap can't actually kill ants unless it will drown them.

Ants usually finds a safe place before snow/rain.

You can investigate which potted plant has the colony. You must remove the potted plant outside your house. Then transfer the plant in a new pot. Safety first.

  • 1
    Soap kills. ants by covering the spiracles in their thorax so they cannot respire. You just need good coverage, drowning is not necessary.
    – kevinskio
    Dec 17 '15 at 10:52
  • So use water instead. Dec 17 '15 at 13:52
  • 2
    If water killed ants then every time it rained.....
    – kevinskio
    Dec 17 '15 at 13:56

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