Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray

comments (8) October 9th, 2009

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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Garlic and chile spray ingredients.
All you need for this insecticidal spray are chiles and garlic.
Combine the ingredients in a blender with water.
Puree the spray in a blender.
Let the spray sit for a few hours or overnight.
Strain the liquid so it doesnt clog the sprayer.
Add just 1 teaspoon of soap.
A little of the concentrate goes a long way.
Apply to the tops and undersides of leaves.
Garlic and chile spray ingredients.Click To Enlarge

Garlic and chile spray ingredients.

Photo: Susan Belsinger

10 to 12 large cloves of garlic
4 to 6 hot chile peppers, dried or fresh
Generous 2 cups water
1 tablespoon liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner's), Basic H ™ (Shaklee), or any biodegradable liquid dish washing soap

I have been making this spray for more than 20 years--I don't remember where the idea came from--perhaps an old issue of Organic Gardening or Mother Earth News. I do know that the recipe works. It is not an exact science; use a handful of dried cayenne peppers or other hot chiles and about a bulb of garlic to make the base concentrate. Mix the concentrate with water and spray it on plants with an infestation of aphids, mealybugs or white flies.

Every year, I move all of my plants out of the greenhouse for the summer. Before moving them back into the greenhouse after spending the summer outdoors, I routinely spray them with this spray before bringing them back inside; it makes all of the critters take off and leave. My herbalist friend Tina Wilcox adds 10 drops cinnamon, vetiver, or eucalyptus essential oil to this concentrate when she makes it.


The recipe is loose; it makes about 3 cups of concentrate.

Put the garlic, chiles, and water into the blender and blend until the garlic and chiles are pureed.  It will make a lovely orange-pink concoction that is foamy. Let stand for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once it settles it will separate and you will have a coral-colored liquid with sediment in the bottom. Pour the mixture through a strainer lined with fine cheesecloth, through a coffee filter, or even a jelly bag; this takes a little while to strain.  You can also use a wet paper towels, however this takes even longer to strain.  The idea is to get rid of all of the particles because they will stop up the valve of your sprayer.

Once strained, pour the concentrate into a jar with a plastic lid (not metal), add the soap, stir, and label. The concentrate is ready to use, or it can be stored in a cool dark place for a few months to be used as needed. 

Our spray bottles holds about a liter (or a quart), so we add about 2 tablespoons of the concentrate to the bottle and fill it with water. We spray the plants late in the day, so that hot sun doesn't shine on them once they are sprayed, making sure you cover both sides of the leaves. If the hot sun shines on the just-sprayed leaves it can burn them. Also if you use too much concentrate it will also burn the leaves. If you have a serious infestation, you will need to apply the spray a few times, waiting a few days in between.

posted in: pests

Comments (8)

Andylee2 writes: What a wonderful idea very neat
Posted: 12:51 pm on August 1st
crazeknot writes: Can you use thid spray rosebushes? Going to make this spray for a miniature lime tree, that's is infested w/ aphids.
Posted: 2:33 pm on August 21st
Ruth writes: pearlyshells, the best way to print, as I mentioned in an earlier comment to this article, is by selecting the text you want and pasting it into a Word document. Then print that. The "print" function on the site is quirky, in that it works differently for different users.
Posted: 8:35 am on August 6th
pearlyshells writes: I printied this okay, but it takes up 10 pages of my paper and ink... that is a waste!!!! I didn't want a book just the receipe...
Posted: 3:14 pm on August 5th
gracielou writes: Do you know if this spray will help with caterpillars? I have heard that a garlic/marigold spray will "confuse" them...H ahaahh...and send them on their way outta my tomato patch. Also, does this kill the beneficials too?
Posted: 3:21 pm on July 12th
cvillebackpacker writes: I just finished spraying down my plants. How often do I need to reapply?


Posted: 7:42 pm on June 10th
Ruth writes: I just tried printing it, and it worked. If it doesn't work for you, you can print the text by selecting it, pasting it into a Word document, and printing that.
Posted: 1:27 pm on March 31st
Schatzi writes: I would love to print this, but it won't print. Help?
Posted: 1:10 pm on March 31st
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