Will dish soap kill grass? Let’s find out

To keep your garden beautiful and free from pests, bugs, and weeds, it’s important to maintain it the right way. Homeowners generally look for simple and effective ways to maintain the grass in their garden. Most of them resort to dish soaps to get rid of pests and take good care of the garden.

Using dish soap to eliminate pests in the garden can be effective, but there’s a lot to consider before using dish soap on grass. While dish soaps can work against pests, do they really help the grass? Or, on the contrary, will dish soap kill grass?

Will dish soap kill grass snippet image

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Will dish soap kill grass?

Yes, it does. Dish soaps contain chemicals that are meant to get rid of food stains from dishes by means of breaking down fats and oils. Using too much dish soap on grass disintegrates the oil-based tissues it requires to survive. As the natural oils of the grass are stripped off, the grass turns brown and patchy, and ultimately shrivels up and dies.  Of course, a solution containing dish soap has proven to be promising in killing insects and several weeds in your garden. However, it damages the grass. So try using it sparingly.

liquid dish soap

How does dish soap kill grass?

Dish soaps contain concentrated chemicals intended to break down food particles, especially oil and fat. The roots of garden grass, much like most plants, are known to have oil-based tissues that are essential for survival. The main function of this tissue is to retain moisture so that the grass doesn’t dry out easily from sunlight exposure or not being watered for quite some time.

The chemicals in the dish soap usually destroy the oil-based tissues. As a result, the grass doesn’t get the required hydration, and it quickly dries out and dies.

The most common chemical used in dish soaps is SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate. If you use a large quantity of dish soap containing SLS in your garden, there is a chance for your grass to die within a short period of time.

Want to find out how you can use dawn dish soap to deer out of your garden? Give this article I wrote a read so you can be best prepared. 

dish soap removes fats and oils

What are the alternatives to dish soaps?

If you are worried about the harmful effects of dish soap on grass and you are looking for an alternative, there’s some good news. There are a few alternate products you can use in place of the dish soap, without killing the grass.

Insecticidal soaps

If you need a replacement for dish soaps to kill insects and pests, insecticidal soaps are a great alternative. Insecticide soaps are pesticides that you can use safely on grass to kill pests.

They are made of a combination of potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. While potassium affects insects, it is gentle on plants and grass. These formulas kill insects instead of stripping the natural oils from plants. Moreover, insecticidal soaps are specifically meant for horticultural use.

These soaps are organic in nature and hence are a much safer option to get rid of pests in your garden. Besides, most formulas prove to be safe for some insects, such as the endangered bee.

Low-toxicity pesticide soaps

Low-toxicity pesticide soaps specifically target delicate insects like whiteflies, spider mites, and aphids. The diluted soap solution, when sprayed over the insects, first covers them and then kills them by removing their defensive wax coating. As a result, the pests tend to shrivel and die.

These soaps are designed to target bugs with delicate body structures such as spider mites, scale crawlers, and aphids. They don’t contain any synthetic substances that will have an effect on your plants or grass. Hence, the low-toxicity pesticide soap is a safer and more effective option compared to the dish soap.

Organic pesticides

There are several organic insecticides as well that you can use in place of dish soap, for example, neem oil. Neem oil is a common organic pesticide used by many homeowners to successfully control insects in their garden. If you want to provide the best care for your grass and garden, organic products are a great choice as chemicals not only cause pollution but can also penetrate into the water supply.

neem oil


While dish soap sounds appealing as an inexpensive DIY hack, experts don’t recommend it. Most of the dish soaps kill pests, insects, and weeds as well as grass. You can consider using alternatives such as insecticidal soaps or organic pesticides to take care of your garden. So let’s summarise:

  • Dish soaps contain chemicals that are designed to break down fats and oils found in grass
  • The grass will turn patchy and die if dish soap is applied
  • Dish soap is effective at killing insects, pests and certain weeds
  • The alternative to dish soaps are Insecticidal soaps, Low-toxicity pesticide soaps and organic pesticides
spraying dish soap

People Also Ask

How to safely use dish soap on grass?

You can use dish soap on grass as an insecticide with some impact. However, the chemicals in the soap may result in minimal damage to the grass

You have to combine dish soap, water, and vegetable oil to form a well diluted solution. To do so, mix one teaspoon each of dish soap and vegetable oil in a cup of water.

Fill the solution halfway in a spray bottle and spray it on the parts of your garden grass infested with weeds and insects. After a couple of hours, don’t forget to water the grass to wash away any remaining mixture. The last step is important because your grass will suffer if you fail to soak it well enough.

Do all dishwashing soaps kill grass?

Not all dishwashing soaps kill grass. Only if a dishwashing soap contains powerful chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, it will kill the grass. Herbal or organic dish soaps are often safe to use on grass as an insecticide or pesticide.

Have a read of an article I wrote that shows you how you can use dishwashing soap to get rid of moss.

Do dishwashing soaps kill grass permanently?

If the plant happens to be a broadleaf variety and each blade of the grass is exposed to a considerable amount of dish soap or detergent, the plant may die and it is impossible to revive it. However, well-maintained gardens are pretty resilient. If you rinse the soap off within a few hours of application, there’s a possibility for the grass to grow back in a few days or weeks.

insecticidal soap on lawn

Does dish soap kill grass seeds?

It depends on the exact type of dish soap you use. If your grass seeds come in contact with antimicrobial or antibacterial dish soap, those seeds will not sprout and will die. If you spill such dish soaps or detergents on the ground, they disturb the soil’s microbial balance and attract a number of diseases and pests.

How do you clean up spilled dish soap?

The best method to clean spilled dish soap from the grass in your garden is to dilute it and completely wash it away. When the dish soap is diluted and is not in direct contact with grass blades any longer, it doesn’t damage your garden grass. Even if you happen to spill diluted soapy water, it is a good idea to do an extra rinse. A lot of dishwashing detergents are made of compounds that are bound to adhere to the waxy outer layer of the grass.

Does dish soap prevent grass from spreading?

If you intend to get rid of the grass that is working its way around flowerbeds or into the cracks of the pavement, you can spray the dish soap solution to lightly coat the grass, and the job is done. However, make sure you spray the dish soap solution on the grass during the daytime when the sun is out. Besides, don’t use any antibacterial detergent or soap.

dish soap can prevent grass growth in flower beds

Does dish soap kill fungus in the garden?

Dishwashing detergent or soap can dry out the fungus in your garden. Create a solution of dish soap in water and spray it on the fungus-affected areas in your garden. All you need to ensure is that you spray the solution only on the fungus and not over the grass or plants. Don’t forget that it’s a spot treatment and not something to use over the entire garden.

Will dish soap kill grubs?

Of course, yes. Dish soap or detergent can kill the typical garden grub. The dish soap solution works by smothering the grub. Make sure you completely cover the grub with the liquid solution for it to be effective. While you can kill some of the garden grubs with a DIY dish soap solution, it will not kill all of them.

Does dish soap help grass grow?

Dish soap solution does not help your garden grass grow. It’s nothing more than an urban myth. Dish soap or detergent contains surfactants which will actually dry out and kill grass.

dead grass from dish soap
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

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