HomeAntsDoes Dish Soap Kill Ants? How to Use It Effectively

Does Dish Soap Kill Ants? How to Use It Effectively

Do you have a problem with ants invading your home? Are you looking for a simple and cheap way to get rid of them? If you answered yes to these questions, then you might want to read this blog. 

In this blog, you will learn the answer to the question “Does Dish Soap Kill Ants?” and how to use it to make your own ant-killing solution. 

Does Dish Soap Kill Ants
Does Dish Soap Kill Ants? How to Use It Effectively

Does Dish soap kill Ants? Why does Dish Soap kill Ants?

Dish soap indeed kills ants. The ingredients in dish soap, particularly the detergents, are toxic to ants and other small insects. It works by breaking down the protective layers of the ant’s exoskeleton, which results in dehydration and ultimately death for the insect. 

Additionally, the soap alters the surface tension of water, allowing ants to drown, a phenomenon they would typically avoid due to their light weight and water’s surface tension.  

Moreover, soap can interfere with the ants’ ability to communicate through pheromones, disrupting their navigation and social structure. 

Soapy water is particularly useful for killing fire ants, notorious for their painful bites and aggressive nature.  

A solution of dish soap and hot water poured directly onto the ants or into their nests can eliminate a significant number in a short time. The soap asphyxiates the ants, while the hot water burns them. 

does dish soap kill ants

How Long Does It Take For Dish Soap To Kill Ants?

The time it takes for dish soap to kill ants varies depending on several factors, such as the concentration of the soap solution, the type of ant, and the temperature of the water used.

However, typically, a direct application of soapy water can kill ants within a few minutes. One source specifically states that it takes about 15 minutes for dish soap to kill ants, but this is not a pleasant way to go.

Dish soap is very toxic for ants and other insects, as it breaks down their protective layers, suffocates them, and disrupts their communication. However, dish soap is not a very effective or long-term solution to control ants, as it may not reach all the ants in the colony or prevent them from coming back.

There are other natural remedies that are safer and more effective than dish soap, such as baking soda, diatomaceous earth, or boric acid.

Does soapy water kill ants on plants?

Yes, soapy water can kill ants on plants by suffocating them and disrupting their communication. However, you need to be careful about the concentration and type of soap you use, as some soaps can be harmful to plants.

According to one source, a good recipe for a soap spray for ants on plants is to mix 250mL of distilled water at room temperature with 70mL dish soap in a spray bottle. Then spray it on the leaves and stems of the plants.

This method has worked for repelling ants on pepper and tomato plants. Another source suggests using a fifty-fifty mixture of Dawn and plain water in a spray bottle.

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However, some sources warn that soapy water may harm plants in the process and recommend using diatomaceous earth instead, which is a natural substance that dehydrates ants without affecting plants.

Dish soap for ants on wooden floors

Ant nests on wooden floors, patios, or verandas should not be soaked in hot water and dishwashing soap. This can cause soaking and damage to the wood, and replacement may be economically involved.

Using natural plant or organic-based dish soap mixed with equal parts of water on a wooden floor is fine. But this does not mean that you soak them in it. However, using concentrated dawn dish soap is okay when getting rid of ants on cement floors.

Does Dish Soap Kill Ants

How to get rid of ants with dish soap?

To get rid of ants, add 2 cups of Dawn dish soap to 4 liters of water at room temperature and use it to wipe the ant-infested areas. When indoors, use a spray bottle to spread the solution on them. When outdoors, you can pour the mixture on ants in the ground.

Here is a sure way to kill ants using dish soap:

  1. Add 2 cups of Dawn dish soap to a large bucket
  2. Add half a cup of white vinegar to it
  3. Then add 6 cups of hot water into the solution and stir to mix
  4. Sprinkle the solution on ants or pour it into an ant hill to kill them instantly.

Pro tip: Dishwashing liquid and bleach can also work against ants, as this will kill and repel them. This should not be sprayed on plants or dry soil because it can easily kill plants by burning their cells on the outer layers. Additionally, avoid using dish soap mixed with bleach for ants on wooden floors.

  • Bleach + soapy water can only be used in a spray bottle in small quantities for ants on any surface. Use it to wipe kitchen counters and cemented walls.
  • Vinegar + soap water can also help eliminate ants on cracked floors. The solution can also be used to remove pavement ants around the house.

You can also use 2 ounces of pine-sol for ants combined with 4 ounces of dish detergent. Then add 2 ounces of hot water and dose them with it. This is a good recipe for little black ants in the house. A clean towel can also be soaked in this solution and used to wipe infested areas to kill and deter ants.

Can Dish Soap kill Ant Eggs?

The only way to kill ant eggs with dish soap is to mix it with boiling water and pour it into their nests. This washes down into the nest and dissolves the eggs on contact.

It will also kill any ant it finds on its way. However, this method may not be very effective or safe, as it can damage your plants and soil, and pose a risk of burns.

There are other natural remedies that are safer and more effective than dish soap, such as diatomaceous earth, baking soda, or boric acid.


Do ants hate Dish Soap?

Yes, ants are not fond of dish soap. It disrupts their trail pheromones, which they use to communicate with each other. This makes it difficult for them to move and find food sources.  

How much dawn and water to kill ants? 

A commonly recommended proportion is a mix of 2 cups of Dawn dish soap to 4 liters of water. If you’re pouring the solution into an anthill, make sure to use enough to penetrate the entire nest.  

However, be careful when using this solution near plants or wooden surfaces, as the soap can cause damage. 

Does dish soap kill ants outside? 

Dish soap is effective against ants both indoors and outdoors. When used outside, the soap can disrupt ant trails and pheromone signals, making it an efficient deterrent.  

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Additionally, pouring a soapy water solution into anthills can kill a significant number of ants and potentially reach the queen, leading to the collapse of the colony.  

However, the effect might be temporary, and reapplication of the solution will be needed to keep the area ant-free. 


You have learned how dish soap kill ants and how to use it to make your own ant-killing solution. Dish soap works as an ant killer because it breaks down their exoskeleton and suffocates them. Dish soap is a natural and cheap method to get rid of ants, but it also has some limitations such as being less effective on some species, requiring frequent application, and leaving residue. 

If you want to learn more about how to deal with other pests, you can check out more blogs from Pestweek. 

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