Does Dish Soap Kill Ants? The Surprising Answer!

If you’re dealing with an ant infestation, you might be wondering what you can do to get rid of these pesky insects without harming your family or pets. One popular solution that has been circulating on the internet is using dish soap to kill ants. But does it really work? In this article, we’ll explore the truth behind this age-old remedy and uncover some surprising facts about dish soap and its effect on ants.

What Is Dish Soap?

Dish soap, also called dishwashing liquid or detergent, is a cleaning agent used to remove grease and food residue from dishes, pots, and pans. Unlike soap, which is made from natural ingredients like fats and oils, dish soap is made from synthetic components such as surfactants, enzymes, and fragrances. These ingredients work together to break down grease and dirt, making it easier to wash away.

How Does Dish Soap Kill Ants?

Dish soap is believed to kill ants by disrupting the chemical signals that ants use to communicate with each other. Ants rely on pheromones to leave a trail for other ants to follow, which is how they locate food sources and communicate with their colony. When you mix dish soap with water and spray it on ants, it can cause their bodies to become soapy and reduce their ability to communicate with each other. This can cause confusion and disruption in the colony, leading to their eventual demise.

Does Dish Soap Work on All Types of Ants?

While dish soap can be effective against some types of ants, such as sugar ants or pavement ants, it may not work as well on other species, such as carpenter ants or fire ants. This is because different types of ants have different chemical communication systems, and some may be more resistant to dish soap than others.

How to Use Dish Soap to Kill Ants

To use dish soap to kill ants, you can follow these simple steps:

  • Mix one tablespoon of dish soap with one quart of water in a spray bottle.
  • Shake the bottle well to mix the solution.
  • Spray the solution directly on the ants or on their trail.
  • Wait a few moments and then wipe away the dead ants with a damp cloth.

Are There Any Risks to Using Dish Soap on Ants?

While dish soap is generally considered safe for humans and pets, it’s important to remember that it is still a chemical cleaning agent and should be used with caution. When spraying dish soap on ants, be sure to keep it away from your eyes and mouth and avoid spraying it on food or food preparation surfaces. Additionally, dish soap may be harmful to some types of plants or flooring, so it’s important to test it on a small area first before using it on a larger scale.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Ants

If dish soap doesn’t work for you or if you’re concerned about the potential risks, there are other ways to get rid of ants. Some options include:

  • Using an insecticide spray specifically designed to kill ants
  • Applying ant baits or traps that attract and poison ants
  • Sealing up cracks and gaps in your home to prevent ants from entering
  • Cleaning up any spills or crumbs immediately to reduce ant attractants

When Should You Call a Professional?

If you have a serious ant infestation that you can’t seem to get rid of, it may be time to call in a pest control professional. A professional can assess the extent of the infestation, identify the type of ants you’re dealing with, and recommend the most effective treatment options.

The Bottom Line

Dish soap can be an effective and low-cost way to get rid of some types of ants, but it may not work on all species or infestations. Additionally, using dish soap on ants does come with some risks, such as potential harm to plants or flooring. If you’re dealing with a serious ant infestation or if you’re concerned about the safety of using dish soap, it’s best to consult with a pest control professional or explore other treatment options.

Common Questions and Answers

  • Q: Does dish soap repel ants?
  • A: No, dish soap does not have a repellent effect on ants.
  • Q: Will dish soap kill the queen ant?
  • A: It’s unlikely that dish soap will kill the queen ant, as she is typically well-protected and insulated from the effects of sprays or baits.
  • Q: Can I use any type of dish soap to kill ants?
  • A: While any type of dish soap should work to disrupt ant communication, it’s best to use a basic, unscented variety to avoid any potential harm to plants or surfaces.


1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Integrated Pest Management. Ants. Retrieved from

2. National Pesticide Information Center. Soaps and Detergents as Pesticides. Retrieved from

3. NC State Extension. Ants. Retrieved from

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