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If you're trying to choose between these two insecticides, then read this article before making your decision!

If you're looking for a natural way to kill insects on your plants, you might be wondering what works better: insecticidal soap or neem oil? Both products are effective at killing many common garden pests, but there are some key differences between them.

Here's a closer look at insecticidal soap vs. neem oil so you can decide which one is right for your garden.

What is insecticidal soap?

Insecticidal soaps are the preferred product in today's environment, where organic gardening is on the rise since they are less chemically invasive. Soap sprays have been used as insecticides by gardeners for a long time.

They're made from potassium salts obtained from fatty acids and are employed to manage insect infestations and plant pest issues. Soap sprays, on the other hand, aren't harmful to the plant itself but are useful for eliminating pests like aphids and mealybugs.

When an insecticidal soap comes into contact with a pest or insect, it may act in a variety of ways. It can suffocate certain insects by obstructing their breathing, but it can also break through their outer shell or bodily fluid and force them to leak, resulting in dehydration.

Pros of insecticidal soap

  1. It's non-toxic to people and pets.
  2. It's affordable.
  3. It breaks down quickly in the environment.
  4. It kills a variety of garden pests.

Cons of insecticidal soap

  1. It can damage plant leaves if used in excessive amounts.
  2. It's not effective against all types of garden pests.
  3. It can be difficult to find in stores.

How does an insecticidal soap control pests?

Insecticidal soaps control pests by physically destroying their cell membranes. This causes the pests to die quickly, usually within minutes of exposure. The soap is also effective at killing eggs and larvae, making it a versatile choice for gardeners.

How to make insecticidal soap at home

Following are the ingredients and instructions for making homemade insecticidal soap:


1 gallon of water

1 cup of vegetable oil

1/4 cup of dish soap


  1. Combine the water and vegetable oil in a container.
  2. Add the dish soap and stir until well combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it as needed.

How to use insecticidal soap

Following are the few steps to use insecticidal soap:

  1. Shake the bottle well before use.
  2. Apply the soap directly to the leaves of the plant, being careful not to spray it on the flowers or fruit.
  3. Repeat as needed.

Can I use insecticidal soap spray every day?

Insecticidal soap spray can be used every day, but it's important to follow the instructions carefully. Excessive use of insecticidal soap can damage plant leaves, so it's best to use it sparingly.

What is neem oil? 

Neem oil is a strong organic liquid derived from the neem tree seeds and leaves, also known as the Azadirachta indica neem tree. This tree is native to South Asia and parts of India, where it is also revered as a holy tree.

Neem oil sprays are a popular foliar spray in the world of cultivation and gardening to combat and control plant diseases and pests including aphids, powdery mildew, and spider mites. It's also useful for disease prevention.

Neem oil's effectiveness against pests varies based on the species of pest. Because neem oil drives harmful insects to lose their appetite, they eventually die. Other pests are affected in such a manner that they cease reproducing and laying eggs.

Pros of neem oil

  1. It's non-toxic to people and pets.
  2. It breaks down quickly in the environment.
  3. It's effective against a variety of garden pests.
  4. It can be used as a preventative measure against pests.
  5. It has anti-fungal properties.

Cons of neem oil

  1. It's more expensive than insecticidal soap.
  2. It can be difficult to find in stores.
  3. It has a strong odor that some people find unpleasant.
  4. It can cause leaf burn on plants if used in excessive amounts.

How does neem oil control pests?

Neem oil interferes with insects' food, growth, and egg-laying capabilities. As a result, it stops the insects from proliferating and starving them until they die. It's also an effective treatment for nematodes and powdery mildew in plants.

It's highly effective, with a long shelf-life and low toxicity. Its insecticidal properties do not harm people when ingested, making it an excellent preventative treatment to protect your plants against pests and disease from spring through fall.

How to make neem oil spray at home

The following are the ingredients and instructions for making a neem oil spray at home:


1/2 cup of neem oil

1 gallon of water


  1. Combine the neem oil and water in a container.
  2. Stir until well combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it as needed.

How to use neem oil spray

Neem oil spray can be used in the following ways:

  1. As a preventative treatment, spray it on plants every 7-10 days.
  2. To treat an existing infestation, spray the leaves of the plant every day until the pests are gone.
  3. For severe infestations, spray the plant every other day until the pests are gone.

Can you spray neem oil every day?

No, for infestations, neem oil should be applied once a week, whereas for prevention it should be done three weeks in a row. It would overburden your plants and even do them more harm than good. You don't need to reapply too much neem oil daily unless it's been raining heavily in your region.

Insecticidal soap vs. neem oil

While any of these two pesticides are simple to use, there are significant distinctions between the two of them of which one gardener prefers. The best insecticide for each gardener is determined by his or her tier choices and gardening style.

We'll go through the factors to consider when deciding between insecticidal soap and neem oil in this section.

  1. Composition

Insecticidal soap is a detergent made of fatty acids and alkalis, while neem oil is an extract of the neem tree. The soap will kill insects on contact through mechanical action and suffocation, while the oil will also repel them and interfere with their feeding, mating, and egg-laying.

  1. Efficacy

Insecticidal soap is a contact killer, meaning that the insects must come into direct contact with it to be affected. Neem oil, on the other hand, is a systemic pesticide, which means that the plant will absorb it through its leaves and the pests will be killed when they eat the plant. Neem oil is also a repellent, meaning that it will keep the pests from coming near the plant.

  1. Toxicity

Insecticidal soap is non-toxic to people and pets, while neem oil can be toxic in high doses but in low amounts is only effective to soft-bodied insects. It is important to always follow the directions on the label when using any pesticide.

  1. Burning Risks 

Because of the characteristics of neem oil, your plants are vulnerable to burning if you use it incorrectly. They should be applied in the morning or at night. While insecticidal soap has a decreased risk of burning your plants unless you use it on plants that are sensitive to it.

  1. Environmental Impact

Insecticidal soap breaks down quickly in the environment, while neem oil does not. Insecticidal soap is also a non-selective pesticide, meaning that it kills all insects, good and bad, while neem oil is specific to pests and has no impact on beneficial insects.

Can you mix neem oil with insecticidal soap?

To boost the pest-killing power of neem oil, combine it with insecticidal soap. Here's how to do it:


  • 5 ml Neem oil
  • 2 ml Dish soap
  • 1 liter of water
  • Spray bottle


  1. Mix the dish soap into the water.
  2. Slowly add in neem oil
  3. Mix it well and transfer it into a spray bottle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat vegetables sprayed with neem oil?

Yes, neem oil can be used to kill insects. Until the day of harvest, you may use neem oil as an insecticide. The poisons in neem oil are only deadly to soft-bodied insects and are not harmful when consumed by humans. It is because of this that organic gardeners prefer it over other insecticides.

Is insecticidal soap the same as liquid dish soap?

No, insecticidal soap is specifically made for killing insects, while liquid dish soap is meant for general cleaning. Insecticidal soap is non-toxic to both plants and animals, while mild liquid soap can be harmful in high doses.

Is neem oil the same as insecticidal soap?

No, neem oils are systemic pesticides that are absorbed through the leaves of the plant, while insecticidal soap is a contact killer that must come into direct contact with the insects to be effective. Neem oil also repels pests, while insecticidal soap does not.


  • Hey Yvette, don’t spray plants with vinegar! Its used to kill plants, not help them. :) I would rinse everything really well and hope and hope that it regenerates itself.

  • Being that water and oil don’t mix, I always use Castile soap with my Neem Oil and water solution to help break down and keep the oil from clumping into a glob. It also helps to shake the spray bottle to keep the solution mixed as much as possible.

  • My crepe myrtle seemed to have amphids did the dodo with water and vinegar I was told sprayed it but leaves are brown and fall to touch flowers are not growing either and I just purchased tree about 3 weeks ago help please

    Yvette Melendez
  • Hi,I have a cherry tree that’s covers with black fly..the tree looks as if there’s no life in it ..it a big tree and wonder how to apply your ideas to this as can’t reach these hights any ideas would be great to get the tree fully done of these pests ..thanks

    Sheila Patterson

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