Does Irish Spring Soap Really Keep Mosquitoes Away? Experts Weigh In

Updated: Jul. 14, 2024

This soap hack claims to keep flies and mosquitoes away. We asked four experts for their take on whether it's a clean fix or a dirty trick.

side by side of irish spring soap and a black flyFamily Handyman, Getty Images

With summer outdoor activities in full swing, everyone’s looking for ways to keep mosquitoes, flies and other pests at bay — and Irish Spring soap is a perennial trending solution. In this YouTube video, the host places a bar on the porch, rubs it on doors and tables, puts grated flakes in various locations and dissolves it in water to spray plants and her own skin.

We contacted four experts to answer the question: Does Irish Spring soap keep mosquitoes and flies away?

Why Might The Irish Spring Soap Hack Work?

Mosquitoes and flies are incredibly sensitive to odors, like carbon dioxide and components in sweat and body heat, since that’s how female mosquitoes locate hosts for a meal, says Dr. Louisa Messenger, Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Instead of repelling bugs, when soaps and creams seem to work as a defense, most likely they are briefly just altering our skin microbiome, changing the way we smell.

“It means these soaps, creams and lotions will not function in the same manner for everyone and will not also cause the same effect consistently, since our skin microorganisms are constantly changing,” she says.

Does Irish Spring Soap Really Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Considering Irish Spring soap is a potent-smelling soap, there’s theoretically reason to believe you could use it to repel bugs. The question is: does it really work? The experts say not really.

“There is no scientific evidence,” says David Price, an entomologist at Mosquito Joe. Some soaps with essential oils can repel insects for a short time but, “Irish Spring soap specifically doesn’t have enough quantity to register for mosquitoes [and] no ingredients that would repel flies,” he says.

That being said, the strong scent of Irish Spring may have some repellent properties if placed in certain areas, “just like how citronella candles technically repel mosquitoes flying in the immediate air column above the candle,” says Emma Grace Crumbley, and entomologist with Mosquito Squad. But more research would need to be done to prove that, along with what might be the most effective uses.

Breaking Down the Video: Does Irish Spring Soap Keep Mosquitoes Away

Does putting Irish Spring soap on the porch repel mosquitoes?

Nope. Even if the scent were to repel insects, “the potency will not be direct enough to repel flying bugs,” says Crumbley.

Does rubbing Irish Spring soap on the door repel mosquitoes?

Nope. “The thing that stops flies from coming through the door is the door,” says Crumbley. “Rubbing soap on would not be as aromatic. Maybe a door frame made of soap would work.”

Does rubbing Irish Spring soap around your table repel mosquitoes?

Again, the soap is not aromatic enough. “This may be more repellent than a citronella candle in the middle of the table, since the soap covers more surface area. [Or] maybe fewer flies come over because you’re sitting at the table, not because of the soap,” says Crumbley.

Does Irish Spring soap in a jar repel mosquitoes and flies?

“[Irish Spring soap in a jar] is a worse version of a citronella candle,” says Crumbley. “Unless the flies are in the jar with the soap, no scent is emitted that the flies would detect. The only pros to this hack are that it’s one of the cleanest ones in the video, with very little mess left behind.”

Do Irish Spring soap shavings in the trash mosquitoes and flies?

“This could have a repellent effect, specifically on flies looking for nearby trash,” says Crumbley. “Putting the soap in the garbage also protects it from environmental factors like rain and sunlight, potentially making the soap’s potency last longer.”

Do Irish Spring soap shavings in the grass/on the windowsill repel mosquitoes?

“You’ll need a lot of soap shavings to cover that property,” says Crumbley. “Additionally, soap lying in direct sunlight can lose potency over time and leech into the soil, possibly harming plants, or melt onto the windowsill, leaving behind green gunk everywhere.”

Will an Irish Spring soap and water mixture repel mosquitoes?

Even if spraying Irish Spring soap on plants did work to repel bugs, it’s not recommended. Covering plants and soil life with soap can damage both, says Emily May, a pollinator conservation specialist at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Dish and hand soaps “can be phytotoxic, disrupting plant cell membranes and weakening plant defenses. Soaps can also be toxic to a variety of soft-bodied invertebrates, including caterpillars and earthworms, as well as soil microbes,” she says.

Some horticulturalists recommend spraying soapy water to deter garden pests like aphids and mites. However, if you must do that, use castile soap, not detergents or deodorant soaps like Irish Spring.

Does spraying an Irish Spring soap and water mixture on your skin repel mosquitoes?

Spraying Irish Spring soap on your skin could potentially work to repel mosquitoes. “It would temporarily mask indicators for mosquitos, however a DEET product is best,” says Price. Once it dries, it also sounds like a recipe for itchy skin.

What Are Better Ways to Keep Pesky Insects Away?

“Instead of spending my time and money rubbing my house down with soap, I would instead invest in some EPA approved repellent,” says Messenger. “There are plenty of over-the-counter products that can provide hours of protection and are backed up by robust, producible scientific data.”

Also, prevention is key, say May and Crumbley. Regularly check for and remove standing water, don’t overwater lawns, put a fan on your outdoor table and add screens to your doors and porches.

About the Experts

Emma Grace Crumbley is an entomologist at Mosquito Squad and a self-described bug nerd who uses her expertise to educate people about the fascinating world of bugs.

Dr. Louisa Messenger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has worked for more than 14 years in international public health, specializing in control of vector-borne diseases.

David Price is and Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) and Director of Technical Services at Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company, where he trains personnel and researches and develops national product lines and services.

Emily May is an entomologist and pollinator conservation specialist on the pesticide reduction team at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, where she’s worked for the last nine years.