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Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent – 5 Recipes (& Precautions)

Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent – 5 Recipes (& Precautions)

It is possible that you are aware of the claim that Dawn dish soap can repel deer, but perhaps you have been skeptical about its effectiveness. However, surprising though it may be, this method does indeed work!

Does Dawn dish soap deer repellent work? Dawn dish soap works as a potent ingredient for several homemade deer repellent recipes. Some recipes are as simple as water and Dawn mixed vigorously, while others include other organic ingredients such as cayenne, vinegar, eggs, cinnamon, and various essential oils.

Read on below and discover everything you need to know about using Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent, including five recipes!

Using Dawn Dish Soap To Repel Deer

Dawn dish soap is one of the most popular home remedies for deer in the backyard or garden, period.

In the following sections of this article, we break down the why and share several tried-and-true recipes for Dawn dish soap deer repellent.

Why Dawn Dish Soap Repels Deer

The plain and simple answer to why Dawn repels deer is this: they can’t stand the smell of it.

Many dish soap brands work in the same manner as Dawn, effectively repelling deer and other common pests, but some dish soaps do the opposite and attract deer instead of keeping them away.

Effects of Soapy Water on Plants

The thought of exposing your plants to soapy water for the first time may be terrifying and not make much sense, but in actuality, the effects of soapy water on plants aren’t always as bad as you might imagine.

In fact, sometimes the benefits of soapy water for plants are higher than the potential harmful effects.

Let’s have a look:

Benefits of Soapy Water for Plants

The number one benefit of soapy water on plants and their soil is that it works as an effective insecticide. Furthermore, it may be used to clean foliage and make plants, like palms, look nice and shiny.

Soapy water also comes in handy use for watering plants during drought or when fresh water is otherwise unavailable.

Potential Harmful Effects

Soaps and detergents may be harmful to plants as they contain harsh nonorganic ingredients that may cause damage.

Also, a strong solution of soapy water may remove the protective waxy coating of plant leaves, leaving them vulnerable to pests and disease.

That’s why it’s important to avoid using gray water (dish water, bathwater, and other types of soapy waters that may contain much harsher chemicals than what is found in Dawn) on your plants.

Precautions When Using

All good things must be used with caution, and so it is with Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent.

The number one caution to heed when using it is that it may be harmful to certain plants, like your sensitive tropical plants.

However, if the soap doesn’t contain bleach, chlorine, or other toxic ingredients, it won’t harm most plants.

Avoid using too strong of a solution; always follow recipes when mixing up a batch.

Do All Soaps Repel Deer?

No, all soaps do not repel deer. Whether or not soap drives deer away or actually attracts them depends on the smell.

For example, while Dawn keeps deer away, coconut-scented soaps are known to attract them.

How To Apply Dawn Dish Soap Dish Repellent

Applying Dawn dish soap repellent to the backyard and/or garden is easy-peasy lemon squeezy: mix the repellent together in a spray bottle, cock back the hammer (metaphorically, of course), aim, and squeeze the trigger.

 Be sure to cover both the tops and bottoms of leaves for additional insect-repelling properties.

Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent Recipe

Three bottles of Dawn dish soap on a store shelf.

Now that we’ve discussed using Dawn dish soap to repel deer, let’s have a look at five of the most common recipes:

1. Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent Basic Recipe

The basic Dawn dish soap repellent recipe is simple. All you need to do is mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of Dawn and 16 to 32 fluid ounces of water together in a spray bottle.

Be sure to shake it vigorously before and during use. 

2. Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent Spicy Version

The spicy Dawn dish soap deer repellent recipe is one of the most complicated (and effective).

You start off by mixing the basic Dawn dish soap deer repellent recipe, and then you add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and/or a dash of cinnamon.

3. Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent With Essential Oils

Making Dawn dish soap deer repellent with essential oils is another great way to get rid of many common pests and keep the deer away from the garden at the same time.

Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap with approximately 5 or 10 drops of your preferred essential oil (we suggest peppermint) together in 64 to 128 fluid ounces of water.

4. Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent With Egg

Believe it or not, mixing a fresh egg into your homemade deer repellent works like a charm.

All you need to do is mix 1 egg, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap, and 64 to 120 fluid ounces of water together in a container.

5. Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent With Vinegar

Dawn dish soap deer repellent with vinegar is another popular homemade pest control recipe. To make it, simply mix a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Dawn.

It’s best to mix the repellent directly in the spray bottle you plan to apply it with. 

Related Questions:

What Bugs Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill?

Dawn dish soap kills many insect species upon contact. Some of the most common bugs Dawn kills are aphids, flies, and spider mites.

Dawn does not work as an all-purpose pesticide, however, because it doesn’t kill all bugs.

Does Irish Spring Soap Repel Deer?

The scent of Irish Spring soap repels many common backyard pests such as deer, mice, squirrels, rabbits, and even raccoons.

Possums, on the other hand, are attracted to Irish Spring to the point of purposefully consuming it. (That’s right! Possums eat Irish Spring soap!)


Dawn Dish soap isn’t just tough on greasy dishes and dried crud; it also repels deer.

Hopefully, with the information and recipes shared above, you’ll be able to start putting Dawn to use in your own backyard or garden repelling deer and other pests.