Does Dish Soap Kill Grass?

For anyone who has ever splashed soapie water, for any reason, on your lawn, there is a considerable question concerning whether or not it will kill your grass.  Whether using dish soap as an alternative to insecticide to exterminate pests on your lawn or to wash your car, using the correct type of soap will make all the difference.

Dish soap will kill your grass because it is made to break down fatty substances and waxes that get stuck on your dishes. Grass is covered with a similar waxy-like layer. The ingredients in these soaps will strip your grass of its covering.  That, in turn, invites all sorts of harmful things like pathogens into your grass; it will also cause the grass to dry out, making it wither and die.

There are ways to kill insects on your lawn, wash your car on your lawn, and not harm your grass.  A bit of research into the issues will help you understand how and why dish soap is hazardous to your law, but it can be an effective bug killer, as well.

Why Will Dish Soap Kill Your Grass?

Dish soap, more accurately, commercial dish detergents, are made from ingredients whose primary purpose is to cut through grease and things of that nature. 

Those same ingredients that cut through the grease that our food is often caked in cause these soaps to serve as lawn assassins because dishwashing liquid, more accurately detergent:

  • Is made from synthetic compounds called surfactants.  
  • These surfactants cause the dish detergent to break down things that get stuck on your dishes, like oils, fatty substances, and waxes.  They also serve as degreasers.
  • When these surfactants end up on your grass, they continue to behave the same, attacking substances they believe that they must eradicate.  

While you may be trying to save your lawn by using dishwashing liquid to kill insects that have invaded it, by using dishwashing liquid, you are killing the grass you are trying to save.

Can I Use Dish Soap as an Insecticide?

Yes, you can still use certain types of dish soap as an insecticide that will be safe for your grass and for your pets and other critters that may find their way onto your lawn.

Remember, we said that dish soap is actually DETERGENT.  There are specific soaps on the market called insecticide soaps.  They are NOT detergents, and they WILL kill the bugs in your lawn without having to call out the big guns such as actual harsh chemicals to get right of them, or, even worse, call an exterminator to solve the issue.

Why Not Choose Insecticide Soap Instead

Insecticide soaps are generally a mixture of soap (not detergents) and salts, and they are sold exclusively for plant issues.  They will not harm your grass or other plants, but they will kill many of the bugs that invade your yard.

In addition, insecticide soaps are safe for your pets and other animals who might find a way to scamper into your yard.  So, by using this product, you are, in effect, saving your grass, your pets, other animals, and you are killing off the unwanted pests on your lawn.  That sounds like a great day’s work.

Washing Your Car on the Lawn

For those of you who love to wash your car in your yard, you’re ok too, provided you don’t use the type of dish soap that we have discussed that kills grass.  For the most part, using car washing soap does not have any adverse reactions on your grass.

So, if you are feeling stifled by not being about to get out there in the front yard in your skivvies, go ahead and get the speedo and the sponge back out and return to business as usual.  Just make sure not to use dish soap and try not to break too many hearts in your car washing outfit.  

Also, just to make sure that you are not leaving any harsh chemicals on your lawn, it is a good idea to rinse off the excess soap, even if it is car washing soap, from your lawn.  

What Is the Bottom Line with Dish Soap and My Lawn?

While there are soaps that you can use outside for various things, dish soap is not one of them.  The ingredients in dish soap are detrimental for your grass, as they are designed to strip grass of the same elements that will keep it safe and healthy.

If you wish to kill bugs by using soap, insecticide soap, which is meant for plants, will kill the bugs, not your grass.  It is also safe for your fur babies or any other furry critter who may decide to visit your lush lawn.

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