Does Irish Spring Soap repel bugs, mice and spiders? We asked the experts

It's often touted as a wonder product when it comes to getting rid of pests, but does Irish Spring Soap actually work? It's complicated...

Irish Spring soap - bar of soap on sink ledge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Irish Spring Soap is often touted as an effective natural deterrent for insects and mice. The method is simple: grate the soap bar next to your plants and its distinctive scent will keep the critters away. But is this hack too good to be true? We asked pest control experts. 

'Tis the season for swarming mosquitos, flies, and ants. By now most of us are sick of itchy bites and buzzing noises following us through the house, the endless haunting of unwanted guests that we work tirelessly to get rid of.  And of course, any avid gardener will know the perils of trying to keep bugs away from your plants and shrubs. Even if you know how to keep wasps away or how to keep ants away, you're probably well aware those tricks and tips won't work for other pests. 

Many of us are familiar with the usual choices of pesticides, from chemical sprays and citronella candles to electric zappers. But Irish Spring Soap, a rather old-fashioned (and affordable) soap bar often pops up as a surprising contender too. We love a multifunctional product (as well as a smart cleaning hack) at woman&home, so we naturally had to investigate whether or not Irish Spring Soap actually works.

What is Irish Spring soap?

As its name suggests, since its launch in 1970, Irish Spring Soap has primarily been used as a deodorant soap. However, due to its strong scent and the essential oils it contains which are said to repel insects, it's found another, more unorthodox use. 

There have been other varieties of the soap released, in varying scents and forms, but the original deodorant bar is the only one said to have these potentially repellent properties. Over time people have started using the product in a number of creative ways, however, there is no scientific evidence that proves this bar of soap can help with anything other than a good clean. 

Irish spring soap news piece - woman sat enjoying time in the garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Does Irish Spring Soap repel insects, mice or spiders?

The short answer is, it's complicated. There are divided opinions on the effectiveness of Irish Spring soap when it comes to repelling insects and small animals and while some people have anecdotally had success with it, our experts all recommend using other methods instead.

Shannon Harlow-Ellis, certified Entomologist and technical specialist at pest-control company Mosquito Joe says, "Irish Spring soap contains picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, recommended by the EPA for various pest repellents. While it hasn't been scientifically proven, Irish Spring soap could be an effective DIY pest-repellent hack." The most recommended and popular way of using soap for insect repellent is by grating a bar and scattering the shavings in any area where the bugs tend to swarm. 

The success of the soap as a repellent relies heavily on a number of conditions, though. Shannon says, "Like any natural remedy, its effectiveness may vary based on factors such as the concentration of active ingredients, application method, and when speaking to mosquitos specifically - the local mosquito population and individual variation in attraction to mosquitoes also are factors." In short, it could in theory work, but it depends on the type of mosquitos and how much you personally attract them - so don't bank on it. 

Irish spring soap news piece - mouse in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As for mice, the experts say the soap will have little to no effect on them. Meg Pearson, training manager at wildlife removal company Critter Control, says, "If mice already have an established home base, soap likely will not bother them enough to leave. Additionally, mice can grow accustomed to it or simply avoid it." Meg suggests instead limiting their resources of food and shelter as well as sealing any entry points the mice may use. 

If spiders are your issue, then you may want to skip the Irish Spring soap as strong scents are not exactly an obstacle for them. There are more efficient methods for how to get rid of spiders which will keep the eight-legged creatures out of your home for good. 

On the whole, there is a possibility of getting some positive results from Irish Spring soap but there is simply no guarantee of this. Specialised pesticides and repellents will be considerably more effective and if you're dealing with a particularly nasty infestation it's always best to call a professional pest control agency.  

Where to buy Irish Spring Soap

Irish Spring Original Deodorant Bar Soap:

Irish Spring Original Deodorant Bar Soap: £5.98 | Amazon

If you're looking to give this natural pest-repellent a go, its routinely discounted on Amazon. In its original anti-bug scent, you'll have enough with this three-bar pack to scatter shavings in a number of affected areas and perhaps have some left over for the shower too! 

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.