Rubbing Alcohol As an Insecticide


Rubbing alcohol is often used as an insecticide. Like any alcohol, rubbing alcohol is poisonous at high dosages.


  • Rubbing alcohol recipes have many variations. For a liquid detergent spray, 1 tsp. of liquid dishwashing detergent should be mixed with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol in 1 quart of water. For soft-bodied insects, straight 70 percent or 90 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol should be used.


  • For small infestations, touch insects with a cotton swab soaked in the desired ratio of rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, the mixture should be applied with a spray bottle. The entire plant should be covered, as many insects like to hide on the underside of lower leaves.

Plant Safety

  • Because it is an alcohol, rubbing alcohol evaporates when exposed to air. When applied to a plant, its quick evaporation mediates damage on the leaves, shoots and stems.


  • Rubbing alcohol should not harm the plant, and it is even safe on buds and flowers. To be certain, do a spot-test on sensitive plants.


  • Different concentrations of rubbing alcohol mixture should be tested on plants. A stronger concentration is more likely to kill insects; however, caution is needed when applying more concentrated alcohol. Depending on how bad the infestation is, repeat applications will be needed every three to seven days, for a couple of weeks.

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  • Photo Credit reed aphids image by Adrian Hillman from
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