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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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SOAP verses DETERGENT Toplef10SOAP verses DETERGENT 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

SOAP verses DETERGENT I22gcj10SOAP verses DETERGENT 14dhcg10

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Post  sanderson 8/2/2021, 5:53 pm

I am posting this to help clarify the difference between soaps and detergents.  Most of us have seen the videos of rescue workers gently washing oil-soaked ducklings with Dawn detergent.  Hey, if it's gentle enough for ducklings, it must be gentle enough for our plants!

Wrong.  Detergent is necessary for this specific use because it is good at cutting grease and oils, just like it does for our dirty pots and dishes.  But, using it for our plants is NOT healthy.  This article was authored by Docwas for another web site, and with his permission, I am posting it here.

Dr Bonner’s peppermint pure castile soap is listed as having the potassium salts  of Long Chain Fatty Acids (LCFA) . The label mentions use to spray bugs on plants.

https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/06/dilutions-cheat-sheet-dr-bronners-pure-castile-soap/

https://www.lisabronner.com/castile-soap-spray-for-garden-pests/

Products approved by the EPA for use as an insecticidal soap will include the specific insects that it is effective against as well as the proper usage of that products.

Insecticidal soap is a frequently recommended pesticide for use against many soft-bodied pests that affect the garden and landscape. It has no residual effect and is considered safe for humans, pets, and most beneficial insects.

I see many posts on some gardening Facebook pages that give recipes for homemade insecticidal soap using common dish soaps.  Unfortunately, many recipes aren’t for insecticidal soap at all, they are for insecticidal detergents since most dish “soaps” are detergents.

There is a big difference between soaps and detergents and how they affect our plants.  A soap has long and short chain fatty acids, and it is the fatty acids that work against most soft-bodied insect pests. True insecticidal soaps only have the long-chain fatty acids.  Detergents are mostly petroleum based synthetic chemicals that are designed to breakup oils and grease.  That’s what makes a detergent superior to a soap for cleaning dishes.  However, that property of a detergent is what makes it bad for plants.  Detergents can remove the natural protective oils on plant leaves and make the plant more susceptible to pests and diseases.  The soap that has been studied and approved for its ability to safely control soft bodied insects in the garden is made from the long chain fatty acids of potassium salts.  There are numerous products that are commercially available either as a concentrate or a ready to use spray, and these are all properly labeled for pesticide use.

The main thing is for you to be aware of what you are spraying on your plants and keep the Dawn under the kitchen sink where it belongs.

Here are some links to informative information about insecticidal soap:

https://www.gardenfundamentals.com/insecticidal-soap-use.../

https://www.gardenmyths.com/dish-soap-damage-your-plants/

https://hgic.clemson.edu/.../insecticidal-soaps-for.../

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