Pests & Diseases

The Best Organic DIY Insecticide for Indoor and Hydroponic Food Gardens

Save your cash and your garden. Learn to make a DIY insecticide with ingredients you may already have in your house.

I love my indoor garden for several reasons, but mostly because I don’t love outdoor garden pests. Well, maybe except for those cute rabbits that I always plant a little extra for in my outdoor garden. I also don’t love using harsh chemicals on my vegetables. It’s beyond me how they can kill insects yet be perfectly benign otherwise. Granted, I’m not a chemist, and maybe I’ve watched a few too many episodes of X-Files, but I prefer the DIY insecticide approach. 

Even with all that aside, a DIY insecticide is a pretty much free option, since the ingredients for most of them are all things I usually have around my house. Garlic, vegetable oil, and soap are some of the many ingredients you can use as natural garden pest repellents. 

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3 DIY Insecticide recipes that you can make with what’s already in your kitchen

Before we get into mixing ingredients, it’s worth a quick mention that your best defense against those little vegetable-destroying buggers is high-quality soil, potting mix, or a good hydroponic plant food

Still, we sometimes need a little extra help when the pests get the upper hand. The nice thing is that these DIY insecticide sprays are easy to make, they’re organic (assuming you use organic ingredients), and the only thing you might have to buy is a spray bottle. Do they work? Well, I’ve been using them for years, and they were recommended to me by other gardeners, so they work in my experience!

And a word of caution: Even though these insecticides are generally harmless, it’s always a good idea to test it out on a few leaves a day before you spray your whole garden. The oil insecticide, for example, can suffocate leaves if you use too much on an entire plant at once. Spraying problem areas doesn’t seem to do damage.

  1. The oil insecticide. This DIY insecticide is about as simple as it gets. Make a concentrate by mixing together one tablespoon of liquid soap and one cup of vegetable oil. Use this as needed by adding two tablespoons of the concentrate to one quart of water. 
  2. Insect soap. All you need for this is one quart of water, and three drops of mild dishwashing shop (the clear fragrance-free type). It won’t stick to the leaves as well as oil will, but it’s better for produce you don’t want to be oily.
  3. Garlic spray. This is my favorite DIY insecticide because…garlic! In an outdoor garden, garlic makes a great companion plant because so many pests keep clear of it. It only makes sense that a garlic spray would keep them away from your indoor or hydroponic garden, as well. You make a concentrate by adding 8 to 10 cloves of garlic and a quart of water to your blender. For a little extra oomph, add a tablespoon of ground hot peppers. Blend, then let this sit for 24 hours. Strain the mixture into a jar and add one cup of vegetable oil. Mix one-half cup of this blend with one gallon of water for an effective pest deterrent. 

There are plenty of other natural, organic ingredients you can use to help keep your veggies pest free. Some gardeners swear by Neem oil, and food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is a well-known, naturally occurring insecticide. The drawback there is that DE can also harm beneficial insects you might have.

Again, though, I try to stick with what I already have around the house, which is why, for a DIY insecticide, one of the first three is usually at the top of my list. 

Do you have a homemade pest deterrent that you use in your indoor garden? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. She is responsible for generating all daily content and managing distribution across web, email, and social. In her producer role, she plans, edits, and deploys all video content for guides, magazine issues, and daily tips. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

One reply on “The Best Organic DIY Insecticide for Indoor and Hydroponic Food Gardens”

Ty for the information. I will certainly use the garlic pesticide. I have tried everything else. I do not use roundup. I do use 7 dust. I am afraid to even use that. I have animals.

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