Dawn Dish Soap Deer Repellent – Does It Work?

Does dawn dish soap deer repellent stop deer from destroying your yard and garden. Yes it does, but you have to apply it the right way.

Deer can do some serious damage to your yard. They will eat your flower, shrubs, vegetables, grass, and almost anything that you can grow. In the process they also can destroy your garden and yard.

There have been many ways devised to rid a yard of deer and keep them out. One of the most used, and simplest, ways is to use Dawn dish soap deer repellent.

No, this is not a product you can buy directly off the shelf. Well, Dawn dish soap has to be bought. This is sort of concoction that you brew up at home.

There are probably as many different recipes for using Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent as there are yards in your town. In this post, we will give the best recipes and discuss why they work so well. We will also discuss whether you should use Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent and what are some alternatives.

Why use Dawn dish soap?

Dawn dish soap is very mild when compared to many other dish soaps. This means it won’t be as harsh on whatever you spray it on. It also is scented. The scent is what keeps deer away. Though many advocate that scent alone is not enough to deter deer. We will talk about that more a little later in this article.

The main reason so many people suggest using Dawn, in my opinion, is because it is cheap. While dish soaps aren’t really that expensive, Dawn is still one of the cheapest ones you can buy. Because of this, many people already have it in their homes.

Should you use Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent?

The simple answer from most people is, “Yes, you should use Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent.” But the answer really isn’t that simple.

You first have to consider whether Dawn will hurt deer. Almost every mixture recipe you find calls for very small amounts of Dawn to be used with a lot of water. A small amount of Dawn diluted in water is not going to hurt deer; even if they drank it straight out of the sprayer.

The next think you have to think about is what will spraying Dawn on your lawn, shrubs, trees, and flowers do to them. This is where there is confusion and where you can have real damage happen to your landscape.

There are two potential problems you have to consider before using Dawn dish soap on your plants as a deer repellent. First, Dawn is designed to cut through grease. The leaves of all plants have a waxy layer called the waxy cuticle. This layer regulate how much water exits the plant through the leaves. If you remove the waxy layer, plants will lose water fast.

Using Dawn dish soap on your plants as a deer repellent could remove the waxy layer and damage your plants ability to regulate the amount of water leaving it.

The second concern with using Dawn dish soap on your plants is its anti-bacterial quality. Dawn dish soap has an anti-bacterial agent added to it to combat bacteria on your skin. This anti-bacterial agent can cause problems for your yards ecosystem. Your yard is full of all kinds of bacteria, bugs, worms, and fungi. The anti-bacterial agent may kill some of the living organisms if too much is sprayed in your yard.

Again, the mixtures for deterring deer call for very small amounts of Dawn. But if you saturate your entire yard with one of them you could see disruptions in your yards wildlife and plant life.

You can visit the Dawn dish soap website to see all of the ingredients.

Dawn dish soap deer repellent recipes

It seems that you can find someone out there that has tried mixing everything with Dawn to create a repellent. What follows is an attempt to give you some of the best mixtures and ideas we have encountered. All of these mixtures are suggestions. You should start with a very diluted mixture first and test it on an inconspicuous location in your yard to see how you plants respond to it. Also, remember that all plants won’t respond the same. Test each plant before covering large portions with any mixtures.


The simplest recipe is to mix Dawn with water. Add it to a spray bottle, shake, and it is ready to go.

  • 1-2 tbsp of Dawn
  • 1 gallon of water

Egg formula

This recipe is one of the nastiest if you ask me, but some people like it because it works. The mixture is the same as the simple recipe, except you add egg. Add the Dawn, water, and egg to a bottle and shake. After creating the mixture you can use it immediately. If you want the smell to be stronger, you can let the egg mixture sit longer. Supposedly, the stronger the smell, the better the repel.

  • 1-2 tbsp of Dawn
  • 1 egg
  • 1 gallon of water

Spicy formula

The spicy formula works on the idea that deer don’t like spicy things. This formula uses cayenne pepper and can be used right after its created. If you want to really spice it up, you can add other spices that are know to repel deer. Some deer repellent spices are cinnamon, garlic, mint, and rosemary.

  • 1-2 tbsp of Dawn
  • 1-2 tbsp Cayenne
  • 1 gallon of water

Essential oils formula

This formula combines the simple formula of water and Dawn with the power of essential oils. Many of the spices listed in the spicy formula come in essential oils. Essential oils are more potent then the raw or dried spice.

Some people have reported adding the essential oils to water without soap and having success. But this will not create a true solution because the oil and water cannot mix. Using soap like Dawn with the essential oils and water will create a true solution because the Dawn will bind the oil to the water.

  • 1-2 tbsp Dawn
  • 5-10 drops Peppermint oil(or other essential oils)
  • 1 gallon of water

Alternative soaps to use as a deer repellent mixture

The idea of using soap as a deer repellent didn’t start with Dawn dish soap. People have been using soapy water to repel and eradicate pest for years. Because soap has traditionally been effective at getting rid of bugs on plants and repelling other wildlife from eating it, people naturally started using dish soap mixtures.

But many have not thought about the problems dish soaps, especially modern dish soap, present. As introduce earlier, dish soaps can destroy the oils on a plants leaves and kill the good bacteria and bugs that are essential to your yard thriving.

The problems associated with using dish soaps like Dawn as a repellent have made some people avoid using soap at all as a repellent. Some have experienced or heard of someone else experiencing their plants being damaged or killed by soapy water treatments. Most of the time this has been due to using dish soaps or too much basic soap.

Basic, or simple, soap is made using fatty acids and an alkali. When these two are mixed correctly they form soap. The reason you use soap in your deer repellent is for it to bind to the surface of the plants you spray it on. Plants have an oily, way layer that a pure liquid repellent would easily slide off of. The soap, because it is a surfactant, will bind the repellent to the surface of your plants.

The soap also helps to bind any oily or fatty ingredients you put in the mixture like essential oils and egg.

Any of the recipes listed in this article will work with a basic soap just as well as they work with Dawn, but you won’t have the potential problems of destroying the way layer on you plants and killing the good bacteria and insects in your yard.

Alternative deer repellents

There are alternatives to using Dawn dish soap as a deer repellent. You can plant deer resistant shrubs and plants. There are commercial grade deer repellent sprays that are approved by the EPA. Mesh netting is an option if you are trying to protect roses and shrubs. A motion sensor sprinkler or lights can help to keep deer away sometimes.

There are of course some questionable things you can try like putting out human hair or pouring urine around your lawn. I don’t think you will have to resort to any of these methods. There are enough other things that will work for you.

Don’t give up

Deer can be hard to stop if they are determined to get in your yard. Dawn dish soap deer repellent can work for you. Be conscious of the damage it could do to your plants and grass. If you use it in low concentrations, most plants should be okay. But you should always test it on a small part of each type of plant before spraying it everywhere.

With a little persistence you can keep deer from eating and destroying your yard.