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15 Natural Weed Killer and Pest Control Solutions

May 11, 2023
Female hand spraying from a bottle onto plants in a garden

With gardening season in full swing, you may notice pests, such as weeds and insects, popping up in your garden and around your home. Whether you have kids or pets or simply don’t want to use synthetic pesticides, natural pest deterrents are a great alternative to keep your garden healthy and your home pest-free without harming the environment.

From vinegar and essential oils to garlic and chili pepper, we’ll explore some simple, effective, weed killers and natural pest control solutions to combat weeds and repel insects without toxic chemicals.

Essential Oils

Brown bottles of essential oil with fresh herbs

Peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella are great options for repelling insects and pests. Mix a few drops of the essential oil with water in a spray bottle and apply it wherever needed. Lavender and clove can also be used as a spray to ward off dust mites.

Apply essential oils to your skin as a barrier for bites, but dilute it in water before applying. Using undiluted oils can cause skin irritation.


White vinegar is an effective natural weed killer. Mix one part vinegar with one part water and spray the solution on the weeds. The acetic acid in vinegar will dry out the weeds and cause them to wilt and die. Be careful not to overspray on any plants you want to keep, as it will also harm them.

White vinegar is also great for tackling an ant problem. Ants leave a trail to help other ants find their way from the colony to food. A solution of ¼ cup white vinegar, 2 cups water, and 10 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil will wash away the trail.

Apple cider vinegar works great for pesky fruit flies. Grab a small bowl and add a small amount of apple cider vinegar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and punch a couple of small pencil-lead-sized holes in the plastic. The vinegar attracts the fruit flies, but the small opening prevents them from getting back out.


Garlic is well-known for its pungent aroma. Blend anywhere from a few cloves to two whole bulbs of garlic in a food processor with a small amount of water to create a paste. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a quart jar, adding ½ cup of vegetable oil, one teaspoon of mild liquid soap, and enough water to fill the jar. When you’re ready to use the spray, use one cup of the mixture with one quart of water and spray liberally on infested plants.

The compounds in garlic are irritating or deadly to many insects, while the oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. Don’t apply the spray on a super sunny day, as the oils can cause the foliage to burn.

Chili Pepper

Similar to garlic, chili pepper spray is an excellent insect repellant for a variety of different pests. Mix one tablespoon of chili powder with one quart of water and several drops of mild liquid soap. Spray the full-strength mixture directly on the affected plants.

You can also use fresh chilis to create a repellant. Blend or puree ½ cup of peppers with one cup of water, then add one quart of water and bring to a boil. Let it sit until cooled, strain out the chili material, add several drops of liquid soap, and spray as desired.

Use care, as chili peppers can be potent for humans as well! Wear gloves when handling them, and keep any sprays away from the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs tied in bunches with twine in a wooden box

Rosemary or sage is great for keeping mosquitos away. Throw some fresh sprigs on your backyard bonfire and enjoy your evening bite-free. Basil not only works great in recipes but also helps to ward off flies. Place a pot of sweet basil in a sunny spot by your patio door, and fewer flies will likely make their way indoors.

Soap and Water

A simple dish soap and water solution can help control certain pests, such as whiteflies, beetles, and aphids. Mix 1.5 teaspoons of mild liquid soap with one quart of water, and spray the mixture directly on the infected surfaces of the plants. It can be applied as necessary, but it’s usually recommended in the evenings or early mornings.

Use boiling water to eliminate sidewalk weeds. Boil some water, and pour it over weeds that have popped up in the cracks of your sidewalks or driveway. Just be careful when pouring so you don’t burn yourself!

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance made from fossilized algae that can eliminate ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, and more. The powder is abrasive, damaging the exoskeletons of insects and causing them to die.

This fine powder can be sprinkled around plants, windows, and corners to repel pests. You can also spread the powder outside your house to prevent the pests from entering your home. To remain effective, reapply the diatomaceous earth after every rain because of its dried nature.


It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but onions are an effective way to keep spiders out of your home. Slice up some onions and place this in a bowl of water wherever spiders appear to be entering your home, and they’ll stay away.

Coffee Grounds

Close up of hands spooning coffee grounds at the base of a plant in a pot

Those coffee grounds are good for more than just your morning cup of coffee. Once they’ve been brewed, use your leftover coffee grounds in spots outside your home where you think pests may be coming in. Spread coffee grounds in your garden to keep critters away. Many animals have sensitive noses, and the strong smell of the grounds makes them steer clear.

Clove Oil

Clove oil has been used for centuries in a variety of applications. It’s a fast-acting, all-natural insect killer that is effective against mosquitoes, ants, wasps, moths and their larvae, flies, fleas, earwigs, silverfish, cockroaches, and more. Mix a few drops with water to create a spray that can be used around windows and doors.

You can also use whole cloves as a natural repellent. Cut lemons or limes in half, stick the cloves into the fruit, and repeat until moderately covered. Throw them in a bowl and place it in the center of the outdoor table, and it’ll keep flies and mosquitos away.

Vegetable Oil

A vegetable oil spray can conquer troublesome insects like aphids or mites. Mix one cup of vegetable oil with one tablespoon of soap; cover and shake thoroughly; when ready to apply, add two teaspoons of the mixture to one quart of water; shake thoroughly and spray directly on the surfaces of the plants affected by the pests.


Fresh citrus fruits on a old wooden background

If you have oranges at home and throw away the peels, it’s time to stop, as orange peels can help repel spiders. Cut the peel into chunks and place it inside a container of boiling water. Let the orange peels soak overnight. Pour the extract into a spray bottle and use it in places spiders tend to hide. If you don’t have oranges, lemon or grapefruit will also work.

Tomato Leaf Spray

Tomato leaf spray is effective at killing aphids and mites. Tomato plants are part of the nightshade family, which contain alkaloids that are fatal to many insects. Soak 2 cups of chopped tomato leaves in 2 cups of water overnight. The next day, strain the liquid and discard the leaves. Add 2 more cups of water and spray it on your plants.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is an excellent resource for the organic gardener. It’s extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and is a powerful natural insecticide capable of disrupting the life cycle of insects at all stages (adult, larvae, and egg). It’s biodegradable and nontoxic to pets, birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Start with a mixture of two teaspoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of mild liquid soap, shake thoroughly with one quart of water, and spray on the affected plant foliage. The spray can also be used preventatively to ward off pests before they fully infest your plant.


If you’re battling slugs or snails in your garden, sink a tuna can or deep plate into the ground and fill it with a few inches of beer. Make sure it’s pushed in with the beer about an inch lower than the soil. The slugs will go in and, without a way out, drown. Why does this work? The slugs are attracted to the yeasty odors found in beer.

Protecting azalea plant from fungal disease or aphid, gardening concept

Check out the Brookfield Residential blog for design advice, homebuying insights, mortgage tips, and more, including indoor flowering plants to brighten your home and small space gardening ideas. You can also explore where we build and connect with our sales team when you’re ready to learn more. We’ll be expecting you!