It’s convenient to have.
Rubbing alcohol is useful for keeping at home. You could use it to clean your gardening tools. But is there benefit to spray it on your plants?
You can spray rubbing alcohol on your plants to use as pesticide or leaf cleaner. Dilute the alcohol with water before use to prevent leaf burn. Test the dilute solution on some plant leaves because some plants are sensitive to alcohol and get leaf and stem damage.
In this post, I’ll show you how to use rubbing alcohol on plants. You’ll understand which bugs, pests, and diseases can be eliminated by using rubbing alcohol. I’ll also show you how to clean leaves using rubbing alcohol.
How to use rubbing alcohol on plants
Rubbing alcohol is in effective pesticide, but must be diluted sufficiently. Alcohol that is too concentrated can soak into the soil and render it unsuitable for plant growth.
To use rubbing alcohol on plants, prepare a solution of 1 part 70% rubbing alcohol with 9 parts water in a spray bottle. Set the spray bottle to mist, not stream, as this can concentrate the alcohol spray and cause damage to the roots of the plant.
Create a ‘test leaf’ by spraying a small leaf with the solution and leave for two days. If the leaf shows signs of alcohol burn, you will need to dilute the solution further. If the plant is not showing signs of damage, you can continue to use the solution to treat for insects.
Spray the solution onto the pest directly, making sure that all infested areas are covered and properly wet. Depending on the severity of the infestation, you can spray the entire plant or you can treat the insects directly.
To treat the pests directly, dip a cotton ball or swab into full-strength rubbing alcohol (not your spray solution) and dab each pest individually.
Let the plant dry for about four to five hours, then rinse the leaves with clean water; you can repeat this treatment once or twice a week until the insect infestation is gone.
Avoid using rubbing alcohol on plants that are in bright direct or indirect sunlight, as this can burn the leaves.
How often to use rubbing alcohol on plants?
Rubbing alcohol solution can be used once or twice a week as a pesticide or herbicide for plants. If you use it more often than this and do not rinse your plant properly after use, the leaves and stem of the plant can get alcohol burn.
We should never water plants with alcohol, as this contaminates the soil and damages roots, making nutrient and water uptake impossible. Soil that has been contaminated with alcohol should be replaced as soon as possible.
Does rubbing alcohol kill plant bugs?
Rubbing alcohol kills plant bugs because it is a desiccant that sucks out water through the skin of the insect. It also acts as a surfactant that can penetrate the waxy coating of an insect and cause internal damage.
Rubbing alcohol is most effective against soft-bodied bugs like slugs and snails. It is absorbed through their skin and dehydrates them, causing them to die and fall off your plant.
Does rubbing alcohol kill thrips?
Rubbing alcohol does not kill thrips effectively compared to other solutions like neem oil and hydrogen peroxide spray. This is because of their hard outer shell, which protects them from the drying properties of the alcohol.
Thrips thrive in dry, hot conditions. The best way to keep them off your plants is to water them regularly or use a mister if available.
Does rubbing alcohol kill spider mites?
Rubbing alcohol kills spider mites because it will penetrate their waxy coating and damage them. Use a spray solution of one part alcohol to seven parts water and spray both the top and underside of your plants leaves twice weekly to fix the infestation.
Signs that your plant is infested with spider mites is the appearance of stippled, yellow weak leaves. If the infestation is bad, you can mix a stronger solution of one part alcohol to four parts water depending on your plant’s tolerance.
Does rubbing alcohol kill mealybugs?
Rubbing alcohol kills mealybugs because it acts as a desiccant and sucks up moisture from their bodies. This causes the mealybugs to dehydrate and die. It also dissolves the protective coating on the mealybugs eggs and destroys the sensitive membranes inside.
Rubbing alcohol is only effective on mealybugs in the egg or mature stages. Juvenile mealybugs are unaffected by alcohol application, and so you must wait until they have matured to remove them.
Does rubbing alcohol kill plant fungus?
Rubbing alcohol kills plant fungus because it acts as an anti-fungal agent. Mix 1 part 70% rubbing alcohol with 9 parts clean water and mix into a spray bottle. Spray it on all sides of the leaves and foliage to get rid of fungus.
Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean plant leaves?
You can use rubbing alcohol to clean plant leaves when applied as a properly diluted solution. Use it early morning or evening because direct sunlight can cause alcohol burns to the leaves.
Will rubbing alcohol kill plants?
Rubbing alcohol can kill plants if it is used as a pesticide or herbicide in concentrations too high, or if the plant is sensitive to alcohol. Avoid using alcohol on plants which absorb moisture and contaminants easily through their leaves, like hydrangeas, mint and lavender.
Plants which have a waxy surface on their leaves and stem, like peace lilies and monsteras, are more suitable for the use of rubbing alcohol as a pesticide.
Is rubbing alcohol bad for the soil?
Rubbing alcohol is bad for the soil because it can draw all moisture out and make it unsuitable for plant growth. Rubbing alcohol in high concentrations kills the good microbes and bacteria present in soil that is necessary for healthy plants.
It is OK to use rubbing alcohol as a pesticide or herbicide, but ensure that it is properly diluted before use, and is not sprayed in a concentrated area.
What to do if accidentally sprayed too much alcohol on plants?
Alcohol kills the good bacteria and worms in the soil, and makes the soil impossible to replant because of the lasting nutrient depletion.
If you have accidentally sprayed too much alcohol on your plants, or in too high of a concentration, you must immediately rinse the plant and the surrounding soil with clean, cold water.
Alcohol in the soil can damage the roots by causing them to dehydrate and shrivel, impairing their ability to take in water and nutrients.
If the soil has been soaked in rubbing alcohol, remove your plant gently using a small shovel or trowel and place it in a temporary pot or container. Replace as much of the soil as possible, then replace your plant and spread the soil evenly to cover.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.