Vinegar kills aphids but it also dries out plant leaves and stems on contact. So, if you use a vinegar spray to kill aphids on your plants, you’ll end up with dying plants with brown, wilting leaves. Instead, use neem oil or insecticidal soap to kill aphids without harming your plants. These natural remedies are far safer for your garden than vinegar spray.
Why Shouldn’t You Use Vinegar to Kill Aphids?
Spraying vinegar can cause even more damage to your plants than an aphid infestation. Aphids swarm on the underside of leaves and stems. So, you will have to spray vinegar on the leaves of your plants to kill the aphids. Unfortunately, vinegar contains acetic acid, which dries out plant leaves and stems on contact. Within days, the leaves sprayed with vinegar will turn brown and dry, then fall off. By spraying vinegar to kill the aphids you are essentially burning your plants with acid. This can kill the plants in your garden, along with the aphids.
- The acetic acid in vinegar harms plants by drying them out—this will cause plant leaves and stems to turn brown, droop, and fall off.
- Since aphids gather on leaves and stems, there is no good way to kill aphids with vinegar without harming your plants.
- Vinegar is also harmful to bees and other essential pollinators, so it should not be sprayed in your garden.
Vinegar is not a useful tool for your garden. In addition to harming your plants, vinegar kills bees. Plus, while vinegar can burn and harm delicate garden plants, vinegar isn’t strong enough to kill weeds. Weeds sprayed with vinegar often grow back from the roots, but your flowers and vegetables are more likely to die if you treat them with a vinegar spray meant to drive off aphids.
3 Natural Ways Eliminate Aphids Without Vinegar
Because spraying plants with a vinegar mix to kill aphids is a terrible idea that may kill your plants, you may be wondering how to handle your aphid infestation. Not to worry. There are a few pesticide-free ways to kill aphids fast without harming your plants.
Neem oil is the natural product of the neem tree. When sprayed on aphids and other insects it suffocates and kills them. As an added bonus, neem oil is harmless to your plants. So, you can use neem oil to kill aphids, inchworms, and any other pest bugs in your garden quickly. Just follow these steps:
- Use this neem oil for pesticide-free gardening.
- Spray the neem oil onto aphids gathering on the underside of leaves.
- Continue spraying neem oil onto aphids 1–2 times per day until the aphids are gone.
- You will begin to see much fewer aphids within 2 days.
Using natural neem oil to solve your aphid problem will save your plants within days. Plus, you don’t have to mix any ingredients in a spray bottle. Neem oil comes ready to use from most home and garden centers.
Insecticidal soap is an organic way to kill aphids without harming your plants or beneficial insects. Insecticidal soap is a pesticide-free product that kills aphids on contact. To use insecticidal soap:
- Try this insecticidal soap meant for organic gardening.
- Spray insecticidal soap directly onto aphids to begin killing them within 24 hours.
- Repeat insecticidal soap treatments once per-day until all the aphids are dead.
Unlike vinegar, insecticidal soap doesn’t linger, so butterflies and bees that visit your plants to pollinate won’t be harmed. Although white vinegar may seem like a good, natural option it is actually harmful to plants and wildlife. So, insecticidal soap is always a better choice for killing garden pests.
Aphids can be knocked off your plants by spraying the leaves with water from a hose. This option physically removes the aphids in seconds, which instantly stops them from feeding on your plants. Just make sure your plants are sturdy enough to withstand the brisk spray necessary to dislodge the aphids. If the plants are still young or delicate, don’t use this method.
- If your plants are mature and sturdy enough, use a hose with a sprayer attachment to knock off the aphids.
- Spray the leaves and stems to dislodge the small insects.
- Stop spraying your plants if the force of the water is damaging leaves or flowers.
- After spraying with water, allow your plants to dry, then treat them with neem oil or insecticidal soap to keep the aphids away.
It’s a great idea to begin by knocking off as many aphids as possible with water before you begin using neem oil or insecticidal soap. Removing aphids with water, then treating the plant, will stop the infestation faster and prevent the aphids from returning. This means your plants will have a great chance to recover.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Aphids?
Apple cider vinegar and all other types of vinegar will kill aphids. However, vinegar is also harmful to plants. Since you are most likely to find aphids feeding on your plants, using vinegar to kill the bugs will do more harm than good. Before you harm your plants with white vinegar mixed with water and dish soap, try alternative methods.
Should You Spray Vinegar to Kill Aphids?
Vinegar sprays for killing aphids are a very bad idea. Here’s why:
- Vinegar dries out plant leaves and stems, causing them to turn brown and wilt.
- Spraying aphids on your plant with a vinegar solution could kill your plant along with the aphids.
- Vinegar spray in your garden can also harm or disorient beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies.
- Neem oil is a natural plant oil that suffocates and kills aphids when it is sprayed on them.
- You can kill aphids with a natural insecticidal soap that won’t harm pollinators.
It is best to never use vinegar in your garden. Although vinegar is great for home cleaning and cooking purposes, it has more negatives than benefits when it is used outdoors. To keep aphid populations in check, use safer natural solutions, rather than vinegar.