White Oil Recipe: How To Make White Oil For An Insecticide

By: Heather Rhoades

As an organic gardener, you may know the difficulty of finding a good organic insecticide. You may ask yourself, “How do I make my own insecticide?” Making white oil to use as an insecticide is easy and inexpensive. Let’s take a look at how to make white oil and why it works as an insecticide.

How to Make White Oil

So you’re likely asking, “How do I make my own insecticide?” It’s actually quite simple. While there are a number of homemade recipes to choose from, this popular white oil recipe for do-it-yourselfers seems to be one of the easiest:

  • 1 cup (227 gr.) vegetable or white mineral oil
  • 1/4 cup (57 gr.) dish soap (without bleach) or Murphy’s oil soap

Mix the above ingredients in a jar, shaking well (should turn white color upon mixing). Note: This is your concentrate and needs to be diluted prior to use – using about 1 tablespoon (15 mL.) per liter (or 4 cups) of water. You can store the white oil concentrate for about three months in a sealed container or jar.

Once diluted, you can use a spray bottle for easy application. Apply to affected plants liberally, especially on the backside of plant leaves as this is where many pests tend to hide or lay eggs.

Why Does White Oil Work?

White oil works by coating soft body insects, like aphids and mites, in oil. The soap helps the oil stick to the insect while the water loosens the mixture enough to be sprayed on easily. When combined, these two ingredients work to suffocate the insects. Regular applications may be necessary to help protect your plants from pests.

Now that you know how to make white oil, you can use this organic insecticide to keep your garden free of pests.

BEFORE USING ANY HOMEMADE MIX: It should be noted that anytime you use a home mix, you should always test it out on a small portion of the plant first to make sure that it will not harm the plant. Also, avoid using any bleach-based soaps or detergents on plants since this can be harmful to them. In addition, it is important that a home mixture never be applied to any plant on a hot or brightly sunny day, as this will quickly lead to burning of the plant and its ultimate demise.

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Growing vegetables provides fresh produce for you and your family while giving you full control over what is used in the care and maintenance of the vegetables. Pest control is important in vegetable gardens to keep hungry insects from feasting on the plants. However, pesticides often contain harsh toxins that can leave chemical residue on vegetables. Thankfully, homemade organic pesticides are the safer choice and can be made from inexpensive items that most people have in their home.

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This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

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Aphids, spider mites, and other pests can cause serious damage to flowers, fruits, and vegetables. These creatures attack your garden in swarms, literally draining the life from your crops and often inviting disease in the process. Many chemical pesticides, like those containing glyphosate, can prove unsafe for you and the environment or may make fruits and vegetables unsafe for consumption. Thankfully, there are many homemade, organic options for you to turn to in your war against pests.


Of course, prevention is better than trying to deal with a fungicide infection. Here are some growing tips to help you avoid the problem in the first place:

  • Ensure you allow plenty of space between plants to provide sufficient airflow.
  • Water plants well especially in the peak of summer.
  • Feed your soil before planting and feed plants throughout the season to ensure they’re strong and more resistant to disease
  • Remove any foliage or plants that show signs of fungicide damage. Don’t put them in the compost heap and don’t allow infected foliage to decompose in the soil.
  • If you like a particular homemade fungicide recipe, use it as a preventative and spray every two weeks.

We’d love to hear from you if you have any other ideas for ingredients for homemade fungicide treatments, especially if they are simple, cheap and effective.

How to apply insecticidal soap to your plants

Dry conditions and hot weather (above 90°F) can increase plant stress and increase your plants’ sensitivity to soap, so avoid spraying on a hot, sunny day and make sure your plants are well watered first.

If you’re trying to treat houseplants, be sure to protect the surroundings from overspray, or move the plants to an area where you can spray freely, like a patio or garage.

Insecticidal soap is best applied in the early morning or early evening, as the cooler temperatures slow evaporation of the soap and favor better pest control.

Pollinator activity tends to be low during these hours, so you have less of a chance of impairing bees, hoverflies, and other beneficial bugs in the garden.

Insecticidal soaps are not systemic insecticides — that is, they don’t absorb into plant tissue. They only work on direct contact with insects, so make sure you cover all plant surfaces where you see pests with a fine spray, including the undersides of the leaves where many pests like to hide.

(Note the emphasis on where you see pests. Simply spraying the whole plant with soapy water won’t work. The soap needs to coat the insects thoroughly — not the leaves — in order to kill them.)

Spray once a week (or for more serious infestations, every 4 days) for 4 weeks until you see improvement. Any more or longer than that, and you risk leaf injury, as the soap will remove all the natural oils and waxes that protect the leaf, and thus remove the plant’s natural defenses against pests and diseases.

Speaking of leaf injury, some plants are more susceptible to soap than others, so I suggest a test spray on a small area first if you aren’t sure how sensitive your plant is.

Wait 24 to 48 hours and check for leaf damage (such as burned tips or yellow or brown spotting) before proceeding with a full application. If you do spot damage, rinse the leaves with clean water to remove any residual soap.

Horticultural Oil Control Pests and Diseases

One of the best and the easiest ways to handle the troublesome insect pests in your garden is by making use of oil based pesticides. They are very effective in treating some of the plant diseases and are also eco-friendly. The most popular among the oil based pesticides is the horticultural oils. It is very effective in treating sap chewing and sucking pests. The modern day horticultural oils are based on petroleum oils and are in the form of a thinner. The traditional type of horticultural oil is based on vegetable oil and is known as the white oil. This is the organic horticultural oil.

How does horticultural oil work?

The horticultural oils will kill the pests and other insects on the plant by suffocating them. The oil will not allow the insects to breathe as it blocks the spiracles and therefore they die of suffocation. The oil will cause a disturbance to the insect egg metabolism. They will also hinder the ability of the insects to feed. This way the insects will be starved to death. It is very effective in killing aphids as it will interrupt the way the insect feeds. Make sure that the organic horticultural oil is covered on the insect so that it gets 100% full coverage with the oil. This will ensure that the insect would die otherwise the oil will not be effective. The only drawback that the horticultural oils have is that they affect both the good as well as the bad insects . The excess oil will evaporate and disperse off quickly. Note, even the petroleum based horticultural oil is not toxic and is safe for pets and humans.

How to Make White Oil at Home?

The following is the recipe to prepare organic homemade white oil to control and do away with plant pests like ants, aphids, caterpillars, white fly, slugs, snails, mealy bugs, scale, leaf miner, mites, slaters, earwigs, thrips and grasshoppers.

Take 2 cups of vegetable oil or substitute with sunflower oil or peanut oil.

  • You should also have ½ cup of washing liquid ready with you.
  • Now, take a jar, open it’s lid and then pour 2 cups of sunflower oil and ½ cup detergent liquid into the jar
  • Put the lid on the jar and give the jar a very good shake so that the oil and detergent liquid mixes well. You will notice that the content inside the jar will turn white.
  • This is the concentrated white oil.
  • Put a label on the jar and store this white oil in a cool and dry place. The homemade white oil has a shelf life of 3 months. After this time then you should make a new batch of white oil.
  • You can use the homemade horticultural oil by applying the spray on the pests that you see on your garden plants to kill them. But, make sure that you take one tablespoon of the white oil and dissolve it in one litre of water. Only this diluted solution has to be sprayed on the plants.

Things to remember

It is important for you to shake the white oil jar every time you are using the white oil. You should make sure that you are not spraying the white oil on plants when the temperature is over 30 degrees C. This can burn your plants.

Watch the video: I WONT Use SOAPY WATER, Again!

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