I love a natural remedy as much as the next person but this claim seems suspicious to me and highly unlikely to work. But can the Dawn dish soap and vinegar mixture work for killing or removing ticks?
While some believe Dawn and vinegar can act as an unpleasant deterrent for ticks, there is little evidence that the two combined or separately can have success killing or repelling ticks. Applying the mixture in large amounts over time may see results, but it’s likely to be generally inefficient compared to the most effective methods.
Although many people believe methods like suffocating a tick with dish soap can work, attempting to do so can actually be pretty harmful.
Ticks are known to regurgitate their stomach in distress, and so irritating an attached tick may cause additional bacteria to enter a bite which can lead to an increased chance of infection or disease.
To learn more about why Dawn soap and vinegar aren’t the best for ticks and the most effective homemade solutions for dealing with ticks, keep reading below.
Will Dawn Soap and Vinegar Affect a Tick?
There’s an online tick removal method that involves smothering an attached tick with a cotton ball soaked in dish soap to cause it to back out, and while there are many people who back this method, it’s really not a great idea.
An assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Brendan Byrne, debunked using methods like these, calling them dangerous “in almost all cases”.
“When we tried it with many different types of attached ticks, we were unsuccessful in removing any ticks.”Thomas Mather – USAToday
Some people may see ticks back out when using dawn soap purely by coincidence. Male ticks are intermittent blood feeders and so naturally attach for short periods of time and then back out. So if you were to do this method to a male tick they could back out and get stuck to the cotton wool as suggested.
But the same process used on a female tick is unlikely to work as they can stay attached for week. It's generally a terrible idea compared to putting the tick out with tweezers and it could increase the chance of infection.
This is because irritating an attached tick can result in it regurgitating its stomach contents into your tick bite (ew), which obviously presents more nasty bacteria and possibly disease.
Vinegar is another solution rumored to have the same effect on ticks, and it too is a flawed method for the same reason.
Dawn and vinegar are mixed for cleaning due to their combined ability to dissolve and degrease countertops or bathtubs. On a chemical level they “neutralize” each other, but the result will still be an acidic detergent of sorts.
Although this mixture may amplify the “irritating” property that ticks hate, it still doesn’t really change the fact that the methodology itself can present more dangers to your health.
For this reason, I would not consider the Dawn and vinegar mixture an effective way to remove a tick.
When it comes to killing or repelling ticks using this mixture, you may be able to kill a tick by fully submerging one in the mixture over a long period of time, but it’d be a waste of time when methods like rubbing alcohol or bleach are far more instantaneous and don’t require mixing beforehand.
While the mixture may be good for cleaning, it doesn’t have strong ingredients like DEET or permethrin that ticks hate, and therefore it really isn’t the best for dealing with ticks.
The Best Homemade Mixture for Ticks
If you want to create your own tick repellent mixture at home, you’ll need to find essential oils that work as natural deterrents to ticks.
Most all-natural tick and insect repellents use essential oils, and homemade formulas can easily be made with the proper ingredients.
Ticks are drawn to our bodies from the smell of our CO2 emission and covering this scent with certain essential oils that ticks hate can be very effective in keeping them away.
To try your own homemade tick repellent, gather geranium oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil, cedarwood oil, and possibly a good spray bottle to apply the spray with.
These ingredients are commonly found in food/wellness stores, as well as online.
Essential oils can be slightly irritating on human and pet skin, so you’ll need to dilute your mixture with some water. Starting with 1oz of water, mix about 5 drops of each oil into your bottle. You can create a bigger batch, but always keep a 1:10 ratio of oil to water.
Since there’s a chance it could irritate your skin, you should always test the spray in small amounts before applying completely. It’s also important to note that while this spray can work on humans, gear, dogs, and around the house, essential oils like these are toxic to cats, so be sure to keep them far away.
However, I find mixes like these especially great since they’re safe for the family and don’t contain any nasty chemicals (there’s also the good old “homemade charm”).
You can also purchase natural tick repellent sprays like Wondercide from Amazon. This uses natural essential oils to keep ticks away.
There are also tick sprays specifically for cats as cats are harmed by a variety of tick repellents and so the correct products should be used.
Using natural essential oils, this spray is proven to kill by contact, repel, and prevent 98-100% of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes in laboratory testing.
Gentle enough to use on puppies, kittens, and senior pets when used as directed. Powerful enough to fully eliminate pests on the skin and fur. Safe to use around the entire family, and kid-safe, when used as directed.