Rid Pests with Rubbing Alcohol

Houseplants bothered by pests? Rub them out with rubbing alcohol. An alcohol spray is effective against mealy bugs, whiteflies, red spider mites, aphids, fungus gnats, and scale. To make the spray, mix 1/2 to 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart of water in a pump-spray bottle.

It’s a good idea to test spray one leaf of an infested plant and wait a day to check for damage. If the plant is unaffected, spray the whole plant. Treat at 3-day intervals for 10 days or as needed.


  1. Another suggestion I have for killing fungus gnats with rubbing alcohol is this:

    Soak cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and place them on the soil of potted plants. I used enough cotton balls to cover about 40% of the exposed soil. Place the entire potted plant in a plastic bag and tie the bag closed. Leave it for an hour or so and then open up the bag so the plant can breathe again. Remove the bag or let the planter sit in the rolled down bag incase you need to repeat the procedure. When I did this, I could see no more live gnats. I left the cotton balls on the soil for several more hours before removing them. All gnats appear to be dead or gone. If more hatch from the soil I will repeat the procedure.

    I have used this method on a jade plant and it seems fine so far. Not sure if other plants might be vulnerable to the fumes from the alcohol and could get damaged/killed.

    I got the idea for doing this when I remembered how we used fruit flies in my genetics lab class in college. We would knock them out (unconscious) by putting a cotton ball soaked with alcohol in the container with them for a few seconds. If left in longer, it would kill them. Poor little buggers. Oh, well.

  2. If you’re applying the undiluted rubbing alcohol directly to the leaves should you rinse the leaves off later or just leave the residue indefinitely?

  3. My pepper plants need help as they have I’m told mites! I think they’re white flies as I see them fly. Please help me!! Can rubbing alcohol be sprayed alone or does it have to be diluted?

  4. I used the rubbing alcohol treatment and forgot to wait to see if it harmed the plant. Unfortunately it did and after picking off what leaves had died it has stayed alive for the past couple of months but has stopped growing. Is there anything I can do to get my plant to grow again?


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