Homemade insecticidal soap

Part of maintaining happiness in any career is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It's important to see the whole picture and to have a healthy level of outside interests to provide both balance and inspiration. This is why I do write about other aspects of life. One of the things that helps keep me grounded, literally, is to get my hands in the dirt. I love receiving plants and tending for them. If I have a bright window, something will be growing in it. My loft has been home to ficus, cypress, herbs, shamrocks, tomatoes, succulents, and a bizarre spiky giant that reminds me of "Cleopatra", the plant from the Addam's Family.

It is winter in Minnesota. Many of us deal with the melancholy that comes with the weather and shorter days by filling our homes with plants. It's a burst of life and greenery. The reminder of spring is a comfort.  Color is refreshing when the days are grey. However, when we have brought our plants in from outside or purchased them from a store, some of them may come with creepy crawlies. I was given a wonderful gift of plants including some large ficus trees. The gift was wonderful, that is, except for the spider mites, gnats, and scale beetles they were infested with.

Here is how I dealt with that particular sticky menace.

Take a standard spray bottle for diluting cleansers, the larger one that you can find at hardware stores or at beauty supply stores, not the tiny ones from the drugstore. Fill most of the way with water, add a few squirts of dish soap, a splash of cooking oil and 3-4 drops each of clove, cinnamon, citronella and lemon oil. Shake lightly before spraying. Spray the leaves and let sit for an hour. Then spray with water and wipe the leaves with damp paper towels. 
 If the spray hits the floor, it can get slippery. Put newspapers beneath the plant to help keep you from tumbling ass over teakettle (trust me). Working indoors, this took a long time, but it saved the plants, and my apartment is filled with bursts of greenery. If you're doing it outside, just grab a hose to spray the leaves with good water pressure. I just can't hose out my kitchen.

I live in an 105 year-old warehouse loft, and while it is an interesting space, it does have its quirks. It has drafts, a scary freight elevator, and wasps winter somewhere in the building's walls. Even in November or December we will find one or two in the kitchen. I have taken them out  of the air at a distance with this by turning the nozzle from "spray" to "stream. It may leave a spot of soap and oil to clean up so I find it is best to aim while they are in a window.

There you go. It's easy to make, smells good, and is far more economical and eco-friendly than most of the commercial sprays.

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