Understanding the Effects of Pothos and Dishsoap on Water: A Guide for Plant Lovers

Imagine a world where your beloved houseplants are not only visually stunning but also play an active role in purifying the air. Enter the realm of Pothos plants, often referred to as devil’s ivy, where beauty and function coexist harmoniously. However, like any living creature, these plants are not impervious to pests, and thus, we often reach out for our trusty dish soap. But wait, is this an ideal solution? Can “pothos and dishsoap on water” harm these beautiful plants? Let’s unravel this mystery together.

Key Takeaways

  • Pothos plants are popular indoor plant choices.

  • To keep your pothos healthy, make sure to provide bright indirect light and the right amount of water – avoid dish soap as it can strip away protective oils & lead to root rot.

  • Alternative methods to dish soap for pest control include the use of natural remedies like neem oil, true soap, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils.

The Pothos Plant: A Popular Indoor Plant Choice

Pothos plant in a bright indoor setting

Pothos plants, with their glossy, heart-shaped leaves, are a sight to behold. Their ability to thrive in a variety of light conditions and purify the air makes them a popular choice among indoor plants. Think of pothos as the resilient warriors of the plant kingdom, capable of adapting to different environments and still emerging victorious.

However, these plants have their preferences. Like most plants, pothos thrive in bright indirect light, which helps them produce the food necessary for their growth and survival. Watering, though seemingly a straightforward task, has its nuances too. It’s all about achieving that perfect balance — not too much, not too little — just as Goldilocks liked her porridge. To ensure optimal growth, consider repotting your pothos into a slightly larger pot.

Dish Soap and Its Effects on Pothos Plants

Spraying soapy water on a plant

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – dish soap. It’s an excellent grease-cutter for our dishes, but what about our plants? Dish soap, by nature, is designed to break down oils and fats. But here’s the catch – our pothos plants have a natural coating of oils and waxes on their leaves. So, what happens when an unstoppable force (dish soap) meets an immovable object (pothos plant)? Let’s find out.

Our pothos plants may be resilient, but they’re not invincible. Exposure to dish soap can strip away the natural oils and waxes that protect the leaves, leaving them vulnerable. Moreover, these powerful detergents can mess with the root health of our plants, potentially causing root rot.

Removing Protective Oils: Explain how dish soap can strip away the natural oils and waxes that protect pothos leaves.

Imagine going out on a sunny day without sunscreen. Sounds uncomfortable, right? That’s how pothos plants feel when their natural oils and waxes are stripped away. These oils and waxes give the leaves their glossy look and protect them from dust and dirt. When dish soap comes into the picture, it’s a real party pooper. The surfactants in the soap interact with the natural oils and waxes on the leaves, lifting them away and washing them off.

As a result, our shiny green leaves lose their shine. They become more prone to collecting dust and dirt and become more susceptible to damage from direct sunlight. It’s a bit like going from having a strong, protective shield to having a flimsy piece of paper. Not an ideal situation for our pothos plants.

Damaging Roots: Describe how dish soap can harm the healthy roots and lead to root rot in pothos plants.

If dish soap’s attack on the leaves wasn’t enough, it also messes with our plants’ roots. The chemicals in dish soap can disrupt the balance of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms in the soil, leading to root damage and potentially root rot. It’s as if the plants were on a well-balanced diet, and suddenly they’re fed junk food. Not good for their health, right?

The signs of dish soap damage can be pretty noticeable. You may see:

  • wilting leaves

  • yellowing or browning leaves

  • brown spots

  • soggy soil

  • stunted growth

  • the presence of fungus gnats, those little flying pests that love overwatered plants

So, it’s safe to say that dish soap and pothos plants don’t mix well.

Using Soapy Water as a Pest Control Method

Neem oil application on pothos leaves

So, we’ve established that dish soap is not the best friend of our pothos plants. But what about using soapy water for pest control? It’s a common practice, after all. The fatty acids in soapy water can disrupt the cell membranes of pests, causing them to dehydrate and eventually die.

But before you run to fill your spray bottle with dish soap and water, let’s weigh our options. When it comes to pest control for our pothos plants, we have alternatives like neem oil and dish detergent. Let’s see how they stack up against each other.

Neem Oil vs. Dish Detergent: Compare the effectiveness of neem oil and dish detergent as pest control methods for pothos plants.

Neem oil and dish detergent, the two contenders for the pest control crown. But which one should we choose? Neem oil is a natural pesticide, harmless to humans and beneficial insects but deadly to pests. It tackles a wide range of pests and works as a deterrent, making it a heavyweight in this match.

On the other hand, dish detergent can get rid of most insects, but it should be used with caution. It can harm the plant tissue, so it’s recommended to opt for commercial insecticides instead. It seems like neem oil takes the cake in this round, proving to be a safer, more effective option for our pothos.

Precautions When Using Soapy Water: Provide tips on how to safely use soapy water on pothos plants without causing damage.

If you still decide to go down the soapy water route, there are a few precautions to bear in mind. First, make sure to dilute the soap in water, using about 2-3 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water. Second, apply the soapy water every three days to ensure the pests are kept at bay.

When applying soapy water, follow these steps:

  1. Be gentle. Dampen a microfiber cloth in the solution and gently wipe down the leaves.

  2. Avoid using too much soapy water. The strong solution can break down the leaves’ waxy coating, causing them to wilt or turn yellow.

  3. Opt for mild, non-toxic, and biodegradable soaps to ensure the safety of your pothos plant.

Alternative Pest Control Methods for Pothos Plants

Natural pest control remedies for pothos plants

If dish soap and soapy water sound like too much trouble, there are other alternatives. Have you ever heard of true soap, diatomaceous earth, or essential oils? These are fantastic options for pest control that are less invasive and more eco-friendly.

Some natural alternatives to chemical pesticides for your plants include:

  • True soap, which is made from natural ingredients and is much gentler on plants than dish detergent

  • Diatomaceous earth, a natural mineral that can be sprinkled on the soil or dusted on the leaves to get rid of pests

  • Essential oils, which not only smell great but can also deter pests from your plants, such as pothos.

True Soap: Discuss the benefits of using true soap instead of dish detergent on pothos plants.

True soap, as the name suggests, is the real deal. It’s made from natural ingredients like fats or oils and lye, making it a gentle yet effective pest control option. Compared to dish detergent, true soap is an eco-friendly, safe, and cost-effective option that can be used on a wide range of houseplants, including pothos.

To use true soap for pest control, follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of the soap with 1 quart of water.

  2. Shake well to ensure the soap is fully dissolved.

  3. Spray the mixture onto the leaves and stems of the plant. Remember, moderation is key. Overdosing can harm the plant, so it’s best to test on a small area first.

So, true soap, with its gentle nature and pest-control properties, turns out to be a champion for our pothos plants.

Other Natural Remedies: Suggest other natural remedies for pest control on pothos plants, such as diatomaceous earth or essential oils.

Apart from true soap, there are other natural remedies for pest control that deserve a mention. Diatomaceous earth, for example, is a natural and organic option that’s non-toxic and eco-friendly. It absorbs the waxy outer layer of insects, causing them to dry out and die, making it an effective deterrent for pests like spider mites, aphids, and silverfish.

Essential oils are another potent weapon in the pest control arsenal. Neem oil, peppermint oil, and lavender oil are particularly effective against pests. Dilute them with water, spray onto the leaves and stems of the plant, and watch as the pests steer clear of your pothos plants. However, just like with true soap, moderation is key. Overdosing can harm the plant, so it’s best to test on a small area first.

Caring for Pothos Plants After Exposure to Dish Soap

So, you’ve used dish soap on your pothos plant, and now you’re wondering how to mend the damage? Fear not, there’s a way to nurse your plant back to health. After exposure to dish soap, it’s crucial to rinse and wash the plant thoroughly and provide it with extra nutrients for recovery.

Think of this as a spa day for your plant. After being exposed to harsh chemicals, your plant needs some TLC to bounce back. And that’s where rinsing, washing, and providing extra nutrients come in as essential parts of plant care.

Rinsing and Washing: Explain the importance of thoroughly rinsing and washing the plant after exposure to dish soap.

Rinsing and washing your plant after exposure to dish soap is not just a courtesy; it’s a necessity. It’s like washing off your makeup at the end of the day to let your skin breathe and regenerate. For your pothos plant, this process involves mixing a mild soap solution and gently wiping the leaves with a sponge.

After the soap-sponge combo, it’s time for a rinse. Running the plant under water ensures any residual soap is washed away. Remember, the type of water matters too. Clean, room temperature water with a neutral pH is best for rinsing your pothos.

Providing Extra Nutrients: Discuss how to help the plant recover by providing extra nutrients through fertilizer or amendments like peat moss.

Now that your plant is squeaky clean, it’s time to give it a nutrient boost. Just like athletes need to replenish their energy after a strenuous workout, your plant needs a little extra care after its encounter with dish soap.

A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can do wonders here. You could also consider adding peat moss to the mix. This amendment not only provides extra nutrients but also improves soil moisture retention, which is a bonus for your pothos plants recovering from dish soap exposure.


In conclusion, while dish soap is a trusty ally in our battle against dirty dishes, it’s not the best choice for our pothos plants. Its tendency to strip away the protective oils and waxes and disrupt the root health makes it a less than ideal option. However, with alternatives like neem oil, true soap, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils, we don’t need to rely on dish soap for pest control. Moreover, with proper rinsing, washing, and nutrient replenishment, our pothos plants can recover from dish soap exposure. And if you’re looking to propagate your pothos, remember – a sterilized pair of scissors, a container of water, and a little patience can give you a whole new plant!


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