12 Best Natural Deer Repellents (and How to Use Them)


A deer in the yard munching on some shrubs

Deer are very docile, meek animals by nature. If you live near vegetation and fresh greenery, chances are that you have deer nearby. While they may look adorable, they are more than likely eating away at the delightful plants you’re growing in your garden. This can grow into a burdensome problem.

In truth, the best and most effective natural deer repellents to keep deer away are blood meal, scented bar soap, coffee grounds, predator scents, putrescent whole egg solids, mint, dill, chives, chili pepper, mint essential oils, citrus, sweaty laundry and even human hair.

Deer are afraid of new things so anything that they are not used to should deter them or at least make them extra cautious. However, they do adapt pretty quickly so you may need to try out a few natural repellents until you get just the right one that works for you. Read on below for the best ways to keep deer at bay!

Aromatic Soap Bars Repel Deer

You or someone in your house probably loves the scent of decadent soaps. Maybe lavender or cherry blossom or cucumber melon or coconut oil is the favored soap used in your household.

Well, these soap bars have two great benefits. Not only do they bathe you and make you smell fantastic, but they also deter deer!

There are two ways you can use an aromatic soap bar in your garden to repel deer. You can take the bar and attach it to a string. Then hang this string nearby a plant that the deer love to nibble on. Specifically, Irish Spring Soap has been said to effectively deter deer.

Pretty easy, right?

Or you can shave pieces off of the soap bar then scatter those around outside of the plant border. Either way works just fine and will carry the scent in the air. 

Not only will those help you get rid of those deer but your backyard will also smell fantastic!

If this natural deer repellent proves to be effective, then remember to replenish your supply of soap bars monthly so you can use them again after the scent wears off or after it rains.

Just an FYI – make sure you don’t place soap directly on your plants, since it will get absorbed into the soil.

Deer Dislike The Scent of Blood Meal

Blood or meat meal may sound incredibly unpleasant but it is quite effective at repelling deer. As a contact repellent, this product is essentially a type of fertilizer that contains other cow or pig blood.

The scent of blood meal may deter deer but if you spread it around the plants in your garden. Blood meal also proves to be an excellent fertilizer for your plants and can provide a bright, vibrant color to the plants as well!

Essentially, the deer are going to smell the blood meal and be deterrent by the scent of the dried animal blood. This is a double edged sword since you increase the chance of repelling deer AND provide fertalizer for your veggies.

If you’re interested in using blood meal to deter deer, check out Nature’s Care Organic Blood Meal which should be used at the start of the growing season, and applied every two months thereafter.

Deer Stay Away From Predator Scents

Like many animals, deer have predators who hunt them. And just like many animals, deer are highly cautious around these animals in an effort to survive.

The smell of the urine of their predators can be an effective way to banish deer from your vegetables. Bobcats and coyotes’ urine in particular alert the deer that danger is nearby. These are two of their predators who are high on the list of animals to be fearful of.

If you’re interested in using coyote urine to repel deer, you can review our guide on the best coyote urine’s here.

So take a chance on this natural deer repellent and see if it really works for you!

Stinky Used Clothes Repel Deer

Let’s say your kids have come home from soccer practice. Their uniforms reek of sweat and grass and mud. Your first inclination is to grab the pungent items of clothing and run them through your washer and dryer immediately. 

However, you may not want to do that right away.

The smell of humans on their stinky worn clothing is a fantastic deer repellent. Keeping clothing that reeks in the house sounds repulsive, but if it keeps the deer away, it might be worth it! 

Just take the clothes and lay them around your yard, hang them from branches or bushes, and place them in areas where you know the deer tend to congregate. Then let the magic happen.

While this may only be effective for a day or two at a time (since the clothes will de-stink a bit over time), you can keep reapplying if clothes keep getting smelly. Plus, the time that the clothes spend outside will make it more tolerable for you to handle while putting in your laundry!

Once you’ve used the clothes to their maximum deer repelling powers, you then can take your stinky clothes and throw them in the wash knowing that the job is done.

Rotten Eggs Repel Deer

The smell of rotten eggs? Yuck! Who would want that in their yard? 

Well, you may not want the putrid smell of rotten eggs anywhere outside or even inside your house but it turns out that it is actually a great natural repellent of deer. This is because the odor of the old eggs is similar to the odor of the urine of predators that eat deer.

Don’t worry though. You don’t actually have to let eggs go rotten in your kitchen to apply this method. Here’s how it works:

  1. Crack and mix eggs in a bowl to the amount that will equal about 20% of your mixture. (80% will be water)
  2. Add the egg mixture to a spray bottle. You may need to add more eggs or spill a little out so that it equals about ⅕ of the bottle.
  3. Add water to the mixture so that it equals about ⅘ of the bottle.
  4. Spray your mixture around hot spots where deer frequent.

If you don’t feel like handling any stinky eggs, you can always take a peak at Liquid Fence’s Deer & Rabbit Repellent Granular which has a primary active ingredient of putrescent whole egg solids… stinky!

That’s it! Pretty easy, right?

Herbs Keep Deer Away

If you are a fantastic cook, you most likely have a wide variety of herbs tucked away in an organized manner in your kitchen cabinet. Hey, even if you are not a seasoned chef, you probably still have at least a handful of herbs in your home.

Natural plants that cultivate herbs that are used for cooking are another excellent repellent you can use in your outdoor space. Things like mint, chives, and dill have all been known to do the trick in deterring deer from coming closer.

While these herbs are delightful to smell and eat, for deer, not so much.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the certain scents that deer hate here.

Chili Pepper Repels Deer

deer doe looking around depp thick forest

Do you like hot and spicy food? Well, then you are in luck. And if you do not like hot and spicy food? Well, neither do deer!

Deer detest the smell of chili. It is incredibly unpleasant for their highly discerning noses. To use this spice effectively, you can place the chili in a spray bottle and mix it with water until it dissolves into a liquid.

Spray it outside and watch as the scent repels deer from invading your garden.

Additionally, you can spread bulk chili or cayenne powder around your garden without spraying in a bottle.

Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away

After you have made your morning coffee, you may notice that you clumsily spilled some coffee grounds as you were pouring them into your coffee pot.

Instead of sweeping them into the trash, save them, and along with more coffee ground, spread it around the plants that the deer love to feast on.

We actually wrote a full guide on using coffee grounds to repel deer, which you can read here.

This method may or may not work for you but it is worth the effort to try it out. Chances are you already have some coffee in your home and, if not, then you can buy a small bag from the grocery store to use.

Plus, you now have the excuse to make and drink extra caffeine during your day!

Essential Oils Deter Deer

Some natural oils have scents that you may love to smell. You may even have essential oils and a diffuser you use in your house to create a pleasant atmosphere.

If you already have some natural oils, especially mint scents, then spray that outside. Their smell unpleasantly affects the deer. Just add 10-15 drops of essential oil to water in a spray bottle and get to work!

While it may smell fantastic to you, for the deer, it is not the same case. So try this out and see if it works.

You can also take a look at I Must Garden Deer Repellent: Mint Scent Deer Spray for Gardens & Plants, which contains a whole host of deer repelling ingredients, including peppermint oil.

Human Hair Makes Deer Believe Humans are Nearby

Believe it or not but wads of human hair can be used as a repellent for deer.

If you cut your own hair or use a body trimmer, then this method could be super effective for you.

For this treatment to work, make sure you manage to get a hold of at least two-three handfuls of human hair. Then you can stuff them into bags that are made of nylon or mesh. 

Hang these bags around your backyard from trees and branches and the scent will send out an alert to deer that humans are nearby. You can keep the hair bags outside for several weeks before you will need to re-stuff the bag with new handfuls of hair.

Hanging bags of hair around your house does not make for a pleasant aesthetic, but hey, it’s a temporary solution that will get rid of the deer and save your precious plants!

You can ever hang the bags outside near your woodline, covered by trees for more curbside appeal.

Deer Hate Citrus

Citrus has an incredibly powerful smell that can be overwhelming to deer. Grab an orange and peel it but do not throw it in the trash.

Instead, take the peels outside to lay down on the ground in general areas. Their smell should repel deer and, not only that, but your yard will smell nice and fruity too!

Non-Natural Deer Repellents

To add one more to the list, ammonia is one of the more well mentioned scents that deer dislike and shy away from. While it occurs naturally in nature, most ammonia products consist of chemicals.

Deer Strongly Dislike Ammonia

Please note to follow ALL product and handling information when dealing with ammonia, as listed by the manufacturer.

Ammonia has a strong, acrid smell and has been widely touted as a great repellent for deer.

You can place the ammonia in a spray bottle, put gloves on, and spray a rag or old towel with the ammonia. You can then place the cloth around a tree branch or near your garden to repel deer. If you’re interested, you can purchase a product like Austin’s Clear Ammonia

The scent, like many of the other scents in this list, will eventually wear off but all you have to do is simply top off some more ammonia in the spray bottle and reapply the product outside.

Conclusion

So now you are armed with a bunch of wonderful ways you can easily repel deer. These are all natural, harmless, and effective. The best part is, you might have a lot of these laying around your house right now!

The scents will need to be reapplied often to keep them strong. However, humid weather may strengthen the power of the scents. So if you live in that climate, you have an advantage.

Also, you should try to apply the scents around the ground level up to six feet high. This is the vicinity in which deer find and eat plants. It is also an easy height for you to reach or ask someone for help.

Let’s wrap up this blog post with a super quick recap of everything you just learned!

Effective natural deer repellents are:

  • Blood or meat meal
  • Soap bars
  • The urine of various predators
  • Smelly worn garments of clothing
  • Human hair
  • Ammonia
  • Various herbs and spices
  • Chili pepper
  • Rotten eggs
  • Coffee grounds
  • Natural Oils
  • Citrus

A pretty fantastic list, right? 

Now go forth and try these things out! At least one or more options are bound to work. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your dear-free garden, yard, and personal space.

References

Nolte, D. L., & Wagner, K. K. (2000). Comparing the efficacy of delivery systems and active ingredients of deer repellents. In Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference (Vol. 19, No. 19).

Swift, C. E., & Gross, M. K. (2000). Preventing deer damage (Doctoral dissertation, Colorado State University. Libraries).

Gallagher, G. R., Peacock, J. L., Garner, E. P., & Prince, R. H. (2000). Conditioning and habituation of white-tailed deer to two common deterrents.

Trent, A. (2001). Comparison of Commercial Deer Repellants. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Technology & Development Program.

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