8 Scents That Pigeons Hate (And How To Use Them)

pigeon resting at park

Birds can be beautiful. However, if birds, specifically pigeons, continue to return to your property day after day, leaving behind their excrement and picking at your garbage, chances are you do not find these animals that beautiful anymore.

In truth, pigeons have an extremely song sense of smell which they use to travel. You can use scents that pigeons hate to repel them, such as cinnamon, hot and chili peppers, vinegar, perfume, cologne, peppermint essential oil, garlic, onions, black pepper, cumin, ghost peppers, and even jalapeños.

Although there are alternative ways you can do to repel pigeons, they do have a sense of smell because they have olfactory bulbs. They are famous for using their olfactory systems to guide them back home. So hang on tight. You need not worry about pesky pigeons wreaking havoc in your yard or around your vegetable garden any longer!

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The Lovely Scent of Cinnamon Wards Pigeons Away

Oh, the lovely, warm smell of cinnamon! How many of you like cinnamon? Probably a lot! And if not, then you probably know someone who enjoys it.

Smelling cinnamon may bring back cozy memories of hot drinks or yummy desserts being baked in your kitchen. But for pigeons? The scent of cinnamon is not so fantastic or appealing.

Pigeons detest the scent of cinnamon primarily due to its pungent and spicy scent. The aroma of cinnamon can irritate the sinus of a pigeon and cause it to stay away. You can mix the cinnamon with some water in a spray bottle. Then apply the spray to the areas where you tend to see the pigeons lurking.

Kick back and watch as the cinnamon effect will hopefully deter the pigeons from coming any closer.

Plus, this may get you thinking about your next recipe!

This is also a great scent you can use to keep pigeons off your balcony – as you can pair it with some physical deterrents as well.

Spicy Hot and Chili Peppers Repel Pigeons

Do you like spicy food? If you do, you are in luck! If you don’t, no worries. Finding the following spices is easy because they are common and very accessible.

Pigeons detest the scent of hot peppers, chili, and hot sauce. The spicy smell may be appealing to you but not to these birds. Grab ahold of some Crushed Red Pepper (like this Pepper from Spicy World) and sprinkle it on top of the highly populated areas where the pigeons tend to congregate. Reapply frequently.

Alternatively, you can also get hot sauce and put it in a spray bottle. Apply this liquid around your yard.

Hopefully, this method will work for you! Give it a try! What do you think?

Vinegar and Its Strong Acidic Scent

Another common household product is vinegar. People use this for a multitude of purposes, so it is super useful to have in your home.

As you probably already know, vinegar is commonly known not only for its ability to thoroughly clean surfaces but also for its pungent, harsh scent.

Pigeons are deterred by vinegar because the scent disturbs their sense of smell. A positive use for applying vinegar is that it is a humane and kind way to repel them. White vinegar may be more effective than other types, such as apple cider vinegar, due to its pungent aroma.

In case you don’t want to run through your current stock of vinegar, you can take a peek at Lucy’s Family Owned – Natural Distilled White Vinegar, which comes in 128 gallons and will hopefully rid your home of those pesky, troublesome birds.

Pigeons Hate Perfume, Cologne, and Hairspray

The variety of hair sprays, perfumes, and colognes that come in different scents and varieties may signal to pigeons that humans are nearby. To add, many of the scents in large doses just don’t interest pigeons.

To repel pigeons, pick your aroma product and spray preferably soluble objects where you want to keep pigeons away. Just be aware that these scents wear off rather quickly vs. other methods, so you will need to reapply even if it does not rain.

Alternatively, just make sure that when you’re on the boardwalk, you’ve got your favorite perfume or cologne on!

Peppermint Essential Oils Repel Pigeons

two pigeon on meadow

Ahh, the wonderful, calming scents of essential oils! Chances are you or someone you know an essential oil diffuser in their house.

While you or someone you know may find joy in using essential oils, the fragrance of peppermint essential oil is unpleasant for pigeons. If you have peppermint essential oils already, you can diffuse them near your open window in an effort to deter any unwanted pigeons.

Due to the fact that these scents only last for a temporary amount of time, you want to be conscious of also using alternative scents that can repel the birds or resupply your essential oils after the scent has worn off.

Additionally, you can also put peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle diluted with water for a spray mixture as well!

Common Household Vegetables like Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion have potent smells. When using them for cooking, they will likely waft through the air and fill your kitchen with their fragrance.

These vegetables are also effective for keeping pigeons away because their scent and taste are displeasing for them.

Using garlic and onion as a deterrent is rather simple and effective. You can chop them into small pieces and scatter the vegetables around outside. The pigeons will get a hint of their scent and steer clear. In order for this method to be effective, however, you’ll need to make sure the scent is quite pungent.

You can also mash the garlic and onion as well to release more of the natural juices which will make the scent stronger.

Use Black Pepper as a Natural Deterrent

If you like to eat flavorful food, the chances are that you own a decent supply of black pepper!

A fantastic alternative use for black pepper is that pigeons hate its strong, spicy smell. They also do not like the taste, for that matter. In order to use this spice effectively, you can shake a container of black pepper on the areas where pigeons sit and huddle together.

Once they fly closer to that favorite spot, they will smell the black pepper and be discouraged from coming any closer.

Again, reapplication and strength of scent are KEY here. The smell NEEDS to be strong in order to deter the pigeons. Don’t worry, however, as pigeons have an incredibly strong sense of smell.

Cumin, Ghost Peppers, Jalapeños, and Cayenne Pepper

As you have read, various spices are great repellents that affect pigeons’ olfactory glands (the body part they use to smell scents and other things).

There are also another handful of household spices you can use to repel pigeons. Cumin, ghost pepper, jalapeno pepper, and cayenne pepper are very similar to spicy scents that negatively affect pigeons and their sense of smell.

Apply these spices similarly to the other ones already mentioned. You can add them into a spray bottle and mix it with water, then spray liberally around your yard. Or you can get a container of these spices and shake them around all of the areas that are hot spots.

Review: Scents That Pigeons Hate and How to Use Them

A quick recap – these are the scents that you may already have in your kitchen or are very easy to purchase at your local grocery store:

  • Cinnamon: you can buy them prepackaged that is ground up and in a bottle
  • Hot peppers: you can chop them into pieces and scatter them on the ground
  • Chili pepper: you can buy the powder or the whole pieces (both are effective)
  • Hot sauce: add to a spray bottle with water and get to spraying
  • Cayenne Pepper: you can spread the powder in the hot spots where the pigeons congregate
  • Black pepper: grab them from your kitchen and shake it around your yard
  • Cumin: all you need is the powder, and you can shake it around outside
  • Ghost pepper: apply this the same way as the spices listed above
  • Jalapeno pepper: this can also be applied the same way as the ghost pepper
  • Crushed red pepper: you can either spread this around outside or mix it together with the other spices to create a concoction that carries a variety of scents

Here are the vegetables you can use by chopping them into pieces and scattering them around your yard, near your vegetable garden, around the bushes and greenery, and even on tree branches that you can easily reach without injuring yourself:

  • Onion: chop them into pieces and lay them around in the areas where the pigeons seem to congregate
  • Garlic: you can also chop these into pieces and scatter them around outside

Do not forget that these types of oils and liquids are fantastic methods as well:

  • Peppermint essential oil: put the peppermint oil in a diffuser and let it get to work either outside on a porch, balcony, or near a window (you will need to plug in the diffuser to an outlet, so it needs to be near your outlets)
  • Perfume: you can spray this in the problem areas
  • Cologne: apply this the same way as the perfume
  • Vinegar: you can put the vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the various shrubbery, grass, and trees that you feel attract the pigeons

Alright! Now you know which scents to use! Just make sure that you use them in a way that is harmless for the pigeons. Keep in mind that many of them need to be reapplied after a few days or right after it rains.

Try out a few and see which one suits you and your personal property the best and the most effective.

Thanks, bunches for reading!


Benvenuti, S., & Wallraff, H. G. (1985). Pigeon navigation: site simulation by means of atmospheric odours. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 156(6), 737-746.

Williams, D. E., & Corrigan, R. M. (1994). Pigeons (rock doves)

Reiner, A., & Karten, H. J. (1985). Comparison of olfactory bulb projections in pigeons and turtles. Brain, behavior and evolution, 27(1), 11-27.

Papi, F. (1989). Pigeons use olfactory cues to navigate. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 1(3), 219-231.

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  1. My 86-year-old Mother called me crying because her balcony pigeons were driving her crazy. I found this website and we tried the various natural remedies outlined. What a lifesaver. The scents eliminated 90% of the issue. This site is so very helpful Not just to country folk but us city dwellers with balcony and garden pests. Thank you thank you thank you.

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