Vinegar: Why It Works To Repel Spiders And How To Use It
As the weather starts to cool off, insects and dreaded spiders start searching for warmer, protected sites to hang out. Unfortunately, many times these pests find your comfortable home a perfect place. When you see these multi-legged critters, don’t reach for chemicals, opt for vinegar instead!
The strong acid of vinegar can repel spiders from your home. All you need is white distilled vinegar, water, and a spray bottle to create an effective homemade spider-repellent. Spray a 1:1 mixture of diluted white vinegar in areas where spiders frequent around your property.
Ultimately, vinegar has so many uses: from marinades, cooking, laundry, baking, canning, cleaning, and much more. Now you can add spider repellent to the list. Keep reading as we go over how vinegar works to repel spiders and how to effectively use it.
Why Do Spiders Hate Vinegar?
Vinegar is a strong acid that’s been diluted to about 4 to 5 percent acidity.
Undiluted acetic acid can be potent stuff, and when it’s diluted properly, it can be a great addition to your salad and makes a non-toxic, effective cleaner. It’s also a great insect, pest, and arachnid repellent.
Naturally when spiders get too close to it, it can be quite irritating for them!
1. Spiders Hate The Smell Of Vinegar
Let’s face it, vinegar does have a pungent smell. I LOVE the smell of vinegar, as we drove past a vinegar factory that smelled like salt & vinegar chips on the way to school everyday growing up.
Generally, I do prefer to use vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner over the harsh chemical-laden bottles you get in the store.
Unlike myself (although I’m sure many of you feel this way), spiders hate the smell of vinegar!
If we are getting technical, spiders don’t actually have noses to smell, but they can sense vinegar and acetic acid. When they sense vinegar, they most often run in the other direction, essentially making vinegar a spider repellent.
Spraying vinegar in places where spiders congregate is the most effective way to get rid of them.
(Also, using vinegar as a cleaner to wipe the windows, clean the floor, and other spots is an effective way to keep bugs and spiders at bay. Score one for you!)
2. Vinegar Is Irritating To Spiders
Spiders are soft-bodied bugs. This is unlike grasshoppers, ants, and pillbugs, which all have a hard exoskeleton surrounding them. Because of this, spiders tend to be more susceptible to vinegar.
Even diluted, vinegar is still an acid that will irritate spider bodies. The acidity not only burns them, but it’s a desiccant, meaning it quickly removes the moisture from their body.
When vinegar is sprayed on spiders, it’s like getting a double whammy—irritation and a visit from the arachnid grim reaper.
3. Vinegar Can Dissolve Spider Webs
The acid in vinegar can dissolve spider webs. It reacts to the natural makeup of the spider’s silk and starts to break it down.
While you can quickly take old cobwebs down with a broom or duster, you then have to take them off.
Then they stick to your hands and give you that creepy feeling that something is crawling on you. Next time when you see cobwebs, give them a little spritz of your vinegar solution and see if they dissolve. The worst you’ll have to do is wipe them up with a paper towel and toss them in the trash.
If Vinegar Dissolves Spider Webs, What About Egg Sacs?
Did your mind go down the same rabbit hole? Those intimidating egg sacs that contain hundreds of minuscule baby spiders are a sickening sight. You know if they are empty, it means all those spiders are somewhere nearby.
That’s a sobering and frightening thought. When you spray them with vinegar, not only will the acid start working to dissolve the protective covering, but it will work its way to the unhatched spiders. And yes, it will eliminate them where they lay.
Sorry, Charlotte…You should have stayed with Wilbur instead of coming into our house.
There’s ONE Spider That Doesn’t Hate Vinegar
I sense your frustration, but yes. Nature almost always has some kind of exception to any rule. Unfortunately, not all arachnids are affected by vinegar. According to UCLA, there’s one creature that actually stores a strong mix of acetic acid, and sprays it when threatened.
The whip spider (sometimes called the whip scorpion) is the unfathomable creature I speak of. It looks somewhat like a long-legged spider, has pincers resembling a scorpion, and it gets big as large tarantulas. It’s nightmare fuel on a whole different level.
Despite its terrifying looks, it’s supposedly docile. However, it can spray a mix of acetic acid and other compounds with amazing accuracy.
Yes, acetic acid, the same thing that makes up vinegar. Only it’s about three times stronger than what you get in the store.
When it sprays predators like foxes or raccoons, they get a foul-smelling, mucus membrane-burning spray that’s similar to pepper spray.
That being said, if you see one of these things (and don’t run away screaming) don’t bother spraying it with vinegar. It will only laugh and show you what real vinegar is about.
How To Use Vinegar To Repel Spiders
Now that you’re sure to have nightmares tonight, let’s get into how you can repel spiders with vinegar.
You will need some spray bottles like the ones in this 32oz Plastic Spray Bottles 3 Pack. These are great for acidic vinegar and anything else you need to spray.
You’ll also need some vinegar. Try Lucy’s Family Owned – Natural Distilled White Vinegar. It comes in a two-gallon pack. You will have enough to spray an army of spiders, and then kick back with a nice, homemade raspberry vinaigrette salad when you’re done!
Take your spray bottle and fill it halfway full with vinegar, then fill the second half with water.
The reason you are diluting it is to make it suitable for surfaces in your house. Don’t worry about the smell being diluted, because spiders and other pests have much stronger senses of smell than we do. They’ll still smell the vinegar even after we no longer notice it!
Now, just go around and spray the vinegar where you have seen spiders, or where they are currently hanging out.
Now, if you have a huge infestation of spiders, you should get a professional pest control company to do the work for you. Vinegar works great to repel and get rid of spiders, but if there are hundreds of them, it would be wise to get help.
1. Clean Your House With Vinegar
We touched on this a little bit earlier, but it really does help. Cleaning your house with vinegar and water not only leaves your house sparkling clean, but it will help to repel most insects.
Vinegar is a natural cleaner and it works beautifully to eliminate hard water stains. The acetic acid easily dissolves calcium and lime deposits around your faucets. Go ahead and use it to clean your toilets, sinks, tubs, and faucets.
If you can’t stand the sharp smell of vinegar, or it irritates your nose and eyes, try dropping in a few drops of Handcraft Peppermint Essential Oil for a nice minty scent!
Peppermint oil not only helps to make your house smell great and fresh, but it’s also an insect deterrent. With the vinegar and peppermint oil mixture, you’ll have double the spider-repelling strength.
Did you also know that you can use coffee grounds to repel spiders? Your house is full of spider deterrents just waiting to be utilized!
2. Make A Vinegar Barrier Around Your House
Using your vinegar solution, go around the outside of your house and spray around windows, doors, and the foundation. Look for anywhere spiders and bugs could find their way inside and spray the area to keep them away.
This barrier won’t last very long, so you’ll have to reapply it a couple of times per week to keep it fresh.
However, you can take comfort in knowing that vinegar is less expensive than other pesticides. If you need another reason to use vinegar, know it’s biodegradable and isn’t full of chemicals that can cause health problems.
Should You Diffuse Or Boil Vinegar To Repel Spiders?
With the popularity of vinegar on the rise, people are finding more and more uses for this multi-purpose liquid. Some people even say that boiling vinegar has plenty of benefits.
There are those that swear by boiling vinegar to get rid of airborne illnesses or to use it for deodorization techniques. According to the National University of Health Services, boiling a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water for 30 minutes can help reduce airborne and surface pathogens.
You might also wonder if this would be an effective way to spread the smell of vinegar throughout your house in order to repel spiders. Or instead of boiling the vinegar, put it into your oil diffuser to quickly spread the vinegar smell.
While these methods may indeed make your house smell like a pickle factory very quickly, the smell will diffuse pretty quickly as well. These methods may work to help get rid of insects, but it doesn’t appear to be an effective long-term solution.
The only thing these methods may repel is the smell of last night’s dinner. After cooking something with a pungent odor, it may linger in your home. Boiling or diffusing some vinegar may help to eliminate those offending odors.
Vinegar Has A Different Boiling Point
Vinegar boils at a higher temperature. We know that water boils at 212℉/100℃, but vinegar requires more heat. It starts to boil at 213℉/100.6℃.
When you boil vinegar and water, some of the vinegar will dissipate into the air, but most of it will end up concentrating in the bottom of the pan. Instead, most of the water is what’s steaming out of the pot.
The concentrated acetic acid left behind can cause burns and damage surfaces it touches. While this method may help to remove odors and eliminate some airborne bacteria, it’s not really a good method to repel spiders and pests.
The final verdict on boiling or diffusing vinegar is to use caution. The diffuser will work to get more vinegar into the air because it doesn’t use heat, but the smell will evaporate too quickly to really be very effective in getting rid of spiders.
Spraying surfaces and spraying the spiders themselves is a much more effective approach to controlling them!
Where Should You Spray Vinegar To Repel Spiders?
Even though you don’t see them, you may still have spiders in your house. That’s because they like to hang out in places that are dark, hidden, and don’t get much traffic.
You’ll often find spiders hiding underneath furniture, behind bookcases, and under appliances. They also like places with lots of clutter. Insects tend to gather in these places, and wherever insects are, predators will soon follow.
Keeping your house clean, as well as getting rid of clutter and trash, are some of the best ways to prevent spiders and insects.
Occasional cleaning behind furniture and low-traffic areas is another way to prevent and get rid of spiders.
Crawlspaces And Basements Are Perfect Hiding Spots For Spiders
If you have a crawlspace or basement, these places are perfect hideaways for spiders. They are protected from the outdoors and are typically pleasantly humid enough for spiders. These are some of the most popular spots for spiders to go in the winter!
Spiders don’t really cause any harm to your house while they stick around in these dark places. The problem is when they make their way into your house where they definitely are not invited.
Eliminating spiders from your crawlspace and basement will keep them from accidentally coming into close proximity to you. Although, spiders don’t really want to come by humans in the first place.
These places also typically harbor a large population of insects, so spiders have plenty to eat. If you’re a big do-it-yourselfer you can spray vinegar in these areas to eliminate not only spiders but insects too.
If crawling into the tight, dark, creepy crawlspace on a weekly basis doesn’t appeal to you, try soaking old garments or a bunch of cotton balls in vinegar. Then spread them out underneath your house to keep the bugs and arachnids away.
Of course, if you have a case of arachnophobia along with claustrophobia, then doing a belly crawl underneath your house isn’t happening. Go ahead and call a pest professional to take care of the creepy crawlies underneath your house, and you’ll see fewer inside.
That’s a Wrap!
If you are looking for an all-natural way to repel spiders, just break out the white distilled vinegar and start spraying. It will repel spiders, insects, and even dissolve spider webs. You can use the diluted spray as a pesticide and a spider sac preventative.
Spraying the spider sacs will prevent the tiny ones inside from hatching. You can also spray vinegar around and under your house to keep them outside where they belong. Keep a bottle of vinegar and water close by and you’ll no longer have to fear these eight-legged arachnids.
If you’d like some more options, I highly recommend taking a look at our guide on the scents that spiders hate for more info!
Eisner, Thomas, Maria Eisner, and Melody Siegler. Secret weapons: defenses of insects, spiders, scorpions, and other many-legged creatures. Harvard University Press, 2005. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rjPZWwhS7GUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=vinegar+to+repel+spiders&ots=XUW97-ysal&sig=ub1vs3WEXNO5rhzf1P-MIYsherA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Entani, Etsuzo, et al. “Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157: H7.” Journal of food protection 61.8 (1998): 953-959. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article/61/8/953/167728/Antibacterial-Action-of-Vinegar-against-Food-Borne
French, Jackie. “Non-toxic pest control.” Soft Technology: Alternative Technology in Australia 51 (1995): 21-24. https://www.jstor.org/stable/softtechaltetech.51.21
Nentwig, Wolfgang, et al. “My Home is My Castle: Common Spiders in and Around the House.” All You Need to Know About Spiders. Springer, Cham, 2022. 167-185. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-90881-2_16
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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