Vinegar: Why It Works To Repel Squirrels And How To Use It

Close up shot of a squirrel eating a pumpkin

Squirrels have an extremely strong sense of smell, which they use to find food sources and nesting spots. You can use vinegar to repel squirrels, as its pungent aroma irritates their senses and masks potential food sources. You can apply vinegar to areas around your home to repel squirrels.

Squirrels have an extremely strong sense of smell which is what allows them to thrive during the fall and winter. Due to it’s pungent aroma, squirrels are sensitive to vinegar and stay away. You can spray a diluted solution of white vinegar near areas where squirrels frequent to repel them.

Below, we’ll discuss how to use vinegar to deter squirrels as well as list other ways to deter squirrels and hopefully keep them away for good! 

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Why Do Squirrels Like My Yard?

A study on the food storing strategies of squirrels showed that they relied on their memory somewhat for finding food, but that the squirrel’s sense of smell was the main tool to recover buried food. Their sense of smell is what makes them so successful in digging up your yard!

You may have seen squirrels eating the birdseed out of your bird feeder (who can blame them! They are like the free Costco samples of the natural world!). Or what about the tiny nibble marks on your pumpkins? 

Unlike deer, squirrels are active at all times of the day, so it can be easier to see if squirrels are the culprit for eating your garden. Squirrels don’t tend to do as much damage to plants and gardens as deer and insects. Although, they can sure tear up your yard that you have worked so hard to maintain. 

Is Vinegar An Effective Squirrel Repellent?

red squirrel sniffing tree branch

Squirrels do not like the pungent smell of vinegar. Using their strong sense of smell to your advantage is a great way to discourage them.

Although there aren’t specific scientific studies determining the effectiveness of vinegar deterring squirrels, we can, however, give you tips that have worked for others. Vinegar is also a comparatively cheap way to repel squirrels, so this method won’t break the bank!

Another great and inexpensive alternative is using garlic.

What Type of Vinegar Is Best For Repelling Squirrels?

Although white vinegar can work well, many people have had success with apple cider vinegar. The stronger, pungent smell of apple cider vinegar can be more effective at deterring pests than white vinegar. Using apple cider vinegar can both deter squirrels and be used as a repellent for your lawn and garden.

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar is a relatively inexpensive option for deterring squirrels.

Their apple cider vinegar is made from certified organic apples and purified water, and that’s it! There are no harsh or scary chemicals, making it safe for use around family and pets. Hopefully, your dog is not like mine, thinking that this is a new favorite smell to lick up!

How Do I Use Vinegar To Repel Squirrels?

If squirrels are having a party tearing up your yard, under your deck, or in your shed, we’ve got a few possible methods for using vinegar to repel them. 

One method involves soaking rags in undiluted apple cider vinegar and putting them around the outside of your home, on your porch, near your garden, or in your shed. 

If you are going to spray the vinegar solution directly on plants, you will want to use a diluted apple cider vinegar solution, mixing 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar with 1 gallon of water. 

If you need more of this solution, make a 1:1 vinegar to water ratio. If you are going to do 5 gallons of spray, mix 5 ounces of apple cider vinegar with 5 gallons of water. If you choose to do the apple cider vinegar solution, spray a test patch on a plant out of sight. 

Spraying apple cider vinegar on pots or hard surfaces such as decks should not damage them. However, always do a test patch out of sight just to ensure there are no issues with it. 

Damage to the plants can happen since some plants are more sensitive than other plants, which is why you want to be careful spraying it on plants that you know to be more susceptible to harm. 

Does Vinegar Repel Other Animals?

Vinegar isn’t just effective in repelling squirrels, it works on other animals too!

Here is a list of other animals that are repelled by vinegar:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Racoons

If your beloved garden is under siege from any of these pests, vinegar is a great option for you to keep them away! Because it may already be in your pantry, it’s worth a try.

Squirrel Resistant Plants

naughty squirrel eating bird food from feeder

What better way to deter animals than to plant plants they don’t like. You can plant specific foliage that will keep the squirrels from digging relentlessly all over your yard searching for the food they buried!

One study done at Michigan State University used only plant extracts to repel animals from crops. Of what they tested, daffodils, hot peppers, catnip, and peppermint were the most successful at deterring animals from crops


Squirrels love crocus and tulip bulbs, so one way to avoid this is to plant daffodil bulbs like these Dutch Master Daffodil Bulbs.

Daffodils are easy to plant and can liven up any space with a pop of color from early spring to early summer! And if you leave the bulbs in the ground when they’ve finished blooming, they will multiply year after year.


Another bulb that can be planted to deter squirrels is Hyacinths. These beautiful blue, purple and pink flowers have a wonderful scent and last early spring to very early summer.


These flowers are cute purple and pink puffballs. Who doesn’t want those in their yard? Alliums are a flower that belongs to the onion family, along with chives, garlic, and scallions. 

Maybe you’ve planted chives in your garden that get those wonderful purple flowers, well these are exactly like that! Because alliums are part of the onion family, they are not safe for dogs, so if your dog eats things he shouldn’t, these might not be the best option.


Not only do geraniums deter insect pests, but most animals also don’t touch them, including rabbits and squirrels. Geraniums give your yard a burst of color and last from early summer to late fall. 

Garlic or Spicy Pepper

Capsaicin (found in chili peppers) is the main compound found in hot pepper plants, so you can utilize this as a natural and effective way to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders or gardens.

A study done by the University of Nebraska, looked at the effects of capsaicin on squirrels, specifically at bird feeders. Capsaicin-coated birdseed replaced birdseed in bird feeders over a few weeks. Squirrels spent significantly less time foraging and took considerably less feed at bird feeders with capsaicin-coated birdseed, while birds remained unaffected. This suggests that chili pepper is a good choice for deterring squirrels! 

Another trick is adding garlic powder or a spicy pepper to the vinegar solution, like chili pepper or cayenne powder. The spiciness of the peppers is a good deterrent for not only squirrels but also for dogs, rabbits, and deer. These are common ingredients you can find in deer and rabbit repellants. 

Read our post – Hot Pepper: Why It Repels Squirrels And How to Use It.


Peppermint may be hard to find at your local garden store because of its hybrid nature, but mint can be found in almost every garden store. 

Mint tends to take over once it’s planted, but you can plant it in containers so that it doesn’t spread or around the edges of your yard, maybe where there’s brush or an area not landscaped. Planting it around the border of your yard could help discourage squirrels and other animals. 

Like the hot pepper plants, you don’t usually see insects or animals devouring mint plants, as you might with kale, hostas, or echinacea. 

Alternative Solutions For Discouraging Squirrels 

squirrel finding nuts in tree

Use Peppermint Essential Oil

In the same way that the actual mint plant can be used, peppermint oil is another approach to try. You can create a peppermint oil spray, and mix it with water, and even vinegar to add to its fragrance. 

Another highly sought-after method to try is Mighty Mint Rodent-Repellent, which uses only peppermint oil to keep rodents out of your yard. 

Other folks have had success with soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and placing them around their deck, home, or garden. Not only can this help keep away squirrels, but it can be also used as an effective insect control inside your house.

You can also learn more about repelling squirrels with peppermint here!

Other Practical Ways To Repel Squirrels 

Although the mentioned methods in this article can help deter squirrels, here are some other methods you can try to keep them away. 

Do Not Feed Squirrels

Have you ever been to a park, the city, or a National Park, and the squirrels are incredibly tame? Feeding most wild animals tend to do more harm than good and feeding them just encourages them to stick around. So keep those bread crumbs in your pocket!

Get Rid of Bird Feeders

If you get rid of the easy food source, squirrels are less likely to stay in your yard. If you enjoy feeding birds, you can try putting hot pepper in the bird feeder. Use it at your discretion! Birds are not bothered by capsaicin- the main compound found in spicy pepper plants- but squirrels are. 

Use Metal Garbage Cans

If you have birdseed, flower seeds, vegetable seeds, or any other type of feed outside, metal garbage cans are the way to go. The KCHEX Galvanized Metal Trash Can could be a great option for you! As long as the lid is secured tight, squirrels, raccoons, and cats won’t be able to get in. Be wary though! If the garbage lids aren’t closed tight, they can still get in and devour your feed.

Fence In Your Garden

After all of your hard work in your garden, the last thing you want to see are bite marks out of your tomatoes or tops of plants bitten off. The BOEN Garden Fence, Plastic Mesh Fencing could be a great option for you to fence it off! By fencing off certain areas, such as your garden, you can help prevent squirrels and other animals from making themselves at home. 

Cover Your Bulbs In Chicken Wire

You can also use chicken wire, like the BSTOOL Chicken Wire Net, to cover the bulbs when you go to plant. Chicken wire will deter squirrels from digging!

That’s A Wrap!

While we can’t guarantee that vinegar or any of these methods will work for your specific situation, it is an easy and safe method to try! It is also good to try a variety of different methods to see which one works best for you. For best results in preventing critters from taking over your yard, you can combine several of the above-mentioned methods!

If squirrels continue to be an issue, or you find them scurrying around in your attic or home, we recommend contacting a professional for further information and guidance.

If you have squirrels eating your grass seed, be sure to check out our guide on how to stop squirrels from eating your grass seed here!


Barthelmess, Erika L. “The Effects of Tannin and Protein on Food Preference in Eastern Grey Squirrels.” Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.

Curtis, Paul D, et al. “Capsaicin-Treated Seed as a Squirrel Deterrent at Bird Feeders.” Wildlife Damage Management Conferences-Proceedings, 2000.

Richards, TJ. “Concealment and Recovery of Food By Birds, With Some Relevant Observations on Squirrels.” British Birds, 1958.

Ries, Stanley, et al. “Repelling Animals from Crops Using Plant Extract.” Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University.

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