I don’t know of any animal that’s more divisive than the common squirrel. Or at least, more divisive among me, my neighbors, and my friends. Some love them, others despise them.
Squirrels are adorably cute, no doubt about it, but they are rodents and like all rodents, they’re crafty, invasive and pesky.
They steal bird seed, they will nibble on every plant, fruit and veggie on your property and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
Don’t believe me? Just wait till they get in your attic! Anyway, I was told a long time ago that all you need to do to keep squirrels out of your garden and away from your home is to use Irish Spring soap.
Could this possibly be true? Does Irish Spring repel squirrels?
Yes, Irish Spring soap will repel squirrels, surprisingly enough. Squirrels, and many other mammals with sensitive noses, seem utterly repulsed by the fragrance of Irish Spring. You can use chunks or shavings of the soap as a simple, safe deterrent.
I’ve got to level with you: I heard about this trick a long, long time ago and always assumed it was nonsense.
But my recent research and tons of anecdotal evidence suggest that it’s absolutely true, so we can chalk this up to one tall tale that isn’t a tall tale at all.
If squirrels are giving you hell in your garden or around your bird feeder, you’ll soon have a safe and non-harmful way to evict them.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about how to use Irish Spring as squirrel repellent…
Is There a Precedent for Irish Spring as a Squirrel Repellent?
Yes, there really is, and in fact, it is squirrels (and deer) that are most commonly associated with this once-legend.
Turns out that our grandparents and great-grandparents really did know a thing or two, and they certainly knew how to deal with animals that would eat their crops and ruin their gardens.
That’s where I first heard of using Irish Spring to protect gardens from squirrels, and other locations besides.
I honestly can’t tell you when the idea was first published, and it’s entirely possible that it was handed down by word of mouth over the years before making its way onto the internet.
But whatever the case, I’m overjoyed that I can report that this is in fact 100% true: Irish Spring is all you’ll need to keep squirrels at bay, at least some of the time.
Does Irish Spring Contain Any Actual Repellent Ingredients?
No, it does not. Actually, I should clarify that it does not contain any purpose-designed repellent ingredients.
Like most urban legends and old wives’ tales the semi-mythical story of Irish Spring’s repellent properties tends to grow with every telling.
Particularly, you’ll hear plenty of people report that Irish Spring actually contains an ingredient that is a legitimate pesticide, and that’s what gave rise to the notion that it works to prevent mosquito bites.
Spoiler warning, it doesn’t, but we’ve got other articles for that.
But that doesn’t mean Irish Spring isn’t a repellent: it is, especially for mammals, but it is the fragrance that drives them away.
Whether you like it or hate it, you probably report that Irish Spring isn’t truly offensive in nature but that’s only the way it smells to us. Most mammals hate the stuff and will avoid it if they can.
Squirrels, being rodents, have especially sensitive noses so this stuff has got to do a number on them. Whatever the science is behind it, all we need to know is that it works.
Squirrels Might Get Used to Irish Spring
Something to keep in mind when it comes to using deterrent substances or fragrances for keeping any kind of creature at bay is that they might potentially acclimatize to them.
Squirrels are notorious for being highly adaptable, intelligent and persistent, and that means that as much as they hate the smell of Irish Spring they could get used to it and learn to ignore it.
That doesn’t seem to be the case from what I can gather, and so long as you stay on top of keeping the Irish Spring fresh and fragrant your squirrel problems will be eliminated or at least dramatically reduced.
But just in case it’s at 100% effective, have a backup plan for keeping squirrels out of your most protected and sensitive areas.
Will Irish Spring Hurt Squirrels that Touch It?
No, or at least it won’t hurt them from incidental contact. Irish Spring is soap, and soap won’t hurt most mammals as long as they don’t ingest significant quantities of it or get bathed in it repeatedly.
So if you’re an animal lover or have one in your family, this method is a whole lot friendlier and safer than using any trap or lethal force.
Will Squirrels Try to Eat Irish Spring?
No, they shouldn’t. Squirrels tend to be very good about finding and eating things that are good for them, and tasty, and avoiding things that aren’t.
That being said, squirrels also chew insulation and other inanimate materials to sharpen their teeth, to break into enclosed areas, or to gather nesting material, so it isn’t out of the question.
However, once they get a bite, the taste will probably put them off immediately!
Will Irish Spring Body Wash Keep Squirrels Away?
I’m not sure, but I suspect that it will not. For starters, Irish Spring body wash is basically a synthetic detergent and not soap.
Also, the fragrance just isn’t the same, and it’s nowhere near as intense as the bar soap is.
I don’t like it, but more importantly I don’t trust it as a repellent. Plus when the stuff dries out it loses most of its aroma.
Don’t waste your time, stick with the bar soap. It is cheaper anyway.
Could Irish Spring Attract Squirrels?!
Unlikely. Although you can never be sure what will or will not attract an animal, the evidence seems to be overwhelming that squirrels truly despise the smell of Irish Spring.
In any case, unlike domestic animals such as dogs or cats, the likelihood of a squirrel learning to associate Irish Spring with good outcomes is very low, and so the likelihood that they will act against their instinctive revulsion is likewise very low.
How to Use Irish Spring to Keep Squirrels Away
My favorite part about using Irish Spring as a squirrel repellent is just how easy it is to set up and use.
If you’re in a hurry, or just need to protect a few strategic spots around your home or property, cut up a clean, dry unused bar of the soap into a few cubes or chunks and then place them where needed. When squirrels get too close, they’ll probably turn back.
Another thing you can do is to grab a cheese grater and grate the soap into fine shavings or slivers. You can then scatter it around your garden, form a perimeter with it and so forth.
A somewhat better method, and my personal favorite, is to grade it as before and then place the shavings into a sachet or sock that can be placed or hung to increase the spread of the aroma and also help protect the shavings from the environment.
That will make them last longer, and either way, know that you’ll have to replace the soap periodically as the fragrance deteriorates. Once your soap loses its smell it isn’t going to heat squirrels away anymore!
You Might Use Irish Spring as a Spray, Too
An alternative option for using Irish Spring for perimeter control is to take the shavings and then melt them in some warm water.
Add the water slowly, stir until it is the consistency of milk and then add the resulting solution to a spray bottle.
From here, you can spray hard-to-reach surfaces to imbue them with the fragrance, or even squirt things that you know squirrels have been chewing on.
When they disturb the dried solution, they’ll get a burst of fragrance and hopefully run off.
If they take a nibble of something you’ve treated, they’re going to get a big, soapy mouthful and that will be the end of that.
The only downside to this method is that you’ll have to be more diligent about reapplying, but it’s so quick and easy to do it is hardly a chore.
This is a great technique to try to protect bird feeder poles and other things that squirrels routinely mess with.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.