How to Make White Oil 28

White oil is among the safest and most effective organic ways of controlling many sap sucking and leaf chewing pests in the garden. Gardeners have been using white oils for centuries, so they’ve been thoroughly tested. The best thing about white oil is that you can make it yourself!

White Oil Ingredients:

  • Two cups of vegetable oil
  • Half a cup of washing up liquid (dishwashing detergent)
White oil is great for organically controlling pests, like these aphids


Put the oil and washing up liquid into a jar or bottle. Put the lid on and give it a good shake and you’ve got concentrated white oil.

Label the concentrated mixture and store it in a cool, dry place. It’s a good idea to also label it with the dilution rate – two dessert spoons per litre of water.

Over time the two liquids may begin to separate again, just give them a good shake prior to use.


Dilute the concentrated white oil by adding two dessert spoons (about 20mL) to one litre of water. Mix well and add to a sprayer.

On hot days, it’s best to spray your plants in the cool of the morning. Cover both sides of the leaves and all of the bark. Don’t use the white oil on hairy or soft leaved plants like lettuce, because it will burn the leaves.

White oil will control scale, aphids, whitefly, mealy bug,  and caterpillars. The white oil blocks the pests breathing pores and suffocates them. Because it works in this way, there is no chance of resistance to it.

White oil is a fantastic organic method for controlling pests like scale and aphids


White oil is indiscriminate in what it will kill. This means that spraying white oil on your plants may kill beneficial insects that are already working hard to control the pest outbreak for you. Make sure that you identify the garden pest correctly before spraying with white oil and try to limit the extent of the spray to reduce the impact on innocent bystanders.

An Alternative to Using White Oil

Good garden design with a focus on creating a healthy, diverse garden ecosystem can reduce the severity and impact of pests on your garden. Planting more flowering plants will attract beneficial insects to your garden to control pests for you. See our blog post on Pest and Predator Dynamics for more information on why you should hold off spraying those bugs!

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28 thoughts on “How to Make White Oil

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Salad dressing! Seriously though, we don’t usually spray even white oil. We don’t normally have any issues with pests on our lettuces at all. What is the issue you are experiencing?

      • G

        😉 If it was just salad dressing…
        Unfortunately there are small holes in some of the leaves of my rocket and corn salad, as well as some light wriggly lines on others (where an invertebrate must have fed I assume). I have raised my lettuce from seed in a largish ~68 cm long) planter on new premium potting mix, in the same location as last year. There are tiny light-coloured flying insects, and even smaller hopping ones about.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Priyaka,

      White oil can cause issues to foliage if it is applied on hot days or when the sun is very intense.

      Happy Gardening!

        • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

          Hi Doris,

          I’ve noticed that scale and other pest issues on citrus are usually a sign that the tree is under fed. Spraying the trees with white oil only treats the symptoms. Instead focus on growing a healthy tree. It might be time for some fertilizer!

          Good Luck & Happy Gardening!


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Bernie,

      The white oil will probably leave a residue on the fruit. So you will need to wash thoroughly to remove it before consumption. The pest that you are spraying for will help determine how often you spray. What are you trying to kill?

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Ben,

      I would spray only as required. Remember the white oil will also be killing any beneficial insect that may already be bringing the scale under control. Scale and other pest outbreaks are usually caused by some underlying problem. Using white oil only treats the symptoms.

      You may find our article on pest predator interactions useful

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!


  • Sonia

    Hi, I have a potted small Mandarin Tree that has lost all of its leaves & has what looks like Citrus Scale (Blackish bumps all over the stems). If using your White oil method, how often should I be applying solution? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Sonia,

      Just use it once and give it a few weeks to see if the issue resolves, then spray again if necessary. I find scale is normally prevalent on trees that are not getting enough nutrients. So perhaps increase the amount of fertilizer you are giving it.

      Happy Gardening


  • D Lee

    Thanks for the recipe for white oil. One question, can this be sprayed on Monstera, as I see tiny flying insects around the plant. Also can this be sprayed onto the roots

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi, yes you should be able to spray it onto most plants, including Monstera and their roots. Just avoid particularly hot days.

  • Karen

    Is the ‘washing up liquid’ that is referred to, dishwashing soap? Also, I have brown scale all over the branches of my indoor lemon plants. They have yet to ever produce fruit and are only about four years old. I’m concerned with this brown scale on how to get rid of it. I don’t see any insects…

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Karen,

      Yes washing up liquid is dishwashing detergent or dishwashing soap. I wonder if your lemon trees are getting enough light to produce fruit? I would expect them to be fruiting by now.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!


  • Eliana Abate

    To begin with, is the white oil only for use in home gardens and residential tress? 2. Is the residue from the white oil washable. 3. Is the residue that lands on the fruit minimal?

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Eliana,
      1. As opposed to being used commercially? Then I don’t see why not, but that would very much depend on the situation. Like any ‘pesticide’ it should be used as minimally as possible and with great discretion. Always identify the ‘pest’ species and do your best to limit collateral damage to the rest of the ecosystem.
      2. Yes, you can wash it out of clothes etc. You may need to wash thoroughly (inc scrubbing) to remove it from fruit and other produce.
      3. It all depends on your application method. If you use a sprayer with a wide applicator then more will land on your fruit. As per point one… use as little as possible!

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening