DIY Pest Control

How to Get Rid of Wasps With Vinegar

Skip the harsh pesticides and use this common household item to drive wasps from your property.
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Many wasps all over edge of a table.
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Plenty of bug sprays out there are designed to get rid of wasps, but you’ll be using some pretty powerful chemicals to do so. Unless you’re dealing with an established wasp nest, you can skip those harsh pesticides and instead use something you probably already have in your kitchen pantry—vinegar. 

The strong acidity of vinegar makes it an effective natural wasp repellent that’s a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to spray pesticides. Not only is vinegar a natural active ingredient, but it’s also more selective than other homemade pest killers as the sour scent of vinegar attracts wasps, but not bees. Here’s how to get rid of wasps with vinegar. 

Tools & Materials

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Project Overview

Working Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Skill Level
: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $10 to $15

A group of yellow jacket wasps flying and climbing around a home's gutter downspout.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Before You Begin

A vinegar-based homemade wasp repellent works best for deterring wasps looking for places to nest. Keeping that in mind, it’s best to start your wasp prevention efforts in the spring when the queens are looking for a place to build a new nest. However, if they’ve already established a full-fledged nest, vinegar isn’t going to solve the problem. To remove a wasp nest, you’ll need to employ stronger measures or even call in a professional to handle the problem. 

STEP 1: Protect yourself.

Any time you face off against wasps, you run the risk of getting stung. Shield yourself from wasps’ painful stingers by donning a pair of heavy pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Vinegar may be safer than some of the chemical-based wasp killers out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its health hazards. Since vinegar is highly acidic, it can cause burns resulting in permanent damage should it come into contact with your eyes. With that in mind, wear eye protection when applying any vinegar-based homemade wasp spray. 

STEP 2: Make a wasp trap.

A collage of photos of a person making a wasp trap.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Constructing a simple vinegar trap is an effective solution for killing wasps naturally and a cheaper alternative to store-bought wasp traps. Use a narrow-neck two-liter plastic soda bottle for your trap. Using a utility knife, cut off the top of the soda bottle just below where it begins to taper. Invert the top half of the soda bottle and place it inside the lower half, then seal the two together using tape. 

STEP 3: Use apple cider vinegar to make a natural wasp killer.

Create a lethal solution that will attract and eliminate wasps that are drawn to the trap. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with water in a bowl. Add a few drops of dish soap and a little sugar. The sweetness of the apple cider and sugar will attract wasps, while the viscous dish soap will trap them once they come into contact with the liquid while also dissolving their exoskeletons, killing them. 

STEP 4: Load the trap.

Using the inverted lid on the trap as a funnel, fill the lower half of the trap with your natural wasp killer. Make sure to leave a 1-inch gap between the opening and the liquid to allow for the wasps to enter the trap. 

STEP 5: Place the trap and check it periodically.

Wasps trapped in a plastic bottle wasp trap.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Since wasp traps are designed to attract wasps, place them in locations that are 30 feet or more from outdoor living areas to avoid drawing the flying insects to people. You can set the traps on a level surface or hang them from a tree by cutting two small holes at the top of the trap and threading string or wire through them. Check the trap every few days to refill it with fresh liquids and remove any victims.

How to Repel Wasps With Vinegar

A person spraying a wooden deck with a clear substance using a white spray bottle.
Photo: istockphoto.com

For a natural wasp deterrent that will keep yellow jackets from becoming a problem around your home in the first place, associate certified entomologist David Price says another simple vinegar-based solution is an effective wasp repellent. 

“Wasps do not like the smell of vinegar, so spraying a mix of equal parts water and either white or apple cider vinegar around your home’s property and outdoor living area can keep wasps at bay,” says Price, who is director of technical services at Mosquito Joe, an outdoor pest control services with offices around the county. 

Time your treatments for the evening or early in the morning when wasps are least active and there’s less of a threat of being stung. 

Spray the natural wasp deterrent around areas that are popular nesting sites for wasps, including outdoor furniture, grills, eaves, and under covered porches. It’s also a good idea to treat entrances to your homes, including doors and windows, to prevent wasps from getting inside. While the spray won’t kill wasps, the acetic smell of the white vinegar will repel them. 

While this type of spray works well as a natural yellow jacket repellent, Price clarifies that it should not be used as kill-on-contact spray. “It’s important to know that vinegar does not kill wasps, so you should never spray this mixture directly onto a wasp’s nest or an area with wasps, as that will only anger the insects and may cause them to attack,” he says.  

And since wasps release a pheromone that serves as a distress call that draws other wasps in the area to you, spraying one could cause them to swarm. 

Final Thoughts

A homemade vinegar-based pest spray or trap is a great way to prevent wasps from nesting around your home. But remember, if you’re dealing with an established nest, a vinegar spray or trap isn’t going to solve the problem. “The idea of the vinegar solution is to just prevent wasps     from lingering in the yard and building a nest,” Price says.  

You’ll need to use a chemical-based wasp killer designed specifically for wasp nests if you’re trying to take out a nest or hire a professional pest removal service. “It’s time to call in professionals when dealing with a wasp nest situation that is beyond your expertise or when the issue poses too great of a risk to the safety of yourself or your property,” he says.