How Dish Soap Can Kill Unwanted Moss in Your Lawn

Moss is a common problem in many lawns, especially in shady, damp areas. While moss may look attractive to some, it can crowd out grass and create problems in your lawn. If you have moss in your lawn and want to get rid of it, using dish soap is an effective DIY treatment option.

What Causes Moss to Grow in Lawns

There are a few key factors that cause moss to grow and spread in lawns:


Moss thrives in shady areas where grass struggles to grow. The lack of sunlight prevents the grass from becoming thick and healthy enough to keep moss at bay.

Excess Moisture

Moss prefers damp conditions. Poor drainage, excessive watering, frequent heavy rainfalls, and high humidity all encourage moss growth.

Compacted Soil

Compacted soil prevents water from draining properly. This creates a moist environment ideal for moss. Soil compaction also restricts grass roots from growing deeply and firmly.

Low pH Levels

Moss tends to grow in acidic soils with pH levels below 6. Grass does best with a neutral pH around 6.5-7.

Poor Aeration

Aeration allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate the soil. Without proper aeration, soil becomes compacted and an ideal environment for moss is created.

Thin Turf

Areas with sparse, patchy grass make it easier for moss to establish itself. Healthy, thick grass acts as a barrier to keep moss in check.

Why Use Dish Soap on Moss

Dish soap contains detergents and degreasing agents that are highly effective at breaking down waxy plant cuticles. This damage causes the moss to dehydrate and die. The key advantages of using dish soap include:

Inexpensive and Readily Available

Dish soap is an affordable, convenient treatment option since most households have it on hand. No need to purchase expensive moss killers.


Dish soap provides a safer alternative compared to harsh chemical moss killers, especially if you have children or pets that play on the lawn.

Simple and Quick

Mixing up a dish soap spray solution takes just a few minutes. Treatments are easy and fast to apply.


The degreasing agents in dish soap penetrate deep into the moss, damaging it down to the roots for complete control.

Can Cover Large Areas

Spray solutions allow you to cover large moss patches efficiently versus laborious hand removal methods.

How to Apply Dish Soap as a Moss Killer

Using dish soap to eradicate moss requires making a simple spray mixture and applying it directly to the affected areas of your lawn. Here are some step-by-step instructions:

Gather Your Materials

You’ll need dish soap, water, a spray bottle or garden sprayer, and optionally a stiff scrub brush. Use a standard liquid hand dish soap, not one formulated for dishwashers.

Mix the Dish Soap Solution

Combine 2-3 tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water. Shake or mix well until the solution is uniform. For larger areas, a higher concentrate of 4-5 tablespoons per gallon can be used.

Wet the Moss Thoroughly

Before applying the soap solution, wet down the moss using a garden hose or watering can. This allows the solution to penetrate more effectively.

Apply the Solution Liberally

Use a spray bottle for small areas or a tank sprayer for larger areas. Drench the moss, spraying from multiple angles to coat all surfaces.

Let it Soak In

Allow the solution to soak in and penetrate for 20-30 minutes before proceeding. This dwell time helps damage the moss down to the root level.

Scrub and Rinse (Optional)

For thicker moss, use a stiff scrub brush, push broom or power scrubber to work in the solution. Then rinse with a strong stream of water.

Repeat as Needed

To fully kill all moss, make 2-3 repeat applications spaced 5-7 days apart. Heavily infested areas may need more treatments over 2-3 weeks.

Allow Grass to Recover

Once moss begins dying off, rake out dead debris and reseed any bare patches. Support grass growth by aerating, fertilizing, and adjusting soil pH.

Tips for Effective Moss Control Using Dish Soap

Follow these tips to get the best moss-killing results from your dish soap treatment:

  • Always read and follow label directions on the dish soap. Avoid getting soap on desired plants.
  • Mix solution in a clean container not previously used for food, chemicals, etc.
  • Shake the solution vigorously before and during application to keep soap well mixed.
  • Apply on a dry, sunny day. Avoid windy conditions that may blow the spray off target.
  • Thoroughly wet moss before applying solution so it can properly penetrate.
  • Apply early or late in the day when sunlight is less intense to avoid harming grass.
  • Increase dish soap concentration for thicker moss or repeat treatments as needed.
  • Scrubbing with a brush boosts penetration. Take care not to damage desirable grass.
  • After treatment, rake out dead moss debris so grass can re-establish.
  • Overseed bare spots with a shade-tolerant grass mix once moss is removed.
  • Improve drainage and aerate compacted soil to discourage moss regrowth.

Why Dish Soap Kills Moss

The active cleaning agents in dish soap work to break down waxes, oils and fats. With moss, the soap dissolves protective waxy layers on the plant leaves, stems, and other surfaces. Without these waterproof coatings, the moss loses moisture and dehydrates. The soap solution also penetrates inward, damaging cell structures and eventually killing the plant.

Key ingredients in dish soap responsible for disrupting moss include:

Surfactants – These detergent chemicals penetrate surfaces and break down oils and waxes. They allow water to soak in and disrupt moss tissues.

Degreasers – Agents like sodium lauryl sulfate dissolve grease and grime and will degrade the protective wax on moss.

Amphoterics – These exhibit both detergent and antiseptic properties, able to damage and kill moss.

Solvents – Ingredients like ethyl alcohol help dissolve waxy cuticles and carry the active chemicals into moss.

Alkalis – Soaps may contain mild alkaline compounds that raise pH, creating an environment unfavorable to moss growth.

Alternative Homemade Moss Killer Recipes

While dish soap is an easily accessible moss treatment option, you can also mix up homemade solutions using common household ingredients:

Bleach – Mix 1 part bleach to 2 parts water and spray on moss. Bleach will chemically burn the plants.

Salt – Dissolve 1-2 cups salt per gallon of warm water and apply. The salt desiccates and dehydrates the moss.

Vinegar – Try full strength or dilute equal parts vinegar and water. The acidity kills moss and lowers soil pH.

Baking Soda – 1/2 cup per gallon of water raises pH, creating an environment unfavorable to moss.

Lemon Juice – The citric acid damages moss. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water.

Soap – Use a Castile or other plant-based liquid soap diluted with water. Avoid detergents.

Boiling Water – Carefully pour boiling water over moss to kill it. Avoid scalds or harming grass.

Frequency Asked Questions about Using Dish Soap on Lawn Moss

How long does it take for dish soap to kill moss?

You should start seeing effects in 24-48 hours. Most moss will turn brown/black as it dies off. Complete kill of all moss down to the roots takes 1-2 weeks.

How often should I apply dish soap for moss?

Treat every 5-7 days, allowing time to soak in between. Most lawns need 2-4 treatments for total moss eradication. Heavily infested lawns may need more.

What’s the best time of day to apply dish soap on moss?

Early morning or evening is ideal as sunlight intensity is lower, preventing damage to grass. Avoid winds that could blow spray off target.

Is it safe for pets when using dish soap on lawn moss?

Rinse off any visible soap residue if pets will use the area soon after treatment. Once dry, dish soap residues are non-toxic but can temporarily irritate paws.

Does dish soap kill moss permanently or will it come back?

Dish soap will damage and kill established moss but doesn’t affect underlying causes like shade, moisture and low pH that allow moss regrowth. Improve these conditions to prevent moss from returning each year.

How soon after using dish soap on moss can I reseed grass?

Wait 2-4 weeks after last soap application to reseed. This allows any soap residues to dissipate so grass seed can germinate and establish properly.

Does dish soap also kill clover, weeds, and other lawn invaders?

Yes, the degreasing agents will damage many broadleaf weeds. Use a selective herbicide for best results on weeds. Dish soap alone often does not kill grassy weeds.

What about environmentally friendly dish soaps? Are they effective?

Yes, plant-based and eco-friendly dish soaps use similar detergents that will kill moss. Just avoid brands with added lotions, scents, or oils.

Can I add anything to the dish soap solution to make it more effective?

Some add a tablespoon of laundry detergent or oxygen bleach (Oxi Clean) per gallon of solution. This further helps break down waxy coatings on the moss.

Key Takeaways on Dish Soap Moss Treatments

  • Dish soap provides an effective, non-toxic way to kill moss in lawns using ingredients commonly found in homes.
  • The degreasing agents in dish soap dissolve protective wax layers on moss, leading to dehydration and death.
  • Mix 2-5 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water and thoroughly wet/drench all moss growth.
  • Allow 20-30 minutes after application for the solution to penetrate before rinsing.
  • For thicker moss, scrubbing with a brush can enhance effectiveness.
  • Repeat treatments every 5-7 days for 2-4 weeks to completely kill established moss.
  • Improve lawn growing conditions to prevent moss from returning each season.

Using dish soap is an affordable, easy DIY method to rid your lawn of troublesome moss. With proper application and some follow up maintenance, you can reclaim your grass and keep your lawn lush, green and moss-free.