When it comes to houseplants, we are limited as to what insecticides we spray. Of course, you can always pick insects off your plants by hand. But some folks just don't like touching the critters. Unless you like breathing potentially toxic and smelly fumes from chemical pesticides all night, you'll need to resort to other safe insect control methods on plants inside your home.

Here's some recipes for safe insecticides you can safely use inside your home:


Soft-bodied Insects (mites, aphids, mealybugs):  Mix one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from above down, and from below up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil smothers the insects.


Mites & Other Insects:  Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Let stand overnight, then stir and pour into a spray bottle and apply as above. Shake container frequently during application.


Insects and Fungal Diseases:  Combine one tablespoon of cooking oil, two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and apply as above.


Potato Starch Spray:  Mix two to four tablespoons of potato flour in one quart of water. Add two to three drops of non-detergent liquid soap. This will also protect the plants from insect that feed on liquid, also called sucking insects, in the plants.


Rodale's All-purpose Spray:  Chop and grind one garlic bulb and one small onion. Add one teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with one quart of water. Let steep for one hour and strain through cheesecloth. Next add one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap to the strained liquid. Mix well and spray plants thoroughly. This kills the sucking insects.


Garlic Spray:  Blend 1/4-pound of strong garlic for five to 10 minutes with a quart of water and one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and collect the liquid. Next dilute the solution with one part per 10 parts water before spraying. This solution will last about one month if refrigerated. It will repel ants, mole crickets and sucking insects.


Hot Dust:  Not sure if you really want to spray this one inside the home? Grind dried homegrown red or chili peppers or dill weed (including seeds) to dust. Sprinkle along seeded rows of vegetables to repel ants. Store-bought black pepper, chili pepper, dill, ginger, paprika and red pepper all contain capsaicin, which repels ants.Note: when using red peppers or chili peppers take care not to get the dust in your eyes or on your hands!


Homemade Insecticidal Soap:  The recipe for homemade insecticidal soap requires only three ingredients: Dawn dish soap, vegetable oil and soft water. Mix 2.5 tablespoons of the Dawn dish soap and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil with 1 gallon of warm soft water. The Dawn dish soap used in the recipe must not contain bleach, which could harm the plants. To apply, use a hand trigger spray bottle or small pump sprayer to spray undersides and tops of leaves, stems, buds and blooms thoroughly with the solution. Repeat the treatment at 7- to 14-day intervals until you have controlled the soft-bodied, sap-sucking pests. Never apply insecticidal soap to plants with hairy or waxy leaves, or when temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.