Spray garlic on a slug, and it will shrivel up and die.

Garlic Spray for Slugs

by April Sanders

Your kids may think they are cute -- after all, what are slugs but snails without shells -- but moms know that slugs are nothing but slimy garden pests. Get rid of the ghastly gastropod mollusks by spraying them with garlic spray. Easy to make and inexpensive, garlic spray is a safe, effective, non-toxic alternative to chemical-based pesticides.


Slugs are highly destructive in the garden. They thrive in cool, moist conditions -- the same conditions necessary for many plants to survive -- and are difficult to eradicate. These perpetually hungry pests can decimate several plants in just one night; and to make matters worse, they leave a slimy trail behind. In addition, the wounds they leave in plants allow bacteria and fungi to enter, further damaging or even killing the plants. For these reasons, and also because they are just kind of gross, many home gardeners are always looking for ways to eradicate slugs.


Garlic (Allium sativumis) is a pungent plant prized for its uses in cooking. Thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, it has also been used for centuries as an insect repellent, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Although slugs are not technically insects, they seem to hate garlic as much as insects do. A study performed by researchers at Newcastle University found that a liquid solution containing garlic extract not only prevented slugs from severely damaging plants, but also killed a large percentage of the gastropods.

Garlic Spray

Make your own garlic spray by chopping up three or four garlic bulbs -- not individual cloves, but the entire bulb. Set the garlic aside, and add 3 tablespoons of mineral oil to 2 cups of water in a bowl. Add 1/8 of a cup of soap flakes, and stir until they dissolve. Add the garlic, and let the mixture steep for a minimum of 24 hours. Then, strain the liquid until you have a concentrated spray. Spray it on and around your garden plants after the morning sun has dried the dew. Since slugs usually feed at night, spraying it as the sun goes down might be most effective.

End Result

According to the Newcastle study, scientists aren't sure exactly why garlic spray kills slugs. They theorize that the garlic adversely affects the nervous system. One thing the scientists do know is that when slugs come into contact with garlic spray, they secrete a lot of mucus, which eventually causes them to dry up and die. The same thing happens when you sprinkle a slug with salt, but because salt will often damage plants and taint soil, this method is never recommend for use in a garden.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images