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The Famous Dish Soap Lawn Tonic: The Science Behind It

Updated on June 12, 2013

The Healthy Lawn

The Famous Lawn Tonic

It is that time of the year. “April showers bring May flowers.” This is also true for your lawn. It is the beginning of summer and we have warmer temperatures. Our bright green, healthy looking lawns of the Spring are now starting to look a little brown. Here is the lawn tonic recipe that everyone asks for every year. You can find it posted all over the internet, but do you really know what each ingredient does? Below is the recipe and the “science” that goes along with it. I have used this tonic and can say it does work.


  • Mix all ingredients and pour into a hose end sprayer. I purchased a 10 gallon garden hose end sprayer from eBay.
  • Spray on lawn after mowing

You only need to apply a light coating. Creating tiny puddles is too much. Some sites say spray every three weeks, some say every four. To make the scheduling easy for me, I spray the lawn every first weekend of the month.

Dish Soap Lawn Tonic

  • 1 Can Beer
  • 1 Can Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Ammonia
  • 1/2 Cup Mouthwash
  • 1/2 Cup Dish Soap


2.9 stars from 284 ratings of Dish Soap Lawn Tonic

The Science Behind Each Ingredient

There are also a few tips within each ingredient of what kind of product to use. These suggestions are very important in making sure the tonic will work.

Only use this mix when it is warm outside.

  • Beer (do not use light beer )

Beer is considered a source of carbohydrates for the microbes in the soil. Microbes make it necessary to convert food matter in the soil to food that your lawn can utilize.

  • Soda (do not use diet)

You don’t have to buy the brand name. The local store brand works just fine. Soda contains sugars that are also carbohydrates for the microbes. Diet cola contains artificial sweeteners that would not provide the same benefit, and could be bad for lawns.

  • Ammonia

Plain full-strength ammonia. Ammonia is a source of nitrogen. This is where the warm temperature plays a role making it absorb quicker into the lawn. Too much ammonia can kill your lawn, so make sure to only use the amount directed.

  • Mouthwash

The dollar store brand works just fine. Mouthwash has been found to act as an insecticide and/or fungicide, to help eliminate bugs.

  • Dish Soap (do not use anti-bacterial)

Dish soap helps water penetrate more easily into the ground. Dish soap also coats the grass surface allowing for better absorption.

A few words of caution:

This is a “home” version of those expensive fertilizers a lot of us put on our lawns every year. This tonic is not organic nor is it chemical free. This recipe is cheaper and can act as a substitute to buying those expensive fertilizers from your local store. You may think you want to add more or less of one ingredient, but remember someone else most likely has and it did not work. Most of us have these ingredients in our home, so why not save a little money in your pocket this summer.


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