Using Dawn Dish Soap as a Surfactant in Herbicide Applications


Understanding the role of surfactants in herbicide effectiveness is crucial for gardeners and farmers. This article delves into the viability of using Dawn dish soap as an alternative surfactant in herbicide mixtures.

What is a Surfactant?

Surfactants, or surface-active agents, enhance the spreading and sticking of herbicides on plants. They reduce the surface tension of liquids, allowing herbicides to cover a broader area more evenly. For more detailed information on surfactants, visit this link.

Dawn Dish Soap as a Surfactant

Dawn dish soap, widely known for its grease-cutting properties, can function as a surfactant. It's an inexpensive, readily available alternative to commercial surfactants.


  • Cost-Effectiveness: Dawn dish soap is significantly cheaper than specialized herbicide surfactants.
  • Availability: It is easily obtainable in most grocery stores.
  • Versatility: Besides its use in herbicides, it serves various household cleaning needs.


  • Consistency in Formulation: The formulation of Dawn can vary, potentially affecting its effectiveness as a surfactant.
  • Potential Plant Harm: Some plants may be sensitive to the ingredients in Dawn, leading to damage.

Dosage and Application

A common recommendation is to use approximately 2-3 teaspoons of Dawn per gallon of herbicide. However, this can vary based on the specific herbicide and plant type.

Impact on Herbicide Efficiency

The use of Dawn as a surfactant can enhance the distribution of herbicide on plant surfaces, potentially increasing its effectiveness. However, its impact can vary based on the type of herbicide and the targeted plants.


While Dawn dish soap can serve as a surfactant in herbicides, it's important to consider its potential variability and plant sensitivity issues. For those seeking a cost-effective and accessible option, Dawn can be a viable choice, but it's advisable to conduct a small-scale test before widespread application.

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