Survival Gardening

Does Irish Spring Soap Repel Chipmunks? * The Homesteading Hippy

I don’t think there’s any argument that chipmunks are one of the single cutest animals out there. Those tiny bodies, chubby cheeks, and of course those charming stripes! Argh, they are so adorable it almost makes me forget how annoying they are!


They’ve got plenty of fans, but what those fans won’t tell you is that chipmunks are still rodents, and as rodents they can cause problems in your garden and around your home.

They are notorious destroyers of young plants and they especially love seeds and other tender, tasty things that you grow. They might be cute, but you need to keep them out of your garden and away from your home.

It’s been said that Irish Spring soap is a good chipmunk repellent. Is it true that Irish Spring can repel chipmunks?

Yes, surprisingly, Irish Spring is a good chipmunk and rodent repellent. Although it does not have any special repellent ingredients, chipmunks tend to find the fragrance of Irish Spring very disagreeable.

You know, you hear a lot of stuff on the internet that no matter how good it sounds, tends to not be true. I’m telling you right now, this use for Irish Spring is completely legitimate.

The even better news is that Irish Spring won’t hurt chipmunks, and it’s cheap and also really easy to use. But there’s a lot more you’ll want to know, so keep reading and I’ll tell you about it.

Is There a Precedent for Irish Spring as Chipmunk Repellent?

Yes, there sure is. This is actually a pretty funny story, because the use of Irish Spring as a garden-protecting rodent repellent actually predates the internet entirely.

It’s true, because I first heard about using Irish Spring bar soap in this way when I was much younger.

Turns out quite a few folks in my parents’ and grandparents’ generation knew about this little trick.

It was usually prescribed for deer and squirrels, but chipmunks are basically squirrels by another name and so it works just fine on them.

But, for as far and as long as I looked, I couldn’t track down an authoritative instance where Irish Spring was first published or discussed as a pest repellent.

That’s a bit of trivia that might be lost to the sands of time, but we should all rejoice because this is one old-timers’ trick that is 100% true and highly effective.

Does Irish Spring Contain Any Actual Repellent Ingredients?

No, it does not. To be clear, Irish Spring bar soap doesn’t have any ingredient that is an actual repellent substance.

Like most legendary claims, the claim about Irish Spring as a chipmunk repellent tends to get inflated with each telling.

You’ll commonly hear folks that bring it up make the assertion that Irish Spring bar soap actually contains similar ingredients or even identical ingredients to what is in commercially available rodent repellent.

As best I was able to find, it does not, though there are probably a few inactive ingredients that it shares with one product or another.

And this is good news, because the entirety of the soap’s repellent performance comes from its fragrance.

That’s right; that iconic, instantly recognizable fresh scent that we all love, at least most of us love, is something that chipmunks just cannot tolerate. Accordingly, they stay away from it if given any opportunity.

Note that Chipmunks Might Get used to Irish Spring Eventually

Something to keep in mind is that, as repulsive as Irish Spring is to chipmunks, they could eventually get used to it. That’s because chipmunks, while skittish, are highly intelligent and persistent.

Things that they find threatening, like predator decoys or even human activity, can quickly become ho-hum if they’re exposed to it long enough and learn that there are no bad outcomes associated with it.

Irish Spring definitely works, and you shouldn’t hesitate to try it, but if you’re trying to keep chipmunks from getting into your home or something like that, it’s worth having a backup plan – just in case!

Will Irish Spring Hurt Chipmunks That Touch It?

No. Irish Spring is just soap, and even though you shouldn’t use it on animals purposefully, it isn’t going to hurt chipmunks that get near it or come into contact with it.

It isn’t pH-balanced for their skin or fur, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it might irritate them, but it is a whole lot safer and more humane than many commercial products.

Will Chipmunks Try to Eat Irish Spring?

Almost certainly not, but the possibility cannot be ruled out. Chipmunks are very good at locating food that they like, and typically avoid things that are inedible or harmful.

But, chipmunks also chew on things in order to sharpen their teeth or to break into spaces that you try to keep them out of. They can easily chew holes into and through drywall or thin plastic.

Accordingly, they might take a nibble of your Irish Spring soap. But don’t worry, because if they do, the taste will certainly drive them away.

You don’t have to worry about Irish Spring inadvertently poisoning the cute little chipmunk.

Will Irish Spring Body Wash Keep Chipmunks Away?

I think it is unlikely, although I haven’t found any evidence that people have ever attempted this.

As to the reason why, the body wash doesn’t smell quite the same as the bar soap, no matter what the company says.

Don’t waste your time or your money: stick with the bar soap because you know it’ll work, and it’s a lot more versatile as we will learn.

Could Irish Spring Attract Chipmunks?!

No, or at least this is vanishingly unlikely. That’s because chipmunks are only ever disturbed by the smell of Irish Spring.

Unlike a pet, say a cat or dog, which could learn to associate the smell of Irish Spring with you (if you bathe with the soap), and so link the smell of Irish Spring with happiness, food and good times, chipmunks never will.

How to Use Irish Spring to Keep Chipmunks Away

This is probably the best part about Irish Spring as chipmunk repellent: it is so gosh-darn easy to use!

At its simplest, all you need to do is take a fresh, new, dry bar of the soap and cut it up into multiple cubes.

You can place these cubes at strategic points around your home and property to repel the chipmunks.

That being said, slightly more effort will result in greater effectiveness: grab a cheese grater and use a new, dry bar of soap as before but this time you want to shred the whole bar.

Now you can sprinkle the resulting flakes or shards of soap in a solid perimeter or scatter them all over in your garden to “blanket” an area in the smell.

This is the ideal way to keep chipmunks out of an entire zone of your property.

Or, even better, shred the soap as I just mentioned, then place a quantity of those shavings in a sock, bit of cheesecloth, bandana, or even some unused tea sachets to make convenient, protected repellent bags. Then place them where you need them as before.

One thing to keep in mind is that the effectiveness of your soap is tied to how much fragrance remains, so you need to replace it periodically.

This, of course, is easy and cheap to do, so it isn’t much of a problem, but be prepared to do so after a hard rain.

Try an Irish Spring Spray to Keep Chipmunks at Bay

Another cool twist on using Irish Spring to repel chipmunks is as a spray-on liquid.

You’ll need a common household spray bottle for this, but then all you’ll need to do is melt soap shavings in warm water until you’ve achieved something like the consistency of milk.

With that done, load the spray bottle and then generously soak any surfaces or areas where you want to keep chipmunks out.

The genius of this method is that the chipmunks will still smell it as before, and if they disturb it or take a bite out of a treated surface you’ll get a nice double-whammy effect sure to send the little rats packing.

And as with the dry methods I mentioned in the previous section, make sure you reapply after it rains and do so periodically because the fragrance will degrade over time.

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