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Does Irish Spring Soap Keep Cats Away? Facts, Safety Guide & FAQ

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Bar of Irish Spring deodorant soap

If you’re an avid gardener or just interested in keeping your favorite feline friend off your couch, you might be looking for non-toxic ways to keep neighborhood cats from visiting your garden.

Chances are you’ve heard of inappropriate suggestions, from essential oils to capsaicin, which might have led you in a fit of desperation to consider taking drastic steps like using Irish Spring soap as a cat repellent. It turns out that Irish Spring is a fantastic cat option.

While it’s not 100% perfect, Irish Spring Soap annoys most cats enough to keep them moving, and it’s non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about harming your four-footed buddy or any neighborhood creatures. Read on for more information about this surprisingly good way to keep cats away!

hepper cat paw divider

What Is Irish Spring Soap?

Irish Spring is one brand of soap bar that has a particularly strong smell. Colgate-Palmolive first introduced the product in Europe back in 1970, and it was made available in the United States a few years later. Until 1990, Colgate-Palmolive only made the soap in hard bars, and there was only one scent.

Over the years, the company introduced various deodorants and shaving products under the Irish Spring name, most of which were pulled from the market after a relatively short period. In the mid-1980s, Colgate reformulated the soap, giving it a new scent, inadvertently making it into a product that can double as a powerful cat repellent. While the product now comes in 13 different scents, many avid gardeners anecdotally claim that cats seem to dislike most the Original Clean option.

Why Do Cats Avoid Irish Spring Soap?

cat inside box
Image Credit: Piqsels

Irish Spring soap has a powerful smell, and cats have sensitive noses with a sense of smell that’s 14 times stronger than ours (based on the relative number of odor-sensitive smells). As a result, cats will naturally avoid strong odors, no matter how pleasant. Think of it as similar to how we react when we’re stuck in a closed room with someone wearing a ton of cologne or perfume. While Creed Aventus smells nice when worn in moderation, too much of a good thing can send you running for the fresh air.

Does the Strong Scent Hurt Cats?

No. Irish Spring’s smell annoys kitties but won’t injure or otherwise harm your favorite feline friend.

Are There Harmful Ingredients in Irish Spring Soap?

No. It’s a non-toxic option that won’t harm your cat or other critters if they end up ingesting a bit while nosing around, making it one of the absolute best cat-repellent options.

Because cats lack the liver enzymes to break down essential oils, even small amounts can be problematic to kitties, depending on the type of oil ingested and the quantity your cat manages to consume.

Options such as capsaicin can cause cats and other creatures to experience a severe burning sensation that’s not easy to get rid of when it comes into contact with mucous membranes. It’s similar to the burn you feel when you accidentally rub your eyes after cutting hot peppers.

Irish Spring soap is not toxic to cats and won’t harm other animals like mice, rabbits, and deer, making it an excellent option for gardeners.

ragdoll cat lying relaxed in the garden in summer
Image By: absolutimages, Shutterstock

Where Can I Buy Irish Spring Soap?

You can purchase Irish Spring soap in most drug and grocery stores. It has the added benefit of being inexpensive, and it won’t break the bank if it doesn’t work or the smell is too strong for you to tolerate!

How Do I Use It as a Cat Repellent?

To keep cats off your furniture, cut the soap into smaller cubes or, even better, use a kitchen rasp to create shavings. Create an Irish Spring sachet by putting the cubes or shavings into a small fabric bag and tying it shut. Then place the bag on or near the area you’d like your cat to stay away from.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to place an Irish Spring sachet in such a way that it comes into direct contact with stainable fabric, like the cushion of an expensive couch. Consider putting a bit of parchment paper above and below the sachet to prevent leaks and stains.

If you’re interested in using Irish Spring soap to keep cats and other creatures away from your garden, you have two options. Cut the bars up and bury the cubes regularly around the area you’d like to protect, or grind the bar and sprinkle the shavings around your plants.

You can also dissolve the soap in water and spray it directly on indoor plants. Keep in mind that this is not an appropriate way to protect your cat from toxic plants like lilies, mistletoe, and other poisonous plants.

There’s simply no way to ensure you can keep your cat away from toxic plants, and just a little bite is all it takes to turn a quiet evening into a nervous night in the emergency veterinarian’s waiting room. Spraying Irish Spring on plants is a reasonable option to discourage a feline from investigating cat-friendly greenery like your favorite basil plants and ferns.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using Irish Spring Soap as a Cat Repellent?

If you’re using the product outside, it’s not the most permanent option. You’ll need to regularly re-apply your shavings or cut up and bury more soap chunks. Irish Spring is, thankfully, one of the least expensive soaps on the market.

It can stain fabric, and you’ll want to avoid the bar or its shavings from coming into contact with upholstered couches and easy chairs. Even if you create adorable sachets and use protective parchment paper, there will be a bit of a mess to clean up if the soap gets wet.

Some people don’t like Irish Spring’s scent. It’s “fresh” but strong, and if you have a sensitive nose, keeping it in your house might be too much for you to tolerate.

hepper single cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Irish Spring is an effective cat repellent. It’s cheap, easy to use, and works indoors and outdoors. Most importantly, it’s non-toxic and won’t harm dogs, cats, and other creatures who come into contact with it; its scent is too strong for most animals to tolerate. They’ll move away like you would if you ended up in a room with someone wearing too much cologne.

Featured Image Credit: Bar of Irish Spring deodorant soap (Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0)

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