Why You Should Hang A Bar Of Soap Near Your Bird Feeder

We've probably all seen the videos of squirrels trying to maneuver up greased bird feeder poles, right? Try as they might, they struggle to get up there. But they will anyway, which is why that hack doesn't work to keep squirrels away. While the little food hubs are called bird feeders rather than squirrel feeders, that doesn't stop the fuzzy fellows from eating their fill. So, homeowners have to get creative by using store-bought guards, different kinds of feeders, and even soap to keep the food safe for the birds. Soap, especially Irish Spring, is particularly onerous to squirrels and a great idea for safe discouragement. 

After all, the amount of food that squirrels eat is significant compared to their twittering culinary rivals. Specifically looking at grey squirrels, for instance, a study done by Hugh J. Hanmer, Rebecca L. Thomas, and Mark D.E. Fellowes for Landscape and Urban Planning demonstrated that the squirrels were around a lot — 44.3% of the noted feeding time, to be exact. And when the squirrels were around, the birds weren't. Their report also noted that things like feeder guards did deter squirrels, but they also deterred birds.

Greasing a bird feeder pole might not be to everyone's taste. And it seems that guards can sometimes keep birds away too, which defeats the purpose of the bird feeder. But there is one tried and true deterrent that will keep the birdies coming to supper and the squirrels foraging elsewhere. 

A bar of soap nearby can keep other animals away

Usually, smelling fresh and clean doesn't deter people or animals from us, but that's not the case here. Critters like squirrels do not like the smell of Irish Spring soap. So some birdie aficionados have found that hanging a mesh bag or sock with a bar of Irish Spring near or on their bird feeder is a good way to keep their squirrely yard dwellers at bay. You could also place a bar at the base of the feeder or cut it into pieces and spread it around. We do have to imagine that during a rainy spring, the soap trick can get a little messy, but still not as messy or as harmful to wildlife as coating your bird feeder in grease. 

It turns out that some of the ingredients that make Irish Spring appealing to humans are some of the same things that bother wildlife. Entomologist Shannon Harlow-Ellis told woman&home, "Irish Spring soap contains picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, recommended by the EPA for various pest repellents. While it hasn't been scientifically proven, Irish Spring soap could be an effective DIY pest-repellent hack." Grated Irish Spring soap can also be used in your garden to keep deer out from making a feast of your flowers or veggies. It is also a good way to keep spiders out of your house. The great part about this solution is that it doesn't involve pesticides or chemicals that are harmful to our wildlife neighbors. 

Make your own soap bar

If you're squirrely and don't like Irish Spring soap, don't worry. Although its scent is helpful in keeping squirrels away from your bird feeder, it's not the only soap-based solution. For crafty folks, making your own soap to hang near the feeder is also a terrific solution. Gardener and founder of Constant Delights Jill Sandy told Real Homes that homemade soap is also effective, especially if it utilizes scents animals don't like, such as mint or cinnamon. 

"It is great to test which of the different soaps are effective in repelling the pests because they all have different formulas and ingredients," she told the outlet. You could also try aromas like rosemary, pepper, or even garlic in your homemade soap. Making your own soap isn't a cost-effective solution compared to grabbing a pack of Irish Spring when you can get a dozen for $8. Still, if you've already got soap-making materials and essential oils, doing it yourself might be more cost-effective in the long run. You could even make some rosemary soap for yourself while you're at it — just maybe not the garlic.