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How to Kill Yellow Jacket Bees With Liquid Laundry Detergent

Christina Sloane

Often mistaken for bees, yellow jacket wasps deliver a painful sting and annoyingly buzz around people eating and socializing outside. Though yellow jackets benefit gardens by eating insect pests, large numbers of the wasps can ruin outdoor leisure time and pose serious health threats to people with allergies.

If yellow jackets are a problem in your area, you can target their nests and eliminate them with laundry detergent. Treating their nests with laundry detergent puts an end to your wasp problem without poisoning beneficial insects or wildlife.

  1. Observe yellow jackets during the day to determine the nest location. If you notice large numbers of the wasps coming from or escaping to a specific area, the nest is probably nearby. Most yellow jacket nests are underground. Mark the location of the nest.

  2. Fill a bucket with a solution of water and a scoop of liquid laundry detergent.

  3. Return to the nest on a chilly night, since the wasps usually don’t fly in temperatures cooler than 50 degrees F. Wear a long-sleeved sweatshirt and sweatpants to protect your skin from stings.

  4. Pour the soapy water into the entrance of the yellow jacket nest.


Destroy the nest early in summer, if possible, while the colony is still small. Ignore nests found in late summer and early fall. The cold will take care of the nests for you.