Chipmunks, just like their squirrel cousins, are basically rats with good publicity.
From those adorable chubby cheeks that they use to stash food to their distinctive striped fur, you are rarely going to see a cuter critter out in the wild. Or in your backyard. Or absolutely destroying your prized decorative plants or fruits and veggies in your garden…
Let’s face it, they are cute, that’s for sure, but they can also be a serious pest in and around your home. Luckily, we probably don’t have to resort to killing them if we want them to stay away.
Some folks have reported good success using nothing more than Irish Spring soap to repel chipmunks. Is it possible? Will Irish Spring really keep chipmunks away?
Yes, it can. There is some evidence to suggest that the fragrance of Irish Spring could really help to keep chipmunks away from your garden or other plants around your home.
I get it. This sounds just like one of those stupid, too-good-to-be-true clickbait ads but you need to hear me out on this one.
At least some of the time, using nothing more than Irish Spring could help to keep your plants safe from getting nibbled on by chipmunks.
If there is even a chance that it works and you wouldn’t have to hurt a hair on those cute little heads I think it’s worth trying. Keep reading and I will tell you more.
Will Irish Spring Seriously Repel Chipmunks?
Yes, it sure will, at least some of the time. As it turns out, the fragrance of common, Irish Spring bar soap appears to be highly repellent to chipmunks and many other mammals besides.
A casual perusal of any search engine will show that many gardeners and homesteaders report good success with this method although it is not foolproof.
Now, you’ll also see some “exaggeration artists” report that Irish Spring is also good for repelling or killing every kind of bug and other creepy crawly under the sun, but I am sad to report that that is just not true.
Irish Spring is not a placebo when it comes to controlling animal pests and it sure isn’t guaranteed to work on everything that walks or crawls, but it does have a track record of success in this regard when it comes to mammals, particularly smaller wild mammals.
Why Do Chipmunks Avoid Irish Spring?
Like I alluded to above, we aren’t 100% sure why Irish Spring works to help repel chipmunks and other animals, but we are sure that it is at least reasonably effective.
Some folks speculate that the fragrance of the soap itself is in some way offensive to the delicate senses of these animals.
Others believe that it is distinctive and new enough that it stands out against all the other many odors in the background, and considering that animals are highly averse to unknown changes in their environment they might just decide to play it safe and stay away.
Still, others assert that smaller prey animals, and chipmunks in particular, associate the smell of Irish Spring (or any soap) undeniably with people, with human presence.
Whether you would or would not hurt them for any reason matters little: consider that all animals for many, many generations now have learned painfully that contact with humans means death and it is easy to understand how sharply attuned their senses are to alerting at any indicator of our presence.
In any case, we know that Irish Spring can do the job of keeping chipmunks and other mammals away from your plants. The fact that it is cheap and readily available makes it relatively painless to try, at least.
Can the Irish Spring Hurt the Chipmunks?
No. The odor of Irish Spring alone is not harmful to chipmunks. It will not harm them if they smell it, and it does not omit any overtly harmful chemicals into the soil or environment.
What Happens if they Try to Eat It?
It is generally thought to be unlikely that chipmunks will eat Irish Spring, or any soap.
However, probably more than any other animal rodents could possibly nibble on your Irish Spring or any other soap they can reach. This might have consequences for the chipmunk.
But first, why would a chipmunk try to eat soap?
Mostly they are probably gnawing on it only instinctively and nothing more: the incisors of rodents grow continuously throughout their life, and so they must gnaw on things routinely in order to shorten and sharpen them.
Failing to do this might spell trouble for the dental health of the chipmunk.
Second, and perhaps unbelievably, the incredibly refined olfactory senses of the chipmunk might actually be smelling something in the soap that it thinks is food.
The idea is unthinkable to us, and truthfully the chipmunk will probably give up after tasting the soap, but it’s not totally out of the question that it might eat a little bit of it.
In that case, he’s probably going to get an upset stomach at best, though depending on how much he consumed it could prove toxic for the little guy.
Here’s How to Use Irish Spring against Chipmunks
Now, what you need to know is how best to use Irish Spring soap to repel chipmunks. You already know that the repulsion is based on the fragrance of the soap, so we must maximize the spread or “throw” of that fragrance in order to convince the chipmunks to stay well away from our plants and gardens.
To do this, you’ll want to cut a bar of soap up into small cubes or even get out a cheese grater and shred it into chips and slivers. Then you must make a choice.
You can scatter a dense perimeter of these cubes or shavings around the area where you want the chipmunks to stay out of, or else you can load them into small cloth bags or tea sachets and hang them near the plants you want to protect.
Do bear in mind, though, that this strategy is completely reliant upon the fragrance of the soap to repel the chipmunks.
That fragrance will degrade over time with exposure to air, sunlight, and especially water. Make sure you regularly replace the soap cubes or shavings if you want to maintain protection.
Remember, Chipmunks are Persistent and Also Avid Climbers
Now, I want to make something perfectly clear. Just because you have put out some Irish Spring on the perimeter of your garden or around your prized ornamentals does not mean that chipmunks, somehow, aren’t going to get to them.
Even if you laced the entire perimeter of your property with Irish Spring, I cannot guarantee that your property will remain free from these crafty and cute little rodents.
Chipmunks are intelligent, and also pretty good problem solvers like most of their rodent kin.
They also happen to be expert climbers very much like squirrels, and for that reason you must think of alternate approaches to your property, and to your plants which the chipmunks will eat as food.
Accordingly, your best bet is to probably use this Irish Spring trick in conjunction with other methods of deterrence.
You might have your Irish Spring at ground level and the chipmunks could be hopping from branch to branch above it and you none the wiser.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.