Deer-proof lettuce

Here’s how to make a natural deer and rabbit repellant that will keep rabbits and deer at bay—without adding harmful chemicals to your garden…or your diet. [Note: it won’t cause any permanent damage to the pests, either. It just gives them a rather hot mouth for a little while!]


2 eggs, beaten

2 cups water

2 Tbs. hot sauce

2 Tbs. ground red pepper

2 Tbs. garlic powder


Deer repellant mixture


Mix the above ingredients and let the sauce sit out for two days. (Note: The mixture will smell like rotten eggs and garlic, so either keep it covered or set it outside.)

Mixture with mustard bottle

Pour natural repellant into a squeeze bottle. (A clean, recycled mustard or ketchup bottle will do nicely.)

Protected peas

As soon as plants emerge from the soil, squeeze a small amount of the natural repellant on each one. There’s no need to reapply after a rain storm, since the egg will make the hot sauce, garlic, and peppers stick to the plant.

The hot sauce won’t hurt the growing plant, but it will deter pests from eating the entire crop. An added benefit is that bees don’t seem to mind the smell, so they’ll still pollinate the plants.

Stored deer and rabbit repellant

I store any remaining natural deer and rabbit repellant in a sealed canning jar, like this one.

Note: You want to apply this to the plants as soon as possible, before any blooms appear. I don’t recommend putting it directly on the part of the plant you plan to eat. The good news is that the deer especially have good memories. Once they taste the hot sauce, they probably won’t be back, thanks to the strong, pungent garlic smell.


36 Responses to Natural Deer and Rabbit Repellant

  1. Debbi says:

    Is recipe safe for birds? The deer think I put bird seed in my feeders just for them! Now the birds won’t. Can they smell fewer?

  2. Ann says:

    So …the smell… is it going to keep me from wanting to go into the yard?

  3. Lorraine.martinez says:

    I saw where you can cut irish spring soap and put them around garden and plants to keep deers and rabbits. Is that true

    • MaryJane says:

      Yes, I have heard that as well. I have found this repellent to be far more effective. Plus, you have the added benefit that, thanks to the egg, the repellent sticks to the plants and isn’t as affected by rain.

  4. Allison says:

    Rabbits eat my grass. Could I use it on my grass?

  5. Wanita Bickford says:

    I grow blueberries, and the rabbits chew on the trunks so was wondering if you sprayed the trunk of the blueberry bushes would the hot sauce be bad for the bushes?

  6. Sue Bay says:

    I want to give this a try, everything I plant is on the deer/rabbit diet. I live in the mountains of Montana & we have black bear. Do you think this will attract bears?

  7. Leora Cohen says:

    I was wondering if you must spray the repellant onto the plants directly or can you spray it onto the area surrounding it? I ask because I am about to start planting my vegetable garden and I don’t know how this repellant would work on vegetables. Thanks!

    • MaryJane says:

      As long as you apply it to the sprouts and not the vegetables or fruit, you should be okay. I think you have to put it on the plants and let the animals get a taste. After that, it might work to sprinkle on the ground, since the smell will remind them of the taste, and they might stay away.

  8. Judith says:

    Hello, my daughter has just given me this magic recipe potion. Thank you for a seeming miracle – I have yet to try it because I fear for our frogs, newts and toads who do a nice job on the slugs and snails. Would they be harmed by it?

    • MaryJane says:

      Hi, Judith. The repellant should have no effect on the frogs, newts, and toads. We have used the repellant for several years now and have tracked a thriving toad population in the garden.

  9. Barb Boven says:

    Would this work on hostas? The rabbits ate all of them right down to the ground.

  10. […] gardeners also make natural deer and rabbit repellents combining ingredients like red pepper, hot sauce, garlic powder, eggs, etc. and making them into a […]

  11. Jill says:

    Bunnies and deer are having a field day in my garden! I want to make this and spray ASAP…especially my lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries!! Since everythung has flowered and is growing…Do you know if once washed, would the taste of the spray be gone?

    • MaryJane says:

      Hi, Jill. I’m sorry to say that the smell will not go away, even with washing, because of the egg, which makes the mixture stick to the plant. You definitely won’t want to eat anything covered in the rotten egg and hot pepper. However, all is not lost. You can cover the leaves surrounding the tomatoes and strawberries, if not the fruit itself. Also, you can squirt some on the soil around the lettuce. The varmints have good memories and will associate the garlic smell with the hot taste from the leaves and will find other plants to nosh. Good luck!

  12. Keith lamb says:

    Would spraying the ground around the veggies be effective after the plants are bigger??I was thinking of my tomato ,lettuce,carrots,etc.

    • MaryJane says:

      I think the real effectiveness with this repellant is when the rabbits or deer eat some of the plant after you have applied the repellant. Typically, one taste is all it takes. I apply it in the early spring, and I don’t seem to have any problems after that. If some of the deer do return for a nibble in late spring or early summer, I reapply to the plant itself.

  13. Eleanor Mayfield says:

    Has anyone tried this repellent on grass? An unidentified animal is digging shallow holes all over our back lawn during the night. My husband believes a rabbit or rabbits are doing it, although we cannot be sure because we have never seen the critters. I’m wondering if it’s worth trying this repellent, and am curious to know if anyone else has had a similar issue.

    • MaryJane says:

      Hi, Eleanor. Sorry to hear about your unidentified diggers. You could certainly try the repellant, but I think it’s most effective if the animals are eating the plants, since the pepper will burn their mouths. If the rabbits aren’t eating the grass but just digging holes, it might be less than effective.

    • I don’t know where you live, but in my yard it is moles. They especially love to take up residence under my bird feeders since the debris from the feeders drop down, composting and attracting worms, which attracts the moles.

      • Lori allen says:

        Your diggers may be raccoons or opossums digging for grubs, so I don’t know if this will deter them but, get rid of the grubs and the diggers will probably leave, too.

  14. Gwenn Wilson says:

    I love you for providing this simple recipe. After our wonderful Bernese Mtn Dog died in April of this year, the bunnies and deer took advantage of our predatorless yard. Refocusing my grief, I added 7 gardens to our yard and learned that they both a voracious appetite for most everything I planted. Your potion kept them at bay….bunnies left my garden alone for about a month and a half!! Second batch is at my side and about to go outside with me now. THanks so much for a fabulous non-toxic recipe.

  15. Renae Peckham says:

    Oh man, I really need to remember this next year. My lilies never stood a chance this year. The rabbits were barely letting them get out of the ground. I finally gave up.

  16. mike kidder says:

    i applied to raspberry plant after the little fur balls ate half the plant , not having rabbit for dinner . It does work .

  17. breitz says:

    Any suggestions on how to keep rabbits off of a lawn where children play?

  18. Deanna says:

    Does the repellent stink to us as well? What if I am growing strawberries and don’t want my strawberries to taste like rotting eggs and garlic?

    • MaryJane says:

      Hi, Deanna. Yes, the repellant stinks to us as well, and I would definitely not put it directly on the fruit or vegetable you’re trying to protect. Instead, I apply it to the plants when they first sprout, before any blossoms appear. The animals have a good memory, and after they taste the repellant once, they will probably not come around again, thanks to the strong garlic smell.

  19. David Schramm says:

    I tried the repellant after some deer chose to munch my day lilies almost to the ground. They never took another bite in the nights to follow. I have applied it to all my shrubs (which the deer also seemed to enjoy) and they then left them alone. My neighbor tried to grow hostas, but as someone has said, “Hostas are like candy to deer” and they were enjoying their sweet dessert night after night until I applied the repellant, after which the hostas were able to thrive.

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