Should You Use Liquid Soap to Remove Ticks?

Should You Use Liquid Soap to Remove Ticks?

Swabbing liquid soap on ticks may sometimes help remove them, but it isn’t a recommended, effective method for tick removal.

  • Published 3 July 2006


Swabbing ticks with liquid soap is a recommended and effective method for removing them.



What’s True

Swabbing liquid soap on ticks may sometimes help remove them.

What’s False

Using liquid soap to remove ticks is not a effective method of tick removal recommended by experts.

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In addition to their being repulsive-looking bugs that survive by latching onto warm-blooded victims to suck blood from them, there is another reason to regard ticks with horror: they can deliver a deadly payload of disease to those they are making a meal of. These arachnids feed by burrowing their heads into skin, a method that introduces their body fluids into their victims. If those fluids are disease-laden, those microbes will be passed to the ones being dined upon. However, it generally takes at least 12 to of feeding before an infected tick can spread disease to its host, so speedy removal of these parasites is therefore key to avoiding tick-borne illness, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia.

Household lore is replete with tick removal suggestions that involve covering or coating the embedded arachnid with a substance it will find objectionable. Other long-lived suggestions for removing ticks include touching a lit match or hot needle to the tick’s rear, swabbing the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, and tickling the tick’s underside in an effort to persuade it to release its bite:

A School Nurse has written the info enough to it really works!!

“I had a pediatrician tell me what she believes is the best way to remove a tick. This is great, because it works in those places where it’s some times difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds the tick will come out on it’s own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

This technique has worked every time I’ve used it (and that was frequently), and it’s much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me.

Unless someone is allergic to soap, I can’t see that this would be damaging in any way. I even had my doctor’s wife call me for advice because she had one stuck to her back and she couldn’t reach it with tweezers. She used this method and immediately called me back to say, ‘It worked!’”

Although these home remedies are effective in some cases, however, those in the know about tick removal warn against them. Countermeasures of such nature don’t always work to encourage ticks to detach from skin promptly (if at all), and even if such measures do seemingly aid the process of removing the critters, they may also make matters worse by stimulating the creatures to release additional saliva or regurgitate their gut contents, acts that increase the chance of their transmitting pathogens to their hosts. A 2006 journal article review of published literature on tick removal methods reported that:

One study compared several different techniques for removing ticks. Application of petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, 70% isopropyl alcohol, or a hot kitchen match failed to induce detachment of adult American dog ticks.

Experimental evidence suggests that chemical irritants are ineffective at persuading ticks to detach, and risk triggering injection of salivary fluids and possible transmission of disease-causing microbes. In addition, suffocating ticks by smothering them with petroleum jelly is an ineffective method of killing them because they have such a low respiratory rate (only requiring breaths per hour) that by the time they die, there may have been sufficient time for pathogens to be transmitted.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) likewise advises readers to “Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as wait for it to detach.”

Similarly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions:

If a tick is removed within 24 hours, the chances of it transmitting Lyme disease or other infections are much less. Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull gently. Avoid squeezing the body of the tick. Clean the site of the bite, your hands and the tweezers with disinfectant. You may want to wear protective gloves.

You also may want to place the tick in a small container, like a pill container, and bring it to your vet for identification. Never use a burned match, petroleum jelly, or nail polish to try to remove ticks. These methods are ineffective.

A list of “DO NOTS” in a Medline Plus article about tick removal similarly warned:

Do NOT try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object.
Do NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.
Do NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, vaseline, or similar material.

The recommended procedure for removing ticks is:

  • Grasp the tick close to its head or mouth with tweezers. Do not use your bare fingers. If needed, use a tissue or paper towel.
  • Pull it straight out with a slow and steady motion. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick. Be careful not to leave the head embedded in the skin.
  • Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Also wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Save the tick in a jar and watch carefully for the next week or two for signs of Lyme disease.
  • If all parts of the tick cannot be removed, get medical help. Bring the tick in the jar to your doctor’s appointment.
See also:  9 Best Home Remedies For Tick Bites In Dogs

To reduce your chances of becoming a tick’s dinner:

  • Avoid tick-prone areas whenever possible.
  • When in areas where ticks may be present, wear clothing that covers the arms and legs, with cuffs fastened and pants tucked into boots and socks.
  • Use a tick repellent that contains DEET and reapply it every for maximum protection.

After any outdoor excursion into areas where ticks are commonly found, adults should check themselves and their children. Your four-legged friends should be checked for ticks too, because dogs and cats can also be felled by the diseases spread by these blood-sucking creatures.

Brown Dog Ticks

The brown dog tick is named for its color and because it is found on domestic dogs. Although it is unusual for a brown dog tick to bite humans, it will do so in the absence of a canine host. If bitten, the dog tick must be removed as soon as possible.

Pest Stats


Reddish brown, gray-blue when engorged

Larvae have 6 legs, nymphs and adults have 8 legs


1/8” (3 mm) unengorged; 1/2” (12 mm) engorged



Found throughout the U.S.

Brown Dog Tick Photos

Brown Dog Tick on White Background

Videos View All Videos

Black-legged deer ticks are much smaller than dog ticks. Deer tick bites, however, are much more dangerous than dog tick bites. More on deer ticks here.

Bitten by a tick? Don’t panic! PestWorld’s Dr. Parada explains how to perform tick removal, even removal of embedded parts. Learn more about ticks here.

Learn about the dangers of ticks and disease they can transmit, including Lyme disease.

Watch this 101 video for some helpful hints to keep your family pets safe.

The brown dog tick is named for its color and because it is found on domestic dogs. Although it is unusual for a brown dog tick to bite humans, it will do so in the absence of a canine host. If bitten, the dog tick must be removed as soon as possible.

Pest Stats


Reddish brown, gray-blue when engorged

Larvae have 6 legs, nymphs and adults have 8 legs


1/8” (3 mm) unengorged; 1/2” (12 mm) engorged



Found throughout the U.S.

Videos View All Videos

Black-legged deer ticks are much smaller than dog ticks. Deer tick bites, however, are much more dangerous than dog tick bites. More on deer ticks here.

Bitten by a tick? Don’t panic! PestWorld’s Dr. Parada explains how to perform tick removal, even removal of embedded parts. Learn more about ticks here.

Learn about the dangers of ticks and disease they can transmit, including Lyme disease.

Watch this 101 video for some helpful hints to keep your family pets safe.


Brown dog ticks prefer dogs as hosts. They typically attach to the ears or between the toes and do not travel very far after dropping off a host. They are unique because they can complete their entire life cycle indoors.


Brown dog ticks survive best indoors and prefers warm, dry conditions.


Although brown dog ticks rarely attack humans, they are capable of transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever and several other tick-borne diseases to dogs, including canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesia.

Brown Dog Tick Prevention

The best way to prevent brown dog ticks is cleanliness. Keeping pet areas clean and free of debris can help locate engorged ticks looking to lay eggs and remove them from the house. Pet treatment is also an important dog tick prevention tool. Pets should be treated with flea and tick repellent as necessary.

Dog Tick Removal

To remove a brown dog tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the bite site with soap and water. Then, flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it in a tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.

Colorado State University


Friday, April 24

Tick talk: education about the dangerous parasites

Ticks – blood-feeding parasites – are most dangerous for the diseases they can carry. When traveling in areas known to have ticks present, it is important to take precautionary measures such as wearing protective clothing, using tick repellent, and conducting tick checks, say entomologists with Colorado State University.

Colorado State University has been conducting research on insects for years and has compiled information to help people stay safe from diseases carried by ticks. CSU’s information about ticks can be found here. Traducción español es disponible, a través de la pestaña “Convertia al Español” en el sitio web.

All ticks have a typical lifecycle that involves four distinct stages: egg, tiny six-legged larva or seed tick, nymph and adult, according to CSU entomologists. It is the adults that occasionally feed on people. Ticks are highly sensitive to carbon dioxide, which is exhaled by animals as they breathe, and seek it out. They often are poised at the top of vegetation so they can readily cling to passing animals.

How to avoid ticks

Avoid traveling through areas where ticks are abundant. Ticks are most active in spring and early summer and concentrate where their animal hosts most commonly travel. This includes brushy areas along the edges of fields and woodlands or commonly traveled paths through grassy areas and shrublands.

There are a few effective tick repellents. By far the most common is DEET (N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide), the active ingredient in most common insect repellents, such as Cutters and Off!. Apply DEET directly to the skin or to clothing. Repellents are most effective if applied to pants and other areas of the lower body likely to come into contact with ticks.

DEET can be an effective repellent for ticks as well as other biting arthropods, such as chiggers and mosquitoes. However, the following precautions are encouraged:

  • On children, do not use high-concentration formulations (above 30 percent).
  • Apply the repellent to clothing, rather than to skin.
  • Do not apply DEET to hands or other areas that may come into contact with the mouth.
  • Do not apply to wounds or irritated skin.
  • After use, wash or bathe treated areas, particularly on children.
  1. Wear Protective Clothing

Long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other clothing can help exclude ticks or keep them from attaching to the skin. Ticks are usually acquired while brushing against low vegetation, so pulling socks over the bottom of the pants leg also is useful. Light-colored clothing can make it easier to find ticks that have been picked up.

See also:  What to Do When a Child Bites

Ticks take several hours to settle and begin feeding. This gives you ample time to detect and remove them. The Rocky Mountain wood tick typically takes 12 to 24 hours to start feeding. Therefore, a thorough “tick check” can be an effective alternative to repellents. After walking through areas where ticks might be present, carefully look for and remove any ticks you may have picked up.

How to remove a tick

Once a tick has become firmly attached to the skin, removal can be difficult and should be done with care. The mouthparts are barbed, so they may remain after removal and allow infection. The recommended procedure for removal of ticks is:

  • Grasp the tick with blunt tweezers, as close to the skin as possible. If tweezers are not available and you must use your fingers, cover them with tissue or thin plastic to avoid the possible transmission of any disease organisms, such as tularemia, that the tick may harbor.
  • Pull the tick slowly and steadily, straight away from the skin. Try not to crush the tick as you remove it.
  • After the tick is removed, treat the feeding site with a disinfectant. Wash your hands when done.

Many other methods have been popularized to remove ticks, such as covering them with petroleum jelly or touching them with a hot match. These methods are not effective.

More information about CSU Extension

Information about ticks and other topics is shared though Colorado State University Extension offices. Colorado State University was founded as a United States land-grant institution and part of its mission is to provide research-based information about topics such as agriculture, nutrition, and health to the citizens of the Colorado. CSU Extension was founded in 1912.

More information about ticks and many other topics can be found at Traducción español es disponible, a través de la pestaña “Convertia al Español” en el sitio web.

About the CSU Todos Santos Center

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.

The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research, and produce impactful outcomes.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine, and public health.

Stages of the building process

Last updated: 15 March 2016

Every building project is different, but you still need to tick off essential stages to make it a success. Understand the stages of a building project so you know what you need to do and build it right.

Your building project might be quick and simple or complex. It might be an alteration, a renovation or a completely new build. It could be a seaside holiday house or a multi-unit central city apartment building.

The size and complexity of the finished build can affect the duration and complexity of the process. Whatever you’re planning, you should generally follow these stages:

1 – Planning a successful build

Get your ideas together, separating out what you must achieve and would like to achieve, so that you can think about priorities, budget and timing. You can get some idea of cost from designers or builders, so that you know whether it’s a realistic project.

The location of your land, and the position of your building site on it, can have a big impact on your project.

You need to think about the finished building and how it needs to sit in relation to:

  • sun
  • wind
  • water, electricity and other services
  • boundaries (a registered surveyor can remove uncertainty)
  • neighbours (preserve your privacy and theirs)
  • access onto and around the site (for example, paths, driveways and door placement)
  • any hills or slopes (and how they might affect your finished height and width)
  • existing features that you want to retain (for example, trees or outbuildings).

If you’re planning a rural build, there might be other things to think about. For example, do you need a septic tank? Will you have to store your own emergency water supply for putting out fires?

You might be surprised to know that some renovation projects can be more complicated than a new build.

Talk to your council to get a better understanding of your land, how your ideas will fit and whether you’ll need a building consent, resource consent or any other permits.

The council can also produce a project information memorandum (PIM), a report specific to your project that can make planning and design easier and more accurate.

As your ideas come together, think again about what you can afford and how you will pay for it.

When you’re choosing people to do the work, you need to think about:

  • how involved you will be (realistically, this depends on your skills, energy and other commitments. There are advantages and disadvantages in doing the work yourself. It might seem cheaper but you need to know what you are doing and your work must still comply with the Building Code.)
  • who you have in mind (architect, builder or a combination) and:
    • whether they’re available
    • whether they usually work with another building professional
    • if you’re putting them together, will they work well together?
  • any legal restrictions on who can do the work (for example, if there is restricted building work)
  • who will project manage the work.

Understand your land includes some things you might need to consider.

Renovations differ to new builds highlights some of the differences.

Get the right person outlines why you might need specialists.

You don’t have to decide everything at this stage, but the more you find out early on, the better informed you and your plans will be.

Get your design right

Brief your designer well, telling them what you want and how much you have to spend. Agree on concept drawings.

Once you have the full design, go through it in great detail. Try to consider it from every angle, time of day and stage of life including:

  • how you will use the space
  • what it will look like
  • whether there will be enough light inside
  • what building materials you’ll use.

Your plans form the basis of your building consent application, if you need one. You can change them after building consent has been issued, by talking to your council, but there will be time delays and could be additional costs. This applied to every part of the plan, including the materials specified. Any variation from the consented plans could also affect progress, increase cost and delay final sign-off.

See also:  This video reveals the secret to the dragonfly’s backward flight, Science, AAAS

Get the right people for your project

If you’re going to manage the project, be aware of your responsibilities. If you’re not the project manager, you still have overall responsibility for making sure everything in the building consent happens.

Confirm who the project manager is in your design and building contracts (it could be your architect, designer, builder or a professional project manager).

It’s often part of the project manager’s role to arrange the builder and tradespeople. Work out if that’s how you will do it, and include this in any contract. You can also hire a quantity surveyor to confirm how much of each material is needed, and provide a cost estimate based on your plans.

Approach a shortlist of builders and ask for detailed quotes (not estimates), based on the project plans and/or the quantity surveyor’s report. Make sure they can work within your timeframe.

When comparing quotes, ensure they include the same scope of building work, materials, fixtures and finish so that you can accurately compare them.

Follow the same process to engage subcontractors if you are hiring them. Subcontractors often contract directly to the main contractor.


Formalise all roles in legal contracts, spelling out what you mean so that all parties have a clear understanding.

Get a written contract with your builder, including details of guarantees, payment schedules and completion dates. They will probably provide a contract, but you can ask for changes or even provide your own. Whichever you choose, make sure it covers everyone’s needs and involve your lawyer.

Make sure you have the funds to pay for the project before the work begins and understand the payment terms agreed with the building contractor.

As the project progresses, think carefully before agreeing to pay more than the agreed cost of any work that has been completed or the agreed cost of any materials that have been supplied when you make any payments.


Find out how to protect yourself during the project by talking to your insurer and possibly your bank.

Your insurer may want information about your contractors’ insurance and indemnities during a build.

If you have a mortgage on your property, your bank may require you to keep them informed of significant changes to your property.

If you are using a designer or architect, they should have professional indemnity insurance, to ensure they can pay for repairs if any problems occur as a result of their design.

Plan for health and safety

Have a health and safety plan in place from day one of construction, and make sure everyone keeps to it. Understand your obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

2 – Get a building consent

Review your plans and budget

You’re about to apply for building consent, so review your plans and budget. This is the time to decide whether you need to make any changes. If you want to make variations later, you will need to apply to amend the consent, pay a fee and potentially delay your project.

Apply for a building consent and any other consents or permits

Make sure the person completing the application knows what to do and how to make a good application. It has to include all of the requested information, including detailed drawings and evidence of compliance with the Building Code.

If you have restricted building work, you need to name your licensed building practitioner in the building consent application or as soon as you appoint someone.

If you require resource consent or any other permits, apply for them as well.

If you haven’t already got a PIM, you can order one at the same time as you apply for building consent (although it will probably help your planning if you get it earlier).

Think about your timing. Your building consent will lapse if you don’t start the building work within 12 months, unless you have arranged an extension with your council. So give yourself and your building team enough time to complete the project.

3 — Build to the consent

Begin construction

Once you have building consent, construction can begin. As soon as you know the start date, you need to tell your council. This date is important as you need to start your project within 12 months of receiving your building consent and finish it within two years. It might seem a long way off, but the date will be used in the council’s final project sign-off, and is part of the information you need to gather throughout the project.

You or your project manager, builder or architect need to monitor progress and keep the council informed. Organise inspections and ensure they happen.

If your work is not progressing as planned, that’s another reason to talk to your council. They can help you identify and document variations or amendments to your building consent.

Pay bills as milestones are met or as you’ve agreed in your contracts.

Collect energy work certificates for electrical and gas work as it is finished. Keep them on site with your other papers, as your council will want to see them before they sign-off your code compliance certificate (CCC).

4 – Sign-off and maintain your property

Complete your project

Ensure everything has been done as set out in your building consent, plans and contracts. You need to let your builder know of any problems within 12 months of the end of the build.

You also need to make all final payments, as agreed in your contracts. Ensure all council fees have been paid as well, so that you can get council sign-off in the form of a code compliance certificate (CCC).

If more inspections were required or they took longer than originally anticipated, there may be additional fees. These may not be calculated until after your final inspection, but will need to be paid before your code compliance certificate is issued.

Apply to your council for your code compliance certificate (CCC). The council may need a few days’ notice to review your project before they make their final inspection.

Maintenance protects your investment

Your contractors need to let you know about any required maintenance related to products or materials. You’ll need to keep to the instructions so that any warranties and guarantees are effective.

For most domestic building projects, the code compliance certificate (CCC) is the end of the inspection process. However, if your house has a specified system, such as a cable car, it will need regular, ongoing monitoring for safety reasons.

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