Using Hairspray for Wasp Control: Effectiveness and Safety

Can Hairspray Kill Wasps?

Nothing ruins an outdoor barbecue or picnic quite like unwanted guests in the form of angry, stinging wasps. When wasps repeatedly harass people, often the first instinct is to employ home remedies thought to quickly dispatch of the pests. One popular attempted solution people reach for is a can of hairspray, with the idea that a quick spray will do away with nuisance wasps. However, hairspray is not actually all that effective for killing wasps and carries its own risks. This article will cover:

  • How hairspray functions as an insecticide
  • Limitations of using hairspray against wasps
  • Dangers associated with spraying wasps with hairspray
  • More effective wasp control alternatives
  • Preventing wasp problems around the home

While it may seem like an easy fix in the moment, grabbing hairspray to battle wasps is an inadvisable idea that usually leaves people disappointed and may even make the situation worse. There are better ways to discourage these uninvited guests.

bees making honey in a beehive

How Hairspray Could Kill Wasps

Hairspray is designed to create a stiff holding effect for styled hair. The main components include:

  • Polymers like polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and synthetic resins to adhere hair strands together.
  • Denatured alcohol to quickly dissolve and dry the product.
  • Propellants like butane, isobutane, propane, or dimethyl ether to eject the mixture in a fine mist.
  • Small amounts of oils or silicones for shine and softness.
  • Perfumes or botanical extracts that add fragrance.

When sprayed from the can, the propellant bursts a cloud of plasticizing polymers, alcohol, and propellant gases toward the target. Researchers have explored using hairspray as an improvised insecticide, theorizing that:

  • The alcoholic solution could penetrate an insect’s waxy cuticle and dehydrate soft tissues.
  • Polymers may obstruct breathing pores (spiracles) causing suffocation.
  • The physical force of the blast could knock flying insects from the air.
  • Chemical toxins may disrupt the nervous system if absorbed.
  • Ingredients could adhere to wings and limbs, impairing movement.

For these potential mechanisms, using hairspray against wasps seems plausible in theory. However, there are multiple limiting factors that reduce its effectiveness in practice.

Limitations of Using Hairspray on Wasps

While hairspray may appear to “freeze” some insects in place, wasps demonstrate greater resilience:

  • The fine mist diffuses rapidly, minimizing bodily exposure.
  • Products lack enough acute toxicity at low doses.
  • Wasps have robust, protective exoskeletons.
  • Most direct hits only contact the body surface.
  • Any wasps away from the nest entirely avoid exposure.
  • Temporary immobilization allows recovery once the spray disperses.
  • Impaired wasps simply crawl back into protected nesting areas.
  • The spray lacks enough force to significantly disrupt flight.

Essentially, a brief blast of hairspray is unlikely to deliver a lethal dose. Its mechanisms are better suited for styling hair than executing wasps. Angry survivors may then become even more aggressive and defensive.

beekeeper working on a beehive next to flowers

Dangers of Using Hairspray Against Wasps

Aside from general ineffectiveness, attempting to kill wasps with hairspray poses several notable dangers:

  • Greatly enrages wasps, prompting mass stinging attacks on people.
  • Increased risk of triggering allergic reactions from stings.
  • Flammable propellants make burns a hazard around ignition sources like grills.
  • Respiratory irritation results from inhaling fumes.
  • Petroleum-based propellants are detrimental to the environment.
  • Kills helpful pollinating insects like bees if sprayed broadly.
  • Provides residents a false sense security, delaying effective solutions.
  • Wasted product that offers no benefit.

Rather than a quick fix, spraying wasps nests with hairspray typically compounds existing problems. The weakened survivors retaliate aggressively.

More Effective Wasp Control Alternatives

While hairspray offers an accessible home remedy for battling wasps, there are safer, more reliable methods of deterring them:

  • Insecticide dusts and sprays designed specifically to kill stinging insects. Look for active ingredients like pyrethrin. Follow all label directions carefully.
  • Foaming aerosolized insecticides injected directly into nest openings. This coats wasps inside and suffocates them.
  • Calling an exterminator to remove nests and treat surrounding areas with potent commercial-grade products. They use specialized equipment to reach nests.
  • Knockdown wasp spray reaches up to 20 feet to safely eliminate aerial nests. The long jet provides distance from stings.
  • Traps contain food attractants that lure wasps inside but prevent escape. Reduces local populations over time.
  • Vacuuming wasps safely captures and contains them. The hose extension maximizes reach while minimizing stings.
  • Filling nest entrances with foam sealant or caulk denies wasp access and forces them to abandon the nest.

Rather than improvising with household items like hairspray, purpose-made wasp products yield much better results when used cautiously according to guidelines. Their formulations and delivery systems target wasps’ vulnerabilities more effectively.

a lot of bees landing on a beehive

Preventing Wasp Problems

Discouraging wasps from congregating near homes and yards helps avoid issues that could prompt rash actions like grabbing for hairspray. Useful deterrent strategies include:

  • Installing fine mesh screens over windows, vents, and rain gutters. This blocks access into structures for nest building.
  • Identifying and sealing any openings in walls, roofs, or foundations that provide entry points.
  • Removing food debris, fallen fruit, compost piles, pet bowls, and other attractants.
  • Modifying outdoor lighting since some wasps are drawn to light fixtures.
  • Removing water sources like birdbaths, buckets, and pools which provide drinking water for wasps.
  • Applying scent repellants around gathering areas. Some plants like chrysanthemums deter wasps.
  • Using dark-colored umbrellas and tablecloths which wasps avoid compared to bright colors.

Prevention helps eliminate conditions favorable to wasp populations near human activity. This reduces the chances of encounters that could prompt desperate attempts to spray wasps with hairspray or other ill-advised remedies.


Hairspray may seem like an easy fix for nuisance wasps that suddenly appear at a picnic or backyard party. However, a few spritzes fail to deliver effective lethal doses while still angering wasps and creating stinging hazards. The flammability of most hairspray products also introduces severe injury risks. While wasps can sometimes require control, far better and safer alternatives exist than improvising with hairspray. Non-toxic traps, professional extermination services, and targeted products offer more reliable solutions without unnecessary risks. And sealing possible nesting sites provides lasting reductions in wasp problems. So reach for more thoughtful remedies rather than hairspray when wasps are unwelcome visitors. Your approach will work out for the best hare…err…hair!