Even though they are inside, houseplants aren't immune to insect problems. Mealy bugs, mites and aphids are some of the more common insects that plague houseplants. Controlling them is necessary or the pests will quickly spread to other plants throughout your home, either damaging or killing them as the insects feed. You can make your own houseplant insecticide and avoid the expensive commercial chemical concoctions that are available. The trick is to stay vigilant and treat problems as soon as they are noticed so the insect infestation doesn't become severe.
Quarantine the affected plant as soon as insects are noticed. Place it in a room away from other plants to prevent the bugs from spreading.
Pick off insects by hand if infestations are minor. Check the underside of leaves and use your fingers or the tip of a fingernail file to dislodge the insects.
Mix one half teaspoon liquid dish detergent with 1 quart of lukewarm water to make an insecticide. Dip a cotton swab or cloth in the mixture and dab the infected leaves with it to kill the insects. Only use this method on smooth-leaved plants.
Place the dish soap mixture into a spray bottle. Spray down the entire plant with the insecticide, including the underside of the leaves, three to four times weekly to kill most insects.
Rinse the plant with a spray of warm water 30 minutes after spraying with the detergent. This washes away the soap residue so it doesn't damage or dull the plant.