What Smells Do Slugs Hate?

Although it can be surprising to hear, slugs have a strong sense of smell. The good news is that you can use this fact against slugs when trying to deter them.

Although slugs can be tough to get rid of, they do hate a range of smells including coffee, garlic, essential oils and strong herbs.

So, What Smells Do Slugs Hate?

Below, we have outlined a range of smells that slugs hate and how you can go about using them to deter slugs from your garden:

Coffee Grounds

As humans, we love coffee both in terms of taste and smell. However, slugs do not feel the same way about it. Coffee has a powerful smell that repels slug.

This method is quite easy and only requires used coffee grounds. You can sprinkle the coffee in your garden soil, in plant pots or at the entrance of your garden.

However, while this method requires minimal effort, the wind can blow the coffee grounds far, or the rain can wash rinse them away. You will, therefore, need to reapply the coffee grounds in your garden for them to work.

Coffee Grounds are Good for the Soil
The good news is that coffee grounds are proven to be quite nutritious for the soil. Therefore, you will be gaining more than just keeping slugs away. 

You can also try making a spray with some coffee and water. You can spray the mixture on your plants, and it will not cause them any harm. Much like coffee ground, you will need to continuously reapply the spray for it to remain effective.

Sprinkle Coffee Grounds to Deter S

Animal Hair

Many people may be unaware of this, but slugs hate the smell of animal hair, and it is quite obvious why when you think about it. Animals do not like to be in the same vicinity as others because they feel threatened by the presence of a large, potential predator.

You can try distributing some of your pet’s long hair in your garden. Unfortunately, as with coffee grounds, you will need to keep reapplying the pet hair as the wind or rain can render it useless.


Garlic is part of the allium family, which slugs hate. Garlic contains the compound allicin, which is what drives slugs away. Using garlic is a great way to repel slugs because of the powerful smell.

You can use garlic in different ways in your garden. The easiest way is to use fresh garlic. You can chop and crush some garlic, so the juices and the aroma are released. Next, you can take the chopped pieces and put the garlic in the soil or potted plants.

Another way to incorporate garlic is to make a spray. You can make a spray by boiling some garlic in water. You can spray this mix on your plants, and it is a great natural way to keep slugs away. 

If you cannot get your hands on fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder instead. You can sprinkle some garlic powder on the soil or near your plants.

Other Alliums

Other than garlic, there are other alliums like onions and shallots that slugs do not like. However, these alliums do not give off the same scent as garlic does. The effectiveness of onions is far lower than that of garlic.

It’s also worth noting that ornamental alliums grown for their bulbous blooms (and not their scent) will not work to deter slugs.


Herbs have some of the strongest smells in the garden, and slugs do not like coming near them, particularly rosemary. You can use rosemary the same way you would use coffee grounds by sprinkling it on the soil.

In addition to rosemary, you can also use mint, thyme, and sage. 

Besides sprinkling the herbs around your garden, you can also simply grow them. A great way to deter slugs is to interplant rosemary with more vulnerable plants to keep them protected.

Scented Flowers 

Strongly scented flowers tend to be avoided by slugs. This will include lavender and roses. Again, as with herbs, you can use this knowledge by interplanting lavender throughout your garden besides plants that often come under attack such as hostas.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have a strong, concentrated smell and therefore are a great way to keep slugs away. You can use essential oils to make your DIY repellent. The only thing you need to do is mix your chosen essential oil in some water.

Many different essential oils are available, including lavender, rose, and peppermint, which are effective against slugs. 


One of the biggest challenges one can face as a gardener is dealing with a slug infestation. To avoid this problem, you can use smells that they hate against them.

Slugs have a great sense of smell, so you can add strong scents to your garden to keep plants safe. Some of the smells which slugs hate are herbs, animal hair, essential oils, garlic and other alliums.

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