Will Bleach Kill a Snake? (Yes, But Use These Instead)

Snakes hate the smell of all carbolic acids, which means that the smell of bleach alone may repel them from your home. However, snakes are also susceptible to bleach poisoning, incurred by inhaling or digesting the chemical, so yes, bleach could theoretically be used to kill a snake.

So, you’ve spotted a snake. Most people wouldn’t be happy to see one slithering where it shouldn’t – reportedly over half of the adults in America have a fear of the slippery little critters – but if you are strapped for options, could bleach be used as an appropriate way to kill the snake and rid yourself of the problem?

But when a snake is spotted around your home, it could be hazardous to walk directly up to a snake and start pouring bleach on its face to try and kill it – especially since the smell alone might do enough to ward it off! Keep reading to learn of the safest ways to use bleach and other common household items to keep your home snake-free.

Grass snake or Natrix natrix curled up with tongue out close up

Related Reading: Can Bleach Kill Bees?

 Will Bleach Kill a Snake?

Fortunately for people in countries with high snake populations, bleach will kill snakes. However, many species of snakes are endangered and legally protected, which could spell trouble for some people, because how do you tell off the top of your head whether the one slithering towards you right now is legally protected or not?

Luckily for you, there are ways to ward off snakes without necessarily having to kill them, which is better for both you and the environment in many ways! Here is a list of common household chemicals you could use to keep your home safe from serpents:

  • Bleach
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Clove essential oil
  • Cinnamon essential oil
  • Vinegar
  • Lime and Peppermint/ Hot Peppers
  • Rue and Comfrey Tree Leaves
  • Powdered Sulphur
  • Ammonia

These different household items are used in multiple ways to deter snakes – some have odours that the snakes cannot stand, others irritate their skin. If you’re willing to shell out a little money, however, there are other methods that can leave your home snake-free, such as electrical or commercial snake repellents.

We shall outline the major methods of snake prevention in the next sections:

Odorous Snake Repellents

Snakes do not have a sense of ‘smell’ per se, however, their forked tongues are adapted to poke out their mouths and sweep through the air, picking up scent particles for them to taste. This means snakes are particularly sensitive to odours, and strong unpleasant smells are an effective method of keeping them away.

Bleach and Ammonia also contain unappealing acidic scents that serpents hate, so a nifty way to protect yourself using bleach or ammonia is to soak a rag in either one of them, place said rag inside an open plastic bag, and put the bag wherever the snakes have been spotted.

Garlic and onions contain sulfonic acid, which is the same chemical that makes us cry when we cut them, which serpents cannot bear. For best results, mix with rock salt and scatter around the home, or mix with any essential oil to fumigate roofs and basements.

Cloves and Cinnamon essential oils are also disliked by snakes but may not last as long as some other scents. This is best used in emergencies – combine the two in a spray bottle and spray at any snake coming towards you. Please do be aware: the snake will typically slither in the perfect opposite direction of the spray!

Vinegar is best used around waterways, so leave a trail of vinegar around any pool to place a boundary for any snakes.

Finally, the leaves of the Rue and Comfrey trees can be burned for some anti-snake smoke. Snakes are sensitive to smoke anyway and these leaves are found to be particularly effective. Once burned, place the leaves wherever you don’t want snakes.

bottle of bleach with white background

Physical Snake Repellents

Sulfur is one of the best ways to physically ward off a snake – sprinkle powdered sulfur around your property, and it will keep snakes away; the chemical reaction irritates their skin, and that causes them to leave.

Lime and either Peppermint or Hot Peppers have a very similar effect to Sulphur in that it causes their skin to blister when they try to slither through it, but it also has the extra bonus of also being a scent that will go some way to warding off serpents as well.

Audio Snake Repellents

If you yourself are sensitive to smells and don’t want to be trailing paths of chemicals around your property every time the scents start to fade, you may want to consider an audio snake repellent.

Certain electric gadgets can connect to common domestic outlets and produce a sound which snakes cannot bear to listen to – which, at an ultrasound frequency, humans should not be able to hear. Please note that these gadgets are best used in tight areas and so are best used inside.

Related Reading: Does Bleach Kill Spiders? (+ how to use it)


Bleach is an effective way to kill a snake, but due to legal protection and other laws surrounding wild snakes, it may not be best to kill them at all. It may also be hazardous to approach a snake with a dangerous chemical with the intention of killing it.

Instead, using the distinctive scent of bleach to ward off snakes may be a better idea to prevent snakes from entering the home. The best way to do this with bleach is with a soaked rag inside an open plastic bag at specific areas around your property.

If this is unsuitable, then there are many different ways in which a snake can be repelled using both commercial and common household items other than bleach.