Does Vinegar Keep Snakes Away? And If Not, What Does?

I’ve never been a big fan of snakes.

Not only can you not trust them, but you never know where they are until it’s already too late. And if they do happen to bite you, it could either be a short, painful experience — or possibly even the end of your life. You never know.

You may have heard that vinegar can be used for repelling snakes, but does it actually work?

Here’s what I found out:

There’s no proven science that says vinegar works as a snake repellant, although many people claim differently. It’s possible that vinegar only works as a snake repellent when applied around bodies of water.

Continue reading below to learn more about the effectiveness of vinegar for repelling snakes. Or scroll further down the page to see what other ingredients are more effective at keeping snakes away.

Does Vinegar Repel Snakes?

White vinegar is something most of us have in our homes, it’s cheap, it’s non-toxic, it would literally be the perfect solution for all our snake problems.

All of the sources I’ve found stated that vinegar had to be used around the perimeter of a body of water to repel snakes. So if vinegar works, it’s safe to say it would have to be applied around bodies of water for it to work.

But what if there’s no water?

Then vinegar is pretty much useless at keeping snakes away.

I found that the easiest way to prevent snakes from showing up is to make it as hard for them as possible. Keep an open area with little to no brush, have an animal like a cat or dog with you, and make sure all food and waste is sealed when not in use.

This way, the likelihood of a snake showing up is low…

but never zero.

So keep reading to find out what scents actually to keep snakes away. Or scroll to the bottom to find some DIY snake repellents that actually work.

Taking Advantage of a Snake’s Sense of Smell

Snakes rely heavily on their sense of smell to interact with the world around them.

A snake’s sense of smell is much more advanced than ours, they don’t actually “smell” like we do, rather they use their tongue to collect chemical particles from the environment.

Their tongue then transfers those chemical particles to a structure called their “Jacobson’s organ” which they use to understand and perceive the world around them. It’s this “Jacobson’s organ” that is very sensitive and can register tiny changes within the environment.

Because of how their sense of smell is structured, it’s thought that snakes can’t handle very pungent smells. So we can take advantage of this by using pungent smells to ward them off.

What Scents Do Snakes Hate?

Snakes can’t stand garlic.

Setting up a perimeter of garlic cloves around the area you’re trying to protect has been shown to keep snakes away. People aren’t sure if it’s because of the pungent smell of garlic or whether it’s some active chemical within it that actually repels the snakes.

But the amount of garlic cloves you would need to be able to secure any sizable area is more than one person could carry, so it’s easier to make it into a spray.

There are a few other scents that have been shown to deter snakes:

  • Cinnamon
  • Onions
  • Lime
  • Smoke
  • Ammonia
  • Clove
  • Sulfur

For a lot of these, you’ll be better off making them into a sprayable solution because they’ll be easier to use. Though it can be a good idea to learn how to use a few of these just in case.

Best DIY Snake Repellents

I know you probably don’t want to carry a grocery list of stuff just to keep snakes away.

So let’s keep it simple.

Garlic Snake Repellent

  • Crush and grind up a few cloves of garlic until the garlic is finely ground. 10 cloves will be perfect
  • Mix the ground garlic with a little bit of oil, then add water until well-mixed
  • Add some salt and lime juice to the solution. Make sure the ratio is 50-50 salt to lime juice, you want the solution to be salty and acidic
  • Then place it into a spray bottle

It kind of sounds like a fancy cocktail, I know.

This will be your homemade garlic snake repellent.

If the smell of garlic isn’t bad enough, the salt and lime juice will scratch and irritate the snake enough to keep it away. Now all you have to do is spray the perimeter down and this is going to keep snakes away.

Or you could spray it directly in their face if one happens to cross your path. Just be careful, snakes have a tendency to run in the opposite direction of the spray.

Cinnamon and Clove Essential Oils

Cinnamon and clove essential oils are also very effective at keeping snakes away.

To make a snake repellent out of these ingredients,

  • Mix equal parts cinnamon oil and clove oil
  • Dilute the essential oils with water and put the solution in a spray bottle

This repellent works best when sprayed at the snake directly. But keep in mind, nobody likes being shot in the face with nasty substances, so keep your distance when spraying a snake.


Using smoke from a fire is an easy way to ward off snakes, especially if you’re out in the woods. How to do this:

  • Dig a small fire pit
  • Fill it with kindling and rocks
  • Light it on fire and cover it with dried foliage

This is going to create a lot of smoke but this is good because the smoke will ward off any snakes in the area. And it’ll ward off other pests like mosquitos too while you’re at it.

While vinegar may not be the best option for repelling snakes, you have other options from our DIY snake repellents that you can use.