In some areas, spiders just love boats. How do you get rid of them? Here's a way one reader learned by accident.

Getting Rid of Spiders

I’ve been asked more than once if I know a “secret” to getting rid of spiders. And I didn’t . . . but trust a TBG reader to share a great tip when they learn it!

I just got this in an email from Christian, a boater from Oregon. Since I don’t have any spiders here in southern Florida, I haven’t tested his method. But I’m guessing it would work.

In his own words:

Just by accident I discovered a trick that I think is quite useful.

Here in the northwest we have a large amount of spiders that find their way into the cabin spaces of our boats. When gone for a few days or many times in the dark of the night they build their webs that I always seem to find with my face.

Yesterday coming back to the boat I found nearly a dozen new webs but all of them unoccupied with the spiders hiding in the cracks and crevices. I had left the boat closed up and as I was expecting company later lit a stick of incense.

Much to my amazement as the smoke drifted up a hiding spider rapidly dropped to the cabin sole.   Armed with the stick of incense, I let the smoke go around all of the other web areas where smoked out of hiding I was able to capture all but one spider.

I am going to be a hero at the next dock meeting….

Yep, I think he will be.

Got any other tips for getting rid of spiders? Please share your secrets in the comments!

In some areas, spiders just love boats. How do you get rid of them? Here's a way one reader learned by accident.

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  • Sarah
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    Was it any special type of incense? I’m wondering if that’s why people use sage smoke to “purify” a space? Great tip, thank you.

  • Sue
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    We put chestnuts on the floor in our basement and they keep the spiders away…might work on a boat. We put them near the door

  • David N. Parker
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    She “captured” the spiders? Not on my boat 🙂 a good spider is a dead one, even then, far fro me 🙂

    • Jim Rohde
      Posted at 11 November 2014 Reply

      I think that “captured” was a nice way of saying flattened!

  • Nikki Dowden
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply


  • Lynn Brownlow
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    Sounds interesting, but to find one that I can still be around and be able to breath!

  • Robert
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    I get a spray bottle, fill it with vinegar & spray in all corners & places where spiders hang out. GONE, spiders hate vinegar & will leave. I have no spiders in my home or boat.

  • Charles A Peavey
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    I’d be curious if it was the actual smoke and any smoke would do or ws it smoke from a specific scent of incense. One trick that I use which I learned from a local woman of knowledge of an Indian tribe is to use pepper tree leaves ion and around my boat, it has a nice smell and spiders and bugs avoid it completely. I change the pepper leaves annually.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

      Interesting. I might try that too. Where do you get the leaves?

    • Charles A Peavey
      Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

      Pepper trees are plentiful in our area in Northern California and I just pick them. The pepper is different than the normal black pepper found on the store shelves: it is much more pungent. I actually use the peppercorns for spicing it gives dishes a different flavor signature.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply


  • Illana Vickers
    Posted at 08 November 2014 Reply

    I had heard that Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) also keep spiders at bay. I thought it was an old wives tale but thought that I had nothing to loose but trying it, as I hate spiders (a good spider is a dead one 🙂
    I was pleasently surprised to realise that they work like a charm 🙂 I placed them all aound our bed and after being away from the boat for a couple of months, there was not a single spider web insight 🙂
    The Horse Chestnuts give off an odour that spiders dislike and keep them away.

  • Gerald Hemming
    Posted at 09 November 2014 Reply

    Spiders are carnivores and they eat other bugs. If you have spiders on your boat they are hunting the bugs that eat your boat. More to the point YOU HAVE BUGS, on your boat.

    • Tony Gariepy
      Posted at 10 November 2014 Reply

      I have to agree with Gerald, there are usually no spiders where there is no food for them, i.e. other bugs…

    • Tom Geren
      Posted at 13 November 2014 Reply

      What kind of bugs? I’ve seen nothing but largish DEAD roaches; far too big to get entangled. I’m not a fan of killing harmless spiders. I’ll try the incense.

    • Chris In Oregon
      Posted at 13 November 2014 Reply

      Spiders build webs where THEY THINK they will have the best chance of sucess in catching Flying bugs. Black nats, no see-ums, common house flies, and mosquitoes all show up in our boats uninvited and often from smells our bodies put off. These bugs often follow two paths, they head to the light as in port holes, hatches and lamps or they follow a air current that has a smell in it. Spiders know this and build webs along the way to light or in the path of a air current.
      Having spiders in your boat does not guarantee that there are other bugs in your boat besides the spiders.

      • Tom
        Posted at 13 November 2014 Reply

        Thanks, I’d much rather have the spiders than the noseeums, mossies, etc.

  • MichaelAnne Beighley
    Posted at 09 November 2014 Reply

    Incense 😉

  • RogerN
    Posted at 11 November 2014 Reply

    Cat flea collars will drive them off and keep them away for months at a time, even small bits of them. We wrap them around rail and stanchion bases and pad eyes, and stuff the the bits you cut off there inside the dodger and bimini sleeves, speakers and turnbuckle covers, – anywhere we see a web. We buy them less expensively in bulk on the web, and using the ends maximizes their value. Like any pesticide, you need to evaluate any risks for yourself; since we don’t handle them after putting them out, I’m comfortable using them, at least above deck.

  • Janice R
    Posted at 20 November 2014 Reply

    Spiders do not like peppermint oil. Mix some with water in a spray bottle and spray around doors and hatches or anywhere you find them. Peppermint oil also keeps away rodents and other bugs. I had mice chewing the wiring and insulation out of my car. I started applying peppermint oil to a cotton pad and putting it under the hood and the problem stopped. When I actively used the peppermint oil in the house, I did not find spiders. But when I slacked off, they came back. Peppermint oil is common and found in stores, though I ordered mine from Amazon. One word of caution, wear gloves to protect your skin as the oil is very strong!

  • Paul Schroder
    Posted at 22 November 2014 Reply

    Ortho Home Defense. You can get it at most big box stores and hardware stores. It comes in a gallon bottle with a sprayer and hose.
    You spray this on everything: rigging sail covers, lifelines and any areas inside that spiders line to build their webs. It has a long ( almost 4 months!) residual affect and we went from having to sweep spider webs away every time we went to the boat to not having seen a spider in months.
    It’s made for inside home usage so it’s safe ( as a chemical can be ) this was the first year we used it and it was only a partial season so I’m looking to see how long it’s residual is next season.

    • Terry Threlkeld
      Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

      Using a registered pesticide above water is illegal. To comply with laws you need to use a 25b product.

  • Ivy Wentz
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    That’s great. At our lake here in Tx, spiders are a big issue. Now I have a new way to attack it. I like spiders but really don’t like their bites

    • Randy Hicks
      Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

      Yep, we’re also in Texas on a lake and it is a battle every time out to clear them out.

  • Debbie Bowen Crawford
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    Peppermint oil repeals them. We do not have any but other boats have rather large ones.

  • Patrick Gearhart
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    WHite vinegar and peppermint oil in a spray bottle – keeps them away

  • Luis Perez
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    I hate spider poop

  • Mary Bustin
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    I like spiders on board too – because they eat bugs and when birds visit, they eat the spiders.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 04 January 2017 Reply

    All great comments. Any suggestions for spiders that move aboard at dock side? We use a spray spider kill on the dock and dock lines

  • Vivienne
    Posted at 23 February 2017 Reply

    Incidentally, incense sticks are also good to keep flies away, as long as you can stand the sickly smell of the perfume! For fruit flies we leave little dishes of cloves out.

  • Mark Bertsche
    Posted at 01 March 2017 Reply

    Essential oil Tea Tree oil – cut with alcohol. Put in Dollar Store plastic spray bottle. Arachnids can’t stand the smell or buy a 12v diffuser on Amazon. No more spiders!

    • Terry Threlkeld
      Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

      Buy a Solo 417 Sprayer and use my product the Eliminator found at www, The article up top about Ortho Home Defense sounds like a registered pesticide and is not legal to use above water so do not get caught using on your dock.

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