Vinegar as an All Natural Weed Killer

When I first read that vinegar can actually kill weeds, I was so excited! This wonder liquid that I already use all over the house in my homemade cleaning supplies can also be used in my garden? SCORE!

Vinegar as an All Natural Weed Killer

Will Vinegar Work?

But I was skeptical so checked with gardening guru, Walter Reeves first, to find out his opinion. He recommends 5% white distilled vinegar only if used on young weeds that aren’t well established. Brand name weed killers contain glyphosphate, a chemical that when sprayed onto a weed, is translocated to the roots, killing them, too. So, good ole’ Walter (he’s a Georgia boy) says it won’t be very effective on established weeds. If looking for a natural option that you don’t have to keep pets and children away from (like I am), then he says there is 20% vinegar but it easily burns the skin. I checked prices and it costs about 5 times more than 5% vinegar that I buy at my grocery store.

So, I decided to try the 5% anyway. It won’t burn my skin, it’s cheap, it’s totally natural and non-toxic and, therefore, eco-friendly. I buy several gallons of vinegar every time I go to the grocery store since I use it as fabric softener and in my homemade cleaners, so I already had a gallon in the garage!

All Natural Weed Killer - Works In Just a Week to Zap those WeedsA

Vinegar Strikes Again!

I was happily surprised to find that when one gallon of vinegar is combined with one cup of dish soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (where to buy) since it’s non-toxic, fair-trade and organic) it works pretty well! For the established weeds, I did have to do 2 rounds. The weeds were brown in just two to four hours, and then disappeared underneath mulch and pine straw by the next day. Sweet.

All Natural Weed Killer - Vinegar, Castile Soap and a Garden Sprayer

How To Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds

For a very safe, eco-friendly version, you need:

It works best on sunny, warm days with no or very light wind. The dish soap helps the vinegar to stick to the plant and the sun causes the vinegar to burn the weed and kill it. If enough is sprayed, the vinegar will also seep into the soil and temporarily change it’s pH, which will help to kill the roots.

I did find that I had to apply it very generously for it to work. I tried using both a spray bottle and garden sprayer and the garden sprayer was much easier and gave much better coverage.

The only drawback with vinegar is that it is not selective and will kill anything it touches. That’s when it’s helpful to use a spray bottle instead of the garden sprayer to protect your nice plants and grass.

Other Natural Born Killers

According to the Daily Green, you can also go all medieval on those nasty weeds and torch ’em or even pour boiling water over them. Both sound like they’re for the bitterly angry gardeners, but would be fun to try. Table salt or rock salts (collect them from the end of your driveway during the snowy months) also help to prevent weeds from actually growing.

Have you used vinegar in the garden before? Did it work for you?

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

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  1. When we make homemade ice cream, I take the water/salt mixture and pour it around our drive, steps, etc to kill grass and weeds. It works wonders!

  2. I am so happy to find another use for vinegar. I use it on ant trails, the ants go away. I use cornmeal on the ant hills.
    I am anxious to try the vinegar on my weeds.

  3. wildcherry65 says:

    My sister had ivy all over her yard. She wanted a garden. She’d rip it out and it’d just come back. There was poison ivy amongst the ivy. She used vinegar….and it all died. They ripped it out and it never grew back! I have used it on poison ivy, and also some giant weeds-plant-thingys that kept growing behind my shed. It does kill most of the vegetation when you use it full strength. But if that is what you want….then it is awesome!

    • Wow, great! Thank you for your testimonial. I’ll share it in an upcoming newsletter!

    • Thanks for this info I have a huge amount of Poison Ivy that came up in our yard and seems to want to take over. My husband had pulled it up in the past and never got it but now it is a whole other ballgame and gets covered in it.Thanks again I already bought the vinegar!

      • Yikes, I hate poison ivy! I sure hope this helps – is it exposed to sunlight? It seems to be the combo of sunlight, the soap and vinegar that do the trick.

  4. I noticed that you mentioned boiling water as well. I have used this along my driveway and walkway and it works wonderfully! Takes a couple of days after pouring it onto the weeds but they just seem to disappear.

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  6. I must give this a try since we’ve had many windy days, and on windy days I won’t use my torch. Yes, I am jazzed to burn the beejeebies out of weeds! We have large areas, persistent weeds, and I don’t want to use harsh chemicals. Easy scour of an area, I load my propane tank onto a 2 wheeled dolly, secure with a bungy gizmo, and with the big torch in hand I quickly clean old debris and weeds. This also burns weed seeds which are a problem.
    Yet again I must say though, that I am going for the vinegar mixture because it is perfect for precision areas.
    Cheers, izzi~avis

  7. OK, I tried this today. I got gloppy junk when I added the castile soap to the vinegar! I used the Almond scented as that is what I had on hand. I used it anyway, since it was already mixed, but it looked like curdled milk. Any ideas what I did wrong? With only two ingredients, it’s hard to believe I messed up. But something was wrong!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL.

  8. I have been using acv and salt to kill weed for many years and this method works better than many over-the-counter products.

  9. I’ve used vinegar to kill weeds. Very satisfying! I will also use a weed torch to burn the seed heads. Another natural pest remover is a mix of one cup amonia and couple table spoons of lemon dish soap in a hose sprayer. Amonia is ok to spray on the lawn since it is a nitrogen compound. The bugs don’t like it or the soap, but the dirt does. ☺

  10. Patricia Seaton says:

    We have been using this diy recipe:
    1/2 cup dish soap
    2 cups Epsom salts
    1 gallon white vinegar
    Works quite well as an herbicide.

  11. Hello Sara!
    You exactly said about killer vinegar I always use vinegar to kill the weeds and clean our garden. I have used it on poison ivy, and also some giant weeds-plant-thingys that kept growing behind my shed. It does kill most of the vegetation when you use it full strength. it is awesome!
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  12. Hana baig says:

    Hi Sara. I have a problem in my roses n another flowers all get green small weed .I sprey the madicine but they again coming .I read about ur vinegar and salt n soap solution .it is not heard the plant roots.if we sprey the solutions or how I can use it there is way to spey the mixer direct on the leaves .if going solution on the soil there is problem to plant.??please answer me.

    • Yes, if the vinegar is sprayed on your plants it will also harm your pretty roses! So, I wouldn’t use it. Best thing for weeds is to pull them up and then cover with a thick layer or mulch, rocks or pine straw and recover with one of those things every year in the early spring.

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