Natural Vinegar Weed Killer – The Organic Way

Do you love growing perennials but don’t like the weeds that need pulling? The next time you walk outside and see a garden bed full of weeds and reach for the Roundup, why not stop and ask yourself a question.  “Why drench them with something that will remain in the soil for who knows how long?”  Maybe you should reach for a common household product, instead. This natural vinegar weed killer is easy to use and so much better for the soil.This vinegar weed killer uses organic or horticultural vinegar to kill weeds without the use of salt, which can be damaging to the soil.

DIY garden ideas on a budget are some of the most popular posts on this blog. Who doesn’t like to save money?

Many homemade products do just as good a job as those the retail products that you buy in stores.  Things like disinfectant wipes and liquid soap can be made at home for a fraction of the price of store goods.

Vinegar has many uses in the home and garden. It is an effective cleaner, a great way to keep ants off the counters and has dozens of other uses. Today we’ll put it to use as a homemade weed killer.

Vinegar Weed Killer  – An Alternative to Roundup

Weeds are the bane of any gardener’s life.  Keeping on top of them accounts for a large part of the work that you need to do in the summer to keep gardens looking good. I sometimes combine weeds with rain water to make “weed compost tea.”  You can find the recipe for this and also my homemade DIY Miracle Grow recipe here.

I have seen dozens of methods for vinegar weed killer on the internet. The problem with most of them is that they suggest white vinegar and a LOT of salt.  Salt is also very hard on the soil and surrounding plants.  It can leach into the water table and is bad for the environment.  It also takes a very long time to dissipate. Also, plain household vinegar has too low an acidity level to really work well on weeds.

Instead of these remedies. You can use Horticultural or organic vinegar on its own or with just a bit of dish washing Liquid. (The dish washing liquid doesn’t do much for the weeds, but it helps the vinegar stick to them for better results.)   Both Horticultural vinegar and Organic vinegar work. Either are natural weed controllers on their own.  **For this to work, the vinegar must be at least 20% acidity which is why this remedy works better than normal vinegar which only has a 5% acidity level.Horticultural vinegarTo use as an all purpose weed killer combine these two items:

  • 1 gallon of organic or horticultural 20% vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of dish washing soap.

Mix well, and place in a container that you will use just for killing weeds.

You can use a  watering can,  a spray bottle or a  pump-sprayer to apply the organic vinegar. A pump-sprayer is the most efficient way to apply it. Be sure to rinse your sprayer after use, or metal parts may corrode in time. Vinegar weed killer

Tips for using this vinegar weed killer

Use this weed killer in the sun. Be sure to apply the vinegar weed killer on a warm, sunny, and calm day. Try to apply it when there will be no rain for at least two days for best results.

Be selective on your weeds! You need to aim directly on the weeds. Vinegar is not selective; it can potentially harm and nearby plants so care should be taken when applying it.  You don’t want to get too zealous and end up killing your vegetable garden.

Great for all types of weeds. This vinegar weed killer will work on all types of perennial, and annual weeds. You can use it on broad leaf and grassy weeds with great results.Weeds in a garden are a pain

Use it on paths. This weed killer is great to use in the cracks on walkways, where grass and ornamental plants are not an issue. You can spray as much as you want here without worrying about nearby plants.

Acidity levels. Horticultural vinegar is highly acidic – it will lower the pH of your soil for a few days or possibly weeks, so wait for a good rainstorm before you plant anything where you sprayed. The acetic acid in the vinegar does two things: it burns the weed’s foliage on contact and it temporarily lowers the pH of the soil, making it hard for the weed to make a comeback.

Be careful on lawns. Since this vinegar weed killer is not selective, it will damage grass. If you have creeping Charlie in your lawn, try using this natural Borax weed killer to treat it.

Good for the planet. The vinegar is completely biodegradable – it degrades in a matter of days – and does not accumulate so it is approved for organic agricultural use as well.Protect the planet

Shop Wisely. Organic vinegar is readily available, and doesn’t leave poisons behind.  When you shop, you will notice that if the label says horticultural vinegar, there seem to be a bit price hike, but that is just marketing in my opinion. The trick is to get a 20% acidity level so any vinegar with this level will work, even if not labeled horticultural. Kill those weeds, save some money and help the environment.

Note:   Horticultural vinegar and organic vinegar are both available at garden supply stores (not the big box stores) and numerous places online. Search online for your best price.Organic Vinegar Weed killer (must be 20% acidity)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  24 comments for “Natural Vinegar Weed Killer – The Organic Way

  1. Weed Killer Uk
    06/11/2013 at 4:59 am

    I heard about vinegar that it can help to kill weed. But how long for?

    • admin
      06/11/2013 at 7:35 am

      Some weeds will stay dead. Others need reapplying if they are stubborn.

  2. Erin
    07/07/2016 at 4:55 pm

    Will this kill my grass?

    • Carol
      07/07/2016 at 7:49 pm

      Yes, it will. Most weed killers will kill anything growing that they touch. Carol

      • Al
        08/26/2016 at 4:00 pm

        Good, I am cleaning cracks in asphault and curbs. Thanks

        • Carol
          08/26/2016 at 7:29 pm

          That is one of my favorite uses of it. We have cracks in the path to our home and the weeds love them. Carol

  3. peg
    01/14/2017 at 3:00 pm

    The instructions don’t say how much detergent to use. Suggestions? Also, no water? Just want to make sure we are doing it right! Thank you!

    • Carol
      01/15/2017 at 8:55 am

      Hi Peg. No water. Just the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. (this just helps it stick to the weeds better.) Carol

  4. Chris
    05/14/2017 at 7:54 pm

    Can it be used on floating plants IE Water Lilies?

    • Carol
      05/14/2017 at 10:05 pm

      HI Chris. I am not sure how this would work. I have not tried it. Carol

  5. Kathleen
    06/29/2017 at 8:38 am

    Is this pet safe?

    • Carol
      06/29/2017 at 9:19 am

      Hi Kathleen. Horticultural vinegar is safe for pets and I have seen DIY remedies using dawn dishwashing soap as a pet shampoo. I can’t imagine the pets would want to lick and don’t know how safe it would be if they did. Hands down, it’s a lot safer than toxic chemicals in retail weed killers though. Carol

  6. 07/10/2017 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I will try the one yo mentioned “the vinegar must be at least 20% acidity which is why this remedy works better than normal vinegar which only has a 5% acidity level.” Same as you, I tried salt and vinegar, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted to befor my garden. Thank you.

    • Carol
      07/10/2017 at 3:26 pm

      My pleasure David. There is so much misinformation out there that keeps getting passed on over and over, the 5% one is one of those. There are weed killers for sale commercially that are mainly horticultural vinegar. It does the job! Carol

  7. Matt
    05/29/2018 at 10:41 pm

    How long does it take for this weed killer to take effect? Minutes, hours, days? Thanks.

    • Carol
      05/30/2018 at 10:12 am

      Hi Matt, on a dry day, you should expect to see weeds start to shrivel and die within a few hours. Do take note, however, that this type of weed killer has no residual effect, so new weeds can potentially grow back. It also depends on whether you get any rain after applying it. Carol

  8. carmine
    06/05/2018 at 2:20 pm

    I heard you can use 2 cups of epsom salt with this mixture

    • Carol
      06/05/2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for the tip Carmine. I’ve never tried it with Epsom salt. Carol

  9. Norman and Julie Blondel
    06/28/2018 at 2:28 pm

    I used store white vinegar with dish detergent and it killed weeds and grass both. I intend to apply ground limestone and grass seed after soaking dead area. Will this work?……..Norman.

    • Carol
      06/28/2018 at 3:32 pm

      The biggest problem with most DIY weed killers is that it is not selective like some store bought products can be. So if the weed is in the grass and you get the weed killer on the grass it will die too. To work best, the weeds need to be isolated. (in cracks in pavement, in walk ways….in garden beds not too near plants.) Not sure how the limestone and grass seed will work. Carol

  10. Danielle
    07/04/2018 at 9:01 am

    I found a recipe that added orange, cinnamon and clove essential oils to the 20% vinegar. It started to killed poison ivy in a few hours! I have only found the vinegar online and it’s not cheap but to me it is totally worth it!

    • David White
      07/05/2018 at 4:30 pm

      Buy cleaning vinegar at Home Depot. its 20% and much cheaper than horticultural vinegar.

  11. Tara
    07/07/2018 at 3:43 pm

    Will 20% white vinegar kill algae in a pond ? (birds and other wild animals drink from this water)

    • Carol
      07/07/2018 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Tara. Vinegar will change the pH level of pond water and could kill any fish in it. I assume it would not be good for birds and animals that drink from it. Another natural remedy is to put barley straw into mesh bags. As the straw disintegrates, it is said that it will kill pond algae. I haven’t tried this, however, so I can’t say how it works. Carol

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