How to make homemade weed killer...vinegar, dish soap, salt

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How to Kill Weeds With Vinegar

Two Methods:

Vinegar contains acetic acid and is an effective, and natural, weed killer. It is favored by many gardeners because it has less harmful effects that herbicides. You can use a pump sprayer to spray vinegar directly onto any weeds, carefully avoiding the plants you want to keep. For tougher weeds, you can buy stronger horticultural vinegar, add some dish soap, or add salt to your vinegar before you spray your weeds.


Using Vinegar as a Weed Killer

  1. Buy white vinegar.Go to your local grocery store and buy a bottle of basic vinegar, typically a 5% concentration of acetic acid. The best bargain is probably to buy a one gallon jug unless you only have a few weeds. If you are killing a lot of weeds, you may need to buy more than one gallon, but one gallon will cover a large area.
    • The acid in vinegar is what kills the weeds. White vinegar is most recommended, and probably the cheapest, but you can use apple cider vinegar as well.
  2. Mix the vinegar with 2 teaspoons (9.9 ml) dish soap.A bit of dish soap will help the spray stick to the weeds. You should add 2 teaspoons (9.9 ml) of dish soap per 1 gallon (3.8 l) of vinegar. Stir the mixture in a bowl or bucket.
  3. Pour the mixture into a garden sprayer.Choosing a pump sprayer with a hose and long nozzle will make spraying large areas of weeds easier. Fill the sprayer up with the vinegar and dish soap mixture, or put as much in the sprayer as you’ll need.
    • Another option is to pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle. You can buy an empty bottle or you can use a bottle that used to contain window cleaner or another gentle household cleaner. Make sure to rinse it out well if you use a bottle that had other liquid in it.
    • If you are only killing a few weeds, or covering a small area, you can poke four or five holes in the cap of the vinegar bottle and use the bottle to douse the weeds.
    • If you’re using horticultural vinegar, which has an acidity of 30%, dilute it with water. If you’re using regular white vinegar, you won’t need to dilute it.
  4. Choose a sunny day to spray weeds.The acetic acid in vinegar dries weeds out, so applying vinegar on a day when the weeds will get at least a few hours of direct sunlight increases the drying power of the vinegar. Spray in the morning so the weeds can get lots of sun.
    • If it rains unexpectedly shortly after you spray the weeds, you’ll most likely have to apply a second round of vinegar.
    • In this case, sunny means hot as well, ideally in the range of 70+ degrees.
  5. Spray directly onto the weeds.Using the pump sprayer, spray bottle, or vinegar bottle with holes, thoroughly douse the weeds you want to kill. Cover the leaves with vinegar, but also spray down around the roots.
    • You don’t need to soak them so they are dripping wet but spray an even coat.
    • Wait around 24 hours and check the weeds. If you aren’t satisfied, you can spray the weeds a second time.
  6. Avoid spraying vinegar on desirable plants.Vinegar kills crops and flowers as well as weeds, so take care any time you are spraying weeds around good plants. Vinegar is not always a good option if you are spraying weeds in a garden, flower bed, or in your yard.
    • Vinegar shouldn’t soak into the soil and kill other plants unless it makes direct contact with them.
  7. Clean the sprayer out after you finish.Vinegar can corrode your sprayer if you let it sit for a long time. Carefully rinse your sprayer out after every use. Dump the excess vinegar out and then fill the sprayer with water. Be sure to pump and spray the water to clean out the hose and nozzle.

Killing Stubborn Weeds

  1. Buy 20% concentrated horticultural vinegar.Go to a garden store or home improvement store and ask if they have concentrated vinegar products designed for garden use. When using stronger vinegar, it is advised to take extra caution such as wearing gloves and goggles.
    • Most weeds will die with regular vinegar, so use that first and only use horticultural vinegar if regular doesn’t work.
    • Be careful not to get any on your skin as it can cause burns because of the higher concentration of acetic acid.
  2. Add dish soap.Mix some dish soap into your sprayer or spray bottle. Using around a teaspoon (5 ml) per quart (liter) of vinegar is a good amount. The dish soap will help the vinegar stick to the weeds and not run off.
    • Gently stir the soap into the vinegar, but don’t shake the bottle too much or the soap will get sudsy rather than mixing into the vinegar.
    • It is not necessary to carefully measure out the dish soap. Squirt an amount that seems close to a teaspoon per quart.
  3. Add 2 cups (473 ml) of table salt to a gallon (3.8 L) of vinegar.Salt may not affect all weeds, but it can dry out some weeds faster than plain vinegar. You can add salt to the mixture that already has dish soap in it. Use cheap table salt rather than rock salt, Epsom salt, or sea salt.
    • Salt tends to stay in the soil for a while and can have long-term effects on healthy plant life. If you are killing weeds in an area where you’ll plant again, it is probably best to avoid the salt.
    • On the other hand, if you are killing weeds in an area that you want to prevent future growth, salt can help achieve this.
    • It is especially important to clean a sprayer in which you added salt because it will clog up the parts and can even corrode the sprayer.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How long does the vinegar last?

    Lauren Kurtz is a Horticulturist in Colorado. She has worked as a horticulture specialist for the City of Aurora, Water Conservation Department since 2019.
    Expert Answer
    The vinegar will kill the weeds you spray, but more weeds will likely grow back in a few weeks. You can reapply your vinegar mixture whenever you need to.
  • Question
    Can I spray shrubs for bugs with vinegar?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. Vinegar will damage the plant, not the bugs. To combat bugs, mix a couple teaspoons of neem oil and dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water and spray that on the infested plant. It may take a few applications to completely rid the plant of the infestation, especially if the solution gets washed off by rain or sprinklers. It's non-toxic to humans, but doesn't taste good, so you can spray it on ripening vegetables, but make sure you wash them before eating them.
  • Question
    What is the least expensive way to kill weeds on a forty square foot property?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Pulling up weeds with your hands is the least expensive way to pull up weeds because it does not cost anything but your time. Vinegar is also an inexpensive option.
  • Question
    If I spray weeds with vinegar, could it harm my dog when he sniffs around?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It won't do any permanent damage, but it may sting his eyes a bit. You'll notice the dog sneezing or rubbing his nose if he finds it irritating.
  • Question
    How long should I wait to reseed if I kill weeds with vinegar?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Wait at least five days. Wait two weeks to really play it safe.
  • Question
    Will this damage block paving?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. For any noticeable damage to occur the solution would have to sit on the pavement for days.
  • Question
    What should I do if it rains the day after I spray?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can reapply the spray if you feel like it's necessary or just wait a few weeks and try the treatment again.
  • Question
    Will vinegar kill Bermuda and St. Augustine grass?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Not effectively, especially if you just use the grocery store vinegar. Add a quart of lemon juice (the cheapest you can find) to a gallon of cheap vinegar to increase the acidity (which is what's killing the plant) or buy super strength vinegar online, and apply when there's plenty of heat and sun in the forecast.
  • Question
    If I spray vinegar (20%) on my Bermuda lawn, will it kill my grass?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes - it will begin killing whatever you spray it on. The vinegar will dehydrate your grass the same as the weeds.
  • Question
    Do I need to use pure vinegar, or should I mix it with water?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    For best results, don't dilute it with water, just mix it with a bit of dish soap.
Unanswered Questions
  • I got 50 grain vinegar, should I dilute that to kill weeds?
  • Will this method kill other types of weeds, as well?
  • Will vinegar kill dock weeds?
  • Will white vinegar kill fungus in pond?
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Quick Summary

To kill weeds with vinegar, start by filling a spray bottle most of the way full with white vinegar. Add in a few teaspoons of dish soap, which will help the vinegar stick to the weeds. Mix this together by gently shaking the bottle and then wait until it is hot outside to go spray your weeds because the sun will help to dry the weeds out. Then, spray an even coat of vinegar onto the weeds you'd like to kill, being careful to avoid spraying any of your other plants. Wait 24 hours and if the weeds don't look like they are dying, you can repeat this treatment until the weeds are gone.

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Things You'll Need

  • White distilled vinegar
  • Pump sprayer/spray bottle
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Table salt (optional)

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