How to make weed killer with vinegar

Updated February 21, 2017

No matter how well cared for your garden is, weeds always seem to grow faster than any cultivated plant. Left to their own devices, weeds will overtake your flowers and vegetables, robbing them of moisture and nutrients. Commercial weed killers are an effective means of ridding your yard and garden of weeds. Unfortunately, they are expensive and often contain harmful chemicals that may put your children or pets at risk. Using vinegar as a weed killer provides effective control without the risks associated with chemical applications and saves money too.

Purchase distilled white vinegar in the grocery store. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, generally diluted to 5 per cent and labelled as "5 per cent acid." Higher concentrations may be available, but do pose a risk of irritating sensitive skin and mucus membranes. Exercise caution when working with anything above 5 per cent acidity. The acid works to remove moisture form the plant causing it to shrivel and die.

Mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 29.6ml. of liquid dish detergent. The soap works to break down the waxy surface on the leaves, allowing the vinegar to work more efficiently. It also helps the solution to stick to the leaves, giving the vinegar time to kill the weed.

Fill a spray bottle with the solution and spray weeds thoroughly. The solution will kill any plant it comes in contact with. Use care to avoid over-spray to neighbouring plants. Small weeds will shrivel and die within 24 hours. Repeat application if regrowth occurs from the roots.

Pour the solution directly on the roots of large weeds that have extensive root systems. Plants like burdock may take a day or two to die off. Once the root withers and becomes soft, pull the root from the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 gallon of vinegar
  • 29.6ml. liquid dish detergent
  • Spray bottle
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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.