Homemade Grass & Weed Killer

Updated April 13, 2018

Weeds are unsightly in landscaping, lawn or garden. Chemical weed killers are expensive and dangerous for the environment, and they should not be used where children or pets play. An alternative to buying chemical herbicides is to use homemade weed killers. Save money while you get rid of those nuisance weeds safely.

Pre-Emergent Weed and Grass Killer

Corn gluten is a pre-emergent weed control. Pre-emergent means that it kills weeds before they grow. Corn gluten has no killing effect on weeds that have already germinated. In fact it is high in nitrogen, and is used as a lawn fertiliser. Pure lawn-care corn gluten has been separated from the rest of the ground corn grain, but you can use regular whole grain corn meal as an effective weed killer. Simply sprinkle a light layer of corn meal on the bare soil in areas you want to be weed free.

Sure Kill Using Extreme Heat

If weed seeds have already germinated and started to grow, douse them with boiling water. Boiling water has instant knockdown and kill; you only need to come back later and sweep up the dead plants. Flame torches are another instant kill for grass and weeds, but they present the danger of open flame. A flame torch definitely kills grass and weeds, but the heat from it may discolour pavement, and it leaves behind blackened areas. Extreme heat from boiling water or a flame torch will kill neighbouring plants, and it also destroys beneficial microbes in the soil. However, you will not contaminate the area if you use these chemical-free methods. They are very effective for grass or weeds in sidewalk cracks or in driveways.

Homemade Sprays

Horticultural vinegar is an effective grass and weed killer. Spray it directly on plants, and they wither and die. At about 20 per cent acidity, horticultural vinegar is more highly concentrated than kitchen vinegar. Increase the concentration of kitchen vinegar by boiling it down. One gallon of 5 per cent kitchen vinegar can be boiled down and reduced to one quart liquid, which will make the concentration 20 per cent.

Rubbing alcohol is another household item that kills weeds. Spray it on, or paint it onto the leaves. A sponge-type paintbrush works well to dab or paint with.

Salt of any kind, including ordinary table salt, kills grass and weeds. Dissolve salt in water and spray it on grass and weeds, or sprinkle salt crystals on the area where you want to eliminate grass and weeds. Salt has a long lasting effect, and once it is in the soil it can remain for years. Don't use salt if you will want to plant flowers in the spot later.


Homemade grass and weed killers are basically safe to use. They do not present ecological problems. Exercise caution, however, because they will kill anything they contact, desirable and undesirable.

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About the Author

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.