Another Dilemma For Your Garden: Does Vinegar Kill Weeds?

Surely, you are already using vinegar for many household chores. You might use it to clean your washing machine, your oven’s glass and your microwave, or to clean mould off walls and canvas swag and different kinds of stains off your carpets and mattress. Due to its acid properties, vinegar is a natural limescale remover, disinfectant, cleaner, plus it can add acidity and a pleasant, intense taste to your foods. 

a bottle of white vinegar

Vinegar is also perfect for cleaning your stainless steel appliances and your iron without using chemical products, but it can also soften your towels. However, here’s a dilemma: Based on its many properties, can vinegar be used in the garden as well? And more specifically: Can it kill weeds

Does vinegar work as a herbicide?

Vinegar’s main ingredient, acetic acid, can be produced naturally through bacterial fermentation, like in apple cider vinegar or through chemical reactions from materials such as methanol. In such a case, the concentration of acetic acid is strong enough that vinegar can’t be used in food but only as a herbicide called horticultural vinegar

Horticultural vinegar is strong enough to kill any kind of weed or plant. In simple terms: Vinegar needs a 15-25% concentration of acetic acid to be the most effective weed killer. But it’s rather harmful. It won’t only kill the weeds, but you also run a great risk of burning yourself as well. 

Using household vinegar is also effective. However, it can only kill small weeds. For larger ones, things aren’t so simple. You might need to apply it more times than horticultural vinegar and make more on the spot treatments, but you’ll get the desirable results in the end. 

Is it ok to use vinegar to kill weeds?

We use vinegar in food! You don’t have to worry about using it as a weed killer. It’s the most eco-friendly way of weed killing. You should worry, though, while using it. It will kill all weeds and plants it will touch. It can also destroy your flowers, grass or vegetable plants you have in the garden or flower beds. That’s why you need to be rather careful while applying the vinegar solution. It actually destroys the parts of the plant it touches. Thus, to kill a weed once and for all, you need to apply the vinegar weed killer directly to the plant’s root system. 

Step-by-step guide: How to kill weeds with vinegar

For weed control, apply vinegar directly onto the unwanted weeds. If it contacts other plants and flowers, then it might be too late for them. Luckily, there are a couple of tips to protect your desirable plants and kill the pesky weeds.

weeds coming of the joints between the paving slabs

  1. The handiest way to apply vinegar is by using a sprayerr. But, while spraying the vinegar, you will probably spritz the plants near the weeds. To prevent this from happening, use a sprayer with an adjustable nozzle. This way, you’ll only spray what you are aiming for.
  2. A safe way to maintain the rest of your garden in good condition is to paint vinegar onto the weeds with a brush. Soak a brush into a bowl filled with vinegar and start painting the leaves. It’s more time-consuming, but it’s a safe and effective way.
  3. Always apply vinegar on a sunny day. The sun will activate acid to work better on the weeds. Avoid using it on windy days because the wind may transfer drops of vinegar to other plants and burn them as well.
  4. You can use white vinegar as a weed killer. Typically, white vinegar in grocery stores has a 5% concentration of acetic acid. But you can use apple cider vinegar as well. 

Instead of using just vinegar, you can create a more powerful weed killer. You’re going to need:

  • A large bucket
  • 4.5l of household vinegar
  • A cup of white table salt (or Epsom salt)
  • A tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap
  • A funnel
  • A spray bottle

Now, do as follows:

  1. Pour 4.5l of white vinegar into the bucket and add a cup of salt.
  2. Stir until the salt has dissolved.
  3. Then, add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and stir again to mix the ingredients.
  4. Use a funnel to pour the vinegar solution into the bottle.
  5. Spray the mixture onto all the weeds. 

Within 24 hours, sprayed weeds will belong in the past. 

Other non-toxic weed removal options

Beyond vinegar, there are plenty of non-toxic weed killers to help you get rid of dandelions, crabgrass, thistle and other weeds that keep growing in your garden.  

1. Mulch

Mulch is the necessary topping if you want to plant trees or grow roses in your garden the right way. It can also help you keep weeds out of your garden as it eliminates the light that weeds need to grow. 

Someone removing weeds from paving slabs with a sprayer

2. Boiling water

Steam water, along with table salt, can work well in your garden. It’s a very effective weed remover. You better use it, though, only for weeds appearing in your patio slabs, driveway or sidewalk as it can kill any other plant in your garden as well. 

3. Newspaper

Yeap! That’s right! Keep the old newspapers and use them to cover low-growing weeds, like crabgrass. Put newspapers on the weeds and cover them with mulch. Beyond killing the existing weeds, they’ll also prevent new weeds from growing.

4. Lawn Mower

Another effective way to have a weed-free garden is by mowing them down. A lawnmower will pull weeds off their heads. However, it won’t be permanent. You won’t manage to kill perennial weeds and some of the annuals as well. That’s why if you try this, then you need to keep mowing.

5. A trowel

The best weed killer recipe is getting down on your knees and pulling the weed out with your hands, or for the stubborn weeds, you can use a trowel. It would be better, though, to start weeding after a rain as the ground will be softer. Insert the trowel in the ground and loosen the roots. 

6. Commercial products

Beyond the homemade weed killers, there’s also the option of buying products from a store or online. You can find a wide range of natural weed killers containing no chemicals at all and that are safe for the environment, your kids and your pets

7. Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol

It’s an effective weed killer working miracles for annual weeds that need full sun to grow. This is what you need:

  • 60ml of Vodka (a cheap one) or rubbing alcohol
  • 2 cups of water
  • Few drops of dish soap
  • A spray bottle

Then, mix all the ingredients in the spray bottle and spray the weeds. The mixture will dry them out, and they’ll eventually die. Be careful, though! Alcohol can kill any plant it touches. 

8. Steam cleaner

Instead of boiling water, you can use a steam cleaner for weed control.  However, keep in mind that steam cleaning has the same dangers as vinegar, steam water or alcohol. If it touches any other plant, it will kill it as well. 

A man pouring vinegar over weeds growing between joints in concrete paving slabs

Instead of using harmful pesticides and weed killers containing potential chemicals, you can just use vinegar. It’s very effective in weed killing, especially when it comes to small ones. If you need to fight large or deep-rooted weeds, you need to get down to their root system and burn them. Either way, vinegar is the most eco-friendly weed killer! 

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