Homemade Weed Killers from Distilled White Vinegar


by Amanda Flanigan, Demand Media

Weeds steal water and vital nutrients from your garden plants, causing them to compete for what is rightfully theirs. Commercial herbicides will kill weeds but add unnecessary and toxic chemicals to your environment. Instead, consider using a homemade weed killer containing distilled white vinegar, which acts as an organic herbicide.

Weed Killer Recipes

A mixture of 4 ounces of concentrated lemon juice and 1 quart of distilled white vinegar is a simple and inexpensive homemade weed killer. This weed killer generally only kills the leaves, stems and flowers of the weed and won’t harm the roots. The above-surface plant matter will become brown, shriveled and die within a few days. Another homemade weed killer recipe consists of 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of gin and 1 teaspoon of dish soap mixed with 1 quart of water. This weed killer will kill the above-ground plant matter as well as the roots, according to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.

Vinegar Strength

Choosing which distilled white vinegar to use can be confusing because vinegar is available in various strengths, which is measured in percentage. A higher percentage indicates the amount of acetic acid present. The higher the percentage listed on the label, the stronger acidity. Common supermarket white vinegar strength is 5 percent. To increase the effectiveness of the weed killer, use distilled white vinegar at 10 or 20 percent. But note that the increase in strength means an increase in potential harm to yourself. A 25 percent distilled white vinegar can cause skin, eyes and nose irritation. To prevent injury, wear chemical-resistant rubber gloves, goggles and use in a well-ventilated area.


No matter which weed killer recipe you use, proper application is important to improve the mixture’s ability to take care of undesirable vegetation. For easier application, transfer the mixture to a clean spray bottle or pump sprayer. This will allow you to target the specific weeds and reduce the chance of accidentally spraying the plants you want to keep. Only apply the white vinegar weed killer on hot, dry days when the sun is shining and make sure you thoroughly coat the weeds with the liquid at the hottest point of the day. Regularly examine the progress off the weeds and — if needed — reapply the organic weed killer until the unwanted weeds are dead. The dead and decaying weeds can be removed by pulling them out of the ground with gloved hands. Because weed killer inhibits growth, you must wait at least three to five days after treatment ends before you can plant in that area.


Vinegar weed killer will injure or kill any vegetation is comes in contact with, including desirable plants. To reduce the chance of accidentally spraying desirable plants, only apply the weed killer when the wind is calm. Even though distilled white vinegar is considered safer than harsh, chemical herbicides, it can still cause unintended harm and damage to your garden and you. Vinegar herbicides are generally only contact herbicides, which means it kills only the plant parts the liquid touches, leaving the roots intact. The effects of the organic herbicide are not always permanent and if the roots are still alive, the weeds will return. For best results, use the distilled white vinegar weed killer on young weeds before they have a chance to get fully established.

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