Are you looking for a natural, environmentally friendly, non-toxic weed killer that is safe but effective? You might be surprised to find out the combination of ingredients to stop these pesky plants is something you probably already have in your home right now – Vinegar, Salt, and Dawn.
While the ingredients are simple, there are a few tricks to getting this to work right – read on for how to make this combination of seemingly harmless ingredients kick some green, weedy, plant-butt.
Why Natural Weed Killer?
It’s fairly terrifying how dangerous commercial weed killers are – many have been linked to cancer and other disturbing health issues.
If it’s a chemical formulated to kill living things, it makes sense this might include animals and humans as well.
In our house our garden is downstream of our grass (where the weeds grow) so it became increasingly disturbing that we were using a toxic, known to cause cancer, brand-name weed killer.
I looked for an alternative and found this as a natural and safe solution.
If you have kids or pets that play in the yard, think about making the switch away from toxic products .
It’s a little more work, but in my opinion, well worth the effort.
- 2 cups 30% vinegar (or 4 cups of regular distilled vinegar)
- 2 cups water (if using regular distilled vinegar omit this)
- 1/4 cup salt
- A few squeezes of dish soap
Optional Ingredient: Orange or Lemon juice or concentrate.
- Spray your weeds topically during times when they have direct sunlight on them.
- After a few hours they will die and you can remove the dead weeds (with your foot or anything else)
- Pull the roots out OR spray another application on the roots during sunny hours again.
The Ingredient List
- 20% or 30% Vinegar Solution – This is hard to find, pricier, and you might need to order it online – but the stronger concentrate works a lot better than your normal distilled vinegar for killing weeds. You should be able to find plenty of other ways to use it as well, so it won’t go to waste and will serve as an excellent cleaner for other areas around the house.
- Dish Detergent – It does not have to be Dawn specifically, any dishwashing liquid should work fine – this is just to give the mixture a better adhesion to the plant and allow the vinegar to penetrate.
- Salt – This is optional, but I did add some salt as other people claim this helps.
- Lemon – Also optional, I added some fresh lemon juice to my mixture to ensure that the weed burned – lemon juice will help accelerate the sun’s bleaching power. Alternatively, people swear by adding orange oil concentrate to the vinegar/dawn mixture. You can read reviews on that here.
- Water – IF you use the stronger vinegar, use a ratio of half vinegar to half water – this doesn’t need to be special water, tap is fine. If you are using the regular distilled one, don’t dilute this at all.
How This Works
The acidity in the vinegar (and lemon or orange juice if used) combined with the salt basically is burning your weeds until they die.
The dish soap is a surfactant that takes the outer, protective, layer of film off of the plant so that the vinegar and salt can adhere better.
The sunlight is a key ingredient as well, as this is what does the burning.
Some of the vinegar/citrus will make its way down into the root of the plant, which might aid in damaging the roots (but a second application on the roots is probably needed to guarantee weeds don’t come back).
The Cons of Natural
I’m not going to tell you this will solve all your weed problems – it may not.
Chances are, you’ll still have to pull the roots of the weeds out to kill those as this is more topical than anything else.
If you don’t have strong sunlight, spraying this on your weeds won’t have much effect.
If you don’t use a strong enough vinegar solution, you may not see any results on tougher weeds.
The Right Combination of Factors
Some people say this mixture doesn’t work but I would argue that they’re probably using too weak of a vinegar or aren’t doing this in the sun.
Make sure you’re following these tips to guarantee success:
- The weed has to have direct sunlight on it, otherwise it will probably not die. Part of the equation is that the weed has to burn.
- Rainy weather will wash the plant clean, rendering this mixture ineffective.
- Sometimes, you have to do this more than once, especially to get the roots saturated after the top dies.
- Don’t get this on your lawn or other plants you want to keep alive. It will kill those too.
Optional: Say threatening things to your weeds as you spray them like, “Hasta la vista, baby… Sayonara sucker!”. It may not make the weed killer more effective, but damn, it feels good.
If this worked for you and you’re happy about it – please share the results with friends, and/or comment below about it.