Home » Garden » Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe-just the facts

Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe-just the facts

I’ve been using this homemade vinegar weed-killer recipe for over three years now and have figured out what works, what doesn’t, and what your expectations should be. Read on for the recipe and the facts.

Like everyone, I am concerned about the proliferation of chemicals in our food and our environment. It only makes sense that the more harmful chemicals we use, the more damage we are doing to our bodies and our environment.

But there’s no denying that spraying tenacious weeds is much easier and more efficient than digging them up.

weed in crack of driveway

So, what is an avid gardener to do? I don’t want to spend my precious gardening hours pulling weeds!

This dilemma is what prompted me to investigate the recipes for vinegar weed killers I have seen advertised over the past couple of years. My first try with the original recipe for homemade week killer was unimpressive. Sure, the weeds turned a little brown, but there wasn’t the dramatic ‘weed demise’ that I was looking for and was used to with the commercial weed killers.

But, I really wanted to cut the ties with the broad-spectrum glyphosate-based herbicides, so I did a little more investigation and experimentation into natural weed killer with vinegar and dawn. And I also adjusted my expectations!

What I’ve Learned About Homemade Weed Killers

  • No homemade weed-killer recipe will ever be as strong or effective as commercial chemical products, so you must adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • The difference I noticed between the commercial and the DIY weed killer is that the commercial product did a more effective job killing the roots of the weed, and thereby the wee, at the first application. In order to get to fully kill the weed with a homemade vinegar weed killer, you may need a couple of applications. New growth after one week.For instance, I sprayed this mint with my homemade vinegar weed killer and a week later, while most of what you could see was dead, there was a wee bit of new growth right at the base. So I sprayed more vinegar on those little sprouts and a week after that, I haven’t seen any green growth. But let’s be honest, killing mint is no easy task!
  • With that said, sometimes they kill weeds effectively the first time! Other times they may need an additional spray or two.
  • The homemade vinegar weed killer will definitely hurt the feelings of whatever you spray it on, accidentally or not! I didn’t realize that my sprayer was still squirting as I walked through our lawn until I noticed this little path two days later. 🙄 (I inadvertently drew pretty good parentheses, if I have to say so myself!)Grass showing where it was accidentally sprayed with weed killer.
  • A wind-free, dry and sunny day is the perfect day for killing weeds with this natural weed killer recipe.
  • This spray works on the plant leaves and cell tissues and doesn’t affect weed seeds.
  • As with all weed killers, you only want to spray directly onto the leaves of the weed, vine, or plant. Adding too much salt to your soil isn’t a good thing. I am very mindful of not wide broadcasting my vinegar weed spray but instead targeting the specific weeds. Using this approach, I have not had any problem growing welcomed plants where I am also using this spray to kill the weeds.

Even with all the caveats I’ve mentioned, I can’t imagine ever going back to the commercial, chemical-laden weed killers. There is just too much information on the cancer risk and environmental damage that commercial weed killers pose. I am more than happy to spray my tenacious weeds two or three times to control them, that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

What Kind of Vinegar Do You Need for Your Homemade Weedkiller

45% vinegar, table salt and liquid dish detergent are the ingredients in this homemade weed killer recipe.

Plain old household vinegar is not strong enough. Household vinegar is typically 5% acetic acid, which might kill a very young or tender weed, but not a serious or tenacious weed or vine. We need to bring the big guns in terms of acetic acid strength to this fight; which means a minimum of 30% or up to 45% acetic acid. I’m a go big or go home girl, so I have been using the 45% vinegar as it is the same price as the 30%.

The 30% vinegar and 45% vinegar will burn your skin! I haven’t noticed that it leaves a mark, you just feel it. I imagine it is awful in your eyes and I’m also sure you don’t want to take a deep breath of it. It is a strong acid! The 30% vinegar and 45% vinegar run about $20/gallon on Amazon; which means that making homemade weed killers with vinegar will not necessarily save you money. It’s fairly comparable in price to the pre-mixed, commercial weed killers.

The Ingredients in this Homemade Weed Killer Recipe & Their Purpose

  • 30 – 45% Vinegar As we mentioned, it is the acetic acid in vinegar that is the ingredient we need. Acetic acid dissolves plant cell membranes, which results in the drying out of the plant tissues and the ultimate death of the plant.
  • Salt draws water from the plant cells, causing them to dry out and die.
  • Liquid Dish Soap acts as a surfactant, which breaks the surface tension between the vinegar/salt solution and the leaf surface so the vinegar/salt can access the plant tissues.

The Drawbacks of a Vinegar & Salt Weedkiller as Weed Control

As grandma always said, ‘there’s no free lunch.’ Any homemade weed killer recipe that includes salt does have its drawbacks. Too much salt in your soil will harm beneficial bacteria and earthworms, as well as have the effect of reducing roots’ ability to pull moisture from the soil.

But, if you are aware of the risks and, once again, target your spray on the leaves of the weeds, you can avoid the damaging effects of the salt.

weed in crack of driveway

Homemade Weed Killer

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This homemade weed killer is a less harmful alternative to commercial weed killers.



Pour the salt into the vinegar container so that it dissolves prior to pouring it into your garden sprayer. You want the salt fully dissolved so that it doesn't clog the uptake hose of your sprayer.

Add 1 tablespoon or 1 good squirt of dishwashing liquid.

Spray the solution on the leaves of the weeds you want to kill. Be very careful to minimize contact with the surrounding soil. You may need multiple applications to fully kill the plant without harming the soil.

Did you make this project?

It would be great if you could take a minute and leave a comment below. Help other readers by asking any questions you have or sharing any modifications to the project. I'd love to see your finished project. Snap a photo and send it to [email protected] or, if you are on Instagram, then tag @nourishandnestle on Instagram and hashtag it #nourishandnestle! Many Thanks

Bookmark this page or pin the following image to refer back to this Homemade Weed Killer Recipe in the future.

Dandelion in crack in cement.

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  1. I am very interested in trying this. I have been making my own cleaning products and I will be making your recipe for weed killer today! Thanks for comparing both and sharing.

  2. Has it been tried on poison ivy? That is my major nemesis. It is at the border of my land and the border of the garden. I can cover up fully and the blasted oil find whatever little bit of skin that may possibly peak out for air.

    1. Oh girl, you and me both! I avoid it like the plague but get it every year. I’m convinced I get it from my pets. I feel like it does work if you stay on it, but I will experiment on it in the next few days to have a definitive answer. Unfortunately, it is raining here, so I will document it when we get a dry day.

      Thanks for your question,


  3. Hi Lynn,
    I have been using this homemade weed killer for a couple years and I have achieved amazing
    results! Epsom salts work just as well as table salt.
    Thank you for all you do!

    1. Hi Kim, thanks for that added info. I wonder if there is a difference between the two on the soil? I might have to research that. Thanks!

  4. Loved this post, great information. My neighbors are always telling me to just use the chemicals as they watch me spending time pulling out weeds and unwanted grass. I have a few questions. First, I would consider using this on grass that is growing underneath our fence from an adjacent neighbor’s yard. In that area could the spray affect the neighbors grass or my trees and bushes also growing along that fence? Another question, would the be effective to kill and keep grass from growing into flower beds (if I sprayed just along the edge where I don’t want anything to grow to keep a clean and defined border?

    1. Hi Susan,

      I do use it along the fence or beds between my yard and my neighbors, but you do have to be mindful of the spray, especially on windy days. I have considered using a paint brush dipped in the vinegar, but haven’t done it yet.

      I definitely use it along flower beds to keep the grass from creeping in, once again be careful of the overspray.

      I am a believer in the vinegar spray, but I know I will be treating certain areas again. It is not a ‘one and done’ chemical spray, but it definitely makes a difference.

      Let me know what you think. Use it in safe areas until you get a feel for it.


  5. I have a serious issue with puncture vine aka goatheads and it grows rampant in dirt, sand,and even gravel or busted up pavement ( tar and cement ). It was established before I moved here and I have pets that go outside. I have tried everything except the use of gasoline or fire I guess my question is– do you think your diy weed killer will work for me? and how do I get it down deep to the taproot? Also , do you have any idea how I can get all the mature goathead stickers that are around before they go to seed? Anyone with ideas will be appreciated. thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Gina,

      Well, you’ve stumped me! I had to do some research on puncture vine. We used to live in San Diego and I think we had it there.

      That being said, I really don’t know. I do know that this vinegar weed killer really does best with broad leaf weeds and I don’t know if there is enough surface area on the leaves of the puncture vines. The broad leaves also help avoid dousing the soil.

      I’m so sorry to not be of more help…they surely do look like nasty weed varmints!


  6. This concoction works very well, if you make it strong enough. I’m using 30% vinegar and cutting 1/2 gallon of it with 1 gallon of the regular 5% “cooking” vinegar. Dissolve the salt in hot (not boiling, just steaming) vinegar.

    1. HI Bob,

      You know, I’m going to scale back my vinegar strength. I think the fumes from the 45% vinegar might have burned some nearby plants. I just ordered more and will give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion!


  7. This stuff is absolutely bananas! I used 45% vinegar plus the recommended salt and dish soap. Within 2 hrs, the area I applied the solution to was brown! It’s absolute magic!! We have well water, I feel so much better about using this vs harsh chemicals!! Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Tracey! I am so tickled you had such great success. I am also a firm believer…been using for 3 summers now. One word of warning, the fumes can be just as damaging to tender leaves. I have damaged a few leaves on our tomato plants, though no harm to the actual plant. But finally realized after several attempts to shield the plants from the vinegar spray that it was actually the fumes!

      Happy Weed Killing!


  8. Lynn, hello.

    THANKFULLY, every single targeted area I need to apply this solution will be in areas where the plants in question have no business being there! So the issues of the soil salinity are somewhat diminished.
    I have a suspicion that this breakout of growth may be the side effect of my other burden: moles.
    But I managed to shoo them away with another very effective mole deterrent, a Castor Oil / Dawn solution.

    Thanks for your informative guidance!

    mike – nashville, tn

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’m so glad this was helpful. After 3+ years of using it exclusively, I’m a believer. And I don’t know the castor oil/Dawn solution…I need to research that.

      BTW, we moved here from Franklin, TN. That area will always have a warm spot in my heart.

      Have a great day,


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