Best Homemade Weed Killer (With Ingredients You Already Have)

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Person holding weedsWeeds are quite possibly the most annoying thing in your yard, especially in the warmer months. They make their way through cracks in the driveway, find their way into flower beds, grow proudly pop up in the garden and sprout just about everywhere imaginable.

If you have kids or pets around, you probably don’t want to spray your yard with harmful chemicals. Your best “organic” line of defense against weeds is pulling them out manually or using mulch or ground cover to keep on top of them at the start of the Spring season (this may vary, or be all year round, depending on your location).

But for those hard to reach spots or pesky weeds we bring you the best natural weed killer using these organic weed control recipes.

Too busy to make your own? See our reco for these pre-made weed killers.

Article Overview

A Cautionary Note About Soil Salinity

Most organic/natural weed killing solutions contain some level of salt (saline). Note that areas in which you spray weed killers containing salt will have the saline content of the soil increase to levels that won’t be sustainable to some plants. It takes time and lots of water to reduce saline levels back to normal levels. Please take this into account before spraying areas of your yard where you wish to maintain plant growth.

Ground Cover Or Mulch Solutions

Editor’s Pick
Dewitt Sunbelt Ground CoverDewitt Ground Cover

You may also consider a ground covering (such as this one by Dewitt) or a thick (2-3 inches at least) layer of mulch. Why do these work? You are blocking their access to sunlight, and without photosynthesis happening, plants can’t grow – that includes weeds.

Organic Weed Killer Supplies

Listed below are some items you may need to mix up the best organic weed killer. Hopefully you already have these things around the house, but if not we’ve linked to where you can order them online.

Is Horticultural Vinegar Safe?

You may hear that horticultural vinegar can be more effective on your weeds than household (distilled) vinegar. This is definitely true, but the product should be applied with caution, if at all.

Horticultural vinegar is modified vinegar produced in labs at a much higher concentration of acetic acid. This means it’s technically an herbicide and no longer a food product.

Some things to note about horticultural vinegar:

  • Horticultural vinegar is many times stronger than regular vinegar, typically at concentrations of 20% acetic acid vs 5% in household/distilled vinegar (we recommend that if you do use horticultural vinegar on pesky weeds, you dilute it and wear googles and protective clothing).
  • High concentrations of acetic acid can also cause harm to animals and be corrosive to the environment.

In concentrations above 11% acetic acid, vinegar can burn skin and cause damage to your eyes. Concentrations above 20% are corrosive to tin, aluminum, iron, and concrete and can even cause blindness. Such herbicides should be applied while wearing goggles and protective clothing.1

Non-Toxic Weed Killer Recipes

Now that you have the supplies ready you’ll need to mix up a batch.

Vinegar, Dawn And Salt

This is a natural weed killer with salt, vinegar and liquid dish soap (e.g. Dawn). Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • 1 gallon white vinegar (household/distilled)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid dish soap (Dawn or similar)

Weeds in yardSpray weeds with this vinegar weed killer during the sunniest time of day for optimum results.

If you want to buy a ready made solution, check out our review of the Avenger Organic Weed Killer.

If dandelions are covering your lawn, this is a good one to use. Pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle that has a “stream” setting that will give you a direct shot (not mist). Spray the mixture onto the dandelion heads. The spray will kill the dandelions without killing the grass, as long as you don’t get the mixture onto the lawn.

On that note, like other toxic weed killers this recipe will not only destroy your weeds, the acetic acid in the vinegar might also harm other plants and grass that come into contact with the spray. So no matter the type of weed, use with caution and squirt directly to the weed itself versus applying to the area around it more liberally.

Apple Cider Vinegar And Epsom Salt

Another similar recipe uses apple cider instead of white vinegar and no dish soap.

  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of Epsom salt

Fill a spray bottle with the apple cider vinegar. Place a funnel into the mouth of the bottle and add salt. Shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients. Then, spray the weed and they should crumble away within a day.

Check out the video below to see how easy it is (and before and after).

Does vinegar and Epsom salt weed killer work? As you can see in the video above, yes it does. But like the spray above, the vinegar is highly effective so don’t overdo it.

For Younger Weeds And Sidewalk Cracks

Try this concoction if you have larger surface areas like a patio or mulch bed instead of concentrated spots in your yard. It’s less harsh than the recipes that include vinegar so works well for new growth weeds that are easier to kill.

  • 1 pot of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt

Boil a pot of water and add one tablespoon of salt. Pour over the weeds immediately while the water is still hot. You should see results almost instantly.

Homemade Weed Killer Safe For Grass

The recipes above work well but can hurt your grass (see my cautionary statement about soil salinity above). So if you’re looking for some safer ways to kill weeds without ruining your yard, here are three homemade weed killers we suggest for lawns. Be sure to read each carefully, so you get the results you’re looking for.

Corn Gluten Meal

To prevent weed growth in your lawn, remove all existing weeds first. Sprinkle corn gluten meal on your lawn. It suppresses the development of small feeder roots and is effective at preventing crabgrass, dandelions, curly dock, knotweed, lamb’s quarters, pigweed and plantain. It will not hurt the grass in your yard or any other plants.

Soap And Water

Combine ten parts water and one part liquid dish detergent in a spray bottle. Spray the weeds in the mixture until soaked during the hottest part of the day. The water will evaporate due to the heat and the soap in the mixture will get sticky on the weeds drying them out.

Chemicals Aren’t Just In Your Weed Killer

Weeds can be a pain in the grass but they are inevitable without a watchful eye and active yard maintenance plan. We hope some of these recommendations can help you get your weed situation under control.

Once you do, you may want to consider addressing some of the other chemicals you are exposed to in every day life. We’ve got natural solutions for shampoomosquito repellent, baby food, helping you get to sleep, and depression and anxiety, just to name a few. Thanks and here’s to your health and happiness!

What difficulties are you experiencing getting rid of a particular weed?

Sources: [1] Good House Keeping

About The Author:

One of Kimberly’s favorite things to do is cook. She is trying her best to be more conscious about the nutrients she puts into her body and enjoys trying new recipes. Kimberly grew up helping her dad with the family garden and hopes to have her own garden some day. She enjoys brightening up her dishes with the food mother nature can provide and enjoys composting her produce scraps. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

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