Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds : Does it Really Work?

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We all know that herbicides are bad for more than just the weed. I think we can all agree that, generally speaking, exposing ourselves to poison in an uncontrolled manner probably isn’t a good thing.

So what can we do to kill those unsightly weeds?

I say let them alone because they’re a whole lot greener than the grass in my yard, but the internet disagrees. According to the internet the answer is something most of us already have: white vinegar.

The Claim: Use vinegar instead of harmful pesticides to kill weeds

Some Popular Sources Cited on the Almighty Facebook & Pinterest:
DIYConfessions
Natural News

My method:
Fill a bottle with undiluted vinegar, spray on the weed and wait.

Step 1: find an empty spray bottle (a clean one! Do not mix vinegar with cleaning chemicals!) and fill it with undiluted vinegar

vinegar to kill weeds

Step 2: Saturate the weed

Step 3: Wait. Walk outside every hour or so to take a photo of the weed in your driveway, paying special attention to the strange looks the neighbor and mailman give you. That’s kinda the fun part.

The Results:
Click on photos to see a larger size

vinegar to kill weeds

Saturate the weed with vinegar


vinegar to kill weeds

An hour later there isn’t much change


vinegar to kill weeds

Nearly 4 hours later and still not much change


vinegar to kill weeds

6-ish hours later and the leaves look a little wilty & dry


vinegar to kill weeds

22 hours later and the weed appears to be drier and is easily pulled.


vinegar to kill weeds

I’m not really convinced that this is an unhealthy weed, but at least it’s not in my driveway anymore.

The Conclusion: A solid “meh”. While the results were not as amazing as the cited sources, it did work. Kinda. While commercial herbicides claim to kill the entire weed, roots and all, the vinegar only kinda killed the leaves. I don’t even know if the vinegar killed the leaves, honestly, it was more like a chemical burn and I’m not convinced the weed wouldn’t have perked back up after some rain.

Now, the vinegar did make the weed easier to pull and the dried out leaves did crumble a bit in my hand. So, I guess in a roundabout way, it was effective as it made the weed easier to pull. But let’s face it, people who use commercial weed killers don’t use them to kill the weed before pulling, they use them to kill the weed and never have to think about it again. If that’s what you’re going for it just isn’t going to happen with vinegar.

Some things to consider:
It was very, very hot yesterday (96 with a heat index of 103). According to the cited sources the vinegar as an herbicide things works best in hot conditions.

I used 5% acidity white vinegar because that is what the store sells. The articles I read said this should be fine but others say to go with a 10-15% acidity. I looked at every type of vinegar I have (apple cider, balsamic, rice, red wine, white wine) and all had 4 or 5% acidity. I don’t know what to tell you there except that according to the all-knowing internet one can buy vinegar with a higher acidity at a feed store or Amazon.

From a frugal perspective: 15% acidity vinegar is about $18 a gallon on Amazon. Commercial herbicide (the one mentioned in the cited articles) is around $12 for 30 ounces, or roughly $50/gallon. So, if you’re strictly looking for something that is going to save you money, vinegar is the way to go.

The Reprise:
Further searching on the interwebs has told me that if I mix some salt into the vinegar it’ll work for sure, and if I add a dollop of dish soap it’ll be even better. Yet another source says boiling water will take care of all of my weed woes. I will try those things in the future.

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2 Comments

Filed under Domestic Engineering

2 Responses to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds : Does it Really Work?

  1. I’ve often wondered how effective the vinegar is. It’s better than the “nothing” I’m using. ;)

  2. Bernette Todd

    I tried tha vinegar thing last year, needless to say it ended up getting pinned to my “Never Again” board with other things that were equally worthless.

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