Garden weeding practices currently trend toward the use of natural remedies to control nuisance plants. Common household products provide alternatives for harsh chemicals. Gardeners use vinegar herbicides to treat annual and perennial weeds. The ingredients include readily available household items to create a product to kill weeds. Vinegar-based herbicides are non-selective, which means they will kill any plant on contact, including ornamental plants.
Consumer grade vinegar contains roughly 5 percent acetic acid. Pickling vinegar ranges up to 9 percent acetic acid. Both products will harm the eyes and skin with exposure. Vinegar works as a desiccant to remove moisture from plant leaves. This main component of vinegar herbicide will attack plant growth above the soil level. Absorption of the vinegar into the plant roots isn't likely because the product becomes inert at soil contact. Full strength application provides acceptable weed control when applied on hot, sunny days.
Table salt works against weeds in a similar fashion as vinegar but the effects on the soil last much longer. Mix a few tablespoons of salt into the vinegar to attack the roots of each weed. Table salt works as a desiccant to draw moisture out of the plant. Pair 5 to 6 tsp. of salt with vinegar for the most stubborn weeds. Use care when applying salt and vinegar-based herbicides to avoid spraying it onto desirable plants. High concentrations of salt may damage soil structure and will harm microbial life at the soil level.
Add dish detergent to the vinegar herbicide solution to tackle plants in two ways. Soap functions as a bonding agent that sticks to weed leaves and as a result, the vinegar stays in place longer. Detergents also break down the shiny surface of plant leaves to allow better absorption into the plant. Mix no more than 1 to 2 tsp. of liquid or powdered detergent into the vinegar herbicide for best results.
Like vinegar and salt, lemon juice works as a desiccant. It releases moisture from the leaves of the weeds, causing drying and eventual death above the soil surface. Blending lemon juice into the herbicide mix adds another ingredient to the weed-killing arsenal. Add 1 tbsp. to a large spray bottle to increase the strength of the vinegar herbicide.