Vinegar As an Herbicide


Vinegar is a widely used product most known for its use in salad dressings and other cooking recipes. It has long been used as a cost-effective cleaning product in homes and in more recent years has been touted for its safety as opposed to harsh chemical cleaners. It is no surprise that such a versatile product can also be used as an herbicide for those who want to have a weed-free organic garden.


Distilled white vinegar, the kind to use in any homemade herbicide formula, is commercially manufactured from corn alcohol, water and nutrients. The combination is fermented in controlled conditions, goes through a complex filtering process, and is eventually bottled and sold. Vinegar is natural and safe for humans to consume; therefore, it is safe to use in the garden as an herbicide that will not contaminate your plants or produce.


Its effectiveness depends on the amount of acetic acid in your vinegar herbicide product. Commercial vinegar herbicides are specially formulated and can be purchased at garden stores or online from sites that specialize in organic gardening products. Because vinegar is a contact herbicide, meaning it kills only the part of the plant it comes in contact with and not the roots, results are not always lasting. Pull any weeds that return even after they have been sprayed.

Making Vinegar Herbicide

To use vinegar as an herbicide, fill a plastic spray container with white distilled vinegar. Aim the spray bottle at the pesky weed and spray, but not so much that the vinegar drips into the soil and endangers the plants you don't wish to kill. Adding 1 tbsp. dish detergent and 2 tbsp. canola oil per gallon of vinegar can help the vinegar to spread more evenly across the weed.


Even though vinegar is organic and safe for humans to consume, label any vinegar being used as an herbicide, especially if it is stored in a spray bottle that a child might get a hold of and spray into their eyes. Vinegar will kill any plant, not only weeds, so take care when spraying it at weeds. If you accidentally spray a plant, quickly douse the entire plant with water.

Tips for Use

Use vinegar herbicide on weeds growing in your lawn and kill grass patches growing in areas you do not want grass to grow. Wear gloves for added safety when spraying. Target young weeds, rather than waiting until weeds are mature. Douse the entire plant, not only the leaves.

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About this Author

Bobbie Brewer has been writing since 1990. Her work has appeared in publications and on Web sites including Garden Guides and Trails. Brewer is an international traveler, outdoors enthusiast and has been gardening since 1991. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University, Sacramento.