Yes, vinegar kills weeds, but its effectiveness depends on the concentration and the situation you’re dealing with. You can mix vinegar with Epsom salt and dish soap like Dawn for a more potent weed killer. Vinegar based weed killers typically work by drying out the leaves of weeds in hot, sunny weather, so it’s best to use them during the summer. Midday is the best time to apply a vinegar weed killer as the sun is at its strongest, and you won’t risk diluting it with morning or evening dew.
One of the most reliable weed killer recipes consists of mixing vinegar with dawn dish detergent and Epsom salt. Here’s how to make this potent weed killer:
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- 1 gallon of white vinegar, 5 percent dilution
- ¼ cup Dawn dish detergent
Just mix up the vinegar, Dawn, and Epsom salt thoroughly and spray the weed killer on any weeds you may have, and you should see them start to die out. With that said, this weed killer can be a skin and eye irritant. If you want to use it, make sure that you don’t have pets wandering your yard when you do.
The more concentrated the vinegar is, the more effective it will be at killing weeds. If the vinegar is too diluted or if you use your vinegar solution in inclement weather, you won’t get good results. So while it can be very effective, it’s not going to be the strongest thing you can use.
Another major catch you need to keep in mind is that vinegar weed killer might often only kill superficially. Unless the solution gets soaked down to the root, you will not be able to kill the entire plant.
This all depends on how concentrated the vinegar is, as well as how much Epsom salts you’re using to further desiccate the plants you want to kill. Vinegar is an acid, and salt actually further bolsters the burn acid has.
There have been some cases where people have used 20 percent concentrated vinegar to make a weed killer. While it did kill the weeds, it also caused chemical burns on their hands as a result of the high acid content.
If you have pets, sensitive skin, or intend on using a highly acidic recipe for your own homemade weed killer, we strongly suggest against it. High concentrations of vinegar can burn skin, harm eyes, and if you have pets, potentially cause breathing problems.
A big problem with homemade vinegar weed killers is that they don't discriminate on what they kill. If you spray your DIY weed killer on dandelions, it’ll kill dandelions. If you spray it on grass? Well, you’re going to have a large, dried-out patch of grass sooner rather than later.
Since vinegar kills grass too, you should not try to “blanket bomb” your lawn with a vinegar weed killer. This will cause way more damage than anyone would want in their yard. If you need an herbicide to kill off weeds without killing grass, make sure you apply it correctly to avoid damaging your grass.
Making the vinegar herbicide is only half the battle. The other half of the battle involves applying it correctly. When you’re using a vinegar killer, it’s important to keep these things in mind:
- Try to spray your weed killer in the afternoon. You can expect the best results around midday as there will not be any dew or moisture that could dilute the weed killer.
- Use your weed killer on hot, sunny days. This is the best way to ensure that your weeds will actually get the desiccation required for a full kill. If you are trying to use it in cold temperatures, you will be disappointed.
- Remember to pull the weeds out after they’ve died. This ensures that you will have less regrowth.
If you are looking for a quick fix and don’t mind having a risk of collateral damage once in a while, creating a vinegar, Epsom salt, and Dawn weed killer isn’t that bad an idea. It can actually be an effective way to kill weeds, or at least make them more manageable.
Unfortunately, a weed killer made from vinegar and Epsom salt isn’t the healthiest for your lawn. If you want to keep it lush, you might want to choose a more plant-specific solution.