How to Make Your Own Weed Killer

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

If you are tired of the weeds that seem to keep popping up in your lawn, and you don't want to douse your yard with chemicals then consider making your own weed killer with natural ingredients that you probably have on hand at home.

Keep in mind that these homemade weed killers do not know the difference between a dandelion and a prize rosebush. Keep them away from the plants that you want to keep. Weed killers can move through the soil and be absorbed by surrounding plants. They work great to get rid of the weeds that grow up in cracks in the driveway, sidewalk or other areas where you don't want weeds but you will probably still have to hand weed your garden.


Kill Weeds with Vinegar

One of the most used homemade herbicides is vinegar. It works because it is made up of something called acetic acid. The acetic acid burns the plant's leaves and stems on contact and then lowers the pH of the soil so that weeds can't grow back easily.

Although you can just use vinegar, a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap tends to work better. The dish soap helps the vinegar cling to the plant. While any vinegar will work, pickling vinegar has a higher acetic acid content and may work better in some instances.

You can expect this treatment to kill weeds in a matter of hours. It is important to note that vinegar will not kill the roots of the plant, especially if the weed is established. You will need to keep spraying every time the weed reappears until it finally gives up. This method works best on young weeds that haven't got an established root system.

How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds

  1. Mix 1 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
  2. Choose a sunny, warm day.
  3. Spray the vinegar liberally on the leaves of the plant.
  4. Pour a little on the ground around it.
  5. Do not water the area for a few days.

Boiling Water for Temporary Weed Control

Killing weeds can be as simple as boiling some water, especially if you are looking for a temporary solution and don't want to make long term changes to the soil. Just boil a quart of water and pour it over the unwanted plant while the water is still boiling hot and steaming.

The water "cooks" the plant and kills it immediately. Do be careful not to scald or burn yourself from water splashing or the steam.

This is the only method for killing weeds that allows you to replant the area immediately. With everything else you will need to wait at least several days to allow the acids or chemicals to dissipate.

Homemade Weed Killer from Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach can be used like vinegar. Add some dish soap to make it stick to the plant and then spray the foliage with this mixture.

You won't be able to replant for a week or so. Generally the chemicals will evaporate in a couple of days allowing you to plant want you want in the area.

Salt for Permanent Weed Control

Salt can be used if you have an area where you don't want anything to grow for a very long time. By salting down an area it not only kills weeds but keeps anything from being able to grow there for up to a year, sometimes more.

Cornmeal Is a Natural Pre-emergent

Sprinkling corn meal on an established garden or lawn will keep weed seeds from growing. The corn gluten contained in corn meal is a natural pre-emergent. Do not use it in areas where you plan to plant seeds because it will keep any seeds from growing.

Homemade Weed Wiper

You can make it even easier to kill weeds with a homemade weed wiper. Made from an inexpensive "grabber tool" the weed wiper allows you to put your homemade herbicide on weeds without bending over all the time.

Your back will thank you.

Commercial Weed Killers Are Bad for the Environment

Commercial weed killers, with their plethora of chemicals, are unhealthy for the environment. Beneficial insects, birds, and animals can be killed by these products and then unwanted bugs and other pests can infest your garden.

The commercial products are expensive as well. Most herbicides require multiple applications to work, whether it is a product you bought from the store or vinegar from your pantry. Using a less expensive, more natural option will save you money.

Worst of all, these highly toxic commercial herbicides can make you seriously ill or even cause death if not used properly. Isn't it better to use something you know isn't going to kill you?

Be Safe

No matter what type of herbicide you use be sure to use it safely.

  • Use protective eyewear; even vinegar burns if it gets into your eyes.
  • Don't leave containers of boiling water or chlorine bleach even for a minute as a small child or pet can get hurt.
  • Wear shoes and clothing that covers your skin, especially if you are using bleach.

Killing weeds will go a long way toward giving you the beautiful yard you want. Using homemade weed killers will allow you to do it without breaking your budget.

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