Vinegar Weed Killer

Lately, I’ve been seeing Pinterest boards and blogs with tutorials on how to make a vinegar weed killer.  Friends, I’m here to tell you that their information is faulty and their vinegar weed killer will not work.

Most of the blogs that show vinegar weed killer recipes, show household vinegar with 5% acidity.

This.Will.NOT.Work.  I repeat, This.Will.NOT.Work.

Natural Weed Killers

What makes me Mrs.-Know-It-All-About-Natural-Weed-Killers?  I don’t mention this much, but I am a Master Gardener and even when it was considered unscientific by the gardening set, I was using natural and organic methods in my garden.  I’ve sat through numerous seminars by leading organic gardeners in Texas.  They will back me up on this one ~ I assure you.

All that aside, I have tried {and occasionally failed} numerous concoctions and methods to get rid of weeds.  My knowledge comes from years of trial and error (more like trowel and error) in the garden.

Household vinegar will not kill weeds, even if you add Dawn dish soap.  It will cause the weeds to shrivel some, but that’s about it.  Noxious weeds need something stronger.

There is good news.  A stronger solution of vinegar mixed with orange oil will kill weeds and kill them for good.  But, it has to be done correctly or the weeds will come back.

You need a vinegar that has AT LEAST 10% acidity PLUS a horticultural citrus oil.  There is some controversy within the organic gardening community regarding vinegar strength.  Very respected gardeners say that 10% acidity mixed with citrus oil will kill weeds.

For at least 10 years I have been using a 20% vinegar for my weed control.  I have not tried 10% vinegar ~ but I trust the gardeners who say it will work.   Many of them are diluting their 20% vinegar by cutting it in half and adding water.  Doing this will give you two gallons of 10% vinegar.

WARNING:  This 10% – 20% vinegar is potent.  You need to wear goggles, rubber gloves, long sleeves, and shoes when working with 20% vinegar.  It will burn your skin if any splashes.  I have experienced this first hand ~ it can be very painful.

Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe

While the vinegar alone will work well at getting rid of weeds, it’s the orange oil that nails the coffin shut on weeds. However, none of this will kill weeds if it isn’t properly applied.  That is the real secret to killing weeds and killing them for good.

If you want to kill weeds naturally, then here’s what you do:

The correct ratio for weed killing is:   1 gallon of 10-20% vinegar to 1 C. of orange (or citrus) oil.  Mix well.  (see my Warning above) Then, add to either a spray bottle like this one.  I highly recommend rubber gloves when applying with this type of bottle ~ it does tend to drip.

Natural Weed Killer

If you have a lot of weeds, this sprayer will cover more area.  Again, wear rubber gloves when applying.

I would use this if I want to go after a lot of the weeds at once.  I’d have it all ready and then wait for the right time day to kill weeds.

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The 20% vinegar costs around $20 which means you want to apply this correctly.  Now here is THE KEY to effective weed killing.

This ONLY WORKS when applied at full strength, in sunlight, during the heat of the day.

That means, if it rained yesterday, then don’t apply it.  If rain is in the forecast within 24 hours, don’t apply it.

Wait until the soil is dried out a bit, the sun is bright, and it’s the middle of the day.  It must be at least 70-degrees for maximum efficacy.  The weed will think you are giving it some good food.  Down the hatch, little weed.

Keep in mind that this brew does not discriminate.  Be careful where you spray.  It will kill your flowers and plants just as effectively.  Obviously, avoid application on windy days.

Now, I may be willing to blend, mix, and brew concoctions in my garage, but maybe that’s not your thing.  The good news is a few companies have done this for you.  Just add to a spray bottle and start killing weeds.  {A few companies sell the blend in smaller spray bottles ~ but it is costly}

Natural Weed KillerIt is also very important to wash out whatever spray bottle you use or the vinegar will corrode the working parts.  Empty any unused vinegar/orange oil mixture back into a suitable container.  Be sure the container is non-corrosive and heavy duty.  Remember, you will be storing a very strong vinegar.  Empty paint cans and milk jugs are not suitable.  It must be a heavy grade plastic bottle ~similar to the type that the vinegar comes in.

Where to get 20% vinegar and orange oil.  I am able to purchase mine at Lowe’s.  My organic garden center also carries these products.   They are also available on Amazon.  If you know of another place where these products can be purchased, please share ~ especially international readers.

Gardening naturally is so much more rewarding ~

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this wonderful information! I was going to try what I saw on Pinterest, but thanks to you, you saved me a lot of time and money.

  2. Bryonna says:

    Thanks so much Leslie. I have tried the 5% solution, and like you mention, it does not work and I had to go back to hand digging. Is it the leaves that take the vinegar in, or could I just use a turkey baster (kept for weed-killing only) to squirt a few drops into the centre of the plant? I don’t want to spray since the weeds are among the flowers.

    • When it is warm and sunny, leaves are thirsty and will absorb liquid quickly. The turkey baster on the stem should be equally as effective. If you try this, I’d love an update on how effective it was.

  3. I pinned that idea hoping it would work. I should have known better. Must go take that pin off. Thanks.

  4. I am going to give this a try. Thank you.

  5. Is the 10% or 20% vinegar readily available? I have tried for 15 years to get rid of weeds and NOTHING has worked for any period of time. I can’t wait to try this!

    • I get mine at Lowes. But many garden centers and farm stores will carry it. This is something that has been used for a long time.

    • Remember, it’s the vinegar PLUS the orange oil. Straight vinegar will wither my weeds, but not kill them.

  6. Sue Smith says:

    Does this harm your Grass?

  7. Will it also keep the neighborhood cats from using my mulch as a litter box? UGH

    • Not that I know of. But a squirt from the water hose seems to help.

      • Sheridan says:

        Sounds like it would not be something to use in an area where dogs go out. Or will letting it dry before letting them out be adequate? I’ve got an acre of woods with thorny vines & English ivy that I’d like to try it on.

        • At full strength, I’d be careful around any pet – however, in the heat of the day a plant would quickly take it in. Just be very cautious with your precious pet.

  8. Great advice, Leslie. I always wondered why the vinegar wasn’t working. Where do you get the high acid vinegar? The grocery store? Or do I have to go to a specialty store. Also same question for the citrus oil.

    • I can get 20% vinegar and orange oil at Lowes. However, garden centers that practice safe and natural gardening should carry it (except in Canada???). They also sell it on Amazon.

  9. I didn’t even know vinegar came in that strength. Wow.

    I also live in Texas, and try to do things organically. Any advice on getting rid of clover? I try to hand pull, but it’s a losing battle.

    Popping in from Oh, Mrs. Tucker!

    • Clover, hmmm. Here in Austin clover will die in the high heat. I usually hand pull the small amount I get. I would try the vinegar/orange oil. If it can’t survive the Texas heat, then 10-20% vinegar should take care of it.

  10. Thank you, thank you!! So informative. I had vinegar on my grocery list for just this reason…thanks for saving me the time and disappointment of regular vinegar.

    I would love if you would share this at Think Tank Thursday. My sister and I host this link party and anything you link up on my blog shows up on hers as well. I hope to see you there.
    http://www.saving4six.com/2013/05/welcome-to-think-tank-thursday-31.html

  11. Thank you thank you thank you! I have tried plain vinegar before and it didn’t do a thing! I am going to pin this and will be using it for sure!

  12. Terry Thomas / Atlanta says:

    Almost every product has a bar code on it for scanners at stores to read. It would be quite useful if you supplied the bar code numbers for the 20% vinegar and orange oil.

    I have to wonder what is going on chemically. Would any 20% acid work? What does the orange oil do? Very interesting stuff.

    I just bought a gallon of grocery store vinegar. Fortunately I have not opened it yet and can return it.

    Thank you for the information.

    Terry Thomas
    Dunwoody Organic Gardens
    Atlanta, Georgia USA

    • Adding bar codes in – what an excellent idea. All of my products are in storage while we have a home built. I will try to snatch the bar code on a cell phone and put that up as an update.

      I WOULD NOT recommend anything called 20% acid. That sounds dangerous. Stay away from the acid, please.

      Orange oil helps bake and suffocate the offensive weed.

  13. Great information! I am so glad I saw this at a Glimpse Inside. New subscriber now that I found you. I can’t wait to explore more of your things. It is going to be hot and sunny. I need to get to Lowes!! I hope you will come and share this at my party: http://www.tumbleweedcontessa.com/blog/whatd-you-do-this-weekend-16/

  14. rex white says:

    will this also kill the grass around the weeds?

  15. Is it bad that my whole yard is so full of weeds that spraying all of it and letting it kill the grass and starting over has crossed my mind? My husband out some weed killer on our grass about a month or so ago and I think it fertilized our weeds instead of killing them.

    • Weeds can be a sign of weak soil. I would only use natural methods to kill the weeds (vinegar recipe, solarization, etc.) and then add 1/4″ of compost. This will begin the process of strengthening your soil. This is a slow process, but done correctly will decrease the need for water and lawn-destroying infestations. Of course, I have no idea where your lawn is ~ but these are methods that have been used for years.

  16. Thank you for the great information. Now I know how to do this the RIGHT way.

  17. I live in Canada…where can I purchase this formula (20% vin)

  18. Wow. I’ve seen vinegar weed killer recipes all over Pinterest. I had no idea they were ineffective since I haven’t gotten around to trying them out yet. Thanks for this information. Now I know what will really work.

  19. Patricia Williams says:

    Will this also work on poison oak and poison ivy? I have weeds but I also have a lot of the aforementioned ones. Need to really get rid of them. Don’t want my pom to get into them…they seem to grow profusely in the foothills of North Carolina. Thanks, Patricia

    • I am not sure about the poison ivy/oak. I would cautiously try it. If applied properly, it should do some damage. Check with your county ag agent’s office. They would know the answer.

  20. I just tried last week the version you were talking about not working! And your right all they did was shrivel! So glad I found this post……….I am now going to try this! New follower from weekend wrap up party!

  21. I’ve often wondered about the usefulness of vinegar but never tried it. I was skeptical and stuck with store bought chemicals. I’m pinning this so I can try it. Do you know if it works on quack grass?

  22. I have tried several different vinegar weed killer recipes from Pinterest and none of them worked! So glad it’s not just me. Kept thinking I was doing something wrong :)

  23. I prefer to go natural and organic whenever I can but it sounds a little scary to use. Any other alternative solutions?

  24. Hi, I’m stopping by from Nifty Thrifty Sunday. I am a new follower.

    Yesterday, I dug up my dandelions and my granddaughter squirt vinegar down in the hole. She thought it was fun and I was hoping to kill the bit of root that I had missed. I was hoping this would work. What do you think? – will it work?

  25. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Thank you for the great info. I am so tired of using chemicals. I think the chemicals do harm to the soil. I’ve been using my hula hoe a lot lately and pulling by hand.
    I do want to try the venegar and orange oil. Some where along the way while reading I saw that you reccomend using eye protection as well as gloves ( would that be rubbermaid gloves?) and wear shoes. While I usually go barefoot out side and inside, I will break down and wear shoes. LOL
    Do you know if this will kill crab grass?

    • If applied correctly, it will kill crab grass. And, yes, I recommend heavy duty rubber gloves. They sell them at places like Home Depot and Lowes.

  27. How long before you can replant? I have salvia ready to plant, but crab grass has invaded my bed!

    • I would suggest letting the weed die down to the root. When that happens, the plant releases nitrogen back into the soil. This way, any traces of vinegar and orange oil are now depleted and the soil is refreshed with nitrogen.

  28. susan allen says:

    so thanks for telling us about this but my question is about black spot on roses I ask a local master gardner about getting rid of it and she said dig them up and throw away and then start working on the soil etc. but honestly is there really nothing other than these drastic measures. I have a small fortune invested in my roses and only now after years of trying every summer to get rid of it am I willing to do just that, I mean why do they even sell roses here in the deep south if we have to deal with this terrible disease. also is it really associated with humidity levels? PLEASE HELP!!!!

    • I think the first question should be what is the variety of roses with black spot. If it is not an antique rose, then you may be fighting a losing battle. Over-bred, hybrid roses are very susceptible to black spot ~ combined with too much water, humidity, and heat ~ it can be a losing battle. All common problems in the South.

      I’m not a rose expert, but I believe that once a rose bush has problems with this fungus, it can be an ongoing battle. However, healing your soil will go a long way towards preventing fungus and disease on any plant. Healthy soil = Healthy plant. I suggest you visit a garden center in your area that specializes in natural remedies. I also highly recommend amending the soil with an organic compost from a reliable, sustainable compost company.

      I found this article online that uses natural remedies. I would advise caution – I’ve never used these methods, but I’ve never had black spot because I only plant antique roses. http://www.rosemagazine.com/articles02/pages/blackspot.asp

      If you end up replanting, I highly recommend buying your new roses from The Antique Rose Emporium I have been to their nursery numerous times and spoken with them on the phone. They are knowledgeable about the best roses for your climate.

      Good luck.

  29. I have pinned this and hope to give it a try. Do you know if this vinegar/orange oil combination will kill Japanese Knot Weed. We are being overrun by this nasty invasive plant and have tried just about everything and it keeps coming back.
    Would appreciate any suggestions you could offer,
    Suzanne

    • I have no idea ~ I’ve never heard of Japanese Knot Weed – but it looks like it qualifies as a noxious weed. I would try it using the directions. You may try pulling larger weeds and using the vinegar/orange oil on any new sprouts.

  30. Kathy T says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. Is this safe to use in a yard that ours dogs play?

  31. I join in with the others who thank you for this information. I had attempted to use the regular vinegar to no avail.

  32. There are weeds in certain areas of my garden that drive me crazy, so I’m VERY eager to try this. Thanks so much for the tip!

  33. I went to Lowes & found the vinegar, could not find anything labeled orange oil. They had several cleaners that listed citrus (orange) as ingredients, is that what I am looking for? Thank you! Jeri

    • The Orange Oil is made by Medina Products of Hondo, TX. You can order directly from them or through Amazon.

  34. Orange Oil !? Who would have guessed ! Thank you for this great tip {we are badly in need of a good weed killer !} Thank you also for sharing this at the WEDNESDAYS ADORNED FROM ABOVE Blog Hop :-)

  35. Hi Leslie! Great information-thanks for sharing this post at the BeBetsy BRAG ABOUT IT Tuesday Link and Hop.

    Hope to see you again next week! BeBetsy Link and Hop

    Sharon and Denise

  36. I’m so happy that you shared this. My sister says she loves this post, too. Have a great weekend. Linda

  37. Thank you for the REAL scoop on this! I pinned it :)

    <3 Christina @ I Gotta Create!
    Wildly Original link party is open

  38. Wow, this is fantastic. Keeping this in mind for sure!

    Thanks for sharing your favorite post at Raising Imperfection! We feature our favorites on Friday, make sure to come back and check.
    Leslie
    http://www.violetimperfection.com

  39. Great information … I just saw a pin about killing weeds with household vinegar. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time! Thank you for setting the record straight and I’ll pin this for the future and hopefully for everyone else that was misled.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    http://www.raising-reagan.com

  40. I wanted to let you know that I featured you this week on the new linky! Thanks for the indepth report on exactly how to use vinegar to kill weeds. Also pinned.

    Linda at Crafts a la mode
    What to do Weekends Party

  41. Great information. I have seen several of these “pins” you mention. I have pinned them with the intention of trying them once my not-so organic (frown) weed killer was used up. We are still in the process of trying stop using so many chemicals in our lives. They are everywhere. I would love for you to share this at The HomeAcre Hop this week.

    http://summersacres.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-homeacre-hop-22.html

  42. Hi Leslie! I saw your reply to Jeri on May 27th suggesting she wait until the root dies out before replanting, but at the risk of sounding stupid, how will I know when the root (and not just the stem/leaves) is actually dead? Is there an approximate time frame you can give me? I have a small area that I would like to plant vegetables in, but it’s currently filled with grass and weeds. Thanks so much for this post. I’m another one you saved from using the ineffective version that’s been spreading like a weed (pun intended) on Pinterest!

    • When I spray weed with Vinegar and Orange Oil, I let them sit for a few days. Then, I go and pull them. They come out of the ground with dry, dead roots. That’s when I know they are dead. If you try scratching slightly below the surface after the top of the weed had died, you should be able to tell. There is no life in them at all!

  43. Hi -
    I can’t find the Orange Medina Oil locally. Would Orange TKO work as well?

    Thanks for all your great tips – so appreciated. I love thoroughness.

    • I’ve never heard of Orange TKO, but it looks like it would work. You can get Medina Orange Oil on Amazon.

  44. Thanks Leslie for the information. I have a plot in a community garden that is all organic. No commercial fertilizer or pesticides. I look forward to trying out your recipe for weed control. I have a commercial pesticide applicators license and know about the precautions to take. I want to add something to your precautions list, be careful after applying not to walk on any sprayed areas and then walking across the grass or any desirable ground cover. You leave dead foot prints where ever you walk! I’ve seen people walk backwards spraying an area, then walk over it to put stuff away or whatever, and then not thinking about it, walk across the grass.

  45. I have used a Maestro Gro product called 20% Vinegar – works well. they also make a little stronger product -Blackjack21. It’s 21% vinegar and it includes orange oil, and molasses which help it stick to weeds – it kills better than 20% vinegar. Sells on Amazon.

  46. abz malik says:

    i live in the UK and i have searched the internet day in day out looking for 20% vinegar but cannot find it anywhere i have also asked all my local garden centres and they also have no idea where to buy it from.
    could anyone help me please really need them weeds out of my garden.
    thank you

  47. Do you know how to MAKE horticultural vinegar?

    I appreciate the article.

    • Horticultural vinegar is something that I purchase. I have no idea how to make it.

      • Well thanks so much for the info. I live in South Texas where all kinds of weeds grow. I have the 20% , just need the Orange oil. What is your sugestion for making soil stronger. I have black clay
        Thanks

  48. Hi Everyone,
    I’ve used 5% straight undiluted vinegar with a squirt or two of soap, and it kills most weeds under 2″, the smaller the more effective as long as it has leaves, some grasses being more resistant, and some other plant types, but most die, the smaller they are the more effective,.. and very effective at that.
    So, Leslie, why have I been able to kill weeds, and you haven’t with that simplistic commoner’s spray,..the layman’s spray? Were the weeds you sprayed over 2″?,.. – and it can even kill some over 2″, depending on the weed type, and some weeds of course can’t be killed by sprays, such as Oxalis pes caprae unless you dig it up and smash the bulb.
    Get ‘em when they’re tiny.

    • I think it might have something to do with clay soil. The structure of clay soil is similar to stacked plates. If a tiny weed root settles between the clay plates then the moisture from the clay will aid the weed. 5% vinegar isn’t strong enough to penetrate this structure and still kill a weed. At least, that’s what I think ~ I have no science to back this up:)

  49. How long does it take for the grass to grow back where you have killed the weeds with this mix?

    I ask because I would usually burn off my yard at the beginning of each year. Then I would begin fertilizing about 3 weeks after for solid grass to grow back. However the weeds are getting worse every year.

    Also what is the best organic fertilizer to use on Texas bermuda? (for good thick green grass; if there is an organic one)

    • I believe the best way to have a healthy lawn is to have healthy soil. To do this I add a 1/2″ layer of organic compost every Spring and Fall.

      • So what about my first question?

        “How long does it take for the grass to grow back where you have killed the weeds with this mix?”

      • Leslie,

        I just bought the vinegar and orange oil. My last question is based on the ratio that you mentioned earlier.

        The correct ratio for weed killing is: 1 gallon of 10-20% vinegar to 1 C. of orange (or citrus) oil.

        Am I just simply mixing one full gallon of the the vinegar to one full bottle of the orange oil?

  50. Thank you, thank you! I am beginning my first spring in our sort of new home and last summer, the yard was completely over-run with some of the nastiest, largest weeds imaginable. I normally get very excited about spring gardening, but this year, my enthusiasm is tempered by my inevitable confrontation with tons of weeds. I know RoundUp works, but I just do not want to sell my soul to Satan (aka Monsanto) to have a nicer landscape, nor do I want that stuff drifting over to my organic vegetable garden. I’m going to give this a try.

  51. Sooo glad for this confirmation. I had heard about 20% vinegar and orange oil before. I have a whole row of 3 year old red raspberry plants that are mulched heavily. Every year we spend hours pulling DOCK plants out, never really getting the entire taproot out. They come back. Also, we have a big thistle problem. If we spray each dock with the vinegar solution, how do we avoid killing the raspberry bushes, as the dock grows closely to the roots? Any suggestions?

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