No matter how careful you are, there’ll always be some weeds that will show up in your garden. You probably heard about it, but is it effective to use vinegar and salt to kill the weed.
One advantage that vinegar and salt solution has over commercial products is that it is entirely safe and natural. It will not harm people and animals nor have any lasting unwanted effects on the environment.
Note that new weeds will arrive to replace the ones you killed if you use just vinegar. The reason is that it has no residual action. However, by simply adding salt, you can prevent weeds from growing in the treated area ever again.
Read on to learn more about using vinegar and salt to kill weeds. You will also know whether it is effective, its negative effects, and other important bits of information.
Can You Use Vinegar and Salt to Kill Weeds?
Are you searching for an organic way to get rid of weeds in your garden? Of course, the quickest and safest way to do this is to get on your knees. This means pulling off the offending weeds from the ground yourself.
Most times, though, you want to use a product to kill the weeds and prevent them from returning. So, does salt and vinegar work as a homemade weed killer? Let’s find out.
What Does Vinegar Bring to the Table?
Household vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid, sugar, salt, and water to dilute the acid. There is also horticultural vinegar with higher acidity (20% compared to 5% of household vinegar).
Non-toxic Household Vinegar
Household vinegar is non-toxic, so it is a safe substance to use. For killing weeds, the typical types of vinegar that you can use are white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. You can find them in almost all grocery stores and supermarkets.
Can Regular Vinegar Kill Weeds?
Yes, it can, and it is quite efficient. However, consider that household vinegar is a lot less potent than horticultural vinegar. This means it will only kill the weeds it touches without damaging the other plants surrounding it.
Affect the Soil’s pH Level
Even though food-grade vinegar is not as acidic as horticultural vinegar, you have to be extra careful when using it. The reason is that it can drastically alter the soil’s pH level. You should be even more cautious when using horticultural vinegar. It contains more than four times the acetic acid per volume.
Here’s another thing that you need to know about using vinegar as a weed killer. It is an indiscriminate killer. This means that it can kill weeds and any greenery with which it gets in contact. This can be good or bad, depending on the degree of weed infestation that you need to deal with.
Regular kitchen-use vinegar can be a bit more forgiving. The lower acidity allows it to kill broadleaf weeds, leaving the grass and other plants relatively safe. It is why many recommend only using household vinegar to kill weeds.
What Can Salt Do?
Sodium Chloride, also known as the humble table salt, helps kill weeds. You can use salt on its own or mix it in water or vinegar.
Just like vinegar, salt can kill weeds and almost all kinds of plants, for that matter. In high enough amounts, salt can kill any plant, which is why many organic farmers use it to kill weeds.
However, unlike synthetic and organic pesticides that break down into harmless components over time, sodium ions do not. Water might carry it from one location to another, from your driveway to your garden. However, it will always be there.
Experts say that you can kill weeds by applying salt to the ground. However, the caveat is that you cannot grow anything else in that spot for at least two years. You solved your weed problem, but then again, the soil contains so much salt. This makes it practically unlivable until the rain washes most of it away.
How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds
If you are wondering how to start killing weeds with salt and vinegar, here is a simple recipe. You’ll need to mix everything in a plastic bucket. After that, transfer the resulting mixture into a spray bottle for use.
What You’ll Need
- 1 gallon of regular white vinegar
- 1 cup of regular table salt
- 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap
- Pour all the white vinegar and table salt into the bucket. Stir the contents until all the salt has dissolved completely.
- Next, pour the liquid dishwashing soap into the bucket. Stir the contents until completely combined in the solution.
- Using a funnel, transfer the vinegar and salt mixture into a plastic spray bottle. Store the leftover in a sealed container and use it later.
Grab your spray bottle with the vinegar and salt mixture on a sunny day. Proceed to spray it on all the weeds that you can find. Be careful that you do not spray this mixture on any plants that you do not want to kill. If mushrooms or fungi are in your lawn or garden, you can also kill them with this mixture.
How Long Before the Weeds Die?
The nice thing about using this vinegar salt mixture is that it works quickly. Typically, weeds sprayed with this mixture will die within a day. Vinegar is, therefore, a great solution if you are looking for a cheap, relatively safe, and organic way of killing weeds immediately.
However, immediate results do not necessarily mean that they are also permanent. Just because the weeds you sprayed died within a day, that does not mean that they won’t grow back. The vinegar killed the top part of the plant. However, it is also likely that it did not kill the roots.
Again, how to use vinegar and salt to kill weeds? Combine one gallon of white vinegar, one cup of table salt, and one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing liquid into a container. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle. Then, spray the weeds using this solution during hot weather.
Can Vinegar and Salt Kill Weeds to the Root?
If you cut off the tops of the weeds and the roots remain intact, they are not dead yet. The same goes when using vinegar and salt. Applying it once might not be enough.
The root system is the heart of the weeds. If the roots are still in the ground, the weed will regenerate just as quickly as you killed it. Killing just the top will make the weeds grow faster and bigger. It is like pruning a plant to make it grow stronger.
Apply Vinegar-Salt Solution More Than Once
Apply the vinegar and salt solution more than once to ensure that you entirely kill the weeds to their roots. This way, they will not just look dead. They will indeed be dead.
Spray the Weeds During a Sunny Day
You need to apply the vinegar and salt treatment on a sunny day, as mentioned earlier. This is because sunlight will help activate the acetic acid in the vinegar. It will then cause the reaction to happen quicker. This way, you can kill the weeds entirely in just a couple of treatments over a week.
Disadvantages of Using Vinegar and Salt to Kill Weeds
Sharp Odor and Other Effects
Aside from the limitations of vinegar as a weed killer, regular use of it can cause several serious side effects. For instance, when sprayed into the air, it will not only impart a sharp odor. Repeated exposure to acetic acid can also cause chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and tooth decay.
The spray might also trigger allergic reactions in certain people. In addition, vinegar with an acetic acid concentration of more than 11% can burn the skin. If you accidentally spray some in your eyes, it can lead to blindness.
Include in an Integrated Weed Management Program
If you use vinegar as an herbicide, it is better not to rely on it solely. You should put it in an integrated weed management program. Watch your lawn and garden closely. That way, you can use the vinegar when you deem it to have a better chance of working.
Wear Protective Gear
Also, note that some companies like to market their commercial vinegar weed killer as a “natural” product. However, that does not mean they are perfectly safe to use compared to chemical herbicides. You will still need to wear proper protective gear such as gloves, masks, and safety goggles.
Other Natural Alternatives to Chemical Weedkillers
Vinegar and salt are not the only natural herbicides you can use in your garden. You can also combine it with other methods to make your weed treatment program a bit more efficient:
1. Manual Pulling
Still, the most effective method of killing weeds is manually pulling them out of the ground. This method is more tiring than spraying the offending weeds with herbicide, but it has advantages. It’s much less likely to grow back when you pull out the weed’s root system.
The best thing about manually pulling out the weeds is that you can plant on the soil immediately after. It is not like using herbicides where you must wait for the weed to die before growing anything on it. You will also have to wait for the chemicals to dissolve into the soil.
2. Flaming and Steaming
Flaming and steaming weeds are also good ways to get rid of weeds. These methods have similar effects as when you use vinegar. However, they have the advantage of not leaving any residue on the other plants.
However, flaming and steaming weeds do not affect plant roots like vinegar. You can place the steamer close to the ground to damage the weeds’ roots. Note, though, that this may only clog up the nozzle.
In addition, you should be careful when using flame weeders near anything flammable. If there is dried grass where you plan on using the flame weeder, do not continue.
Using mulch is also an excellent way to control the growth of weeds. Mulch helps by depriving the weeds of light and water by covering them. You need to provide a layer of mulch, around 3-4 inches deep, to smother weeds and prevent them from growing. However, this is not a foolproof method as some hardy weeds can still sprout.
A couple of organic mulch materials you can use include tree bark chips and wood shavings (untreated wood preferably). You can even use dead leaves and twigs that you raked from your yard. However, do not use mulch that is larger than an inch across. The reason is that it will provide enough space for weeds to grow through.
Conclusion – Vinegar and Salt to Kill Weeds
In terms of safety, vinegar and salt are better than commercial herbicides. They will not cause serious harm to people and animals. Plus, they don’t have harmful effects on the environment. However, vinegar and salt is not permanent solution.
Using too much salt will ruin the soil, making it unusable for years. Even though this is a natural weed killer, you still need to be careful.