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This Cheap DIY Weed Killer Makes Weeds Disappear

Best natural homemade weed killer - spraying a week in side walk crack; before and after of weed alive then dead

Here’s A Cheap And Fast Way To Kill Weeds

I’m sure at this point in the season, you’re already deep in time-honored spring/summer tradition: fighting to keep your lawn free of pesky weeds. We all have our own ways of eradicating them, from herbicides to manual weeding tools, but there’s no such thing as too many options, in my opinion! :-)

In today’s blog post, I hope to arm you with all of the knowledge, know-how, and tips you need to kill weeds and keep your lawn in tip-top shape throughout the season. In addition to sharing the recipe for my super simple and effective homemade weed killer spray (with just three ingredients!), you’ll also learn more about how and why weeds grow so you can outsmart and outflank them before they become a problem!

Know Your Enemy: All About Weeds

Why Weeds Love Grass And Lawns

When it comes to our lawns, many of us see weeds as a nuisance at best, and at worst, a mortal enemy that must be vanquished at all costs. But in reality, it’s precisely because of our penchant for short, tidy grass that garden weeds become an issue in the first place!

A well-kept lawn provides an almost ideal environment for many types of weeds. Short grass offers easy access to the soil for germinating weed seeds, and they can get plenty of sunshine because they won’t be competing with or covered up by other plants.

Related: 7 Unexpected Things That Are Killing Your Lawn

weed killer - weed in a sidewalk crack
I could not survive the gardening season without my homemade weed killer!

Types Of Weeds

The term “weed” doesn’t apply to any one plant, but rather unwanted plants that are considered invasive, problematic, or otherwise undesirable. Here are just some of the perennial weeds that may pop up in your yard:

  • Wild violet
  • Wild onions
  • Wild garlic
  • Dandelions
  • Crabgrass
  • Thistles
  • Bindweed
  • Broadleaf weed
  • Garlic mustard
weed killer - spraying a weed in a sidewalk crack

What’s The Best Way To Get Rid Of Weeds?

When it comes to weed control, many people swear by manually removing them from the ground. As long as you remove the weeds completely, root and all, this can be one of the more effective methods of getting rid of weeds and preventing them from growing back. But removing weeds with the root intact is easier said than done, and you can’t always tell how deep the roots actually are.

Herbicides are another popular option for killing weeds, and home improvement and gardening stores offer a variety of commercial weed killers that are easy to use. However, many commercial weed killers are highly toxic (such as Roundup) and can pose a threat to humans and pets when misused, they’re not an ideal solution either.

Luckily, there’s a third option that combines the convenience of a commercial weed killer with the safety, affordability, and effectiveness of manual weeding, and that’s making your own natural weed killer. Get the scoop on this cheap way to kill weeds below!

How To Make A Cheap, Natural Weed Killer

weed killer - Dawn dishwashing detergent, white vinegar, salt, spray bottle
You probably have everything you need for my homemade weed killer in your cupboards right now.

Ingredients:

mix weed killer ingredients in a spray bottle

Directions:

Add vinegar, salt, and dish soap to a 16-ounce spray bottle. Replace the sprayer top and shake gently to mix.

spray weeds with homemade weed killer
Use this homemade weed killer on a warm, sunny day and weeds do not stand a chance!

Spray onto weeds as soon as you notice them. Be careful of overspray to avoid singeing any grass around the weed. For best results, spray the weeds on a warm, sunny day.

weed killer - pouring white vinegar in a pyrex measuring cup
The secret ingredient!

How It Works

The acetic acid in household vinegar fights weeds in two ways. First, it burns weeds on contact, and second, it lowers the pH of the surrounding soil, making it harder for the weed to survive the encounter. And no matter how long your vinegar has been sitting around, it will still be good to use — vinegar has an indefinite shelf life.

weed killer - measuring Dawn into a spoon

The addition of dish soap (like Dawn) thickens the formula, which helps it adhere better to weeds. Undiluted vinegar would likely drip right off the leaves or else evaporate before it could do any real damage.

weed killer - measuring salt into a spoon

Finally, a few tablespoons of table salt give this DIY weed killer a boost in the form of weed dehydration. Salt is highly effective at drawing out moisture (particularly on sunny days), and when combined with vinegar, helps to dry out weeds, reducing the chances of the weed being able to reestablish itself.

Together, these powerful, yet widely available, ingredients make a homemade weed killer that is:

  • Cheap to make
  • Easy to use
  • Fast-acting
  • Non-toxic to humans and pets
weed killer - dead weed
Later that same day…..bye bye noxious weeds!

Other Cheap Ways To Kill Weeds

Newspaper/Mulch

Weeds need sunshine and air to grow, and you can use that to your advantage when you want to eliminate them. Use a weed trimmer or mower to level them off, then cover the area with newspaper, landscape fabric, or organic mulch. Without access to sun and air, the weeds won’t be able to grow or produce new seeds and will eventually die off.

Boiling Water

If weeds are a problem in the cracks of your sideways or driveway, boiling water makes a quick and easy solution! Boil a kettle of water, then take it outside and pour it directly onto them to kill weeds fast.

Note: This method won’t kill deeply rooted weeds, but it’s a quick and easy way to buy yourself a fair amount of weed-free time before they bounce back!

weed killer - live weed; dead weed
This Before & After photo almost brings a tear to my eye! ;-)

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, the fight against weeds in your lawn or garden never really ends. But accepting that fact is a good thing, because once you realize you’ll never eliminate weeds for good, you can cut yourself some slack when you spot a few around your yard!

The best piece of advice I can offer about controlling weeds in your yard is to check for weeds often and address them early. If you pull or spray weeds while they’re young, your efforts will be that much more effective.

Looking for a cheap, DIY plant food now that you’ve gotten rid of weeds? Find out how to grow bigger plants and save money while you’re at it!

Do you have any other tips or tricks for how to kill weeds?

Best natural homemade weed killer - spraying a week in side walk crack; before and after of weed alive then dead

How To Make A Cheap, Natural Weed Killer

Jill Nystul
Tis the season — for weeding, that is! Learn how to use a few cheap household products to make a safe and reliable weed killer.
4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Active Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Cost $10
Yield 16 ounces

Equipment

  • spray bottle 16 ounces

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp table salt
  • 1 tsp dish soap

Instructions
 

  • Add the vinegar, salt, and dish soap to a 16-ounce spray bottle, then replace the top and shake gently to mix.
    mix weed killer ingredients in a spray bottle
  • Spray onto weeds as soon as you notice them. For best results, spray weeds on a warm, sunny day, and be careful about overspray to avoid singeing nearby grass or plants.
    spray weeds with homemade weed killer

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Please consider not spraying weeds that are not noxious, like dandelions, violets, clover or other early blooming plants. Our bees need these plants to survive until other plants blossom. And we need our bees. One other thing to consider for driveways is boiling water. Just pour it over the grasses/weeds and that will kill them.

  • This method takes a couple of days to work. I use a flamer — a small propane bottle on one end and flame on the other – Red Devil makes it. It burns the weed on top and goes into the soil to kill the root. You obviously should not use it on mulch, pine straw or anything that would be flammable.

  • Be careful where you put any type of weed killers. The build-up of salt and other ingredients, in the soil will make growing anything difficult. Mulching not only does not hurt the soil but also makes pulling the few weeds that come up easier to pull.

    I agree Carol, I love my weeds for a variety of uses.

  • We have a vacation home right on a lake, and herbicides (and pesticides) are strictly forbidden as they would pollute the lake. I have used this ‘natural’ herbicide and, while it’s not as long-lasting perhaps as a commercial herbicide, it does work!

  • I have used this a lot over the years. It is effective, but most likely needs to be done more than once a growing season. I mostly use it to keep fence lines clear. To make a gallon to use in a sprayer just mix one gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and a good squirt of dish soap. A slightly stronger version (not to be used around pets) is using borax in place of the salt.

  • I would add something to this post. While this is a very effective weed killer, if used a lot, it can actually sterilize the soil over time. I learned this from our local garden center. Now this might take years, but it’s something to consider. We use this concoction on our gravel driveway. Over the years we have seen fewer and fewer weeds even come up. If you’re using it in flower beds or around plants you want to keep, it would be prudent to limit your usage.

    • I live in the desert. My front “lawn” is stones. Thanks for the information about sterilizing the soil. I too have been using this method for a few years with fewer weeds noted.

  • I’m all about not using pesticides whenever possible. The only exception is killing dandelions especially when young. We put them in salad. They are good for reducing blood pressure. My Gram was Italian and they lived on dandelion greens.
    Great post, Jill! Thanks

  • Good Post Jillee – Many of the plants that people consider weeds are actually volunteer herbs, edible and nutritious, including Dandelion.. I love my weeds / herbs. For the last three years I have had volunteer lactuca Canendensis (wild lettuce) volunteering in my front flower bed. It might make the neighbors a little crazy (they get 9 – 10 feet tall before they bloom), but I love them

  • This is very interesting. My mom and my nieces busted their rears off recently weeding a patch in between our house and our neighbors house . I had wondered about the effectiveness of the salt. When I first started my job this old lady would come in and buy at least 5-6 containers of salt . She said it helped with the weeds. I can’t remember all the details. I think she lived out in the country and using these huge amounts of salt would have killed any grass. That’s why I had wondered about the salt.

  • Thank you! Your hints are so helpful. I’ll try this today and let you know. I have some pretty bad ones, so this will be a good test.

  • Just so you know, Dandelions are not weeds. They are the first food that Bees and Butterflies go to for nourishment when Spring arrives and they migrate north. Please, leave the Dandelions. Help our Bees and Butterflies~!

  • Oh my God…..what you presented right on that picture above as a ”weed” it actually belongs to the family of DANDELION !!!!Dont kill them just cut them and boil them and drink the tea or have them as a salad!!!

  • Dandelions are not good for you if they have been sprayed with herbicide, our neighbors spray their entire lawn with the stuff so I am not going to eat anything from the lawn! Maybe if you live away from town where weeds etc are truly wild, not in the city however.

  • Another great and nontoxic weed killer is boiling water. Works quite well on weeds in sidewalk and driveway cracks. I’ve even taken the pot of water used to boil corn and reused it as a weed eradicator. Might take two applications of boiling water but it works quite well.

      • When I was a child, there was a great deal of poison ivy at edge of yard. My grandmother spread the area with the rock salt after we had made ice cream and it was eradicated without hurting the trees that were also at the edge of the property.

      • Yes It works eventually. Every time I saw the poison ivy leaves starting to come out again I’d spray it again and again all summer long. I just used straight vinegar though. It may work faster with the soap in it.

    • I wouldn’t say it’s a fantastic plant….that’s going a bit far. It CAN help with some health issues like liver detox, however if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, you can damage your liver and kidneys. And really, whether you see it as a good plant or not, most people don’t like dandelions in their flower beds, gardens and lawns, they certainly aren’t pretty to look at! Personally, I can’t wait until tomorrow to make this and get rid of a bunch of weeds, dandelions included!! Thanks for sharing this information Jillee!!

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