DIY Weed-Killer: Vinegar & Soap


Did you know that you can kill weeds with ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard?

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make your own ‘natural’ weed-killer that is organic and much cheaper then buying weed-killers?

Well, here is all you need…

Vinegar & Soap

Believe it or not, vinegar, dish soap and a spray bottle are all you need to make an effective weed killer.  You have these things already, don’t you?

I had known that vinegar  and soap could kill weeds, but had never tried it before.  So, I set out to prove that it worked in my own garden.

First, I took photos of a few of my weeds…

natural weed killer
natural weed killer
natural weed killer

I must admit that it felt kind of funny taking pictures of ‘weeds’.  My neighbor thought so too 😉   I sprayed each weed with my vinegar and soap mixture and waited 24 hours.

Here are the results:

natural weed killer
natural weed killer

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?  I couldn’t even find the third weed – it had dried up so quickly.

So for those of you who like to know how vinegar and soap kills weeds, here is the scientific explanation:

The acetic acid in vinegar ‘sucks the water’ out of the weed while the dish soap helps to break down the outer coating of the plant, which helps the vinegar to penetrate.

*You can try using vinegar alone, but I didn’t get good results without using the soap.

So are you excited to try this for yourself?

Okay, here is how to make your own….

1-gallon of vinegar (5% acetic acid)


1 oz. dish detergent

1. Put in a plastic spray bottleand apply to plants on a sunny day.

That’s it!  

Because this a non-selective weed-killer, it will kill anything it lands on – be careful not to get any on your plants, grass or trees since this mixture can hurt or kill them. 

**For tough weeds, regular white vinegar may not be strong enough.  In that case, you may want to use ‘horticultural vinegar’, which has a higher level of acetic acid (20%).  You can find this type of vinegar online, which is a popular, organic weed killer.


Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make your own ‘natural’ weed-killer?  It’s organic, cheap and easy to make from ingredients you already have at home. 

A Tale of Two Landscapes and a Single Weed

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
21 replies
  1. Rose
    Rose says:

    Thanks for an excellent tip and the info, Noelle! I have a gallon of weed-killer in the garage, but I really hate to use the stuff. I've heard of using vinegar before, but didn't know about adding the dish soap. Will definitely try this!

  2. Mac_fromAustralia
    Mac_fromAustralia says:

    I heard about vinegar a few years ago and tried it. It worked quite well but supposedly it's better to use "pickling vinegar" which is stronger, and I could only find the normal vinegar. I didn't know about the dish soap, I must try that.

  3. Janet Berry-Johnson
    Janet Berry-Johnson says:

    Thanks for the weed killer advice! I have a question about the spurge. We purchased our home a few months ago. Nearly every sprinkler head in the back lawn was broken where the grass wasn't getting enough water, we now have a huge patch of spurge, right in the middle of the grass. Any tips on how to get rid of it without killing the grass?

  4. LOU
    LOU says:

    I will definitely try this! Question: applying means exactly what? Do you need to really saturate each weed? And how close can you spray to an ornamental/garden flowers? Thanks

  5. LOU
    LOU says:

    Noelle….I will definitely try this! All the rain we have gotten…..I have a marvelous crop of mostly weeds in my flower beds and the cracks in my paved driveway.
    I do have a couple questions: how heavily do you spray these weeds? And how close can you spray towards your garden flowers/ornamentals?

  6. says:

    Hello Lou,

    Great questions! You would apply this weed killer the same way you would other weed killers, using a spray bottle. It doesn't take much – just a light spray. As with all weed killers, don't let it get on your flowers/ornamentals or it can affect them too. You could always use a large piece of cardboard to place between your desirable plants and weeds to help protect them from becoming inadvertently sprayed.

    I hope this helps!

    Noelle 'AZ Plant Lady'

  7. Mike Balzotti
    Mike Balzotti says:

    Will this work on Desert Bloom…and would mixing in table salt make it last longer, as has been suggested elsewhere?



  8. says:

    Hi Mike,

    Unfortunately, it won’t work for desert broom or other perennials. Only digging it out seems to work for removing desert broom. Salt won’t help either and should be avoided because here in the desert Southwest, our soils are already naturally salty as is our water. Too much salt will prevent plants from growing and remains in the soil.

  9. Susan Morosko
    Susan Morosko says:

    Once the vinegar/dish soap concoction has been applied, how long should I wait until I can safely plant in that area again?

Comments are closed.