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    15 Homemade Weed Killers That Really Work

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    15 Homemade Weed Killers That Really Work

    While some weeds can be very good to have in your garden, most will steal nutrients from the soil—nutrients your plants need in order to thrive. You could try pulling them, but pulling weeds by hand is endless backbreaking work.

    All that work can be in vain because many weeds have deep roots. Oftentimes, what you are pulling is just the visible surface weed, leaving the roots intact, free to continue thieving nutrients from your crops.

    Chemically manufactured weed killers can take care of your weed problem, but they may do more harm than good. Potentially harmful chemicals in popular weed killers, like those in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready that have recently provoked health lawsuits, may cause damage to the human body, beneficial insects, and the soil in your growing plots.

    Using natural ingredients gives the gardener complete control over what is being sprayed on the weeds, as well as what is being infused on the plants which they'll be serving to their loved ones after the harvest.

    Most of the weed killers on this list will cost less than $1 to make, and you'll have enough to treat several large rows of weeds.

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    Top 15 Homemade Weed Killers

    1. Baking Soda

    Sprinkle baking soda directly onto weeds in the growing area. Apply liberally enough to fully coat the entire weed.

    While the baking soda will not kill either harmful or beneficial bugs, it can kill or scorch plants. Carefully sprinkle directly onto the weeds on days when there is barely any wind and rain is not in the forecast.

    2. Boiling Water

    This weed killer is probably the simplest on this list, but it's really only designed to rid raised beds or container plants of weeds due to the need to heat water to boiling and then tote it to the area to be treated before it cools.

    Avoid splashing the boiling water onto plants when pouring; the boiling water will kill them as quickly as it will kill weeds.

    3. Borax and Vinegar

    Mix one cup of borax with one gallon of distilled white vinegar, pour it into a spray bottle, and spray your weeds.

    This one works incredibly well, but I can only use it in growing plots that neither our domestic pets nor our livestock have access to. Borax is NOT boric acid, but it is toxic to animals when ingested. That's why I often mix it with sugar to attract and kill ants and mice.

    Spraying Homemade Weed Killer

    4. Essential Oil and Vinegar

    Combine 1 tablespoon of either orange essential oil or clove essential oil with one cup of distilled white vinegar. Simply spray it on the weeds. But again, be sure not to get it on your other plants.

    5. Lemon Juice

    The acid in the lemon juice will kill even the strongest weeds. Saturate the entire plant, paying particular attention to the stem area when spraying.

    For particularly strong weeds, mix one part lemon juice with one part distilled white vinegar. Add one tablespoon of cooking oil or any carrier oil you have on hand to make this weed killer even more potent.

    6. Listerine and Water

    Mix one cup of Listerine with one gallon of warm water and spray onto your weeds. This weed killer recipe also helps to ward off aphids.

    7. Newspaper and Cardboard

    This simple gardening hack is entirely free if you are recycling (or upcycling) old newspapers and cardboard. Use a weed eater or your hands to pull the weeds and then put several layers of newspaper or a sheet of cardboard over the now vacant space. Shovel some mulch or compost on top of the newspaper or cardboard to hold it in place.

    Both types of paper products will eventually disintegrate, but since both of them are quality composting materials (as long as the newspaper only has black and white ink) you are enriching your soil while protecting the crops.

    8. Rubbing Alcohol

    To do this, mix two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with one quart of water. Then you can pour it into a spray bottle and start spraying your weeds. This works because the alcohol removes moisture that weeds need to survive.

    Spraying Weeds With Bottle

    9. Salt and Vinegar

    Mix two cups of table salt with one gallon of distilled white vinegar. Stir and/or shake vigorously to make absolutely certain the salt has completely dissolved in the vinegar.

    Spray the entire weed, especially the stem, to get rid of the unwanted wild vegetation. Caution: Salt “sterilizes” the dirt, so it is unlikely anything at all will grow in that space for an incredibly long time. Any vinegar used to kill weeds should be at least five percent acetic acid to be effective.

    10. Vodka

    This one is easy. Just pour vodka into a spray bottle, then liberally spray your weeds with it. However, make sure you do this on a sunny day. The vodka uses heat from the sun to burn the weeds. If it gets cloudy or rainy, you'll have to reapply the vodka.

    11. Corn Gluten Meal

    This is a pre-emergent herbicide that can prevent weeds from establishing. Spread corn gluten meal on your garden beds in the early spring before weeds germinate. It inhibits root formation in seedlings but won't harm established plants.

    12. Dish Soap and Salt Solution

    Mix a few drops of dish soap with a gallon of water and a cup of salt. The dish soap helps the solution adhere to the weed leaves, while the salt dehydrates them. Be cautious, as this can affect the soil salinity.

    13. White Vinegar and Dish Soap

    A classic combination. Mix 1 gallon of 5% white vinegar with a squirt of dish soap. The acetic acid in the vinegar burns the weed leaves, and the dish soap helps the solution stick. This works best on a sunny day.

    14. Cinnamon Powder

    Surprisingly, cinnamon is a natural herbicide. Sprinkle it directly on weed-prone areas. Its strong scent is also a natural pest repellent, but be careful not to overapply, as it can harm your desired plants too.

    15. Mulch Overlays

    Though not a ‘killer' in the traditional sense, a thick layer of organic mulch can effectively suppress weed growth. It blocks sunlight, preventing weed germination, and also enriches the soil as it decomposes.

    Weeds Growing on Sidewalk

    What Makes Weed Killer Ingredients So Powerful?

    Citrus Essential Oils

    Using citrus essential oils (orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon) will help “burn” or “scald” the weeds due to the natural acid they contain and their highly concentrated nature.


    Oil cannot be used alone as a weed killer, as both salt and vinegar can, but it can be a valuable component to add to any of the weed killers above.

    The oil breaks down the waxy and protective coverings on weeds and allows the vinegar and salt concoctions to work far more effectively. Once the protective coatings are stripped away, vinegar or salt (or both) cannot fully saturate the weed stems and help kill the unwanted vegetation.

    When oil is added to a weed killer recipe, it thickens it. While this means that using an agricultural sprayer to deliver the solution to the weeds won’t be possible, it also means the ingredients will have far less runoff.

    Delivering the weed killer recipe via a sprinkling can instead a sprayer should also help prevent any unwanted splattering onto your growing groceries just a few inches away. The longer the solution remains on the weeds, the better the chances are that it will soon be a dead weed.


    Common table salt has a sodium chloride base. This base ingredient is also a desiccant that will suck moisture from the stems and leaves of weeds—or any plant it touches. When vinegar and salt are combined, you usually get astonishingly rapid results.


    There is good reason vinegar is at the base of many homemade weed killers… it works.

    Vinegar alone can work just fine on some weeds, but the addition of table salt, Epsom salts, or dish soap is often needed to kill particularly difficult weeds and Bermuda grass. You can use any dish soap, but I have had the greatest success when using Blue Dawn. I also use Blue Dawn dish soap as a base ingredient for many of my garden insect killer recipes.

    The reason vinegar works so well to kill weeds (and likely insect pests, as well) is its acetic acid content. Most distilled white vinegar sold at grocery stores contains three to five percent acetic acid.

    Acetic acid is a desiccant, meaning it removes moisture from what it touches. This acid is also the reason it is used to preserve food. When distilled white vinegar is prayed upon weeds, it draws all of the above-ground moisture from the weed.

    While the vinegar can also wreak havoc on roots, such a prime result should not be expected. If the weeds being sprayed have a wax coating or similar protective covering, a vinegar-based spray will not have as potent of an effect.

    Whenever possible, use vinegar that has a 10 to 20 percent acetic acid content. While a concentration this high is usually not necessary to kill young or weak weeds, it can vitally boost your eradication efforts when treating tough and fast-growing weeds.

    Apple cider vinegar can be used in weed recipes also, but it can be slightly less effective against strong weeds.

    One More Tip

    Always wait to make homemade weed killers when you are ready to use them. The potency of the mixtures or even single ingredient weed killers will diminish once they are exposed to air and sunlight.

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      12 thoughts on “15 Homemade Weed Killers That Really Work”

        • Cut them off at the roots and then pour whatever killer (listed above) on the roots or start digging. It may take several tries. Just keep chopping them off at the roots.

      1. how to kill whiteflies?

        got whiteflies all over 2 plants – have used insecticidal spray, washed each individual leaf w/soap and water, rinsed, and sprayed again with insecticidal!!! still got’em…..any ideas to get rid of them for good?

        • Gasoline & a match tossed into it. (NO!!!) They are so stinking hard to get rid of, I went chemical. Worked. Can’t recall the kind, but you can find it in your local tool & hardware store. I think i got mine at Wally World.

      2. Do you know a good way to kill comfrey? I have about 50 in my flower beds and even if I dig down 3 feet and remove the roots they keep coming back and multiplying. I wanted just one but it has spread everywhere.

        • Comfrey will keep coming back if even just a sliver of a root is left in the ground. It is hard to eradicate it.

          That said…comfrey is EXCELLENT added to your compost pile or fed to your chickens. Whenever you see it coming back, cut it down to the ground and toss it in either the compost, or to the chickens

        • Also, learn to make extract with it! Comfrey is a phenomenal herb! Learn all its uses (of course maybe you did already, since you said you wanted ”one!” But I have also seen where it is wonderful for composting with.

      3. Be sure not to use the essential oil one if there are ANY cats around. Dogs are fine from what I hear. Only cats are sensitive to essential oils and they can easily kill them.


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