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Simple Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer That Works

Looking for easy ways to get rid of weeds? There are lots of simple ways to suppress or kill weeds without the work or use of herbicides. This post shares some easy solutions plus a simple recipe for homemade weed killer that works!

Yes, weeds are totally annoying. But there’s no reason why they have to be so hard to kill.

Weeds are everywhere. They grow in yards, gardens, parks, roadsides, and even sidewalks. They’re also very difficult to remove completely.

So it’s important to keep up with it.

With the new house, comes more gardens and LOTS of places for weeds to sprout.

Because I prefer to use organic methods of weed control, I pull or hoe most of them out of the gardens.

We have two ponds, two dogs, a family, have a well, and live near a babbling brook, so acting responsibly with pesticides is paramount.

To me, the most effective method of getting rid of weeds is to pull them out by the root.

But I have to admit there are times when I just don’t feel like doing that. Particularly when I have a large patio, pathway or paver area to weed out.

If you love a well-manicured garden and perfect lawn but prefer not to use harsh chemicals, there are simple homemade weed killers you can make and methods to use.

Wait until you see how to kill weeds using these everyday household products plus a simple recipe for weed killer that works!

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How to Manage Weeds in the Garden

What’s the best method for managing weeds in the garden?

For starters, use a combination of pulling weeds and planting smart.

What does planting smart mean?

Grow plants slightly closer together to help crowd out weeds or use ground covers to help keep them from popping up.

Add lots of mulch and make it a priority to keep plants healthy.

close up of hosta in front porch garden with buckeye tree and container garden of pansies

In addition to planting smart, pull weeds as you see them and be sure to get at them from the root.

If you walk your gardens every day, pull what you see when you see them.

Don’t wait to remove them because weeds can get out of control pretty quickly.

I love to use THIS hand tool and THIS stand-up weeding tool to help get plants out with the root.

As part of a multifaceted approach to removing, killing, and suppressing weeds, it’s also effective to use homemade weed killers.

A word of caution though about them though.

Use these methods sparingly because they are non-selective and will also kill the good microbes too.

wood bench scultped from a tree with rhododendrons blooming, green fence and river rock stone border with some weeds that need to be pulled

5 Easy Ways to Kill Weeds in Your Garden

If you want to try killing or suppressing weeds without having to pull or hoe them out, give one of these methods a try.

Each method is non-selective meaning it will kill anything around it so be mindful with the application of each.

They are easy to do and you likely have the products on hand in your home.

  • Boiling Water
  • Propane Torch
  • Rubbing Alcohol Solution
  • Corn Gluten
  • Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer Using Vinegar
fuschia peony flowers in the garden

Boiling Water Method to Kill Weeds

If you have a few weeds to remove, boiling water is an easy way to kill them.

I tend to use this method on small pathways and patio areas because there isn’t vegetation I want to protect around it.

It’s not as easy to use when you have more weeds to get at or larger areas to weed because you have to keep going in and out to boil water.

But it is a very effective method that works quickly.

Simply boil water and pour it on the weeds on a warm, dry sunny day.

That’s it!

shade garden with several different hosta varieties, astilbes and large rock

Propane Torch Method to Killing Weeds

I’ve tried this method before and it takes a little more doing so it’s my least favorite. And to be honest, I prefer not to do it.

If you want to try it though, you’ll need a propane torch like THIS that is specifically made for killing weeds.

The idea behind it, is you burn the weed down to the root.

Last year, I tried this in my driveway where lots of weeds were sprouting, and found the process to be a bit laborious.

It took a while to burn each weed, I had a lot of weeds to deal with, and you go through the propane pretty quickly.

Plus, it took some doing to get the torch going.

Now it could have been the amount and/or type of weeds I had, but to me, it was more work standing there holding the torch and waiting for each weed to burn and die before moving on to the next one.

This method just wasn’t for me.

mixed container garden with geraniums, sweet potato vine, coleu, bubble gum pink superwave petunias and bacopa in front of stone wall on bed of river rocks next to astilbe plant.

The Rubbing Alcohol Method

If you’d rather go with a solution, a rubbing alcohol mix is pretty straightforward to make.

To prepare it, simply mix one quart of water to dilute two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.

Note: Before applying this method to weeds, wear gloves and protective eyewear.

Simply apply the rubbing alcohol mixture on a dry sunny day without wind. Saturate the foliage, stem, and plant base to get at the roots.

I don’t typically use this method but it does work.

the pond garden with fountain, foot bridge and two adirondack chairs on patio

How to Use Corn Gluten to Suppress Weeds

Unlike the aforementioned approaches to weed control, corn gluten does not kill weeds but rather helps suppress them when applied at the right time.

It is most commonly used to keep crabgrass at bay in the lawn, but can also be applied in garden beds between plants to help keep weed seeds from germinating.

For this method to be effective though, it must be applied with crabgrass seed germination.

How do you know when that is?

In spring when the forsythia starts blooming in your area until the last bloom drops, is the right time to apply it.

Simply spread it over the soil and water it in well after.

Although it’s important to water it in after applying it, you’ll want to apply corn gluten on a dry day with a few dry days in the forecast so it has a chance to work without getting washed out by inclement weather.

new cottage garden after planting it with several perennials, annuals and seeds that were started indoors in front of green wood picket fence and solar lights on green posts next to driveway

Simple Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer That Works

Now that we’ve covered some alternative methods to pulling or hoeing weeds, this homemade weed killer recipe is my go-to method when I don’t want to pull them.

This simple recipe for homemade weed killer is vinegar-based and covers large areas in a reasonable amount of time.

And with the size of my patios, pathways, and garden areas, I need to cover more ground.

potager garden with travertine tile steps to pavers with raised garden beds filled with vegetables and herbs. There is a green fence with an arbor covered in lonicera.

What I love most about this recipe is there is NO NEED to use synthetic pesticides to get the same effect.

So if you are looking for ways to kill weeds organically without having to pull them, try this simple recipe for homemade weed killer instead.

But like I said before, keep in mind it is non-selective and kills both bad and good microbes.

For me, I only use this in hardscaped areas and protect my plants if they are nearby.

close up of ingredients to make simple homemade weed killer recipe that works

Ingredients for This Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer

Not much is needed to make your own homemade weed killer recipe and you likely already have the ingredients laying around your house.

While you can use any distilled or apple cider vinegar, vinegars containing more than 11% acetic acid will work best to burn and kill weeds.

Here’s what you need:

  • Distilled, apple cider, or cleaning vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle

While any dish soap will do, I think Dawn dish soap works best.

But why do you need dish soap if vinegar is the acting ingredient?

Because the dish soap helps the vinegar stay on the surface longer.

So be sure to apply this recipe on a sunny day so it does not get washed away.

close up of spraying simple homemade weed killer recipe that works on weed in between pavers
Saturate the weed well with the vinegar solution.

How to Make Homemade Weed Killer with Vinegar

Start with a gallon of vinegar.

Add one cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.

Simply pour the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well.

Note: Before applying, wear gloves and protective eyewear.

It is best to apply the vinegar method on a dry sunny day with little to no wind, so the rain does not wash it away.

The sun helps dry out and kill the weeds so timing is everything.

And it is best to apply on a non-windy day so the overspray does not hit other plants and vegetation you want to keep!

close up of weed after spraying it with simple homemade weed killer recipe that works in between pavers
Shortly after spraying it, the weed is starting to turn brown.

How to Apply the Vinegar Method

To apply, spray directly on weeds and the foliage. Try to get all of the plant, including the base so the solution gets to the root as well.

This solution is non-selective so be careful not to spray other plants.

Use a piece of cardboard or something to keep the overspray from hitting other plants if need be.

After spraying with simple weed killer that works, the weed is dying
12 hours later, the weed is dying.

Conclusion

In short, homemade weed killers kill whatever plants they touch, which includes the lawn so be particularly careful if you choose to use them.

It’s also important to note that when used repeatedly, they change the soil composition, so use them sparingly in the garden or the lawn.

Always wear gloves and protective eyewear when working with herbicides.

And if you have any questions about how to use homemade weed killers, consult your local cooperative extension or master gardener helpline because they are very knowledgeable and can share what works best in your area.

black lab laying in grass in front of pink roses and hostas in front of green fence

While there are many ways to manage weeds in garden beds, the best approach is to pull them out from the root.

It’s organic, it’s therapeutic, is very effective, and you don’t risk damaging surrounding plants with something that is non-selective.

Yes, it is a little more work, but it’s better for the garden.

I walk the gardens every day and pull them as I see them so it’s less work long term.

front yard garden view of hostas, container plant of pansies and perennial garden with cut flower seedlings overlooking the mountains by a stone wall and path
close up of spraying simple homemade weed killer recipe that works on weed in between pavers
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5 from 1 vote

Simple Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer That Works

Looking for easy ways to get rid of weeds? There are lots of ways to suppress or kill weeds without the work or use of herbicides. This post shares some easy solutions plus a simple recipe for homemade weed killer that works!
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Calories:

Materials

Instructions

  • Mix vinegar, salt and dish soap in gallon container.
  • On a bright sunny day with no wind, saturate weed plant, foliage, stem, and base well.

Notes

If using near garden plants, grab a piece of cardboard to protect them from potential overspray.
For more healthy garden ideas:
 

Looking for Ways to Grow a Healthy Garden?

If you want to grow a garden that is beautiful, healthy and full of plants and flowers, it starts with good healthy soil.

In addition to managing weeds, it is so important to improve your garden soil both when you start a new garden, as well as over time.

One of the best ways to improve your soil is to make compost. It’s very easy to do and I’ve got a great recipe for it.

Plus, it’s much less expensive to make your own than to purchase from the garden nursery.

In addition to making your own compost, gather all those leaves in fall and early spring to make leaf mold to improve the health of your garden soil too.

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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close up of easy homemade weed killer that works
close up of simple homemade weed killer that works being applied between pavers

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14 Comments

  1. I’m heating up water right now to pour on my walkway! I’ve never tried that. Definitely trying the vinegar method, I can not believe how many weeds came up on my gravel patio last week!

    1. It works really well – it’s just a pain to keep going back in to boil more. I usually use it in small pathways or patios to get rid of stubborn weeds.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I love that it will work without using those cancer-causing chemicals. I’m gonna make up a batch for my driveway! I’m assuming it kills grass too so I’ll bring some cardboard to protect the edges. Brilliant!

    1. I agree Anne! Too often people run to that stuff and it’s awful for our health, our pets and the environment.

  3. Such good information Stacy! I am on the same page when it comes to the propane torch. I absolutely hated that method. I do love using the vinegar solution, especially on my brick in the cut flower garden. It is now the only thing I use. So easy!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one. The torch was no fun – I thought it would work better and be easier but I thought it was just me.

  4. This is so great and helpful! I’m sharing with my followers today in my weekly round up, “From My Neck of the Woods”, they will love it!

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for answering my nightmares & prayers on how to kill weeds, it’s been a total nightmare getting rid of them
    I’m going to try all 3 of your suggestions 🙂