Using vinegar to kill weeds

My sister-in-law needs to regain control over her garden and she has a lot of annual and perennial weeds growing in the beds. She doesnt want to use chemical weedkillers because of the wildlife in her garden (badgers and foxes). Ive researched and found that an organic alternative is vinegar which when sprayed on the plant will kill it. I believe it needs to be mixed with washing up liquid. Anybody used vinegar on weeds and can confirm its success or otherwise. She has lots of bindweed, nettles, thistles, and established bramble as well as the annual weeds. I think the annuals can simply be hoed into the soil, and as long as they are not flowering or setting seeds, will just dissapear quietly as long as the ground is hoed regularly to stop them re-establishing.


  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    The washing up liquid is to help it stick to the leaves-it may harm an annual weed but is never going to work on perennial weeds like thistles ,bindweed brambles etc

    2 choices dig it out-hard work- and you need to get it all out- or use a glyphosate based weed like like Roundup-it becomes inactive on reaching the soil and will not harm wildlife

    Ok it is a chemical -the world is made up of chemicals-as is vinegar- used properly it is safe -tough problems call for tough measures.

  • I have to agree with sotongeoff.  I am trying my best to be organic and have spent a lot of time hand-weeding our garden.  I have hand dug, sieved, applied cardboard mulch, you name it.

    A local landscape gardener who is organic-friendly said that in his opinion there is NO alterative to spraying off the weeds on our gravel drive and under the fences etc. twice a year with glyphosphate.  Having spent a year NOT doing that, I'm afraid to say i have to agree with him.

    As regards lawn weeds, I recently bought one of those Fiskears gizmos for pulling out plantains, dandelions etc. and they seem to work quite well, but you will end up with a few holes which you might have to fill in.

  • biff227biff227 Posts: 18


    I posted a question about this last week!  I found a frugal website that suggested this, I am currently trialing it at the front of the house.  Thus far the weeds are dead, however so is the surrounding lawn!

  • Hi,

    I have been using vinegar to treat weeds on our patio very successfully, i used malt vinegar without diluting (Lidl sell pint bottles for 17p!)

    It has worked a treat, dealing with most perenials as well as anuals, even hit the horsetail for six which is saying something, though I expect to see that again next year. One application on a dry day does the trick for several months.

  • M WM W Posts: 1

    I don't think your landscaper friend can call him or herself 'organic friendly' if they are happy to use cancer causing chemical weed killers on a regular basis! Perhaps 'organic tolerant' may be a better description.  Many people recommend the more safe and natural formula of vinegar with a little washing up liquid and for a deeper formula add some salt.  I wouldn't recommend using the salt formula where you want other plants to grow though as it can damage the soil.

    Sotongeoff, we are surrounded by chemicals yes, however some of them are extremely damaging to health.  No long term studies have been done on the health effects of weed killers, but the ingredients are known carcinogens.

    Everyone is overusing chemicals these days and no-one is seriously questioning why there is so much cancer.

    Sorry if I've sounded off here but flippancy around these chemicals always annoys me.




  • Abi4Abi4 Posts: 50

    I couldn't agree more M W!  A contractor failed to remove grass/weeds on my block and laid a not fit for purpose membrane, a fact he has finally admitted to and is supposedly coming back to remedy. It just amazes me how many people have said 'oh that's easy to remedy..just spray the block with weed killer'. I don't use any type of herbicide or the like and  never will. I live within 50 metres of a stream, have grandchildren, ducks, deer, birds etc in and out of the garden but people seem to think it the norm to spray and me as being 'odd' for refusing to. 

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,137

    Vinegar  is certainly chemical, ICI had the Acitic acid plant of which most vinegar is made. They also made the chorine from brine and most household cleaners incorporate it, we are not free from chemicals and never will be. My Farther used a mix of vinegar salt and soap as weed killer although he dug most of them out, do not use it on lawns. You either use chemicals or grow a jungle. There are carcegens everywhere the worst being car exhaust are we who claim to be chemical free willing to start walking? I doubt it, use the correct chemical in the correct manner, wear a mask if needed we all have a choice. Me once chemical free, it did not work now use them sparingly as needed, also weed and feed my lawns three times a year, guilty as charged.


  • WillDBWillDB Posts: 1,167
    Agree that chemicals shouldn't be flung around willy nilly, but a timely and selective application of Glyphosate is very effective, and the risk of toxicity is incredibly low if used properly. Remember you only need to apply it to the leaves of your target plant, no need to spray indiscriminately.

    If used like this, exposure is very limited, and insignificant compared to the known carcinogens we are far more exposed to daily.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    An old thread resurrected is always odd methinks. image

    Will is right - used appropriately weedkillers are effective at clearing large spaces or difficult to access areas. I rarely use weedkillers but I will where necessary.

    Organic produce isn't farmed in a 100% organic way anyway. They are allowed to use a certain amount of chemicals  image

  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    I find it insulting that whenever someone says they want to go organic or chemical free...some muppet comes in and says "you need to put glysophate on that". You can buy industrial strength vinegar that comes in around 20 percent. You have to use it on a day when there are at least 3 days without rain. I don't bother with the soap. Don't believe it when people tell you there is nothing wrong with glysophate.

  • KEFKEF Posts: 8,915

    I only put vinegar on chips image

  • Autumn dhAutumn dh Posts: 51

    Will DB, the comments on that that's reading.

    Why. oh, why do you only consider acute toxicity ( LD 50) rather than chronic toxicity?
    The number of studies showing glyphosate toxicity is large and growing. There are a slew of studies examining effects of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor with the most recent showing it is active at parts / trillion (in environmentally relevant concentrations) at stimulating proliferation of hormone sensitive breast cancer…which vinegar, soap and salt certainly do not. Glyphosate also uncouples oxidative phosphorylation (in our energy factories- mitochondria) and its toxicity is potentiated by adjuvants- not analyzed in toxicity studies.

    The metabolic pathways affected by glyphosate are also found in the beneficial bacteria in your gut. What do you think the knock on effects of that are? It also affects the bacteria in the soil – again , knock on effects?

  • jude05jude05 Posts: 1

    Why has amateur use of Glyphosate just been banned in France if its safe????!!

  • I'm in absolute agreement with Sotongeoff and Chapelgirl2

  • I find that if the unwanted plants are well established and have strong root systems like nettles and brambles then there is no better solution than to dig them up, guaranteed success, enchanting satisfaction and no harm done! 

    Then all you have to do is spray vinegar mixed with a little washing up liquid on seedlings or residual root sproutings. It DOES work, you just have to keep on top of it! 

    My garden is almost weed free all of the time, except where i share boundary fences with neighbors who don't attend to the problem, and there I just yank out the protruding rootstock. It's really easy if you keep on top of it and get them weeds when teeny. Hoeing also works well in dry weather.

    i hate the smell of vinegar though! but I love knowing that it is harmless to the soil, my dogs, cats and wild critters☺️

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,147

    There's some helpful info here on using vinegar but beware, it doe snot discriminate between weeds and wanted plants so you must use it carefully -

    Roundup and all glyphosate based weedkillers are in fact proving to be toxic as levels accumulate in soil, water and thus human and other bodies.

    The Vendée, France
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,783

    On anything other than really large areas, I'd rather do some proper hand weeding than keep spraying, be it with glyphosate or vinegar.  Weeding properly as long as the first and longer than the second.  image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • PosyPosy Posts: 976

    Well, I don't normally like to be controversial but I get really fed up with people who say they want to garden but they don't want to weed. Weeding IS gardening, in fact it's an absolutely huge and basic part of gardening. The best way to deal with weeds is to get out there on a crisp, dry morning and pull the buggers up. Brambles need to be dug right out, annual weed seedling just need a hoe, but get on with it, it's gardening!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,783

    Hear! Hear!  Posy ... fancy you and I being controversial image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
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