Looking for a cheap, natural way to kill weeds? Here are 6 recipes you can use.
1. Boiling Water
No recipe here. Simply pour boiling water over the offending weed and it will die. Be careful though. Boiling water can’t tell the difference between a good plant and an evil weed, so pour with discretion. This can be the cheapest weed killer by far if you use boiling water left over from cooking. (If you need to drain the food, simply catch the hot water in another pot.)
Vinegar mixed with a bit of liquid soap is quite effective as a weed killer. The general ratio is one ounce of soap (a good squirt) to one gallon of vinegar. If you’re mixing up a smaller batch, just use less soap. The vinegar is made of acetic acid, which will remove the moisture from the plant. The soap just helps the vinegar stick to the plant’s leaves. Vinegar that’s 5% acidity will work OK, but 10% or 20% acidity is better. You can find the stronger vinegar at garden supply stores.
This solution works best on a hot, sunny, dry day. You’ll kill anything you spray, so be careful around the plants you want to keep. Vinegar as weed killer will only kill the foliage of the plant – not the root. So repeat applications may be necessary for success. But hey, it’s cheap so it won’t cost much to do it a few times.
Finally, don’t add salt to the solution. Some recipes tell you to do so, but you’ll make the ground unsuitable for just about any growing thing for quite some time. You don’t need it to successfully kill the weeds. (Although salt would be great if you never want anything to grow there again for a while. Cracks in the sidewalk or your driveway come to mind.)
Personally, I wouldn’t use this because it’s toxic and not best for the groundwater. (That matters to me because we get our water from a well.) But you won’t be using much, so I’m not sure it’s that big of a deal. Simply put some bleach in a spray bottle with a little soap and mist your weeds. Again, it’ll kill everything so aim carefully. (On second thought, this doesn’t qualify as natural or organic but it’s cheap and homemade.)
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol will also draw out moisture from weeds. Mix about one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol for every cup of water in your spray bottle. Apply just like the vinegar or bleach solutions above.
5. Corn Meal
Corn meal isn’t really a weed killer, but it can be used to keep weed seeds from sprouting. Actually, it’ll keep any seed from sprouting. Technically, you want corn gluten meal but that can be expensive if you get it from a garden supply store. Here’s a hint: go to an animal feed store. You can get corn gluten meal much cheaper there.
You can use cornmeal that you buy at the store as well, but it won’t be quite as effective. On a different note, regular cornmeal is also useful as a fungicide. You can get regular cornmeal much cheaper (and in bulk) if you buy agricultural grade cornmeal. Just don’t eat it.
6. Elbow Grease
OK, so this one doesn’t really count but it works. You don’t have to buy anything, and you don’t have to worry about harmful side effects on the environment, your kids, your pets, or yourself. Plus, it’ll help you get some exercise and relieve stress (maybe…). You’ll have to spend your time pulling the weeds, but if you get the roots you’ll be very effective.
What a timely post for me! I am going to try this today and I will let you know how long it takes. Thanks Paul.
I hope you find one that works for you, Donna. I’ve used some of these myself, and they do work. They’re not quite as effective as commercial weed killers, but they don’t have as big of an impact on the environment either (with the exception of bleach). I found pictures of results that others got for the ones I haven’t tried. I’ll be interested in knowing your results.
Thank you, Going to try and salt deffently, we have lots of bits where we want nothing at all. Hot water as well seems a really good bet. We want to clear everything too so will try that too.
nay suggustions on getting rid of donkey tails -they are so invasive and I have pulled them for 3 years now and find new ones all the time – want to use natural killer so as not to damge the plants that I want to keep and have grand kids and pets – please help
Sorry, Donna – I don’t know of any off the top of my head. Potent vinegar can help to kill them without pulling though.
thanks for the help – hopefully I will get ride of them one of these days
all of these ideas sound really good im going to try them thanks for your help
You’re welcome, Suzie! Remember, they won’t be quite as powerful as chemical weed killers, so it might take more than one application to do the job. Good luck!
I knew the day would come when the recipe for a homemade green weed killer would be the highlight of my day…I just didn’t think it would be this soon!! Can’t wait to try it!! (think I need a life here) The driveway cracks are overflowing and we are having a party in early August. Sounds quite cost effective, too! I’ll let you know how it goes~~~
Haha, well I hope it works well for you, Mary! Do let us know how it goes – what you used and how well it worked or didn’t work.
I used the vinegar and salt solution this afternoon at about 2:00 on the cracks in my driveway, since I dont want anything to ever grow there again. It was about 95 degrees and very sunny…perfect!!! When I went out to check at about 6:00pm, the weeds I sprayed were totally dead and dried up and I could get rid of them by brushing my shoe over them. Hubby couldn’t believe his eyes! I will finish the driveway later this week, since it supposed to storm for the next couple of days. Thanks for the great tips! I am becoming greener every day~~~
Glad to hear it worked well for you, Mary!
i have pet chickens which roam the yard and i really want to kill the weeds. about to try the boiling water but my vinegar in the cupboard does not show the acidity.
Hi, Matt! Most vinegar for cooking is 5% acidity. I’d guess that’s what yours is.
Thanks so much for this post. Couldn’t bear the idea of putting poisons into the ground (evil Monsanto) but would love to rid the graval drive of the current weed infestation. Will definately try the vinegar and salt … soon as we get some dry weather!
You’re welcome, Nicholas! I hope you get great results!
How soon after apply the corn gluten can you plant again? Is it permanent, where you will not be able to every plant there? Sounds like a quick solution. I have a very large area to cover. TY in advance.
Will the vinegar/salt solution harm a pond? I also have chickens that sometime roam around in the yard. Should I be concerned?