Does Vinegar Kill Weeds Permanently? How to use It

Weeds compete with the lawn grass for the limited nutrients, thus affecting its proper growth. With time, the grass starts weathering, turns brown, and could eventually die. So, does vinegar kill weeds permanently?

ANSWER: Vinegar contains acetic acid that permanently kills any type of plant it comes into contact with. The higher the percentage of acetic acid in the vinegar, the stronger it is and the faster it will kill weeds.

Domestic kinds of vinegar such as apple and white vinegar contain 5% of acetic acid which therefore means you will need a stronger version of vinegar for faster results. Herbicidal vinegar with higher concentration of acetic acid above 10% are highly corrosive and should be used with caution.

Some of these kinds of vinegar are readily available from lawn supplies stores. So now, back to our question of the day; does vinegar kill weeds and grass? Yes, vinegar kills weeds and grass. 

Will weeds grow back after vinegar?

When used correctly and in the right concentrations, vinegar kills weeds better and faster than even most over the over the counter chemical weed killers. But for it to be effective, it has to be applied repeatedly if the first application was not successful. For maximum effectiveness, you should add some dish soap to the solution.

The dish soap acts as a surfactant to wash off the oily sealant found on the surface of the leaves of weeds. The removal of the oily sealant ensures vinegar sticks on and penetrates the leaf faster and effectively. Once in the leaf, vinegar kills the cells in the weed plant, thus killing it eventually. 

However, no matter how good vinegar is in killing weeds on a lawn, weeds can still grow back when it is not done correctly. For example, applying vinegar on a rainy day may not be as effective and you can be sure to fight this battle again at some point later.

Rain washes off the vinegar roundup on the surface of the leaves and will not have enough time to effectively penetrate the leaves. To prevent this scenario, consider applying the vinegar roundup on a sunny day.

This, therefore, means that spring-summer seasons are the most ideal for killing weeds with vinegar. Also, you should treat weeds with vinegar when you first spot them; to prevent them from dispersing seeds for germination. 

Killing the weeds with vinegar is not enough; it is just the beginning of the end of weeds. When left at that, weeds will eventually grow back because the root system is still alive and will continue to grow when favorable conditions return. To prevent the regrowth of treated weeds, scoop them by their roots by the use of a hand trowel. 

How long does it take for the vinegar to kill weeds?

Having applied concentrated vinegar correctly on the weeds on a favorable day, you should start seeing results almost immediately; after 1 hour or so. After the 1 hour, you can see the weeds weather and eventually dry up within the next 2 to 3 days.

But even as you do that, you need to bring the nozzle of the spray bottle close to the target plant as much as possible. Doing this increases coverage of the leaf surfaces while at the same time preventing killing grass around it. 

However, the process of killing weeds with vinegar may take longer if you use a less concentrated type of vinegar. Spraying on a windy or rainy day can also slow down the rate at which weeds die. Strong winds may sweep the vinegar solution off the surface of the leaves, while the rains will wash it off.

In this case, the vinegar solution may take a little longer to kill the weeds; usually a week or two. At times, you may even be required to reapply the vinegar to completely get rid of weeds growing on your lawn. 

How to kill weeds with vinegar

Vinegar has substantiated itself a successful weed executioner. Like most commercial herbicides, it’s nonselective, not caring whether it executes weeds or your petunias.

In contrast to chemical weed killers, vinegar is eco-friendly and won’t hurt individuals, pets or nature. That means you can also use vinegar solution near edible crops without much worry.

Vinegar’s genuine disadvantage in specific cases is that it has no leftover activity, so new weeds before long show up. Let’s look at how to use vinegar for killing weeds:

1. Let the weeds grow taller 

Letting the weed grow taller works by revealing them conspicuously and this makes the application of vinegar solution easier. Although the best time to kill weeds with vinegar is when they are about two weeks after germination, a single application completely send them away.

2. Prepare the solution 

Mix one cup of white or apple vinegar to equal portion water in a spray bottle and shake well. You can add 1 teaspoon of table salt if you want and stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Next, add a tablespoonful of Dawn dish soap to act as a surfactant

But be advised that the use of salt is recommended when dealing with weeds growing along the edges of sidewalks. This is because the sodium in the salt prevents the growth of any vegetation, including the grass, permanently.

I recommend the use of a plastic spray bottle because it does not get corroded by vinegar, it is lighter and will be easier to hold closer to the target weed pants. 

3. Spray the solution

Holding the spray bottle closer to the target weed plant as possible, apply the vinegar solution carefully on the surface. Applying the solution closer to the target weed plant helps prevent killing the grass surrounding it.

Depending on the weather and the concentration of the solution, the grass should start weathering almost immediately; usually after 1 hour of application. Please note that this method is limited to a few colonies or scattered weed plants. If they are densely populated or have overtaken the lawn, you might consider using an alternative method like solarization. 

4. Remove the dead weeds

If you think that just because the weeds are dead that you have won the battle, you are very wrong. The fight is far from over because the dead plants must be removed from the root system for it to go completely.

The roots system may still be alive and if so, the weed may regrow when favorable conditions return. And because your goal was to get rid of the weeds once and for all, use a hand trowel to scoop the dead weed plant by the roots. 

5. Fill the bare spots with healthy grass

Bare spots always look ugly on lawns. To remove these unwanted ugly patches on lawns, consider filling them with new healthy grass sods. Sods have mature grass that continues to grow once fitted on bare spots that have favorable soil conditions such as adequate water and enough fertilizer.

The best thing about sods is that a week later, someone can hardly notice any lawn repairs done. If you have the patience, you can fill the spots with healthy grass seeds.

Final Thought

That beautiful flower you are admiring on your lawn could be the same thing that could cost you your whole lawn. Vinegar is one of the most effective ingredient you can use to exterminate stubborn weeds in your garden, lawn or hardscapes.


Vinegar and Epsom Salt as Herbicides – University of Minnesota Extension

Is vinegar a safer Herbicide – Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Using Vinegar as a Herbicide – University of Illinois Extension

Spray Weeds With Vinegar – USDA Agricultural Research Service

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