Is vinegar effective for killing weeds?


Organic herbicides sold at garden centers work by burning the foliage. They won't work on larger weeds and do not affect the root system. They also need to be reapplied frequently.

Common active ingredients in organic herbicides include the following:

  • Citric acid
  • Acetic acid
  • Capric acid
  • Essential oils

These products can be very dangerous to handle; follow the label directions carefully for application and safety instructions.

The University of Maryland Extension has an in-depth article, Vinegar: An Alternative to Glyphosate?, which compares glyphosate (the active ingredient in most formulations of Roundup) to acetic acid (vinegar). Negative effects on the soil pH and soil microbes are usually short-lived, but it does depend on what is applied and how frequently.

A thick layer (3-4 inches) of mulch can also help to smother many weeds.

Use pesticides safely!

  • Wear protective clothing and safety devices as recommended on the label. Bathe or shower after each use.
  • Read the pesticide label—even if you’ve used the pesticide before. Follow closely the instructions on the label (and any other directions you have).
  • Be cautious when you apply pesticides. Know your legal responsibility as a pesticide applicator. You may be liable for injury or damage resulting from pesticide use.

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