Weeds are more damaging to your plants than pests and pathogens combined. They steal plants’ nutrients, water, and even sunlight. They also shelter many pests that damage your crops. So, is vinegar the answer? Does vinegar kill weeds permanently?

Unfortunately, vinegar isn’t the most optimal solution for weed growth control, as its effect isn’t permanent, and applying it too much can damage your soil. We recommend using it with weed seedlings only. It won’t be very effective with mature weeds.

Read on to learn more.

Can Vinegar Get Rid of Weeds Permanently?

Vinegar isn’t the most practical weed killer, but it does the job to a certain degree. It’s best used with weed seedlings; a few applications can kill them permanently.

Once the weed matures, though, the situation can get out of hand. A single weed can make way for hundreds or even thousands of other weeds.

Besides the uncontrollable numbers, mature weeds (two weeks or older) are tough to get rid of. Once weeds grow roots, it’s virtually impossible to get rid of them with standard vinegar. That’s because vinegar only kills the part of the plant on which it lands.

Most weeds have taproots that extend deep into the soil, and since weeds don’t absorb vinegar, no amount of vinegar you pour or spray can reach the roots. 

Weeds soon regrow using energy from the roots left behind. Some weeds, like Canada thistle, can grow from a root no bigger than 1/8 of an inch.

If standard vinegar with 5% acetic acid concentration isn’t cutting it, we recommend that you try horticultural vinegar.

Horticultural Vinegar

Horticultural vinegar has a concentration of 15 to 20% acetic acid. It’s a lot stronger than standard vinegar, so it has the potential to kill grown weeds permanently.

It works by eating away at the waxy layer protecting the leaves of the weeds. This way the leaves are left vulnerable to the flaming rays of the sun until they wilt.

The wilted leaves won’t be able to hold up the weed, which will eventually kill the weed. This requires a couple of applications to exhaust the roots and prevent them from sprouting again. 

Note, however, that horticultural vinegar can leave a permanent footprint on your soil, hindering both desired and undesired growth. This can be convenient for gravel patios, driveways, and pathways.

Why Is Vinegar Harmful to the Soil?

The only way vinegar can harm your soil is by changing its acidity. However, since household vinegar easily breaks down, it simply doesn’t remain in the soil long enough to do any real damage. It either gets neutralized by the soil, or it leaches out.

The only risk is from a huge amount of vinegar or vinegar of high acidity levels. In that case, it could persist in the soil for a month or so, altering its acidity level.

The decrease in the pH level of soil makes it unsuitable for growing plants. Nutrients become scarce and are replaced instead with toxic elements. This not only affects plant growth but also ends the plant’s life.

Although treating weeds with some vinegar might not harm your soil, it’s still not the best idea. The acetic acid won’t merely target weeds even if you pour it directly at their leaves. It can come in contact with neighboring plants and kill them. It can also harm pollinating bees and worms, as well as the beneficial microbes in the soil.

How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds 

You can dissolve some salt in vinegar with a ratio of 1.5/4. Then add some detergent to the mix. Now, spray your mixture with a pump sprayer at the weeds. Make sure you get the weeds covered entirely for a tangible effect.

The table salt messes up the plant’s osmosis, so the plant is overworked in an attempt to get water. It can also cause ion toxicity, which damages the leaves and kills the plant.

The dish detergent makes the mixture slime-like and allows it to adhere to the weeds.

You can try this natural recipe with standard vinegar first. If the weeds hang in there, you can then replace it with horticultural vinegar. No matter which vinegar you use, apply every couple of weeks to prevent weed regrowth.

Make sure horticultural vinegar doesn’t come in contact with your skin or eyes. It can cause burns and even blindness. Also, make sure to follow the standard safety procedures needed for all herbicides.

Note that weeds’ reaction to vinegar is almost instant. 90% of weeds die in less than 24 hours, which is why vinegar is such a famous alternative to herbicides.

Alternatives to Vinegar

While vinegar is powerful when it comes to killing weeds, it’s still not the best option for weed control. So here are some alternatives!


Hand-weeding is the oldest trick in the book. You start by digging up the soil with weeding forks and tools. The hoeing tools help loosen the soil so you can pull the weeds by the root with ease

One advantage of hand-weeding is that it’s another natural method, so you’re still clear from inorganic herbicides. It’s also a permanent solution. It just needs a lot of work and time.


Mulching is a perfect alternative since it can be done with both organic or inorganic ingredients. It helps your soil a lot, too.

It’s basically like buying your favorite couch a cover. You spread a three-inch layer of mulch over your garden and it keeps sunlight from reaching the weeds. This way the weeds fail to grow. At the same time, your soil is left moist and erosion-free.


Glyphosate is a herbicide that completely destroys all weeds. It’s absorbed by the plant, unlike vinegar, so even the roots are killed.

It prevents the weeds from taking up nutrients from the soil, so they starve and die. The process can take from four to 20 days to be completed.


Vinegar is a cheap, organic, and quick method to end the parasitizing invasion of weeds. That being said, it’s not always a permanent fix, and applying it repeatedly might be inconvenient.

There are also the risks that come with too much vinegar or using high-concentration vinegar such as horticultural vinegar

Taking all that into consideration, perhaps killing weeds with vinegar might not be worthwhile.