What kind of vinegar kills weeds?

Vinegar is an effective natural herbicide that can be used to kill unwanted weeds. The acetic acid in vinegar provides the active ingredient that kills weeds by drying out their foliage and root systems. However, not all types of vinegar work equally well for weed control.

White Vinegar

White vinegar, which contains 4-7% acetic acid, is the most common type of vinegar used for DIY weed control. White vinegar is inexpensive and readily available at any grocery store. It provides a non-toxic, eco-friendly alternative to synthetic herbicides.

For best results when using white vinegar to kill weeds:

  • Use on a hot, sunny day when temperatures are above 60°F
  • Spray full-strength vinegar directly onto unwanted weeds, thoroughly saturating leaves and stems
  • Repeat applications may be needed for persistent perennial weeds
  • Avoid contacting desired grass and garden plants

Horticultural Vinegar

Horticultural vinegar contains 20% acetic acid, making it significantly more concentrated than white vinegar. The increased acetic acid content provides more potent herbicidal effects.

Key advantages of using horticultural vinegar for weed control:

  • Kills weeds faster than white vinegar
  • More effective on stubborn, established perennial weeds
  • Lowers amount of product needed compared to white vinegar

When using horticultural vinegar:

  • Carefully follow label directions to avoid harm to desirable plants
  • Wear gloves and eye protection for safety when handling
  • Spot treat or use a spray shield when applying around wanted vegetation

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid comes in concentrations over 50% and provides the strongest weed-killing effects. Commercial weed control products designed for farm use often contain high concentrations of acetic acid.

Key features of acetic acid products:

  • Rapid burndown of all vegetation due to very high acidity
  • Used for sterilizing soil pre-planting gardens, flower beds, etc.
  • Higher costs than white or horticultural vinegar
  • Exercise extreme caution when using concentrated acetic acid

Tips for Using Vinegar Effectively

  • Spray vinegar on sunny days when temperatures are warm
  • Target young, actively growing weeds for best results
  • Thoroughly cover all foliage and stems with vinegar spray
  • Repeat applications on perennials until roots are dead
  • Combine vinegar with a small amount of dish soap to help it stick to weed leaves
  • Avoid windy conditions to prevent unwanted drift onto wanted plants

Vinegar Weed Control Considerations

  • Vinegar only kills the above ground portion of the weed, leaving roots alive
  • Repeat applications are needed on perennials until the roots die
  • Vinegar works best on annual weeds and seedlings rather than established perennials
  • Avoid using vinegar around valued grass and garden plants
  • Vinegar can kill desired vegetation if it contacts leaves or roots
  • Wear appropriate eye and skin protection when handling concentrated vinegar


Vinegar can provide an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic herbicides for managing weeds. White vinegar works adequately for annual weeds, while horticultural vinegar or high concentrates of acetic acid give better control over stubborn perennials. When using vinegar, target young weeds on a warm, sunny day and avoid contact with wanted grass and garden plants. With proper application, vinegar can be an effective tool for weed management.

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