How Effective are Homemade Weed Killers?

12 Oct '20

Are DIY weed killers effective?

A natural approach to lawn care is preferable for protecting delicate plants and animals. Googling natural remedies for weed problems often leads to numerous recipes for homemade sprays.

At first glance, the concept of mixing up a weed spray from ingredients in your pantry may be appealing. It may seem faster and easier to try to take care of a weed problem yourself. Or, you might like hearing the claims that these sprays are safer for the environment.

The effectiveness of homemade weed sprays depends upon the ingredients that you use. The application method, timing, and type of weed that you also treat impacts on how well they work.

Weed control is a complicated process, and understanding why and when to use specific methods helps you to maintain a beautiful lawn.

Which Natural Ingredients Kill Weeds?

Professional weed control treatment

The majority of homemade weed spray recipes that you’ll find use some combination of vinegar, soap, and salt.

Vinegar is the primary ingredient in most homemade sprays. It contains acetic acid that breaks down the outer layers of weed leaves and stems. Household vinegar typically contains only about 5% acetic acid. 

The vinegar in your pantry can kill some weak or young weeds. Since it only works on the top part of the weed, it tends to be less effective on perennials and ones with deep root systems. 

Salt is another ingredient that is used in homemade sprays. Table salt works similarly to vinegar by drying out weed plants. Without proper hydration, the weed cannot grow. Once again, this only provides surface-level benefits that don’t affect all types of weeds.

Some recipes only call for salt and vinegar, but many also require dish soap. The reason why soap is used is to help the vinegar and salt solution to stick to the weeds. 

Certain types of soap can also help break down the waxy surface of leaves. This makes it easier for the solution to soak into the weeds.

Why Are Professional Treatments More Effective?

If you spray homemade solutions on a young weed on a sunny day, you might see some results. Brown leaves and dying plants are often short-lived once the root system helps the plant recover.

Professional weed control treatments are designed to be absorbed by the plant rather than just sitting on top of the leaves. This makes it possible to target specific types of weeds and those that are well-established.

For instance, dandelions often have taproots that extend well beyond one or two feet below the ground surface. Homemade weed sprays simply can not reach deep enough to have much of an effect on the most common weeds.

Can Natural Weed Killers Still Have Negative Side Effects?

Residential weed spray application

People tend to think that homemade weed sprays have fewer long term effects than professional treatments. However, vinegar can disrupt the pH balance in the soil; salt does as well, and the results can be long-lasting. 

Nearby desirable plants can be affected by the runoff from homemade sprays. Soil treatments are often needed to restore nutrients to the ground after DIY weed control methods have been used.


Homemade weed sprays can sometimes work in a pinch on one or two young plants. They just don’t help to eliminate all of the factors that help weeds thrive. 

Untreated seeds and weeds with mature root systems are often unaffected by home treatments. Using the wrong homemade spray can sometimes be worse than doing nothing at all. Professional spraying is the only guaranteed way to get rid of weeds and stop them from coming back.

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I'm so very happy with Custom Weed & Pest Control. I had extremely tenacious weeds, and while they had to come out multiple times to get rid of them, it was covered under my warranty. Now they're gone, and I couldn't be happier.

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