Hi there a friend suggested that we use a vinegar based recipe to deal with large weeds and brambles in our yard.

The recipe he quoted was

4 cups white vinegar 4 cups apple cider vinegar 1 box of table salt (1 kilo) 1/2 a bottle of sunlight dish detergent

From my research I understand it is indiscriminate (sp?) in killing all plants applied and that it should be applied while in direct sunlight.

Is this a good and safe recipe, and are there any other worries to consider?

2 Answers 2


The vinegar alone should suffice. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/vinegar.html

White vinegar is acetic acid while apple vinegar is malic and acetic acid. Malic acid is found in many fruits as well as apples, of which the latin word is malum, hence, malic acid.

I would not add salt to any soil I expected to grow, well, anything. Firstly, table salt is NaCl which dissolves to Na+ and Cl-. Cl is fairly toxic on its own (main ingredient in chlorine bleach), luckily, being an anion (minus sign), it washes from the soil with rain rather easily. The bigger problem would be the Na, which would displace Ca++, Mg++, K+, which are essential to plants. Once Na has been introduced, your problem will be how to get rid of it since it adsorbs to soil colloids just like other cations you want to keep.

The detergent simply breaks the surface tension of water allowing it to penetrate soil easier. Possibly it stops the vinegar from beading on the leaf surface like water on a waxed car, again, for penetration purposes.

  • Good point about the salt as you can ruin your soil with indiscriminate use. I suspect applying this will only kill the top growth not the roots. The usual suspects will be back sooner than you think.
    – kevinskio
    Jun 23, 2013 at 13:55
  • @kevinsky wouldn't the vinegar kill the grass around weed too?
    – Danger14
    Mar 6, 2015 at 8:46
  • @Danger14 Both the question and the answers indicate that vinegar will kill all vegetation, but, not necessarily tough weeds that can regrow from a tap root
    – kevinskio
    Mar 6, 2015 at 12:05

Straight distilled white vinegar has worked fine for me but I think straight apple cider vinegar may be more effective. Haven't tried ACV yet. It is non-selective so it will kill or damage any plants it contacts. Only spray it where you want to kill everything. You don't need to mix it with anything else.

The vinegar doesn't directly kill the plant. It strips the protective coating off the leaves from what I understand then the sun and heat dries the plant out. It doesn't kill the root of the plant but repeated use followed by putting a weed barrier/mulch or filling in with grass in a lawn should help prevent the weeds from returning.

You need to spray when it's hot and sunny outside to get the best results.

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