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Updated on April 11, 2013


Do you worry about the effects of commercial weedkillers on your animals and children?  With the best will in the world it isn't always easy to keep them off the areas you've treated. 

I find that using homemade weedkillers is far easier because most of the ingredients used are harmless to humans or animals.  Some only contain one readily available household ingredient.

Here are the 10 most effective that I have found and best of all they are easy and cheap to make.

Salt - If you sprinkle a small amount of cooking salt at the base of the weed it will kill it in quite a short time.  It will also render the soil at the site of the dead plant unsuitable for growing for several months so don't expect the grass to immediately cover the place where you've eradicated a Dandelion in your lawn.  You can also sprinkle salt on paths or gravel beds to keep the weeds at bay.

Bleach - Just pour or spray neat bleach on to the weeds you want to kill.  The liquid type works better than the thick types.  For this one you may need to keep an eye on pets and children for a couple of days.  Try to keep away from any plants you wish to keep as it will kill anything you spray; however if you do accidentally spray something all might not be lost if you act quickly to remove the bleach by rinsing the plant in lots of cold water.  Caution - Keep away from eyes and clothing.

Surgical Spirit or Isopropyl Alcohol/Rubbing Alcohol (US) - If you put this on a weed, it will suck the moisture out of it.  Again exercise care when applying because it will kill any plant it comes into contact with.  Caution - Keep away from eyes.

Vinegar - Use either white or cider vinegar.  I am currently experimenting with brown malt vinegar and will post the results here at a later date.  Unfotunately vinegar will only kill the leaves of the weed and leave the roots intact.Vinegar is a great organic homemade weed killer. Either white or cider vinegar will work. The acetic acid in the vinegar works to kill the leaves on the plant but not the root.It may work best on younger more tender weeds than old tough weeds because the roots are less vigorous and will not have enough nutrients to allow new leaves to grow.  More than one application may be needed for stubborn weeds but eventually they should be eradicated.

Boiling Water - Surely not something so simple?  Just pour boiling water straight from the kettle onto weeds you want to get rid of.  What could be easier?  Make sure you don't pour on plants you want to keep because there is no way of reversing the damage.  Caution - Exercise great care not to splash yourself with the boiling water and cause scalding.

Baking Soda - Sprinkle directly onto weeds and this will have the same effect as salt.

Polenta or Cornmeal - This can be used as a preventative measure.  If you sprinkle it on areas where you don't want any weeds to grow it will prevent weed seeds from developing into full blown weeds.  *Note, whilst harmless to fully grown plants it will prevent any plant seeds from developing.

Vinegar, Salt and Washing Up Liquid.  Mix one gallon (4 litres) of White vinegar, 1/2 kilo of cooking salt and 1 Tablespoon of Washing up Liquid and spray on weeds. This mixture is not selective and will kill any plant it comes into contact with.

Another Effective Recipe - Mix 10 Tablespoons of Vinegar, 12 Tablespoons of Cooking Salt, 2 teaspoons of Lemon Juice,  2 litres of boiling water , 4 Tablespoons of Dishwasher Powder or Liquid.  Double up quantities to make one gallon.

Hire a Steam Cleaner and blast the weeds in your garden.

Homemade vs Commercial

Which do you prefer?

See results


These are a few suggestions from family and friends - I haven't tried any of these so cannot vouch for their effectiveness:

  • Flame Thrower
  • Turpentine
  • Linseed Oil
  • Cover with black plastic sacks or plywood sheets
  • Animal Urine

© Susan Bailey 2009 All Rights Reserved


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    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 4 years ago from Upstate New York


    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      My granny used to make Dandelion wine I am told. Now that sounds like a good idea!!

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh well yes of course but dandelion isn't poisonous it's very nutritious!

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Obviously not the poisonous one's Karine!

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Even better the weeds!

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 8 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Good idea, does it render the soil useless for growing anything other than weeds though?

    • profile image

      Charles 8 years ago

      Have had very stubborn horse-tail weeds that seem resistant to glyphosphate. Did a trial area of spraying with undiluted white spirit and they died within a week. Now attacking the whole area.

    • thinking out loud profile image

      thinking out loud 8 years ago

      I find for larger areas, the hand grenade works wonders. seriously though, i was laughing because i put down some store bought stuff and it killed all the surrounding grass. Tough learning process. Good luck.