Did You Know? Vinegar Can Replace Roundup


In today’s Did You Know? post, I thought that we would look at an alternative to Roundup. Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate and it is being applied at an alarming rate in the U.S. and abroad. According to the EPA, 135 million pounds of glyphosate were applied in 2010. That’s just the pounds of active ingredient glyphosate. Generally speaking, Roundup is 41% glyphosate and 59% inert ingredients. That’s a lot of chemical being applied to the 1.9 billion acres of soil in the contiguous United States.

vinegar can replace roundup

Photo courtesy of myghostorchid.com

Here’s an easy alternative to Roundup and all of the toxic ickiness that comes with it: vinegar. Yep, good old fashioned vinegar; the same stuff that you use to pickle cucumbers and you put on cabbage to kick it up a notch. Vinegar is acetic acid and the “normal” type that you get from the grocery store is comprised of 5% acetic acid. There is a horticultural type that is 20% acetic acid and it is much more expensive…to the tune of $29 a gallon versus $5 or under for “normal” vinegar. Either one will work but the 20% type will work a bit faster and be capable of killing perennials and more established plants.

Here’s my disclaimer: vinegar is a non-selective herbicide just like Roundup; it will kill whatever it comes into contact with so be sure that you apply it only to the plants that you want to get rid of. Don’t apply it on windy days either…it can drift just like Roundup too. Another caveat: be sure to rinse out your sprayer after each application to avoid damaging the internal parts. Spray clean water through the sprayer to ensure that all of the bits and pieces in the nozzle are free of vinegar residue.

So here’s the magic formula: Full strength 5% vinegar + a tablespoon or two of dish soap. Spray on the weeds and wait overnight. They should be browning up by the next morning. If you have particularly onerous weeds, you can apply again as soon as you see regrowth. Add table salt to the mix for more killing power…a tablespoon per gallon should do the trick.  You may also need to invest in horticultural vinegar for those hard to kill weeds. If you use horticultural vinegar, be very careful and wear personal protective equipment to protect your eyes, nose and skin. If you are killing young weeds that are primarily seedlings, you can dilute the 5% vinegar with water to make it go further. Experiment and try different concoctions…what do you have to lose?

If you like what we’re doing here at Mid-Atlantic Gardening, please subscribe to the website to receive updates to the latest posts as well as to be eligible for our subscriber giveaways. You can subscribe by joining our e-mail list on the top right of this page. Thank you for your support! If you have experience with using vinegar instead of Roundup, leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter! Happy gardening!

March 26, 2012Permalink 23 Comments

23 thoughts on “Did You Know? Vinegar Can Replace Roundup

  1. I use salt water instead of herbicides. You can buy 50# of salt from a farm supply for about $5.50. Mix salt into water in a five gallon bucket until the salt wont melt. This is as salty as the water can get. Pour the salt water into your garden sprayer and get busy. WARNING! This kills everything it touches except large trees and I’m even careful around the large trees. Plants wilt down in under an hour. Johnson grass, privet bushes, poison oak/ivy/sumac, all dead in under an hour. Spray in the morning while the dew is on the vegetation if you can. Apply dry salt generously to trouble spots and let the dew and rain melt it over time.

    • Thanks for the great idea and it’s cheaper than vinegar. My only word of caution is to be careful if you have to apply to the same area over and over. You don’t want to oversalt your soil. Thanks again for the great idea…I’m sure that other readers will find it helpful!

      • Salt has been used from time immemorial to sterilize the soil.
        I would not use salt on soil that I might wish to grow things in.

        • i have poison oak around my bay trees on a hill.
          also, i live up from the river which i do not wish to harm since it becomes drinking water for those living down stream.
          if i put a layer of salt between me and the poison oak, would i be doing any harm
          to the environment? or would it just prevent the poison oak from coming up the hill?

  2. I have used the vinegar and it works well, however, make sure you spray it on and not pour in on the plant your trying to get rid of. The worms don’t like it.. boy did I feel guilty. I tried the vinegar on the pokeberry patch that seems to have established itself in part of the yard.. and I do mean a patch of it. That stuff is hard to get rid of. I think the vinegar made it grow faster.. lol. Do you know of anything organic that will kill this evil minion? Thanks! (love your site btw)

  3. Leanna, did you mix the dish soap with it? How about a little salt? With perennial weeds like pokeberry, they have such established root systems that it may take several applications. The vinegar should wipe out all of the seedlings that are coming up now. You may have to work on the established ones by digging out some of the larger clumps. I’m sure that you know, but whatever you do, don’t till the area…all that will do is propagate the pokeberry by its roots. I’ve heard of people doing that with bamboo. Now that is a nasty plant…unless you have several acres that you don’t want or you’re into making fishing poles. 🙂 Thanks for the compliment…have you joined our e-mail list? It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest posts and your address won’t be used by anyone except me.

  4. didn’t try the soap or salt but I’m going to try that today. And these plants are new.. in an area they weren’t in last year and they were seedlings when I sprayed them. I have dug some of them up but it’s a LOT of them.. really a patch.. lol. (going to join the mailing list now!)

  5. I’m trying to get rid of several Alchemilla mollis that have grown wild and spread out too much. I have dug out several but it’s hard work and I have a serious back problem right now… So.. THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL TIP! They’re in the middle of a flower bed so I’ll be careful with this cocktail. We get our water from a well in the middle of our garden and all the rain water end up in the nearby lake so we don’t use anything that is not ecological.. Besides, here in Sweden most non-ecological stuff is banned.
    I have loads of spring bulbs in that flower bed and wild strawberries.. I’m assuming some of them will be killed, which is sad, but it’s war right now. I’ll do my best to avoid collateral damage.
    Will report later how it went. Wish me luck! Namaste!

  6. I’m going to try this on some Alchemilla mollis (Jättedagkåppa) that have gone wild and have spread out way out too much. They’re in the middle of flower beds so it’s going to be tricky not to kill a few spring bulbs that ar planted just everywhere… I have wild strawberries as ‘marktäckare’ that is to fill spaces under and between the bigger plants… I’m hoping on little collateral damage. Last year i dug out several, but I have a serious back problem now, so that’s not an option. I had resigned to watch them grow even wilder and bolder this summer..
    We get our water supply from our own well in the middle of the garden, it’s 50 meter deep and all the water runs later to the river and the nearby lake (but not the water from the toilets).. So we don’t use anything that is environmentally hazardous. Besides here in Sweden almost all that is proven unfriendly to the environment is banned.
    I’ll report back on how it went with this vinegar cocktail. Wish me luck!

  7. I am going to try this on my 3-acre fence line! I have been searching for an alternative to the never-ending weed-wacking chore… all the while everyone laughing at me saying just spray Round-up, which I WILL NOT do. I can’t wait to try this!

    Thank you!!

  8. Sprayed everything two days in a row! Nothing has happened except to a little group of weeds under a shade tree.

    • My kids and friend also tried it and nothing…what are we doing wrong. I tried the dish soap and a little rubbing alcohol as suggested by different site. Went through a gallon of vinegar. The snails didn’t survive, the weeds are blowing merrily in the wind.

      • If the weeds are large or perennials, they will be harder to kill. Also, what type of vinegar did you use? Store bought or the stronger horticultural type?

  9. Tried it. Regular (5%) vinegar is ineffective. Apparently, you need horticultural vinegar (20% acetic acid). Finding it is another story. Research experiment conducted during the Spring and Fall 2001 by the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory (SASL), a member of the Animal and Natural Resources Institute (ANRI) located in Beltsville, Maryland, they hand-sprayed common lambsquarters, giant foxtail, smooth pigweed and Canada thistle with 0.0, 5.0, 10.5, 15.3 and 20.2 percent vinegar. The results showed 2 things: the effectiveness of acetic acid on weeds depends on both the concentration and the plant growth stage.

    There is a product made by a company called Bradfield but not sold in stores around here. Sears carries it, but again, not in stores. Have to order online.

    Useless: St. Gabriel Burnout. Did NOTHING but take $50 out of my wallet, and this was for only 1200 sf. And the label doesn’t tell you about coverage, so I bought one bottle and then had to go back and buy another (choice – buy two and return one – either way, two trips).

  10. You can concentrated vinegar by freezing it and pour off the part that doesn’t freeze. Be careful because it is of unknown acid strength at that point.

  11. This is available in five(5) to fifty-five(55) pails and drums, Food Grade Glacial Acetic Acid 98% or Vinegar also used in Bio-fuel mixing. So be careful when using this concentration, I use a polyethylene 30-Gallon, 12 volt, towable sprayer for my 15.57 acres.


  12. Does this sterilize the soil, or can I plant into it soon after killing the weeds? Does the vinegar (+ salt if you use it) remain available to be absorbed by the roots of plants you don’t want to kill — annuals, perennials, trees or shrubs whose roots are beneath the weeds you are killing?

  13. Hello,
    I am looking for acweedkiller on hardscape/rock driveway that will not hurt earthworms. I am hoping that the diluted salt via sprayer may be ok but would like any input that may be helpful. Thanks

  14. Will salt or vinegar kill moss in the garden? How soon after using any of that, would the ground be safe to plant things in?

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