Introduction: Natural and CHEAP Weed Control

Picture of Natural and CHEAP Weed Control

I made this instructable to provide a option for people to move away from damaging chemical herbicide that destroy our environment everyday. This instructable shows how to make 3 natural, cheap, organic, and simple herbicides made from ingredients readily available at home and also CHEAP. This is a instructable entry for the Get In the Garden Contest.

Step 1: A Shot of Vinegar

Picture of A Shot of Vinegar

If you are tired of hand pulling of broad-leaved weeds(such as dandelions, Plantains, henbits, and Mulleins). Here is a cheap easy solution to your problem

Ingredients and Supplies:
dishwasher liquid(optional)
pump spray bottle

1. Fill the spray bottle with vinegar(or mix 3 parts vinegar to one part dishwashing liquid)
2. Spray in narrow stream
3.Rinse sprayer well after done

TIP: Don't get carried away with this method (repeated applications will acidify the soil)

Step 2: Weeds in Hot Water

Picture of Weeds in Hot Water

Don't you hate scratching and pulling weeds from side or driveway cracks? You can use boiling water to kill these annoying weeds natural, safe, and for cheap. Boiling water kills any plant or seed it touches. This hot water kills any weed seeds it touches!

1. Boil a kettle full of water
2. Pour slowly and carefully, wetting both the weeds and the soil surrounding them.
3. It is as SIMPLE as that

Tip: Leave the cold dead body of the weeds as a deterrent ( mulch) and it'll discourage germination of more weed seeds.

Step 3: Alcohol Attack

Now what can you do with rubbing alcohol? You know what it does it KILLS WEEDS! It's cheap, easy to get, and natural and very effective at killing weeds believe it or not.

Ingredients and Supplies
1 quart water
1 (or more) tablespoons of rubbing alcoho
Measuring cup (1 Quart)

1Mix water and alcohol in the spray bottle (Use 1 tablespoon of alcohol for weed seedlings or thin-leaved weeds and 2 tablespoons or more for tougher weeds).
2. Spray weed leaves thoroughly but lightly (Avoid misting surrounding desirable plants).

Tip: It takes 5 tablespoons of alcohol in a quart of water to wipe out poison ivy for example, and experiment to see how many tablespoons it takes to kill your weeds.

Step 4: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

These weed killers not only are cheap and effective but are safe to use and don't destroy the environment.

These don't
1. Have farm workers slowly die from inhaling herbicides
2. They don't make you have skin rashes
3. Contaminate our drinking water
4. Make you have headaches
5. Or kill little eagle baby's


abdiseid2 (author)2017-07-15

Good but i am not andurstand dittel lastely we kan mix 4 stepes or use indivjual ?

ArpitK13 (author)2017-05-09

A method formerly used for sterilizing the working ends of endodontic files and reamers by placing them in a container containing glass beads heated to approximately 225°C (437°F) for a defined period of time. The effectiveness of glass bead sterilizers is very difficult to validate.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-05-11

I found an article on EDTA and how sodium EDTA binds to zinc ions necessary for the formation of fungal cell wall. Weakening the cell wall. Thus EDTA could be used (dose dependent) to release Pectinase from the cell wall of certain fungi.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-05-04

Oh after a week or two 5% vingear could be sprayed onto the soil to neutalize the ammonia or lye that was used. This could be used to kill poison ivy.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-05-04

I am gong to make a herbicide that Is made from Pectinase. This enzyme can be extracted from harmless Penicillium.D cells. Weak acids ph 3 plus digestive enzymes with 7000 RPM with a Centrifuge are required to remove the enzyme.

The enzyme is stable with 0.1 moles Ammonia hydroxide or sodium hydroxide and EDTA could be used too. Prefer that Ammonia hydroxide be used over lye since it can be converted into other fuel by bacteria and fungi natually found in the soil.

deswiger (author)2016-04-02

OK, I have been looking at a lot of these, (yours is some what different but mostly same) {how be it, very helpful}. So, what do you think of this combination?

vinegar, dishwasher liquid, rubbing alcohol, warm water AND SALT (dissolved in the warm water)

Exact measurements I don't know yet but.......

MichaelP19 (author)2015-04-27

Here is another option for organic weed killing - the Garden Hotshot. Please give it a look and tell me what you think.

MichaelP19 (author)2015-04-27

Hd5cruzr (author)2014-10-28

Anyone heard of the "herbicide" where you use Epsom Salts? I believe it uses both epsom salt and alcohol.. but not sure. I've heard it is effective.. but wondering how it works around good plants.. IE, does it 'poison' the ground around it such that the good plants suffer.. or is it just a surface control?

AmyLuthien (author)Hd5cruzr2015-04-26

Oh, p.s. I've never noticed it poisons the ground when you spray, because the amount of salt is pretty minimal. That would be a different story if you were to pour this directly on the ground however. If you want to kill some ground so no weeds or plants ever come back in that spot again for a few years, then by all means, pour it on.

AmyLuthien (author)Hd5cruzr2015-04-26

Yes, but don't use Epsom salts, which is a plant fertilizer, use plain old table salt. Add a cup of salt to a gallon of distilled white vinegar and a squirt of dish soap, mix well (I just add everything to a 1 gal bottle of vinegar as it comes from the store and shake.) Put the mixture in a spray bottle then go spray your weeds at high noon on a sunny hot day. The weeds will be dead in about 10 mins.

I use 1 cup of rubbing alcohol + 3 cups of water, and a squirt of dish soap to kill insect pests on my plants. Some plants may be a little sensitive to the spray, so do a test area first before you spray the whole plant. I've never had it kill a plant however, at worst you'll probably only get a few dead spots on the leaves of sensitive plants. I wouldn't recommend using this on a sunny hot day, do it early morning or evening (same as you would for any pesticide used on plants.)

Mel632 (author)2011-10-29

Water is a chemical.

doo da do (author)Mel6322014-06-04

Especaly if it is city water

Water is an element not a chemical

Water is a compound of two elements; oxygen and hydrogen, H2O. Elements are chemicals out of which everything else is made. Therefore everything not only contains chemicals but is made up entirely of them.

When someone says that something contains chemicals, they usually mean that it contains chemicals that are manufactured by man through a chemical process rather than by nature as in photosynthesis.

Um, no. Water is a chemical compound, composed of two atoms of hydrogen (an element) and one atom of oxygen (another element).

kittywitty (author)2010-03-17

I used to love pulling weeds, but now I have over-used my thumb, and pulling out weeds is too painful. I like the boiling water method or simply salt. (

My father likes to over fertilize the dandylions, thereby killing them - this has issues.

As for the worms, I HATE them because they eat my plant roots... especially bulbs, and they are not indigenous to the Native US soil, but brought here by the European settlers. The damage done by soil worms to the native plant population is tremendous, altering the majority of the landscape prior to European settlers (from National Geographic Article on Jamestown, maybe 2 years ago).

AtlantaTerry (author)kittywitty2013-05-24

Worms do not eat roots or bulbs, grubs do.

Do some more research on the subject.

kittywitty (author)AtlantaTerry2013-05-25

If there are less composted material to eat, they will eat roots and bulbs... find them inside my bulbs all the time, because I mulch with pine needles which isn't as yummy as leaf litter.

Never heard of any earthworm type being bad for the landscape as they only release fertilizer and its a common myth that they eat plant root or bulbs. Worms are great for the ecology of America and the boiling water method is probably the safest for killing weeds

There are worm like critters that eat some plant roots, but they are not earth worms. As stated above earthworms do not eat plant roots but live on dead and decaying vegetable matter, turning it into valuable compost.

part is right ,,most is wrong--I was surprized myself about --worms-- If you research worms you will find they are not good as the common folk think they are --Bad, bad wormns !!!!!!!!! research is key in any dispute !!

 Its not a myth. worms do eat bulbs and plant roots. its their prefer diet. How do you think the leaves and yard waste get decomposed? Lots of my tulips and lily bulbs have been wormed to death. Hence, I have solved the problem by using Dichotomous Earth, which is pulverized sea shells, and is harmless to us, but extremely sharp microscopically, and hence any insect size soft shell buggers will dehydrate to death. If those worms did not mess with my bulbs and fragile roots, they won't die.

If you research worms, and the colonial landscape verses modern times.. oh here is one link, and the following link is the national geographic article.

PecanCorner (author)2013-04-09

treesneedtobehugged ,thank you for a great Instructable! This is what I came here looking for this morning. I am working in the yard, and some weeds are breaking off or otherwise difficult for me to pull out of the hard, dry, caliche-based, alkaline Texas dirt that I am coping with. I came in for a break and searched "homemade weed killer". I will try all three of these this week to see which is best for my personal weeds/dirt/climate combination. Thank you so much!

aliceaod (author)2012-12-24

Dandelions, Plantains, and Mulleins are all very beneficial herbs.

Samw (author)aliceaod2013-03-03

A weed is anything you don't want. A leftover potatoe in corn field can hold disease and is therefore a weed.
Not to negate your statement.

theelectrifier (author)2010-01-15

if you have a specific weed problem you will find that the soil is deficient in the element that the weed produces. e.g. you will find gorse, buttercup, sweet pea, lucerne or other legumes growing wild where the soil is deficient in nitrogen
dandelion contains calcium and iron.
so the best thing to do is cut the tops of the plants and leave it to break down into the soil. when you do this, the plant will also shed roots, providing food for worms and soil bacteria etc...

ToniB (author)theelectrifier2012-05-10

Can you expand on this? I have an ever expanding problem with dandelions.

Mel632 (author)2011-10-29

Vinegar is a chemical.

gallyn (author)2009-06-16

I like the idea of using boiling water or vinegar since I'm disabled with arthritis and can't get down to pull the ugly things out. But I want my yard to be beautiful. I do have a portable steamer and I wonder if hot steam wouldn't work as well. I'm going to try it. Thanks for the hints.

crazycloud (author)gallyn2010-07-16

I have an industrial steamer that I hardly ever use. What a great idea, it is really easy to aim just where you want it!

stephenniall (author)2010-04-09

 My fathere used to Pour A little petrol On them and Burn them !

biofueljunke (author)2009-12-14

get a blowtorch, its alot of fun to kill weeds with

lemonie (author)2009-06-08

None of these images are original, and there's nothing here to suggest that you've actually done any of these things. Also these are non-specific herbicides (as far as I'm aware), pulling them up with your hands is actually better from an environmental perspective. L

Don't have a camera at the moment and yes they are natural and they do work. I mean how can boiling water be good to weeds and it doesn't hurt nothing. All of these methods are natural and why don't you try them out

I pull them up - no carbon-based energy required. Hot water will kill soil bacteria and harm worms. Alcohol and vinegar would do the same I should think. L

kirnex (author)lemonie2009-07-02

Over-fertilization (which is increasingly common) is also responsible for the overgrowth of bad bacterias, which incidentally make soil inhospitable for worms. Alcohol and vinegar (especially in smaller doses, as with weed control), while affecting the bacterial content of the soil, actually help to sterilize it, thereby facilitating the return of good bacteria levels. In soil, I do prefer vinegar to alcohol, primarily because it is easier to neutralize with the use of baking soda or small amounts of lime. But for things like weeds growing between patio stones, etc. the BEST weed killer is a combination of warm 91% isopropol alcohol and a small amount of salt: the alcohol actually evaporates before it even can be washed off the patio area, and it is super-fast acting.

lemonie (author)kirnex2009-07-02

I dislike the polarising of bacteria between "good" and "bad" - can you explain that in more detail (I'm generally interested)? L

kirnex (author)lemonie2009-07-03

Sure. (In reflection, I realized I also didn't distinguish the "over-fertilization" issues I was referencing, but more about that in a minute).

Obviously, pro-bacteria (we'll call it that, rather than "good") will differ in different regions and soil types, but the basic idea is that under ideal conditions (say, a soil that's rich in nutrients, pH balanced, and fortified with compost, which is rich in pro-bacteria), you will have a bacterial balance that is ideal for proper plant growth and development. You can liken it to the types of pro-bacteria that live in our stomachs and intestinal tracts.

Just as the bacterial ratios in our digestive systems need to be properly balanced (i.e. the pro-bacteria is present in high enough ratios to inhibit the overgrowth of bad, or antagonistic, bacteria), the same is an issue in soil. (Incidentally, this is the number one reason it is recommended that if you are POTTING a new plantling, you sterilize the soil first. Where the soil in the ground can, over a longer period of time, regain a homeostatic balance of bacteria, a potted plant cannot, and thus the chances of the plant succumbing to a bacterial, fungal or viral infection are much great).

At any rate, just as taking antibiotics can throw off the balance of pro-bacteria in the digestive tract, overuse of alcohol or another antibacterial agent can (theoretically) do the same in your soil.

The problem with over-fertilization (primarily a bi-product of overly-aggressive lawn care) is that some bad bacterias and fungi thrive when introduced to some types of chemical fertilizers used for lawns. Specifically, it is often the run-off after rain that introduces these fertilizer into beds where they then can throw off the balance of bacteria in the soil. This will then impact the viability of the plant, thus also making it more susceptible to viral infection as well.

If you have any questions about the quality of your soil as it pertains to bacterial/fungal content, there are home test-kits available at many garden centers. Most of the time, though, they aren't really necessary unless you are having problems with: 1) run off from a lawn that is aggressively fertilized, or 2) having viability issues with plants in a bed where the soil and drainage seems otherwise healthy. Usually, most problems with plant viability have more to do with incorrect watering, pH, placing plants in incorrect sun for the species, or improper drainage. Anyhow, hope this helped. :-)

lemonie (author)kirnex2009-07-03

I understand the general area, I was more after the bacteria. E.g. you know soil aeration is important - anaerobic bacteria will produce different chemicals to aerobic bacteria. High levels of nitrogen can lead to ammonia, and all sorts of other things go on in the soil too. Do you know of a (fertiliser) cause & effect that illustrates this? (and thanks for the details!) L

kirnex (author)lemonie2009-07-16

Hi, sorry it took a while--been out of town. Anyhow, I can't and won't tell you I know specifics...I'm a casual gardener who makes some attempt to utilize all those things I learned in my university science classes to prevent KILLING the plants I am actually trying to grow. I do know that there are quite a few devastating bacteria that tend to be more regional (one reason many serious horticulturalists try to encourage people to utilize locally grown plants--as a containment measure). I also have seen, first hand, by living in a neighborhood where all my neighbors are constantly fertilizing their lawns, that it has drastically changed the ecosystemic profile in our immediate vicinity. We have an overflow pond that used to attract egrets, herons, swans, and geese--among other wildlife. This was when our development was freshly built and no one had a lawn to fertilize. Fast forward five years, and there are no longer any of those birds visiting our neighborhood. Additionally, we are constantly battling various fungis and bacterial overgrowth both in that pond and in the more wet areas of our properties. It's obvious there is a correlation. Regarding sterilization, I've also had problems with verticillum wilt with plants potted in soil that has had diseased plants prior, and was not sterilized prior to re-use. I get around this, now, by sterilizing small batches of soil in my oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil, Makes the house smell bad, but is effective. I do also clean out pots with a solution of dish soap and alcohol prior to re-use--especially terra cotta pots, as they are pourous and can obviously harbor bacteria within the clay. It's greatly reduced the amount of loss I've had since. There are some great books by Ortho on regional diseases of plants, and common diseases and infestation of plants of all sorts. I use mine constantly. They really do a nice job detailing some of the more common bacterial, viral, and insect diseases for both indoor and outdoor plants. I definitely recommend checking those out for detailed information about plant diseases in general

lemonie (author)kirnex2009-07-17

Thanks - I've got some stuff to look for from that. Shame about the pond - eutrophication? L

kirnex (author)lemonie2009-07-17

Indeed! Sad, isn't it? One reason I am fully in favor of trying to encourage organic gardening with my neighbors. Unfortunately, the grand-bourgeios ethic seems to be to use as many commercial chemical agents as possible, and trying to encourage people who do nothing themselves to opt for compost bins and natural alternatives is futile. Everyone is sad our birds are gone, but no one is willing to assist in reversing the problem!

lemonie (author)kirnex2009-07-18

You could make warning signs (black on yellow) that say "polluted by garden run-off" - skull & cross bones. Put them up around the pond...? L

kirnex (author)lemonie2009-07-18

Ha! Actually, that's a good idea. I can think of a couple of neighbors who I could attribute the sign to... but I'd have to post it clandestinely. We happen to be chair-holders in our civic league. I might get booted for being "weird" (they only suspect it, thus far).

treesneedtobehugged (author)2009-06-16

What environmental effect does baking soda have?

Baking soda, for neutralizing an acid-based soil additive, is supreme. The nice thing about it is that it's gentle, and it doesn't linger too long in the soil, since it easily dissolves in water. If you use vinegar as a weed-killer around your plants, you'd want to add some baking soil around the crown of your plants, then water thoroughly so it reaches the roots and prevents them from being burned by the vinegar as well. You can also use baking soda for plants like Hydrangeas if you want to make the blooms more pink--use aluminum sulfate or even any acid-based organic additive (i.e. blood meal or peat moss) if you want your blooms to be more blue.

treesneedtobehugged (author)2009-06-13

A lot cheaper to! Vinegar is dirt cheap, rubbing alcohol is cheap, water is everywhere and you can heat it up with a solar oven so all these methods also have a cheapness factor to! :)

Rubbing alcohol isn't that cheap... OK, so it only costs $7 for a 500mL bottle but I prefer to use the el cheapo brands of vinegar (and phehaps sprinkle some baking soda on the soil after the weeds die).

kirnex (author)awang82009-07-02

Great add---the baking soda part. I had to use muriatic acid to clean some rust off my patio the other day and used the baking soda to neutralize it as well. My Rose of Sharon is still a little yellow-leafed (the muriatic acid is obviously much more harsh than vinegar), but it didn't die, so--victory!

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