Natural Weed Killers | 2024 Guide

By Amanda Lutz Updated July 17, 2024

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Weeds can hijack your garden beds and lawns if you don’t take proper steps to eliminate them and prevent regrowth. However, some popular weed killers are toxic and can be dangerous to your family, pets, and other plants. Natural weed killers are frequently as potent but are safer and more eco-friendly than their synthetic alternatives. Read our guide for more information on natural weed killers, how to get rid of weeds, and natural ways to keep your lawn lush.

Types of Natural Weed Killers

Homeowners can purchase organic and child-safe weed treatments in home improvement stores, mix DIY weed killers themselves, or hire lawn care services that commit to 100% natural herbicides.

Add these effective ingredients to your shopping list if you want to create your own weed-killing concoction:

Make sure any recipe you use includes at least one of these ingredients. If you don’t want to use any chemicals, consider pulling up weeds by hand, which is a slow but effective method of removal.

Homemade Weed Killer Recipes

Below are recipes for weed killer that include ingredients you may already have in your pantry.

All-natural weed killer1 cup lemon juice
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon of water
Dilute the two acidic ingredients in the water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle for application.
Soapy water1 cup water
1.25 tablespoon dish soap
Mix the two ingredients together and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the leaves and stems of weeds. 
Vinegar and soap solutionEqual parts:
Dish soap
Household vinegar
Mix the ingredients together into a solution until the salt is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle for application. This is a popular natural method for killing clover.

Dish soap is not natural and includes chemicals that organic gardeners may want to avoid. Use the first recipe if you want a solution that’s exclusively made of all-natural ingredients.

How to Apply Natural Weed Killers

Once you mix your solution and pour it into a spray bottle, you can spot-treat weeds by spraying the stem, base, and leaves of the weeds. Natural weed killers don’t have toxic chemicals, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally killing other plants.

Most natural weed killers take a few hours to start working and can completely kill weeds within a couple of days. Reapply once a day until you achieve your desired results.

Try these additional tips to get the best results:

Natural Pre-Emergent Weed Control

You don’t have to wait until you see weeds to begin protecting your landscape. Pre-emergent weed-killing treatments can stop weeds from ever taking shape. 

One of the most popular natural materials for pre-emergent weed control is corn gluten meal, which is a byproduct of cornmeal processing and has multiple benefits for gardeners. The material is 10% slow-releasing nitrogen, which fertilizes the soil and stops weeds such as crabgrass and dandelions from emerging. 

Corn gluten meal doesn’t treat existing weed infestations. Use a combination of natural weed control and natural pre-emergent treatments to keep weeds away from your home.

Ineffective Natural Weed Killers

Not all natural weed killers work for all weeds. Household vinegar might not have a strong enough acid content to kill perennial weeds with deep roots, for example. Dish soap can be ineffective if the solution doesn’t reach the weeds’ roots.

There is no single magic formula that can kill all weeds while safely preserving surrounding plants and keeping toxic chemicals out of your landscape. Try to identify the specific weeds in your garden and find a natural recipe that works on that species.

Some weeds are more resistant to natural weed killers than others. Consider using chemical weed killers to drive back stubborn weeds or weeds that grow every year.

Also, consider how chemicals interact when making a weed-killing recipe. While both baking soda and vinegar are popular options, combining them will neutralize the formula and make it fizz.

Natural vs. Chemical Weed Killers

Both natural and chemical weed killers are effective tools for killing weeds and protecting your plants, but neither is perfect. Consider the factors below when deciding which type to use. 

Our Recommendation

Natural weed killers are effective and safe, and they don’t harm the environment the way harsh chemicals do. We recommend using natural weed-killing remedies that consist of ingredients you may already have at home. Spot-treating your weeds and applying a natural pre-emergent can keep your lawn and landscape weed-free every season.

Natural Weed Killer FAQ

What ingredients make the best natural weed killer?

The best natural weed killers are household vinegar, salt, baking soda, and boiling water. Corn gluten meal is also a natural pre-emergent that can prevent some weeds from germinating.

How long does it take for natural weed killers to work?

Natural weed killers typically work within a week. Vinegar can kill young weeds within one day, but older weeds may need daily treatments for up to three to four days. Diluted dish soaps may need a week to kill weeds completely. Boiling water can kill weeds instantly.

How often should natural weed killers be applied?

Natural weed killers and pre-emergents should be applied twice a year. When you spot-treat weeds, some may need daily, repeated applications to take effect. However, you shouldn’t frequently apply treatments of vinegar, salt, or liquid dish soap to your lawn.

Is it safe to use natural weed killers with pets and kids?

It is safe to use natural weed killers with pets and kids. Plants and soil will absorb the treatments, which do not pose risks to children.

Can natural weed killers harm my lawn or garden plants?

Natural weed killers can harm your lawn or garden plants if you don’t apply them properly. Spray weeds directly, and avoid contact with nearby plants. If you apply salty or soapy treatments, replenish the surrounding soil with fertilizers before planting new greenery.

What precautions should I take when using natural weed killers?

The precautions you should take when using natural weed killers include avoiding splashing your skin with hot water or concentrated vinegar. You should also clearly label any remaining herbicide solution when you store it.