9 Solutions That Kill Weeds Permanently

Weeding Garden
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Written by Sammi Caramela

Updated: October 31, 2023

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If you’re into gardening and landscaping, you likely understand the common struggle of weeding. Weeds often grow freely in places we don’t want them. Odds are, if your plants are thriving, weeds have a good chance of doing the same. That being said, there are ways to manage your weeds and kill them off permanently. 

9 Solutions That Kill Weeds Permanently
Avoid using dangerous chemicals to kill weeds by using these safer options.

Thankfully, you don’t need to invest in expensive solutions filled with chemicals to get rid of the pesky weeds in your yard. Many of the options listed below are safe and effective, while those you find in-store might contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to all living things.

Here are nine of the best solutions to kill weeds permanently.

1. Dish Soap Solution

Ingredients: Dishwashing soap, distilled white vinegar, and salt.

Explanation: Vinegar alone is extremely effective in killing weeds (more on that below), but mixing it with dish soap and salt is even more deadly. Together, vinegar’s acetic acid helps kill the weeds, the dish soap causes the desiccation of the weeds, and the salt dehydrates the plants, soaking up moisture in the soil. However, when applying this to weeds, be sure you’re not also killing the desired plants growing around them.

Directions: This solution calls for mixing one gallon of white vinegar, one cup of table salt, and one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Once you’ve created your mixture, generously pour it on your weeds, careful not to get it on any plants you want to survive. 

Handwashing hands; washing with soap and water at stainless steel sink.

Dish soap can make a great weed killer, especially when used with other ingredients like salt and vinegar.

©Benjamin Clapp/Shutterstock.com

2. Vinegar

Ingredients: Distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Explanation: As mentioned above, vinegar helps dry up weeds because of its acidic properties. Often, you don’t need to mix it with anything to kill off your weeds permanently. This solution is usually strong enough to work on its own, causing the desiccation and dehydration of your weeds.

Directions: When using vinegar, it’s best to pour a small amount into a spray bottle. This way, you can generously apply it to your weeds while also having control over its application. Pouring the vinegar might be too much for the rest of your garden, so containing it in one area will help you avoid killing your other beloved plants and flowers. However, be sure to do this on a warm day to help speed up the process. Avoid rainy or windy days, as this will dilute and spread the solution elsewhere. You can use either white or apple cider vinegar for this solution.

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Vinegar’s acid content helps kill weeds permanently by burning them and drying out their leaves.

©focal point/Shutterstock.com

3. Boiling Water

Ingredients: Boiling-hot water.

Explanation: It’s nearly impossible for weeds to survive when scorched by boiling-hot water. Not only is this a free solution, but it’s also quick and easy to apply to your weeds. However, it works best for small areas of weeds, so you don’t have to carry boiling water in and out of your kitchen multiple times. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure you’re not scorching other plants in your garden by pouring the water onto them.

Directions: Boil water in a large pot or teapot as you normally would on your stove. Once it’s bubbling, you can carry the pot out and pour it onto the weeds you’d like to kill. Just be careful not to get it on other vegetation (or on yourself). 

Water boils in a stainless steel pan on a gas stove.

Boiling water can overheat the weeds’ roots, causing them to die completely.

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4. Rubbing Alcohol Solution

Ingredients: Rubbing alcohol and water.

Explanation: Similar to salt, rubbing alcohol removes the moisture from soil and weeds, dehydrating it completely. Additionally, when the weeds absorb this solution, they will ultimately die or burn from the high alcohol content. 

Directions: Don’t use just rubbing alcohol, as this could be too harsh. Instead, create a solution that combines one quart of water with two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. Using a spray bottle, apply this solution to your weeds, avoiding contact with other plants. Like with the vinegar solution, do this during a warm, sunny day rather than a stormy, rainy one.

Weeding Garden

Once you use your rubbing alcohol solution, you can easily pick up the dead weeds from your garden.


5. Vodka Solution

Ingredients: Vodka and dishwashing soap.

Explanation: If you have vodka lying around your home, you can put it to good use in your garden. This staple alcohol will have no problem killing weeds in your garden or on your lawn, as it will instantly dry them out. Mixed with dish soap, it will give the weeds no chance of survival. 

Directions: Mix three cups of vodka with two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid, then pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly onto your weeds, allowing it to work its magic. Later, you can remove the dead weeds once they’ve dried up.

Weeds growing on a courtyard (dandelion and grass)

Vodka, like many other alcohols, will help dry out your weeds, causing them to dehydrate and ultimately die.

©Aleksandar Cholanchevski/Shutterstock.com

6. Salt Solution

Ingredients: Salt and water.

Explanation: As mentioned earlier, salt dehydrates weeds and absorbs moisture from their soil. Since plants need water to survive, the weeds won’t access enough to continue growing and thriving. Additionally, once the weeds’ roots come into contact with sodium, they’ll absorb the salt and dehydrate the entire plant. Just make sure you’re careful with this solution, as once the soil is exposed to salt, it takes time to recover and obtain moisture again. That being said, it might not be the best option to apply throughout your entire garden. 

Directions: Add about two cups of salt to one gallon of water (or equivalent measurements, depending on how much you need) and pour it or spray it on your weeds and the soil around them. Only do this if you aren’t planning on growing more vegetation in that area, as the soil will likely not recover for some time.

epsom salt in a hand with gloves

Adding salt to your weeds’ soil will help kill your weeds and prevent more from growing in the area.

©Martina Unbehauen/Shutterstock.com

7. Baking Soda

Ingredients: Baking soda.

Explanation: Baking soda is used to kill a variety of plants, fungus, moss, and weeds. The sodium bicarbonate’s alkaline nature causes desiccation of vegetation, ultimately killing it. 

Directions: Before adding baking soda to your garden or weeds, wet the area first by watering the soil. Then, sprinkle some baking soda directly onto the weeds and their soil.

baking soda

If you want to kill off weeds in addition to other common garden nuisances (from fungus to moss), baking soda is a great option.


8. Borax Solution

Tools: Borax, water, face mask, gloves, and goggles (optional).

Explanation: Borax is a great weed killer, as it contains a high boron concentration. However, it is also dangerous to humans and other living things, as it can cause severe burns. That being said, you’ll want to protect yourself when using this solution.

Directions: First, shield yourself by wearing a face mask, gloves, and goggles so you don’t inhale the solution or get any borax on your skin or in your eyes. Then, mix one gallon of water and half a cup of borax and add it to a spray bottle. Spray generously on your weeds, being sure not to get any on your body or near any other living things. 

an old man throws out a weed that was harvested from his garden

If you plan to use borax as a weed killer, make sure you protect your skin by wearing gloves.

©JohnAlexandr/iStock via Getty Images

9. Lemon Juice

Ingredients: Lemon juice.

Explanation: Lemon juice is highly acidic and will quickly and naturally kill weeds. You don’t even need to create a solution, as the product works exceptionally on its own.

Directions: Add lemon juice to a spray bottle and apply it directly to your weeds and the soil around them so it will kill them permanently. 

Glass of fresh lemon juice on white background

Lemon’s acidic properties make it difficult for weeds and other vegetation to survive.

©Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 9 Solutions That Kill Weeds Permanently

1Dish Soap Solutionregular dishwashing soap, distilled white vinegar, and salt
2Vinegardistilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
3Boiling Waterboiling-hot water
4Rubbing Alcohol Solutionrubbing alcohol and water
5Vodka Solutionvodka and dishwashing soap
6Salt Solutionsalt and water
7Baking Sodabaking soda
8Borax Solutionborax, water, face mask, gloves, and goggles (optional)
9Lemon Juicelemon juice

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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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