How to Make A Chemical-Free, Homemade Weed Killer That Actually Works

This DIY weed killer is made of natural ingredients you probably already have on hand.


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It's frustrating but true: A manicured lawn polished to perfection can actually make the grass more susceptible to weeds. Dandelion, crabgrass, and basically anything with a seed, love to work their way into neatly clipped grass and Pinterest-worthy gardens.

One way to keep unsightly greens at bay is less frequent mowing. In fact, the idea that you should keep your grass as short as possible is a common lawn care myth. "Keep the lawn long, so it takes longer for seeds to work their way down the ground," says Leslie Reichert, founder of Green Cleaning Coach.

But chances are, you're going to need some kind of weed-killing method as part of your lawn care regimen. Here are some proven strategies for how to make your own natural weed killer that does the job without harsh chemicals.

Considerations Before You Get Started

Among commercial weed killers, there are some natural ones, like Green Gobbler's 20% Vinegar formula. And even if you do use a chemical weed killer, you may have to resort to the old-fashioned, labor-intensive method of pulling them up by hand. "Sometimes you can't control exactly where the weed killer disseminates when sprayed," says Reichert. "If you're afraid of brown spots in your lawn, a weed puller and a bucket can be your best bet."

What You'll Need


Vinegar and Borax Method

  • 1 gallon Vinegar
  • 1 cup Borax (or salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dish soap


How to Make a Natural Homemade Weed Killer With Vinegar and Borax

Step 1: Combine Ingredients

Add vinegar, Borax, and dish soap to a spray bottle that lets you toggle the nozzle between a spray or a stream.

Step 2: Spray on Lawn

If it's a small area, shoot a stream. If it's an all-over weed situation, go for the spray. Don't go crazy, though: "Be careful with it," Reichert advises. "It doesn't know the difference between a weed and a flower." Especially when using the more potent Borax (a naturally occurring substance that doesn't cause lingering harm to an ecosystem or absorb through the skin), the solution can also kill the soil so that nothing else will grow around it.

This method works best on a sunny day, as the natural acid will burn the plant, and the salt will shrivel it up by sundown. (The dish soap helps the solution stick to the weeds.)

How to Kill Weeds With Newspaper

Even professional landscapers are known to use this simple, natural weed killer. 

Step 1: Use a Weed Whacker

If your garden is infested, use a weed whacker to address the culprits.

Step 2: Lay Down Newspaper

Newspaper blocks beginning weeds from growing and new seeds from forming by shutting out sun and air.

Step 3: Add Mulch

Top it off with mulch and the weeds won't show up, Reichert says. The newspaper will break down eventually, too, so there's no clean-up.

How to Kill Weeds With Boiling Water

Talk about a DIY weed killer: This one is inexpensive, simple, effective, and completely free of chemicals.

Step 1: Pour Boiling Water on Weeds

For areas like cracks in sidewalks and driveways, take a pot of boiling water and pour it on the weeds. It will kill them right away, Reichert says. Be sure to get close to the plant and pour slowly, to avoid being splashed.

Step 2: Repeat as Needed

Because this option isn't a permanent one, repeat the process as the plants grow back until the area is free and clear. (Boiling water won't kill the weeds at their roots, according to Chris McGeary, chief marketing officer at Lawn Doctor, a lawn care company.) And, of course, take safety precautions to avoid burns.

How to Kill Weeds With Lemon Juice

This pretty fruit not only grows in the garden; it also helps keep it pristine, since lemon juice serves as a natural acid to kill weeds.

Step 1: Spray Lemon Juice on Weeds

Fill a spray bottle with real lemon juice and saturate any perpetrators—the natural solution will dry up and kill the leaves within one or two days. If you don't have an abundance of lemon trees in the backyard, a bottle of ReaLemon ($4; also does the trick.

Step 2: Add Vinegar

For an extra-strong formula, mix the lemon juice with acidic vinegar. The kind of vinegar sold at garden stores or nurseries is stronger than supermarket options, so there are ways to make this homemade weed killer more potent, if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the strongest homemade weed killer?

    The most effective homemade weed killer combines dish soap, white vinegar, and salt. All three ingredients work together to kill weeds in specific ways. Vinegar and salt contain acetic acid, which works to dry out weeds, while dish soap acts as a surfactant and keeps the "killing" agent on the outside of the plant, where it will be most effective.

  • What kills weeds permanently?

    Boiling water kills weeds down to the root. While other natural methods, like vinegar, also kill roots, it takes much longer. Boiling water kills weed roots almost immediately.

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