Editor’s note 7/21/2021: Fact Checkers have suggested that this weed-be-gone spray may not work very effectively. Vinegar was studied and found to not be a particularly effective weed killer. Commercially available vinegar was not strong enough to control weeds. Higher concentrates of vinegar can control weeds, but they require protective equipment to handle.
Additionally, using salt in your garden as a weed control method may have unintended consequences – making it difficult or impossible for any other plants to grow. Salt will also ruin your soil’s structure, making it harder for water to drain properly.
When it comes to using home remedies, like this homemade weed killer recipe, your mileage may vary. It may not be as safe or as wise to use as this article originally stated. Proceed with caution.
Weeds have no place in well-tended gardens. After all, we planted certain flowers and plants for a reason — we want to see them. Not these unsightly prickles and leaves. There’s much debate on weed killers — from DIY weed sprays to the harsh chemicals in products like Round-Up. In this case, it could be beneficial to err on the side of caution as research studies the long-term effects of commercial weed killers. Especially when DIY weed sprays and natural methods are just as effective.
4 DIY Weed Killers And How to Use Them
DIY Weed Killer Recipe
Recipe from HGTV
- 1 gallon white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- tablespoon liquid dish soap
- Mix the three ingredients together and stir well. You want the salt to fully dissolve before administering it.
- Pour the vinegar, dishsoap, and epsom salt into a spray bottle.
- Let the solution settle for a few minutes before spraying the weeds. Make sure you soak the entire weed with the formula.
- Let the weeds sit for a day for the solution to take effect.
- For best results, spray in the afternoon when the weeds are not damp from dew and it’s sunny outside.
Vinegar is a powerful DIY weed killer, but remember, it could also kill your flowers and plants so spray carefully. Additionally, don’t spray the solution on soil because it could make the area incapable of growing other plants there. Also, vinegar may not prevent new weeds from popping up later. This spray will work well for stubborn weeds in cracks in sidewalks and walkways as well. 
The Newspaper Method
You can’t get more natural than this DIY weed killer. Chop the weeds using a weed whacker then spread some old newspaper over them. This will block the weeds from growing back and new seeds won’t be able to form because of the lack of oxygen and sunlight. Place mulch over the newspaper and let nature take its course. And don’t worry about tidying up; the newspaper is biodegradable and will break down on its own.
The Boiling Water Method
- Boiling water from a pot or kettle
Here’s another chemical-free option ideal for areas like cracks in the pavement. Simply pour the water between the cracks on a sidewalk or driveway. This won’t kill the roots of the weeds, but it will kill the tops immediately. For best results, get the pot close to the plant and pour slowly to avoid the water from splashing. If the weeds come back, you could repeat the process as needed. Ensure you take proper precautions such as oven mitts to avoid burning yourself.
Lemon Juice Spray
- Lemon juice
- Spray bottle
- Vinegar (optional)
Fill the spray bottle with lemon juice, either squeezed from the fruit or from a bottle of real lemon juice. You could add some acidic vinegar sold at garden stores; this will create an even stronger DIY weed spray. Simply spray it on the weeds and let it rest. The lemon juice will make the leaves dry up and die within a day or two. Also, be careful as you spray because this solution could prevent other things from growing in this soil in the future.
Keep in mind that weed spray isn’t always the best solution, depending on your lawn and where the weeds are located. And in those cases, you may want to turn to old-fashioned manual labor. As Leslie Reichert, founder of Green Cleaning Coach, said, “Sometimes you can’t control exactly where the weed killer disseminates when sprayed. If you’re afraid of brown spots in your lawn, a weed puller and a bucket can be your best bet.” 
Also, don’t wait for weeds to become a large issue, according to Sarah Voiland of Red Fire Farm, a certified organic grower in Montague, Massachusetts. Get them while they’re young. “One of the biggest things I learned when I got into farming is that the best time to kill weeds is when you can barely see them. That takes the least amount of energy. We will even get out there with butter knives,” said Voiland. So stay vigilant, no matter how large your garden is. And you could always throw together a DIY weed spray when the weeds start popping up. 
- “How to Use Vinegar & Salt As a Weed Killer.” SF Gate. Debra L. Turner. December 9, 2018
- “These All-Natural, Homemade Weed Killers Actually Work.” Real Simple. Brooke Showell Kasir. March 30, 2021
- “Make Your Own Natural Weed Killer.” HGTV. Mick Telkamp. February 17, 2021