Does Spraying Vinegar on Weeds Affect the Soil?


Gardening is an arduous yet relaxing hobby for many. Although there are several hurdles to achieving a perfect garden, it usually soothes and calms you down.

One problem you may have encountered routinely is managing and tending excessive weeds.

Several weed killers are on the market to help solve this issue, but these are usually full of chemicals and unwanted additives, which may ruin your plants.

You can find other DIY solutions, like boiling water, a propane torch, or vinegar—the last of which is the most effective.

Once you learn how to use vinegar to kill weeds, you must have wondered about its safety. Is it safe for your soil?

Read our guide to find out!

Vinegar as a Weed Killer

Vinegar as a Weed Killer

Vinegar as a weed killer is a popular DIY remedy highly recommended for gardening enthusiasts.

It is a simple process: mix vinegar with dish soap and some table or Epsom salt (optional) and spray it on the weeds.

As with any acid, it destroys the cells, killing any part of the plant in contact.

Thus, this vinegar-based solution must be sprayed directly on the roots of only those weeds you wish to kill. As easy as it sounds, it also has a few disadvantages.

By accidentally spraying on the wrong plant, you can easily damage them.

Also, it must not contact your skin or eyes. Even if you can avoid these mistakes, is vinegar safe for your soil?

How Does Vinegar Affect the Soil?

How Does Vinegar Affect the Soil?

Vinegar most prominently affects the soil by altering its pH.

In this DIY recommendation, the suggested ingredients include food-grade vinegar available at home.

Because of this, its acetic acid content is quite low and is good to use only for selective weeds.

For instance, it is effective only for small, young weeds to a certain extent.

If you spray it on the leaves, they will eventually dry out and give the impression that the plant has died.

But as long as the roots are intact, the weeds will regrow after some time.

When sprayed on the leaves, some solution may seep into the soil towards the roots. While this will help you get rid of the weeds, it may hamper the soil’s pH.

As mentioned, household vinegar has less acetic acid content and may not cause much damage.

However, to eradicate older, bigger weeds, you must use a stronger vinegar solution with higher concentrations of acetic acid.

The latter will undoubtedly lower the soil’s pH.

Ideally, the dilute vinegar should break down in two to three days after it is sprayed, and the ground should be good enough to plant a new sapling again.

However, the acid can remain in the soil for several weeks for concentrated vinegar solutions.

If sprayed repeatedly over a short period, the acid accumulation can remain in the soil from a few months to a year, eventually rendering it infertile.

Effects of a Low pH on Plants

Effects of a Low pH on Plants

Now that we know spraying vinegar on weeds can lower the soil’s pH, the question of how it affects plant growth may arise.

Along with light, temperature, water, and CO2 availability, soil pH is a significant factor in plant growth.

Certain plants thrive under low pH conditions. However, many plants need an optimum pH between 6.5 and 7.5.

Thus, the high acidic content can affect the plants adversely.

Furthermore, low pH isn’t ideal for many bacteria, earthworms, and other microorganisms that actively interact with plants and help their growth.

Since it can hinder their growth, the essential biological activities that they carry out in symbiosis with the plants are also hampered.

This gradually leads to the plants’ death.

Alternatives to Vinegar as a Weed Killer

Alternatives to Vinegar as a Weed Killer

After learning about the disadvantages and effects of vinegar on plants, you might be looking for a few alternatives.

One of the best suggestions is hand weeding. It involves manually uprooting each weed and discarding it from your garden.

Although it takes a lot of time and effort, it is still a great way to keep your garden clean from infestation, as it poses little to no adverse effects.

Other than that, you can use a propane torch to burn the unnecessary weeds. However, you must not accidentally burn your skin or other plants while using it.

It is a great recommendation since it doesn’t affect the soil or cause lasting effects. Lastly, you can use mulch.

A three- to four-inch thick mulch effectively removes unwanted weeds from your garden.


A vinegar-based solution is usually a top recommendation for a homemade weed killer as it is simple to make and use.

However, it has a few disadvantages as well. For instance, the DIY recipe for a vinegar weed killer involves household vinegar, effective only on small weeds.

It would help to use a vinegar-based solution with higher concentrations of acetic acid for growing weeds.

Repeated spraying can lower the pH of your garden soil, hampering its fertility and the growth of other plants.

You can use other alternatives instead of vinegar, like a propane torch, mulch, or even boiling water.

What has been your experience? Do you think vinegar works well as a weed killer? Let us know in the comments section below!

Martha Stewart
With a profound passion for the outdoors, Martha Stewart has worked in the for the perfect gardening for over two decades. After graduating with a degree in European History and Architectural History, her journey began with a keen interest in the practicalities and aesthetics of gardening. She worked in landscape architecture and garden design, amassing a rich practical experience. Her previous experience includes a tenure at a renowned landscape design firm. She enjoys pottery and exploring botanical gardens in her free time.

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