The weed killer "Vinegar/salt/liquid dish wash detergent"?

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

Could use some advise. I do not use Round-Up in my Vegetable Gardens and this year has been so wet causing the grass/weeds to get ahead of me and they are seriously competing with some of my vegetables. If I don't get them under control soon, I'll be looking to use the disc to rid my rows of mostly excess grass. Sure don't want the unwanted going to seed. The neighbor gave me a recipe for the vinegar/salt/liquid dish wash detergent to be mixed and used as a spray to control weeds. I have not tried it yet as my concern is with the salt. Will the salt remain in the ground and create a problem next year? Anyone have good luck with the method?

suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

Hi, I Bing searched those words and the results didn't sound too good. That concoction sounds kinda like contaminating the soil for a while. -

I've used vinegar by itself, in a spray bottle, to thin weeds for awhile, it kills only the foliage of weeds. Unlike Roundup where it kills to the roots and has harsh chemicals.

Bing internet search

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

The salt to use is epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) - not sodium chloride. Many posts do not make that clear. Regular salt (sodium chloride NaCl) is bad - do not use this - this will poison the soil. You can find epsom salts in the pharmacy section.

I think they use epsom salts to grow the weeds while the vinegar kills them thus making it a faster kill - just guessing. I think the soap is used as a surfactant to help solution adhere. Epsom salts are used to help grow many plants - it is not a killer.

I started using 1 gallon vinegar, 2 cups epsom salts, 1/4 C dish soap in a sprayer - it does kill and maybe faster than roundup. But not overnight - takes several days for me but so does roundup. Make sure the salts are totally dissolved before you start or some chunks will clog up the sprayer hose.

Hobart, IN

You might want to look into an organic weed killer called Avenger. It will kill on contact but some things might need a second shot. I don't know how big a space you have or if there are budget constraints. You can get an opinion on the Dirt Doctor website ( or there are some recipes for homemade brews.

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

carolmo thanks for the heads up on the Epson salts. I am very familiar with that as I feed my tomatoes with it and I add it to my bath occasionally. I should even have some of it. I will surely make the concoction with the Epson salt instead of the regular salt. I have written down your recipe and the next really hot day I'll spray my weeds in the veggie gardens rows. Great feedback - THANK YOU.

CindyMzone5, I appreciate the info on the Avenger and the Dirt Doctor website. I feel really safe using the vinegar/epson salts/dish soap and my gardens are rather large. Plus I already have the vinegar. I may have to check out the Dirt Doctor website some time - Thank You.

(Zone 5a)

I am so glad I ran into this. I've been thinking of placing salt on the gravel driveway, but was always concerned if it ran off. We use epson salt for soaking injuries, so it is on hand.

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

Well - interesting that you would ask. Seems the vinegar/epson salts/dish washing detergent probably just fertilized my vegetation, so I would not recommend it.

As far as my experience with salt. I used rock salt making ice cream in the hand crank/electric freezer, and the runoff of salty ice water killed the vegetation in that paticular area, but it didn't take long from other vegetation to come back. So - there it did not kill the ground - persay. Another instance is that the local hwy dept has used salt on the icy roads around here for years and the area close to the highway still has to be mowed several times during the summer. I think salt only slows or stops the vegetation for a while. Hot salty water would even work quicker - in my thinking. My areas are big as we live in the country, so I expect that whatever I use will work and the above mentioned vinegar/epson salts/dish deter DID NOT. I still will not revert to using Round-Up (or equivalent) in my veggie gardens, but I will and do use the chemical in the driveways and around some of my flower beds, etc., etc..

If you find a sure fired natural way to dealing with the vegetation, don't hesitate to let the rest of us gardeners know. Speaking of fire - some people use a type of blow torch to kill the grass???

Good luck!

(Zone 5a)


Well that is disappointing. Humph. We do not want to use RoundUp any place on our property. Ach, we're surrounded by chemicals (industrial sized crops of corn and beans and beans and corn), so I want our little patch to be a haven for birds, bugs and whatever else wants to come for a visit.

Have you tried that corn gluten meal? It does not kill existing growth, but does not allow seed germination. We bought 50 pounds of the powder, but if it is for a spreader, I think the granules would work better. The powder came out way too fast.

Come to think of it, you are right about the roads being salted in the winter... Stuff still comes up in the spring.

My husband is toying with the idea of fire and that makes me nervous because he wants to do a large area. He used to fight forest fires, so enjoys that kind of thing. We planted native seed and want to help that along, but we've got so much dock, and other nasties. We skipped the burning this spring because it was so terribly dry.

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

Yes, I have tried "Preen", usually at the beginning of the spring season and usually in the flower beds. Had I of known it was going to be such a wet spring and I would not be able to get into the veggie gardens, unless I had knee boots, and had I been thinking (since you mention the corn gluten), I could have came along behind my early vegetables, once they were sprouted and up and I could have Preened. What a great thought.................That probably would have helped. I'll make me a note for next year - THANKS - I may just give that a whirl in 2015. You are a jewel - as I just planted a Wetland Garden and most everything has already sprouted and came up - I may check my stash of corn gluten and get sprinkling on the rows in the Wetland Garden.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Sunflower seed hulls are a natural herbicide. Ever notice how bare the ground gets under the bird feeder? I don't know if this is helpful information. Something that I remembered.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

brendak654, here's a link to an article that has some helpful tips in killing weeds organically. Sunflower seed hulls, vinegar, and hot boiling water are all mentioned.

I'm located in Madison, IL. One of my sisters "Brenda" moved to Ava, IL with her husband last year after her only daughter and 4 children moved to Du Quoin. I've yet to make it down that way to visit them; though I've been through the area many times since my parents are both from NW Tennessee. On the map, it appears that you're about 35 to 40 miles SSE of Ava. Beautiful scenery and interesting terrain down that way since you're in the Shawnee National Forest area. I've always wanted to ride on the scenic bike trails, but the hills would kill me! lol

Sorry to get off topic, but it's exciting to see someone else from Southern IL post on this forum.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Hi again brendak654, I reviewed your diary. Wow! Amazing photos and interesting updates. You could host a RU. The lifestyle that I dream about here in town. My nearest wetland is Horseshoe Lake State Park that borders Madison. I love riding the bike trails around the Lake. Wetlands are great for watching water fowl year round.

I hope that you get a handle on the weed problem now while the weather is nice.

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

greenbrain in Madison - Hi! Neighbor. As for the weeds in the veggie garden, I've decided the only handle I have on the weeds is the shovel and pulling them out by hand. Appreciate the website and the thought. So far I have decided that about the only veggie I need to be concerned about is the okra, so I have worked a few minutes on two different days using the shovel to turn over a shovel full of grass, then pulling the, mostly grass from around the okra plant. It took me 3 months to get the okra to where it has started producing and if I started it over, I would hardly have 3 months again. But what I have will produce until frost if I keep it picked and manually contain the weeds. Sometime when you are passing through to visit the parents - allow just a tad more time and I would be glad to show you my gardens. September would be prime time, or October. As for the wetland area - when I mention Wetland Garden. There is a wetland close by, it is only about 4 surface acres of water, probably not like the wetland that you had referred to at Horseshoe Lake State Park. So, I just refer to my garden near the wetland as the Wetland Garden. There is a great biking trail in the area to our East. Glad you enjoyed my diary/journal. You surely enjoy the Missouri Botanical Garden as you are probably pretty close there in StClair Co. ???

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Hi brendak654, I'm in Madison County and only about 15 minutes from Mobot. My parents moved to Granite City (where I was born and raised) in 1953. My father passed away some years ago. My mom lives in rural Bethalto. My grandma still lives on the TN farm where my mom was raised and turns 95 years old next month. My dad grew up just down the road. Sadly, I only seem to make it down for funerals & usually it's a one day roundtrip.

I appreciate your invitation and will remember you if I'm ever passing through. If you're ever up this way, I'd be glad to treat you to a visit at Mobot. : )

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