We are surrounded by chemicals and toxins every day, from vehicle exhaust fumes to everyday beauty products. Commercial weedkillers are just more chemicals that are designed to kill off your unwanted plants. With this in mind, a lot of people are trying to go a little greener and do their bit for the planet with electric vehicles, reducing their consumption of single-use plastic etc. This greener lifestyle is finally being transferred to people’s gardens and many people are looking for more natural ways to get rid of weeds. While there are many options, one that you may not have been aware of is vinegar. Vinegar has been used for centuries, it is cheap and can be found in most homes already. Have you tried killing stinging nettles with vinegar? This article will go over how to create a weed killer using vinegar, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using this method.
Killing Stinging Nettles with Vinegar – Does it Work?
Yes, vinegar not only kills nettles, vinegar is an acid that kills all plants by dehydrating them. Either the nettles will die because they cannot get any water, or they will simply shrivel up and turn brown as their cells start dying off. It is also important to note that vinegar will kill any other plants it comes in contact with, so you will need to be careful where you use the solution.
How to Make Vinegar Weed Killer
This solution is amazingly easy to make and can be made at home in seconds with just a few simple things that you are quite likely to already have:
What You Need
- 500ml White or Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 x Tablespoon of Salt
- 1 x Teaspoon of Washing-up Liquid
Step 1 – Mix Ingredients Together
It really is as easy as that. Combine all of the listed ingredients; salt, vinegar and washing-up liquid – be careful whilst mixing to prevent the washing-up liquid from frothing up.
Step 2 – Add Mixture to Spray Bottle
A spray bottle? Yes! Next up, add your mixture to a spray bottle. This is the sensible option to ensure that the plants and soil are not soaked.
Step 3 – Apply Mixture to Plants
Spray your mixture over your problem plants on a dry, sunny day. The washing-up liquid is in there as a sticking agent so that the plant is covered with the residue of the weed-killing mixture. Ensure that you completely cover the leaves and the stem being careful not to get the mixture onto the soil.
The reason that we do not want the mixture going into the soil is because of the salt. Salt will damage your soil and prevent anything from growing for an exceptionally long time.
Benefits of using Vinegar on Stinging Nettles
There are many benefits to using vinegar on stinging nettles and the best thing about using vinegar as a weed killer is there are no harmful chemicals to worry about. You do not have to worry about harming the environment with spillages meaning it will not contaminate surrounding water sources or last in the soil long-term. Moreover, vinegar is also an affordable option that can be used in large quantities without expensive equipment, and you do not need to wear gloves or worry about your kids and pets coming in contact with the solution.
Note: If using horticultural vinegar (20% & above) you will need the appropriate PPE. Gloves, eye protection and mask.
Drawbacks of using Vinegar on Stinging Nettles
There are also drawbacks to using vinegar as a weed killer. Vinegar will not only kill your stinging nettles, but it will also kill any other plants it comes in contact with, so you will need to be careful where you use the solution. Another drawback is that if you use horticultural vinegar, it can be extremely dangerous and cause burns to the skin. Vinegar is essentially an acid and the purer the form, the stronger it is.
Horticultural vinegar is known to cause severe burns and blindness. We advise that you stick to ordinary culinary vinegar (5%).
Should You Use Vinegar on Stinging Nettles?
If I am honest, you can if you must, but I choose not to. The fact is that even though it may be safe to do so, one mistake could end up killing other plants that you want to keep. I feel that it is much easier just to get my gloves on and pull any nettles by hand. This is not only the quickest and safest way to get rid of nettles, but it is also the most effective as you will be removing the roots at the same time to prevent them from coming back in the future.
Vinegar is great on chips but is it okay for your garden? I personally do not use it as I prefer to pull my weeds by hand but if for any reason, you are not able to do this, vinegar is a great option although it will need repeated sprays. Just remember to not let any mixture containing salt get into the soil, the damage salt can cause is quite significant. Is killing stinging nettles with vinegar a good idea? I will let you decide.
Garden Doctor Tips
“If you are going to try this method, use household culinary vinegar!”
“If you are using horticultural grade vinegar – make sure you are wearing your PPE!”
“Ultimately, if you can, get your gloves on and just pull the nettles by hand!”
“If you are worried about getting salt into your soil, you should use less or, don’t use any at all!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Does vinegar kill plants?
Yes, vinegar is an extremely good, natural way of killing plants. Acetic acid causes burns and permanent damage to the plant’s leaves and tissues.
How often will I need to spray vinegar on nettles?
A liberal spray of vinegar mixture every 2 days until the nettles have visibly begun to die back is enough. This process can take up to 2 weeks. Once the nettles have died back, pull what is left at the root for a nettle-free area.
Why add washing-up liquid to weed-killer spray?
Washing-up liquid leaves a sticky residue, so we do this to ensure that the weed-killing mixture stays on the plant and does not immediately just wash away.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.