Getting rid of weeds doesn't have to be expensive.

Bleach vs. Vinegar For Weed Killer

by Sara Ipatenco

You could spend a great deal of time and money trying to control the weeds in your yard, or you could save plenty of both by using home remedies with things you probably already have. Both bleach and vinegar are effective weed-killing agents, and they cost far less than the commercial blends available at home improvement stores. It only takes a little bit of time to apply these weed-killing alternatives, which leaves you more time to enjoy your outdoor space.

Bleach Facts

Just as bleach is poisonous to human beings, it's also poisonous to plants, including weeds, and will kill them on contact. Bleach works by soaking into the roots of the weeds and destroying them. Aside from being cost-effective, bleach also works quickly and prevents weeds from returning by soaking into the soil and changing the pH level so it's not conducive to weed growth any longer. The drawback to that, however, is that you also won't be able to grow anything else there until the soil returns to a normal pH level, according to Colorado State University. That can take several months to occur once you've applied the bleach.

How to Use

Apply bleach only to areas where you don't want other plants to grow, such as the cracks in your driveway, sidewalk or patio. Douse the entire weed with undiluted bleach, and leave the weeds for a day or two before pulling them out of the ground. Use a spray bottle to help keep the bleach contained to the areas where you want to kill weeds. Be careful not to splash or spray the bleach on neighboring plants because it will kill them also. Keep kids and pets out of the area until you pull the weeds since bleach is poisonous if it's ingested.

Vinegar Facts

Vinegar is highly acidic, which makes it an effective way to eradicate weeds, according to the HOT Urban Gardening Coalition. It works much the same way more conventional weed killers work by destroying the roots of the weeds so they wither and die, but it's nontoxic. Vinegar doesn't change the pH balance of the soil significantly, so using vinegar also enables you to plant more desirable plants in the same area where you are also trying to kill weeds. Vinegar is also biodegradable, which makes it a good choice if you're growing an organic garden.

How to Use

Wait until rain isn't in the forecast for at least 48 hours because the rain will wash away the vinegar before it has a chance to be effective. Spray vinegar directly on each weed, completely soaking the leaves and stem. Saturate the ground around the weeds, too, so the vinegar is able to soak down to the roots. Add a few drops of dish soap to the vinegar to make it stick to the weeds more easily, which can improve the chances that the vinegar will work, according to the HOT Urban Gardening Coalition. Use full strength vinegar, and look for stronger concentrations at garden centers if standard versions don't work.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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