7 Best Natural, Non-Toxic Weed Killers: Which Is the Best Organic Weed Killer for Your Garden and Lawn?
Using non-toxic weed killers is becoming more popular. But DIY solutions using your regular food-grade vinegar just doesn’t cut it for some weeds.
Thankfully, there are all-natural, commercial alternatives that eradicate these pesky plants within minutes! Plus, you don’t have to bust out a bunch of ingredients and mix your solutions.
Here are the seven best organic weed killer solutions that will make your garden look like a million bucks.
The 7 Best Organic Weed Killers of 2023
You don’t need to use chemical weed killers or inorganic herbicides to maintain a well-manicured, weed-free yard. You can control weeds in your vegetable garden, lawn, and anywhere else with our top choices for the best organic weed killer for lawns.
Still unsure which one is the best organic weed killer for your needs? Continue reading for everything you need to learn about each weed killer on our list.
Many people rave about the Green Gobbler vinegar weed grass killer, and the company even offers a money-back guarantee, no questions asked. That’s confidence, and it’s really easy to see why.
It may not have the same vinegar concentration of Natural Armor, but one gallon of this 20% solution can banish up to 1,200 sq ft of thistle, dandelion, white clover, and other weeds with broad leaves. It’s so effective that you can solve your weed infestation in less than 24 hours.
Don’t believe us? Watch our best organic weed killer pick in action:
Applying the vinegar weed grass killer is a no-brainer. Simply switch out the cap for the nozzle and start spraying. For crowded vegetable gardens or flower beds, set the nozzle to the target spray setting for spot treatments. For a broader application, twist the nozzle, and you’re set.
The sprayer also has a child-proof knob for added safety. Make sure you use that because it also prevents leaks during storage.
This vinegar-based weed grass killer is so concentrated that it kills off molds and mildew in your bathrooms too. You can use it at full strength straight out of the jug. Or you can double up the weed-killing power by mixing it with dish soap and salt. Either way, both weeds, and grasses should start to shrivel up within hours.
If you’re not in a hurry and have a huge patch of weeds to kill off, you can make one gallon cover a larger area by diluting the solution. It takes a few days before they completely die off, but it’s still more effective than using regular table vinegar.
The jug comes with a sprayer. But it’s not the best quality and a lot of people have a problem using it. If you need to transfer it to another container, make sure you use gloves because the solution can cause severe skin irritation on contact. Ironically, the extra potent formula is what kept this natural weed killer from taking the top spot.
The Sunday Weed Warrior may not have enough soap solution to banish all weeds in your lawn, but you can rely on its safe, potent, and non-toxic mix to deliver lightning-speed results. How fast? Less than 30 minutes, or if you want to be more precise, 20 minutes tops.
This non-toxic weed killer is most effective on dandelions, clover weeds, thistle, and crabgrass, but it will kill any plant and grass it hits. To be safe, use this on your empty flower beds or for clearing out your vegetable gardens at the end of a season.
The problem with this herbicide soap is that it doesn’t have a runny liquid consistency. Upon spraying, the liquid sticks to the plant’s surface but doesn’t drip down to other weeds.
Considering that this is not a systemic herbicide, you end up spraying more than you would with a more water-like weed-killer. It’s a good thing that one 32oz bottle costs just as much as a large pizza. That said, this budget-friendly and safe weed killer isn’t great for a big yard for tall weeds.
We know it’s another vinegar-based weed killer. But bear with us here. The Energen Carolina Weed & Grass Killer is a 20% solution just like the Green Gobbler with the rapid effect of the runner-up. Overall, it’s very effective on a wide range of young perennial and annual plants.
So why isn’t it on the leaderboard?
Well, you’ll need to transfer it into your spray bottle. And its effectiveness is limited by temperature – this solution works best during hot days.
Yes, it’s an organic weed killer, but the concentration makes it highly corrosive and unsafe for pets or kids to be hanging around a newly sprayed area. This formula is an excellent alternative to chemical herbicides with toxic ingredients. But unfortunately, it causes almost the same amount of damage to metals and concrete over time. Bottom line: handle this with caution.
Most of the weed killers on our list use highly concentrated vinegar as their main ingredient. Although this is highly effective, it can do serious damage to your skin and even to your pets.
Doctor Kirchner Weed and Grass Killer use seawater as its main ingredient. Seawater never hurts anyone, right? Well, except your plants since it dehydrates them. It also contains food-grade vinegar, clove oil, and dish soap that help break down the plant’s wax layer, making the solution more effective.
This weed and grass killer is also perfect for spraying on pathways and flower beds because it’s non-corrosive. Overall, the specialized formula makes it the best pet-safe weed killer. But it also comes at a slight premium.
Size: 1 gallon
- Form: Liquid concentrate
- Active ingredient: Sodium chloride, citric acid, clove oil
This is another good organic weed control option by Natural Armor. Unlike the pure vinegar solution, this version already includes salt and essential oil. All of these natural ingredients work together to kill grass more efficiently. The pre-mixed solution saves you from having to guess the ratio of ingredients. Plus, it smells so much better than all the other vinegar counterparts.
Some consider this the best natural weed killer because it targets over 250 kinds of weeds and grass. And one gallon of the stuff can treat a whopping 4,000 square feet. The phrase “a little goes a long way” is an understatement for this grass killer. If anything, you need to hold back on this powerful concoction.
The concentrated formula can take down tall weeds just as effectively as the newly sprouted ones. That said, be careful where you spray and store this. It has been known to cause serious damage on garage floors, never mind what it can do to your skin and pet’s fur.
The Avenger Organic Weed Killer is the best-smelling natural herbicide on our list. It uses 70% citrus oil that’s aggressive to weeds but friendly on your nose.
Unlike the other ready-to-use weed killers, you need to dilute this liquid concentrate. For small annual weeds, the recommended dilution is 1 part concentrate to 6 parts water. But a lot of gardeners prefer a stronger concentration. A 25% solution works faster than the recommended strength. It also works more effectively, needing fewer applications. With the price tag on this gallon, trust us, you don’t want to waste it.
It’s a bit of an inconvenience to mix your own solution, especially when you need to experiment on the right concentration. But at least you don’t have to worry about skin irritations. This grass killer is completely safe, containing no toxic ingredients, and is non-corrosive.
Most organic weed killers need higher temperatures to work effectively. But it’s no fun looking for weeds with the sun scorching your back. The (literal) cool thing about this formula is that you can use it during cooler days.
Your Guide To Buying The Best Organic Weed Killer
There are subtle differences between the natural weed killers we mentioned. To help you tell them apart from each other, you need to understand how each one works. Let’s break it down.
Types of Organic Weed Killer
There are two types of organic herbicides based on what growth stage of the plant it targets (1).
This weed killer targets weeds that are already established. Using this type is safer because you can make sure that you are spraying a weed and not a precious seedling. Post-emergent natural weed killers also don’t affect the soil, making it safe for the plants that you want to keep. This type of weed-killer is usually temperature-dependent (2).
“The best seasons for applying a post-emergent weed killer to control perennial broadleaf weeds are early fall and spring.”
The warm temperature during these seasons makes the treatment more effective. Less rain also means that the solution won’t run off to the soil or desirable plants. All of the natural weed killers on our list are post-emergent.
This type of herbicide targets weed seeds before they start to root. You can tell that a weed hasn’t fully rooted when it doesn’t have true leaves yet. The great thing about pre-emergent herbicides is that it kills the weed before it has a chance to grow.
Alternatively, you can use this to prevent weeds from sprouting altogether. But that’s where things get tricky. It’s hard to tell if an area has existing weeds about to grow. Pre-emergent weed killers affect the soil, preventing desirable plants from germinating.
Weed Control Process
Removing weeds with the best reel mower can’t stop pesky weeds from growing back. Weed killers are a more effective and less tiring alternative. You can choose between selective and non-selective weed killers (3).
Selective vs Non-Selective
Selective organic weed killers contain special ingredients that are only effective in killing certain weeds and grasses, particularly broadleaf weeds.
This type of weed control saves you from killing off an entire patch of desirable plants, but the ingredients can be toxic.
Non-selective organic grass killers work on a broad spectrum of unwanted weeds. But as the name suggests, it doesn’t choose which plants to kill. You need to be careful where you spray your non-selective weed killer because the solution will kill nearby plants too.
All the weed killers on our list are non-selective. But the Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer Concentrated Solution has the broadest range, targeting 250 species of weeds and grass.
Forms of Organic Weed Killer
If companion herb planting doesn’t help keep weeds at bay, different organic weed killers will. Most of the choices we included are either sprayable or liquid concentrates. But there are more forms that you might not know about.
This form of grass killer is usually pre-mixed and ready to go out of the bottle.
Our top choice, the Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer, has a multi-function sprayer that comes with the package. Others like the Energen Carolina Weed & Grass Killer need to be transferred into a spray bottle.
b. Liquid Concentrate
Nature’s Avenger Organic Weed Killer is an example of a liquid concentrate grass killer that needs dilution with water before use. Be sure to check the label for the ideal concentration based on how big your weed-infested flower bed is. It takes more time to prepare, but it saves you money in the long run because one gallon lasts way longer than the ready-to-use products.
c. Powder and Granular
Powdered weed killers need to be dissolved in water according to package directions and then sprayed on unwanted plants. Plus, you need to shake the bottle often to keep the solution mixed well.
There’s more room for error in this suspension mixture, with the bottom half tending to be more concentrated than the top.
Some grass killers are granular, meant to be applied using a seeder in its fry form. It takes longer to take effect because you need the granules to dissolve over the unwanted plants. This is commonly a selective natural weed killer used on lawns and flower beds to kill weeds but not turf grass.
Active Ingredients in Organic Weed Killers
The most significant difference between organic weed killers is their active ingredient. What they all have in common is being glyphosate-free. Many gardeners are making the switch to natural weed killers because of the corrosiveness and toxic chemicals found in glyphosate-based herbicides (4).
Also known as acetic acid, vinegar is one of the most common active ingredients for organic weed killers. It works by damaging the leaves because of its acidity, but it doesn’t affect the roots. Most of the products we chose are vinegar-based and vary in concentrations (5).
“The researchers found that 5- and 10-percent concentrations killed weeds during their first two weeks of life. The 20-percent concentration can do this in about 2 hours.”
The Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer, 30% Solution, is the most potent and fast-acting. But it is also harsh on the skin. Our top pick, the Green Gobbler Weed & Grass Killer, is still effective while being less corrosive.
Sodium chloride solutions work by dehydrating the leaves. Doctor Kirchner Weed & Grass Killer uses a 4% solution mixed with water, vinegar, and dish soap. The Concentrated Natural Armor has almost the same natural ingredients. But it also contains clove oil and citric acid that help break down the leaf cells, speeding up the weed-killing process.
c, Citrus oil
Citrus oil works the same way as vinegar but is way less corrosive on the skin. Plus, it smells better. The high concentration of d-limonene in Nature’s Avenger Organic Weed Killer makes it effective in killing young weeds. It is also relatively safe to use in low concentrations on backyard aquaponics systems because it’s biodegradable and non-toxic (6).
d. Herbicidal soap
The active ingredient in herbicidal soaps is ammonium soap of fatty acids. They kill weeds by breaking down the waxy cuticle of the leaves that keep the cells hydrated. Eventually, the pesky plants shrivel up and die. Sunday Weed Warrior Weed Control is the only product on our list with this active ingredient. And it’s also the best organic grass killer for those on a budget.
Yes, organic weed killers are effective. But their efficacy depends on the active ingredients and the type of weed you want to get rid of. Some natural weed killers work better on specific weeds, like dandelion, and are less effective on grassy weeds. That said, they are only fully effective if you use them on the right plants and with the concentration indicated on their labels.
Yes, baking soda kills weeds. It is also known as sodium bicarbonate and has high salinity that dehydrates the plants from the outside. The most effective way to use baking soda is to sprinkle it on weeds directly. It’s known to be highly effective on liverwort, moss, and crabgrass (7). If you prefer the spray method, adding baking soda to vinegar is the way to go. But keep in mind that baking soda will also kill other plants you sprinkle or spray it on.
Yes, some grass will grow back after spraying vinegar on them. Unlike most weeds, grasses are more resistant to household vinegar solutions. Grass will look wilted and discolored, but they have a higher chance of growing back new weeds. Using a stronger vinegar concentration works better on grass. You also have to keep reapplying the solution until the unwanted grass turns brown and crispy.
- Pre-emergent vs. post-emergent herbicides? Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/post/Pre-emergent-vs-post-emergent-herbicides
- When to Put Weed Killer on a Lawn. Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/put-weed-killer-lawn-40764.html
- Selective and Non-Selective Herbicides: The Difference. Retrieved from: https://wekillweeds.com/weed-control-tips/selective-and-non-selective-herbicides-the-difference
- Glyphosate: Technical Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/glyphotech.html
- Do Natural Weedkillers Work Better Than Store-Bought Weedkillers? Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-weedkillers-work-better-storebought-weedkillers-100191.html
- Comparison of Synthetic Versus Organic Herbicides/Insecticides on Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Abelmoschus esculentus. Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3754&context=etd
- How to Kill Weeds with Baking Soda. Retrieved from: https://www.hunker.com/12442845/how-to-kill-weeds-with-baking-soda
Tana grew up around island farms and pine forests. Her love for nature lead to her degree in Biology and mission to lessen her environmental impact. Now she grows food in her backyard and shares what she learns from Eco Peanut with others.