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DIY Environmentally Friendly Weed Killers: Pet & Child Safe

environmentally friendly weed killer

Tired of battling those unwanted green guys without harming yourself or the planet? Harsh chemical weed killers are out, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck pulling weeds all day.

This post dives into DIY, eco-friendly weed killers that are safe for you, your family, and the environment. We’ll explore powerful solutions like vinegar sprays and boiling water treatments, proving you can have a weed-free lawn without nasty chemicals.

Ready to ditch the harmful stuff to find a pet- and child-friendly weed-killing solution?

Let’s get started!

Glyphosate: The Weed Killer Under Fire

dangers of glyphosate

Glyphosate. You’ve likely seen it in Roundup’s white and orange (or blue) bottle. It’s everywhere, used on millions of acres worldwide. But here’s the thing: it’s become controversial.


Thousands of people are suing Monsanto Company (now Bayer), claiming exposure to Roundup caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Another instance includes a 70-year-old man with cancer who used Roundup for three decades, and the jury found it to be a “substantial factor” in his illness.

Health Concerns:

A recent study from UC Berkeley suggests childhood exposure to glyphosate shares links to liver inflammation and metabolic disorders in early adulthood. “These conditions could potentially lead to liver cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease later in life,” they note.

However, the EPA’s recent report claims “no risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate.” 

The jury’s still out, but we can see how glyphosate’s toxicity remains a widely controversial topic.

Environmental Impact:

Glyphosate might be harming the good guys! A 2022 study reported it can damage gut bacteria in honeybees, making them more susceptible to infections.

It’s also linked to declining monarch butterfly populations, possibly due to harming milkweed growth, their #1 food source.

So, controversy or not, it makes sense to be wary of glyphosate. With all these concerns, exploring natural weed killers makes perfect sense, especially if you have pets or young children around.

Let’s take a look at some non-toxic alternatives!

DIY Eco-Friendly Weed Killers: Safe and Simple Solutions

First up is the ever-popular vinegar solution! This non-toxic solution is safe for pets and safely biodegrades, leaving no harm to the soil.

Here’s how it works:

1. Vinegar Weed Killer (How it Works):

vinegar weed killer

Here’s the magic:

  • Acetic acid: The secret weapon in vinegar, it sucks the moisture out of weeds, leaving them dehydrated and defeated.
  • Salt: Works alongside the acid to enhance its dehydrating power.
  • Dish soap: This unexpected hero helps the mixture penetrate the weed’s surface, ensuring it doesn’t just roll off.

This potent concoction is particularly successful against broadleaf weeds like dandelions, chickweed, clover, and moss. Plus, it acts quickly, with weeds often withering within hours of application.

But be mindful: Vinegar is a non-selective killer, harming anything it touches. Use caution when applying near grass or other desired plants. It’s ideal for patios, driveways, sidewalks, or cracked areas where weeds surface.

How to Make (& Use) White Vinegar and Salt Weed Killer

Do this on a sunny day when no rain is in the forecast. Then, gather three simple ingredients to mix:

  • 1 gallon of vinegar (5% acetic acid)
  • 1 cup normal iodized salt
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • Spray bottle


  1. Add the salt and dish soap to the gallon of vinegar and shake well.
  2. Pour the solution into a spray bottle for application.
  3. Spray directly onto the weed leaves, thoroughly soaking them. Also, spray the weed’s base so the mixture gets into the root system.
  4. Repeat after 2-3 days if needed.

That’s it! The weeds should start dying within a few hours. You’ll know it’s working when the leaves turn a brownish color.


Tip: If you’re not having luck, consider a 20% vinegar solution. It’s stronger and more effective but demands careful handling to avoid skin burns.

2. How to Kill Weeds with Boiling Water:

kill weeds with boiling water

This quick and easy method works anytime, rain or shine. Simply boil water and pour directly onto the weed, making sure to reach the roots. I prefer using a kettle here so you can pour with the spout, but anything works.

Remember, boiling water is non-selective, so use caution near desired plants.

3. How to Kill Weeds with Rubbing Alcohol:


Rubbing alcohol works by breaking down the weed’s protective outer layer and pulling out moisture, effectively killing it.

70% or higher rubbing alcohol is your secret weapon here. Mix two tablespoons with 4 cups of water in a spray bottle. Apply liberally to weed leaves on a hot, sunny day.

Caution: This is also non-selective, so target only unwanted plants.

4. Properly Pulling Weeds by Hand:

pulling weeds by hand

Believe it or not, pulling weeds by hand offers several benefits. It aerates your lawn, improving its health, and is entirely safe.

Here’s how to do it right:

  • Pull after rain when the soil is loose. The weed will be much easier to de-root.
  • Don’t just pull the top! Dig down a couple of inches next to the weed. Get a tight grip on the main root (the thickest one) and pull straight up with gradual pressure. Don’t yank.

Remember: These natural methods might require more effort or repeat applications than chemical weed killers. However, they’re safer for your family, pets, and the environment, making them a win-win in the long run!

How to Prevent Weeds from Coming Back

We’ve explored some powerful, natural weed killers. But wouldn’t it be even better to prevent them from showing up in the first place?

Here are two eco-friendly methods to keep your lawn weed-free:

1. Corn Gluten Meal:


This powdery hero isn’t a weed killer, but a growth preventer. Made from corn milling leftovers, it’s completely organic and available at most garden stores.

Key points for success:

  • Apply in dry weather: Rain washes away the good stuff. Make sure there are at least a couple of days without rain.
  • Timing is crucial: Apply around the time crabgrass germinates, usually in late spring or early summer, depending on the region’s climate.


  1. Check the weather forecast and wait for a dry spell.
  2. Spread the corn gluten meal using a spreader for even application.
  3. Water with about ¼ inch of water to settle the meal.

2. Ground Coverings:

prevent weeds from growing

Mulch isn’t just for aesthetics; it’s a weed-fighting champion. By blocking sunlight, it creates an unwelcome environment for weed seeds to germinate.

Mulch tips:

  • Keep it shallow: Aim for 2 inches to avoid suffocating the soil.
  • Fine is your friend: Choose finely ground mulch for better light blockage.
  • Fabric alternative: Landscape fabric works similarly, depriving weeds of sunlight and hindering their growth. Combine the two for maximum results.


What makes a weed killer eco-friendly?

An eco-friendly weed killer is made from natural, non-toxic ingredients, avoiding synthetic chemicals harmful to the environment, pets, and humans. It biodegrades safely, minimizes ecological footprint, and supports healthy soil and water ecosystems, aligning with sustainable gardening practices​​.

How do you get rid of weeds without killing grass naturally?

To naturally eliminate weeds without harming grass, apply corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent, use a vinegar solution carefully around the grass, or hand-pull weeds, ensuring root removal. Avoid using boiling water and alcohol solutions on lawns to prevent grass damage​​.

Does salt kill weeds?

Yes, salt can kill weeds by dehydrating them and disrupting their water uptake. However, use it sparingly as it can harm soil health and nearby plants. It’s most effective when mixed with water or vinegar and applied directly to weed leaves​​.

How effective are natural weed killers compared to chemical ones?

Natural weed killers, while safer for the environment and health, may require more frequent applications. They tend to be less effective on stubborn weeds than chemical herbicides. Their success also depends on the weed type, how you apply them, and their concentration.

How can I permanently get rid of weeds without harming the environment?

Manual removal is a long-lasting solution. Corn gluten meal applied in early spring helps prevent new weeds. Try natural mixtures like vinegar, salt, dish soap, or a vodka solution for existing weeds. But remember, these options harm all plants they touch, so be cautious! Boiled water is an option, too, but use caution as it’s non-selective.

Recap and Conclusion

Ditch the harsh chemicals and embrace these effective DIY weed killers! By choosing alternatives like vinegar solutions, boiling water, and rubbing alcohol, you can protect your family, pets, and the ecosystem.

These natural solutions prove you can have a beautiful, weed-free lawn without sacrificing your health or the environment.

Let this be a call to action: to prioritize non-toxic, homemade solutions over chemical herbicides. Together, we can create a greener future for ourselves and the planet.

Happy (safe) Weeding!

Picture of Adam Heck
Adam Heck

Hi there! I'm Adam, author and founder of TGL. Since 2016, I've produced and sold non-toxic kitchenware throughout the US. Today, I'm using my passion and experience in sustainable product manufacturing to help families avoid unsafe reusable foodware. When I'm not writing, you'll find me hiking or camping throughout Appalachia!