Using Vinegar In the Yard and Garden

Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Using Cleaning Vinegar Outside Your Home

Make your own all purpose, non-toxic, outdoor solution for weeds, pests, grime, and more. 

Long known as a natural indoor cleaning powerhouse, vinegar has almost as many uses outside your home as it does indoors.  Vinegar is a great alternative to toxic chemicals, it’s readily available, and if you make your own vinegar using acetic acid, it’s also incredibly low cost.

Store bought vinegar is simply 5% acetic acid and 95% water, and what is commonly called Cleaning Vinegar is 45% acetic acid and 55% water.  For teh purposes of this blog we will use 45% Cleaning Vinegar Soluton.

As an alternative to packaged store bought vinegar many people use a simple acetic acid/water mixture to create an all purpose cleaning vinegar for use throughout the house and outdoors. Acetic acid can be purchased in bulk and mixed with water to create a safe and effective basic cleaning vinegar solution to also use for many outdoor applications. You can also by a premixed 45% Cleaning Vinegar Solution in 1 gallon jugs.  It’s important to note that cleaning vinegar and cooking vinegar do have some differences so you should not use cleaning vinegar as cooking vinegar. 

Cleaning vinegar is a great alternative to toxic chemicals for controlling weeds, pests, and disease in your yard. In fact, vinegar is a key ingredient in organic herbicides and fertilizers.

Here's a list of some DIY outdoor uses for cleaning vinegar. To save the most money when buying vinegar, first create your own white vinegar using bulk acetic acid and distilled water, then use that vinegar to use either at full strength, or with other ingredients to create wonderful outdoor use products. Or, simply buy a premixed 45% Cleaning Vinegar Solution. 

1) Using Cleaning Vinegar As Weed Killer

One of the most common questions we get asked is, can you use vinegar as weed killer? The answer is an enthusiastic yes, but with a few caveats:

  • Vinegar is organic and non-toxic, but it is also not selective and it will kill most plants that it comes in contact with so keep that in mind when deciding where to use vinegar weed killer. Cleaning vinegar weed killer is perfectly suited for the cracks between pavement, or the edges of a driveway, or around a soil area around a mailbox or planter. Basically, avoid contacting the vinegar with any plants that you do not want to kill along with the weeds
  • Always use gloves and wear long plants and protective eye gear when working with any possible irritant such as vinegar. 

With that said, cleaning vinegar is still the most effective, safe, non-toxic, and low cost weed killer available today. Here’s the cleaning vinegar weed killer recipe:

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of dish soap
  • 1 gallon of 45% Cleaning Vinegar Solution.

Combine all ingredients together in a suitable container and stir well until combined. Pour mixture into spray bottles as needed - stirring and shaking well before using. The vinegar weed killer may be poured directly onto an effective area such as the space between concrete patio blocks, or it can be sprayed onto the plants for a more precision approach when working around other plants that you do nor wish to harm. Do not apply on windy days or when rain is in the forecast so as to avoid the vinegar blowing around or running off on to other plants. Several applications may be needed to entirely kill the unwanted weeds. 


2) Remove Stains on Clay Flower Pots

For years I was resigned to the fact that moldy clay  flower pots were unavoidable and that there was no solution, then I was introduced to vinegar as a cleaner. To clean mold and stains from your clay flower pots by soaking them in a mixture of ⅔ water and ⅓ cleaning vinegar for several hours, or until they look clean. Be sure to thoroughly clean the pots with soap and water before replanting.

3) Pest Control 

Vinegar makes a great non-toxic, pet safe pest control resource. While it's not as strong as the expensive and poisonous packaged products, it’s a great safe option that works as great deterrent to many common pests, including:

  • Ants. To deter ants from your outdoor and indoor areas spray undiluted cleaning vinegar on patios, door thresholds, or any place you suspect is a point of entry for ants in to your home. 
  • Cockroaches. Spray undiluted cleaning vinegar in door frames, window frames, around garbage cans and outdoor grills, and anywhere you see cockroaches. Vinegar also acts as a good eco-friendly and safe bug spray that will knock a cockroach out long enough for you to dispose of them. 
  • Garden intruders. If cats and other animals are intruding on your garden areas you can safely help deter them using cleaning vinegar. Soak wads of newspaper (or any other material you have available) and leave them around the perimeter of your garden area for several days. The smell will keep  them away and can often deter future visits. 

4) Use Cleaning Vinegar Before, During, and After Camping Trips

Cleaning vinegar is a must have for your camping supplies kit. Anyone who camps knows that each item you bring on a camping trip must serve several purposes, and vinegar does just that. Cleaning vinegar is your non-toxic, eco-friendly, low cost camping multi-purpose cleaner, and more, so add it to your DIY camping gear list. Here’s just a few of the many uses for vinegar during camping.

  • Use vinegar to clean canvas tents and other canvas materials. To clean canvas use undiluted cleaning vinegar and dip a bristle scrub brush in warm water, spray on the undiluted vinegar, and brush. If your tent develops mildew, clean problem areas by wiping them with cleaning vinegar and letting the tent dry in the sun.
  • If your picnic jugs and coolers develop musty or mildew smells you can clean them with vinegar.  Rinse smelly items with undiluted cleaning vinegar, then wash with soap and water to clean thoroughly.
  • Cleaning fish is the worst part of camping! To make cleaning fish easier, rub a freshly caught fish with cleaning vinegar before cleaning and scaling it. The scaling will be easier, and the vinegar will help control the fishy odor on your hands.

  • Plastic tarps or outdoor equipment coverings can be made antistatic by cleaning them with a solution of 1 tablespoon cleaning vinegar to 1 gallon water. This may also reduce the amount of dust attracted to the plastic covering.

5) Clean Rusty Garden Tools

It seems like garden tools will invariably get rusty over time. Vinegar is a great way for you to clean them and restore your garden tools  to like new condition. For a quick and easy way to remove rust from any and all garden tools, soak them or spray them with undiluted cleaning vinegar and let  them sit for a few hours. You may need to do a little scrubbing with a kitchen scrubby or steel wool. Be sure to wipe them down and thoroughly dry before storing them again. 

6) Treat Soil and Increase Soil Acidity

Though vinegar can kill many common plants, others, like rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias thrive on acidity. Vinegar can be a great source of acidity for those plants that thrive well with acidic soils. Here’s a great list of plants that love acid soil. Combine one cup of cleaning vinegar with a gallon of water and use the next time you water these plants to see some amazing results. You can also add some distilled vinegar to your soil to fight lime or hard water for other not-so-acid-loving plants. 

7) Clean Up Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture always seems to gather a thin layer of something. Use vinegar in between the deep cleanings to wipe off and clean up the film before it becomes a stain. For a quick and effective solution, wipe everything down with a cloth soaked in cleaning vinegar, the vinegar will also help sanitize and disinfect your outdoor furniture. 

8) BBQ Grill Cleaner

No one wants to use toxic chemicals on a surface where they cook! Use vinegar on your grill grates as a powerful helper in cleaning up the inevitable mess that develops after a few summer barbecues. Mix equal parts of cleaning vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray on the grill grates and  let soak in and dry. Then use an undiluted spray of vinegar just before scrubbing with a household scrubby or whatever tool you use to clean your grill grates. 

9) Improve Propane Lantern Wicks

Soak new propane lantern wicks in cleaning vinegar for several hours and let them dry before using. Your propane lantern wicks burn longer and brighter throughout the summer. 


10) Deodorize the Car

Here’s a couple of quick safe and natural tips for using vinegar on your car. 

Car Deodorizer: Leave a bowl of undiluted cleaning vinegar in the car overnight to soak up all of the odors from spills, pets, and all other other odors that always seem to build up inside vehicles.

Bumper Sticker Remover: Use a cloth or spray undiluted cleaning vinegar onto the bumper sticker to make it easy to remove.

These are just a few of the  many outdoor uses for cleaning vinegar . It’s rare to find an ingredient that’s both safe and non-toxic, and incredibly affordable. By purchasing your bulk acetic acid and making your own vinegar you’ll be keeping your home and the environment safe, and saving some money at the same time. 


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