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Acetic acid

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Acetic acid may be used to control the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Édith Smeesters)  

Caution
The information below is intended only as a guide. Always read product labels carefully.

Product description

Herbicides with acetic acid as the active ingredient are made of the same substance as that found in household vinegar, only much more concentrated.

These ready-to-use pesticides may be applied on lawns and gardens for spot weed removal. They may also be used to control weeds on driveways, between paving stones and along fences, paths and sidewalks.

Target plants

Herbicides with acetic acid as the active ingredient may be used to control many different weeds, including:

  • black medic (Medicago lupulina)
  • common chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • common plantain (Plantago major)
  • common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
  • lamb's-quarters (Chenopodium album)

NB: The product label lists the plants on which the pesticide may be used, along with the target organisms. 

How it works

Acetic acid acts on contact by damaging the waxy coating on plant leaves that protects them from desiccation; the plants eventually dry out and die.

Application

For best results, apply acetic acid in the spring or early summer to actively growing weeds (ideally when they are less than 10 cm tall), and spray it on the entire plant.

When applying the herbicide in a border or on a lawn, spray it directly on weeds and avoid contact with other plants. If any gets onto plants you wish to keep, they will be affected by the herbicide but should grow back.

It is most effective when applied on warm, sunny days. It is also best not to apply the herbicide when plant foliage is wet. If it rains within one hour of application, the product will be diluted and the treatment less effective.

Repeat herbicide applications may be necessary to kill perennial or large weeds.

Precautions

The product is corrosive, so it is best to wear gloves, long sleeves and pants and goggles when applying it.

The herbicide should be applied only to undesirable plants, as it is not selective. It is best to apply it on calm days to keep it from drifting.

It may damage some metal surfaces or lawn furniture.

Do not use near any body of water or wetland, or dump any pesticide or rinse your equipment there, as this will contaminate the water. Never dump pesticides down sewers.

Keep out of reach of children.

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