Will Bleach Kill Weeds? Is It Effective?

Using bleach to kill weeds is possible if you do it in a controlled way. However, it’s a practice that isn’t recommended. It can affect the soil, as well pose health risks to both animals and humans.

When it comes to gardening, your front and back yard look amazing. The flora and fauna that decorate your property are your pride and joy. However, the weeds crop up and threaten to turn your garden into less than a spectacular visual display of color. A thought flashes through your mind: use bleach to tackle those weeds. But is it possible?

If you are still tempted to try bleach in those weeds, read on.

close up of homeowner removing weeds

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How can you use bleach to kill weeds?

The first step is to check if using bleach is legal in your area. Contact your local government and ask them what the regulations are. Bleach can leak into the soil and remain there for several weeks.

That may be a good thing for you as your weeds are gone and won’t come back for a while. However, the chemical properties of the bleach affect the acidity of the soil. If you have runoff into a neighboring property, you have a major problem.

If using bleach is allowed in your location, still proceed with precaution. Also, make sure that you keep yourself safe. Put on protective gear such as safety goggles, a mask to prevent you from breathing in the fumes, and gloves.

How to apply the bleach

You can use a garden sprayer to spray the bleach over the weeds. Check that there will be no wind outside as you don’t want the bleach to be blown onto other plants or your lawn.

How much bleach you use is a matter of trial and error. The higher the concentration of bleach, the quicker it will kill the weeds. Also, undiluted bleach affects your soil more. One rule of thumb is to use water to bleach ratio of 16:1. That is, dilute one part of bleach to sixteen parts of water.

If you are concerned about causing too much damage to your garden, have the bleach diluted as much as possible.

Fill your sprayer with water and then add in your bleach. Mix these and then screw in your sprayer head.  When you spray the bleach, have the nozzle of the spray head as close to the weed as possible. This ensures that you don’t accidentally spray plants you don’t want gone. Additionally, having the head of the sprayer close to the weed concentrates the spray over the weed.

Before moving to a new area of the garden, completely release your grip on the trigger of the sprayer. That way, you won’t inadvertently spray the wrong thing.

You may have to repeat

Depending on the strength of the concentration you used, the process of spraying the weeds may need to be repeated. Inspect your garden three days after the initial spray. If the weeds are still there, then give them another going over with the bleach.

The hardier weeds may require several applications.

If you find that the weeds have died, then pull them out from the garden.

Alternative ideas for killing weeds without bleach

Bleach will eventually break down after exposure to sunlight and rain. It can take a couple of days at least before it starts to weaken. However, if you are concerned about the environmental impact that bleach has, you can try these other options.

Water and salt

Salt kills weeds when it is taken into the root system. The water balance within the weed is disturbed and the weed will die.

Here is the method:

  1. Add water and salt into a pot. You want to use a water-to-salt ratio of 2:1. So two cups of water to one cup of salt.
  2. Boil your mixture and stir so that the salt mixes into the water.
  3. Let your solution cool down.
  4. Pour it into your garden sprayer. Go and take care of the weeds.

Use baking soda

Baking soda similarly attacks weeds as salt does. That is, it absorbs the water from the plant. The weed eventually dries out and dies.

To remove the weeds using baking soda, you have two options available.

1. Apply straight on the plant

Sprinkle the baking soda into the leaves and other exposed parts of the weed. You can then spray over the weed with water or just allow nature to do it for you with rain.

2. Make a solution

Pour water into a bowl and then add your baking soda. The more soda you use, the stronger your solution will be. Mix so that the baking soda dissolves.

Transfer the solution into a garden sprayer. Add in several drops of dishwashing liquid as this will help the baking soda stick to the weed.

Kill the weeds with hot water

Boiling water will cause the weed’s cell structure to fall apart. That equates to a dead weed in your garden.

Be careful with this idea as you don’t want to burn yourself. Also, take care so thatl you don’t get the hot water on other plants (or helpful garden bugs).

Attack the weeds with lemon juice

The acid within the lemon juice eats away at the wax coating of the weed. Now that the weed has lost its natural protection it will dry up and wither. In addition to removing the wax, the acid will burn the weeds.

How much juice you need depends on how many weeds you have. To get the best result, use this idea when outside is hot and sunny. You can make yourself some lemonade to celebrate.

Be careful

We have already touched on the precautions you should take when using bleach. It is a powerful chemical and can cause harm if you get it in your eye or inhale it.

Keep children and animals away from the garden during and after spraying. Animals are naturally curious and can be tempted at times to want to have a munch on some greenery in the garden.

Continue Reading: Does Bleach Kill Millipedes? Yes, But This Is Better.

Conclusion

It is possible to use bleach to kill weeds. Yet it is a practice that many gardening experts warn against. That’s because it has the potential to cause irreparable damage to your garden.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. When bleaching your weeds, be careful when applying it. Make sure the weather is calm, to avoid the bleach being blown into your flowers and other desirable plants.

If you want to avoid using bleach, there are more natural ways that are just as effective at killing the weeds.

It’s all up to you.