How Long Does Vinegar Last in Soil?

Vinegar is acidic, and therefore it lowers the soil pH when introduced into the soil.

how long vinegar last in soil | Plant Gardener

On average, expect Vinegar to last 2 to 3 months in the soil. I’ll explain why, but first, let’s briefly discuss the benefits.

There are many benefits of using vinegar in the garden. The main ones include:

  • Its ability to kill weeds permanently
  • Lowering the pH level of the soil
  • Killing bacteria and dirt in the soil

However, if it’s not used in the proper way, vinegar can cause damage to plants.

Fortunately, it’s safe to use around organic gardens. I use the Natural Elements 30% Vinegar, it’s mild and safe.

Talking about longevity, how long does Vinegar typically last in soil?

Typically, Vinegar breaks down quickly in the soil and can last 2 to 5 days. However, high-concentration Vinegar can last 1 to 2 months in the soil when a large quantity is poured in directly or used to kill weeds in a loosed soil.

Weeds and dirt are no match for this simple organic solution.

A simple application of vinegar on your lawn can eliminate up to 90% of your weed problem, leaving your yard smelling great.

Does Vinegar break down soil?

Concentrated vinegar consists of acetic acid, which breaks down almost instantly in the soil. It can lower soil pH, but this is going to be temporal.

This acidic solution is known to kill bacteria and soften hard seed coats, as well as act as a good cleaner. However, its efficacy is limited, and repeated applications are necessary to weaken the plant enough to prevent it from regrowing from the roots.

If applied directly to the soil, it can even kill plant foliage. This is why it’s best not to spray it onto your plants.

Moreover, it can kill beneficial insects. Therefore, you should always check the pH level of the soil before applying vinegar.

Adding a small amount of vinegar to the soil will lower the pH level and make it more acidic.

You can either do this manually or through an irrigation system. In the case of the latter, you can mix a cup of vinegar with a gallon of water.

This method is most suitable for rhododendrons and azaleas. Alternatively, you can use an irrigation system that can add the solution using an injector.

6 Interesting Facts About Vinegar

1. Vinegar kills weeds permanently

While vinegar can kill weeds, it’s not a permanent solution. When it kills weeds, for example, the acid doesn’t kill the roots.

So the plants can return to their original state within days or weeks.

Vinegar with a large concentration of acid will also kill the plant’s leaves, but won’t destroy their roots. So, you’ll need to apply it more than once to completely destroy them.

The best time to apply the vinegar to kill weeds is during the late afternoon or early evening on a hot, wind-free day.

The sun will accelerate the action of the vinegar, allowing it to reach weeds faster.

Avoid using the solution on windy days, as it can lift the spray and damage nearby vegetation. And as always, wear protective gear and follow all instructions on the label!

In addition to these natural ingredients, commercial weed killers often contain additives to broaden their effect and make them more effective.

While these additives may accomplish the intended purpose, they are often added for marketing purposes.

In this case, you should be careful about using vinegar on weeds. It will damage plants that you are trying to control.

While vinegar is a natural weed killer, it can be effective when applied repeatedly over time. A single application may kill some weeds, but they’ll come back soon.

Use a high-quality horticultural vinegar that contains up to 20% acetic acid. It’s three to four times more potent than standard vinegar, so you’ll need several applications to get rid of weeds for good.

2. Vinegar lowers soil pH and increases its acidity

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Natural Elements 30% Vinegar

  • No harsh chemicals
  • Safe for pets and humans
  • Ideal for improving soil pH

The acidity level of your soil is an important indicator of whether it’s healthy for growing plants.

A pH of more than 7 is considered too alkalinic (basic) for most plants and raising its pH is necessary for healthy growth.

There are many methods to lower the pH of your soil. Vinegar is a popular option for this task, and it does work for some plants.

Depending on the type of vinegar you use, it may have different effects.

You can also use aluminum sulfate or elemental sulfur to change the pH of your soil. These two compounds have similar properties and can be added to your soil after you’ve planted your plants.

The aluminum sulfate, however, works faster than elemental sulfur. However, you’ll need to carefully mix the two materials together. Be sure to work them into the top 6 inches of soil.

You can also use baking soda or vinegar to improve the soil pH. Both are common household items that can have many uses. Use it for cleaning, salad dressings, pickling food, and cooking.

But be careful when applying vinegar to your plants, as the acid content can lower the soil’s pH.

It can be harmful to humans, but ordinary household vinegar is made of 90% water and is very mild.

3. Vinegar removes dirt

It is common knowledge that vinegar can be a useful cleaning agent. It can be used to clean everything from kitchen counters to appliances and windows to the fabric.

This solution can also be used to remove stains on carpets, and sheets, as well as clear clogged drains.

It is available in various forms, including white, red wine, and apple cider vinegar. In fact, you might already be using it in your kitchen!

One of the reasons why vinegar is a good cleaning agent is its natural acidity.

It is able to dissolve dirt, grease, and grime. It can even kill bacteria. Unlike some other cleaning agents, white vinegar is not colorless.

It won’t stain surfaces, unlike the darker-colored variety.

Generally, distilled white vinegar is 5 percent acid, and apple cider vinegar is slightly sweeter. It’s not a great cleaning solution, however, for people with sensitive skin, as it can be very drying.

If you’re worried about cleaning stubborn stains, you may want to try white vinegar.

It has an antibacterial effect and can even dissolve mineral buildup. It can even be used to clean shower doors. You can also use vinegar to scrub the toilet bowl.

Just make sure to leave the solution in overnight, then remove it in the morning.

Another benefit of vinegar is that it cleans tile surfaces, and you’ll be able to use it for floor cleaning as well.

4. Vinegar kills bacteria

The word vinegar comes from the Latin word for “sour wine,” and it has been used for thousands of years.

These days, it is best known as a popular ingredient in salad dressings and sauces.

Vinegar is a natural product; any alcoholic beverage exposed to the air turns into it.

Bacteria present in the air break down alcohol into acetic acid. However, it is not clear whether or not vinegar can kill bacteria in the soil.

In a study published in 2006, researchers found that vinegar could kill Giardia cysts. Its effectiveness varied depending on temperature and exposure time. Those undergoing a 3-hour exposure to the vinegar at 75o F killed 47 percent of the cysts.

Those susceptible to Giardia, a parasitic single-celled organism, can be fatal if they enter the human body.

One study found that six percent of vinegar is antimicrobial. It reduced the presence of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. However, it did not kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study did find that six percent acetic acid killed M. tuberculosis within 30 minutes. In the same study, ten percent malt vinegar killed influenza A virus in the laboratory after 30 minutes.

Besides killing bacteria, vinegar can also serve as a plant preservative. It prevents insects from thriving in a garden and makes cut flowers last longer.

If you have ants in your garden, vinegar can be sprayed onto anthills or trails.

It can also be used to clean rust on garden tools. Another use for vinegar in the garden is to clean birdbaths and birdhouses. It can be diluted with water and applied to these surfaces.

5. Vinegar helps to curtail the spread of weeds

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Natural Elements 30% Vinegar

  • No harsh chemicals
  • Safe for pets and humans
  • Ideal for improving soil pH

When used on a regular basis, vinegar has mixed results when it comes to killing weeds. It is most effective on newly germinated weeds, but mature weeds may require multiple applications over several days.

For permanent weed control, combine horticultural vinegar (20%) with a solution of dish soap, water, and salt.

The salt helps the solution adhere to the plant, and the dish soap helps to break down the weed’s protective layer.

Although it has been used as an herbicide for a long time, the use of vinegar as a weed killer only came to light within the last century.

In the 1990s, Agricultural Research Service researchers conducted tests on common weeds.

They found that vinegar at normal household strength concentrations killed weeds within two weeks.

Higher concentrations killed weeds in all stages of growth. However, it is important to use protective clothing and gloves when handling vinegar solutions over five percent or 11 percent.

The best time to apply vinegar to a lawn or garden is up to two weeks after the weeds germinate.

Waiting any longer will increase the chance of a repeat application.

Vinegar spraying should be done on a cool, dry day at least 24 hours after a rainstorm. If using high-concentration vinegar to kill weeds, make sure to follow the label instructions carefully.

6. Vinegar is safe to eat 

There are several uses for vinegar. Despite its acidity, it is generally safe to eat and has many other uses.

Besides its culinary uses, vinegar can be used for cleaning windows and glass, removing stains, and to age wood.

It is also effective at disinfecting wounds, removing sticky labels, and drying out pimples. It is a multipurpose solution that is safe for both humans and plants.

7. Vinegar cleanses the Soil

Vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent for your soil. It helps break down hard minerals and salt deposits.

In addition, it increases the acidity of your soil, counteracting any base present like lime. However, it should not be used for household purposes.

In some cases, it will render your soil sterile.

To prevent this, make sure you only use vinegar in specific applications. The acidity of vinegar in the soil can vary.

Horticultural vinegar is 20% acid

If your soil is acidic, you can use horticultural vinegar to kill weeds. It is effective on annual weeds and will take effect about a day after application.

It is best applied to the roots of the weeds.

It is also recommended that you apply the solution on a sunny and warm day. You can repeat the application several times.

This solution is a safe alternative to herbicides and weed killers because it kills the weeds permanently. It is also a safer option for humans, pets, and wildlife.

It is non-toxic and doesn’t harm pollinators. Many gardeners worry about the effects of chemical sprays on animals and people.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Vinegar and Plants

Will Diluted Vinegar Kill Plants?

Many people use diluted vinegar to control weeds in the garden. This acetic acid in the vinegar has the same effect on plants as a strong chemical — but in a lower concentration.

A concentration of 20% acetic acid will kill most weeds. However, it is important to use caution when applying it to plants.

It can burn the skin, cause eye damage, and corrode metals. Even if the solution is diluted, it can be harmful to humans and plants.

The acidity of vinegar has an impact on plant growth. It reacts with cell membranes and dries out their natural fluids, causing the plants to wilt.

However, some plants can thrive in an acidic environment. For instance, some woody perennials are tolerant to a small amount of vinegar.


As a soil amendment, vinegar can break down salt and hard mineral deposits in the soil.

While it does not supply any nutrients to plants, it can improve the pH of the soil and help break down hard minerals.

So, how long does vinegar last in soil, and is it safe to eat? You’ll be surprised at just how long it lasts in the soil, up to 3 months.

Vinegar is effective for killing weeds, but it has only moderate efficacy. This contact herbicide affects the leaves and not the roots.

A weed that dies from the vinegar solution often grows back.

Therefore, you need to apply vinegar to the affected areas more than once to weaken them and prevent them from resprouting.


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