10 Alternatives to Roundup Weed Killer

10 Alternatives to Roundup

Looking for the Best Weed Killer

Updated August 20, 2021

Everyone defines weeds differently. The fact is, there are always certain kinds of plants we don't want growing in certain places. So it makes sense that people are always looking for the best weed killer.

We are relieved to see the current crop of harmful weed killers come under heavy scrutiny. A California jury awarded over $2 billion in favor of a couple with cancer, ordering Monsanto to compensate for failing to warn consumers that exposure to Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Even as more people continue to learn about the dangers of Roundup — the most used weed killer in the world — this herbicide remains in heavy use in the U.S. and around the world.

Are Roundup's Days Numbered?

While Roundup will not by sold to consumers soon, equally harmful products will continue being sold. Additionally, city parks and large scale farms will still have access to Roundup for years to come. In the meantime, consider doing the following to protect you, your family, and your pets:

As promised, here are the top 10 natural weed killers that you can start using now to help reduce your exposure. You can use them yourself or recommend them to your neighbors and city planners. You can even share this page with your local farmers! Please leave your own suggestion in the comments below.

Top 10 Alternative Natural Weed Killers


1. Contact Organics

This brand new natural weed killer, developed by regenerative farmer and self-professed Student of the Soil, Howard Vliger, restores balance in the environment by improving the soil micro biology while controlling unwanted plant growth. Through this approach, you can remove toxins from your food, thereby bringing back balance to your body. Used per the label, this is a pet safe weed killer.

Contact Organics Weed Terminators Mixing and Application Video from Contact Organics on Vimeo.

2. Mulch and Permaculture

3. No-till cover crops

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4. Saturated steam weed control

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5. Electric shock weed control

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6. Electric weed control

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7. Fatty Acid Based Herbicidal Soap

Most of the other alternative herbicides used by farmers or gardeners fall into the following categories:

  • 8. Salt-Based Herbicides*
  • 9. High Percentage Vinegar sprays like OSM
  • 10. Phytotoxic Oils (aka Essential Oils)

Download the PDF version to print and share!


Why Use Alternative Herbicides?

Screen_Shot_2018-02-19_at_12.27.38_PM.pngGlyphosate is so widely used in the U.S. and around the world that traces of the chemical have been found in breast milk, cotton products, beer, wine (even when made with organic grapes), eggs, oatmeal, and non-dairy coffee creamer, among other products.

The herbicide has also given rise to genetically modified food, which has been linked to health issues such as infertility, immune problems, faulty insulin regulation, accelerated aging and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

In March of 2015, glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO).

But if the health risks are not enough to convince you to consider an alternative herbicide, maybe the environmental impact will change your mind…

A recent U.S. Geological Survey study sampled waterways in 38 states and found glyphosate in the majority of rivers, streams, ditches, and wastewater treatment plants that were tested. Glyphosate also was found in roughly 70 percent of rainfall samples.

Watch this video to learn more about the effects of glyphosate herbicides on your health and our environment:

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How to Use an Alternative Herbicide

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In order to get the best results from an alternative herbicide, it is best to use in conjunction with other helpful practices, like working to improve soil health, plant nutrition, and irrigation. Remember, an alternative is generally going to be a contact herbicide (except for electric shock), not a systemic herbicide, which kills the entire plant by entering the vascular system.

Contact herbicides generally work by burning plant foliage that comes into contact with the product. They are only capable of killing weeds that have emerged—they have no residual activity on weeds that emerge after application.

Other Ideas for Alternative Herbicides

Acetic Acid – Commonly known as vinegar, acetic acid affects the cell membranes of a plant and causes rapid breakdown of foliage tissue on contact. Vinegar used for herbicidal purposes can be organic household vinegar, which is roughly five percent acetic acid or agricultural vinegar, which has an acetic acid concentration of roughly 20 percent. Insufficient quantities, agricultural vinegar by itself will quickly burn down a weed.

There is much debate on the efficacy of household vinegar versus agricultural vinegar in alternative herbicides. Research has found that acetic acid concentrations between 5 and 10 percent can provide viable control of very small, young weeds that have one or two leaves (or are within two weeks of germination). Larger weeds with three or four leaves more are likely to survive this concentration. Using higher agricultural vinegar with a higher concentration of acetic acid and increasing the application volume can improve weed control.

Salt* – Some choose to combine vinegar with salt to make their alternative herbicide more potent. Like vinegar, salt is a desiccant, so it dries out leaves and stems. 

Oil or Soap – Oil will break down any coating or other natural barriers that many weeds produce to protect their leaves. By using oil or soap in your mixture, you give the vinegar a greater chance to penetrate the weed. Additionally, oils and soaps break the tension water on weed surfaces, which keeps the mixture from running off.

If you would like more information on ingredient concentration levels for your alternative herbicide, check out this article from Garden Counselor.

*BEWARE: any form of sodium chloride is toxic to almost all plants and soil communities. It does not break down, and after it kills the grass in your walk, will poison and even kill large specimen trees where their roots run under the sidewalk or treated area.

Alternative Herbicide Tips

  • Alternative herbicides work best when applied on a hot day. If possible, wait until the humidity is low and morning dew has burned off. This will allow the mixture to stay in contact with weeds.
  • Be careful not to spray the mixture on plants you do not wish to kill. You can do damage to the plants you are trying to protect if you aren’t careful.
  • Use gloves and protective eyewear, as the mixture can damage your skin, especially if you are using agricultural vinegar with a higher concentration of acetic acid.
  • Larger weeds and perennial weeds may wilt or discolor after application, but in some cases, they will regrow a few days or weeks later. These weeds will require multiple applications to be controlled.

Are Alternative Herbicides Effective?

A University of Maryland study found that properly applied acetic acid-based alternative herbicides have promising results controlling the following weeds:

  • Broadleaf Plantain
  • Carpetweed
  • Common Chickweed
  • Crabgrass
  • Cutleaf Evening Primrose
  • Ground Ivy
  • Ladysthumb
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Oriental Mustard
  • Pale Smartweed
  • Spiny Amaranth
  • Tumble Pigweed
  • Velvet Leaf

Download the PDF version to print and share!


The Top 5 Benefits of Alternative Herbicides

  1. Public health safety
  2. Avoidance of lawsuits
  3. Improved soil and water retention
  4. Improved water quality
  5. Improved longevity of landscaping

Showing 11 reactions

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  • Steph Mcaney
    commented 2021-02-11 05:28:35 -0800
    the articles were published on a news blog: https://ecomight.com/news/. very helpful for those looking. if you want contact herbicide, thats not it. We are thrilled with our results. thanks! Steph
  • Steph Mcaney
    commented 2021-02-11 05:27:13 -0800
    we also use it
  • Steph Mcaney
    commented 2021-01-23 09:28:36 -0800
    We all need to listen to Sandy. EcoMIGHT is the best herbicide by far. My son’s school switched to it and as a former turf grass manager with a degree from University of Florida (Gainseville), I was skeptical and now the biggest fan of EcoMIGHT. It’s worth every penny. I’m not getting paid a fee for this, but I know the karma effect. This is their website: EcoMIGHT.com https://ecomight.com/
  • Sandy Gladstone
    commented 2020-05-25 05:40:31 -0700
    Andrew is correct. EcoMight weedkiller translocates into the roots better than roundup. It really does work incredibly well. We didn’t want to change from roundup, let’s face it, it’s cheap and it works. We were under intensive pressure from our customers for an alternative. The irony is our business has increased from changing to a safe product. Our customers are talking about it (this is a good thing). This is perhaps the highest level of efficacy I’ve seen in the entire organic marketplace. Highly recommend.
  • Liha Rinehardt
    commented 2020-02-12 16:27:40 -0800
    @Robert Crann.. interested in trying Ecomight. Their website seems to be down. Where did you purchase it?
  • Robert Crann
    commented 2020-01-01 08:47:59 -0800
    I’ve been using a product called Ecomight weed and grass killer. We have a crew of 150+ workers on the ground in Southern California at any given time. I’m worried about lawsuits but the main concern is reducing the exposure from roundup and glyphosate. The problem is very few products work as good as the toxic ones. I’ve even tried vinegar and salt. It just never seems to work good and having the soil tested, the vinegar actually kills the soil! I went into this with skepticism but came out a big fan. We are now ordering the Ecomight product in 55 gallon drums. The product works…actually I think it’s better than roundup in many ways. I’ve been on an “herbicide hunt” for years experimenting and trying every new product. It also has equated to cost savings. The product does cost more, but all organics generally do. I was ok with that but the big surprise was how long it lasted. I typically send our applicators every 12-18 days to re-spray after using roundup. The ecomight weedkiller is lasting around 90 days. Needless to say, I was shocked. I told other members of the landscaping association about it and it seems we are not the first to discover it. They have been using the Ecomight all year at many of the HOA’S, and Brentwood school districts. I can’t verify but another crew said they use it at LA, Stanford and UCLA. this may be true, and I hope it is because no matter what product we all use, as long as it’s non-toxic and safe, its better than Roundup! I must add one point, that some of the other herbicdes listed as OMRI don’t work as good but the main issue is they harm butterflies and bees. This is a “no-no” for a few of my customers so I decided to stay away from those. Hope this info is helpful. Feel free to share your thoughts or if you have a better product for weeds thats safe, would love to hear about it. Just wanted to share my experiences and success with this product. Thanks! Rob
  • Karin Westdyk
    commented 2019-07-04 17:59:45 -0700
    Best alternative is hemp grown in rotation.
  • Lisa Crowe
    commented 2019-05-18 18:57:21 -0700
    Thank you this article is exceptionally informative. I shall share.
  • Todd Anthony Honeycutt
    commented 2019-04-01 11:26:15 -0700
    Robert – we’ve added your warning about salt to our text. Thanks!
  • Robert Shaw
    commented 2018-08-13 09:35:33 -0700
    Please do not advise adding salt to make any herbicide “extra strength”. Table salt, sea salt – - any form of sodium chloride is toxic to almost all plants and soil communities. It does not break down, and after it kills the grass in your walk, will poison and even kill large specimen trees where their roots run under the sidewalk or treated area. I screwed up big time with this once, and if you take just a moment to logically think about the use of salt, it doesn’t make sense at all.
  • Burton Schrader
    commented 2018-06-22 18:09:18 -0700
    Where can I find this/these products in Thailand please. I can find wood vinigar here but thought it was for bugs not intrusive plants. Thanks

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