How to Use Vinegar to Kill Foxtail Weeds

Foxtail spreads by releasing its seeds in barbed spikes that catch in animal hair and clothing. The spikes painfully work their way deep into the fur of longer-haired animals, piercing the skin or entering orifices. To prevent pain and possible death, homeowners with dogs should kill foxtail weeds immediately. Many homeowners with dogs do not like to use herbicidal applications and fortunately white vinegar has been used as a homemade weed-killer for years. Experiments conducted by researchers at Purdue University and the USDA show vinegar effectively kills most foxtail within three days of application, with heavier sprays showing more effective results.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray bottle

  • White vinegar, 5 percent concentration or higher

Step 1

Pour white vinegar into a clean spray bottle. Use a vinegar with at least a 5 percent concentration but higher concentrations work better. Do not dilute the vinegar with water.

Step 2

Spray the vinegar on all visible portions of the foxtail, preferably within two weeks of sprouting. Coat the foxtail as thickly as possible but stop before the vinegar accumulates to the point of dripping.

Step 3

Pour vinegar directly on the roots of larger foxtail specimens. Avoid dripping the vinegar on surrounding foliage or saturating the soil around the foxtail to the point that you compromise the root systems of other plants.

Step 4

Check the weeds after three days. Remove all dead plants by hand. Reapply vinegar to any surviving foxtail or to any of the weeds you might have missed during the first application.

Step 5

Spray vinegar on any sprouting foxtail as it appears.


Vinegar will kill or weaken any plant it touches. Take precautions to protect any nearby plants or grass you want to keep.

References & Resources