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Benefits of White Vinegar for Flowers, Ants, Mosquito Bites and Weeds

There are many benefits of white vinegar… but contrary to popular organic garden lore, don’t use it on the weeds!!

From homemade insect repellent and mosquito bite remedy to cleaning and getting rid of ants, there are many benefits of white vinegar as an essential home and garden staple. However…

Don’t use acetic acid for weeds!!

The best vinegar to have on hand for cleaning is white vinegar because it has the highest acetic acid content. The next best is distilled vinegar, which is also used in cooking, though we found no consensus as to whether this is actually good for you when taken internally, as compared to apple cider vinegar, with its known health benefits.

The bottom line? There are many benefits and uses for all vinegars. For this article we’re focusing on white vinegar and distilled vinegar.

Often confused as the same product, some sources say there’s a difference between white vinegar and distilled vinegar. Our research indicates that more sources are ascribing these to be basically the same thing and typically used interchangeably. If you know for certain, please drop us a note and we’ll be sure to add it here.

Vinegar as a Weed Killer: Fact or Fiction?

So, does vinegar kill weeds? Sort of.

It’s not really the vinegar that kills weeds but acetic acid that kills them. Mostly. Vinegar appears to kill the weed because it does turn the leaves brown. However, it takes repeated applications to wear the roots down to the point of no return. And it’s not your household vinegar that’s just 5% acetic acid, but a higher potent 20% dose that can kill your good garden creatures. 1)

Acetic acid can kill your helpful garden friendlies, such as frogs that are there to help protect your garden from the bad garden bugs.2)

Gardening Myth:
“Vinegar kills weeds.” To kill weeds with vinegar requires a 20% acetic acid spray. Your home bottle of white or distilled vinegar is just 5%. And… a 20% acetic acid spray will kill your friendly garden critters as well as other plants.

Vinegar for Acid Loving Plants

You can occasionally water your acid loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias with one cup distilled white vinegar to one gallon of water.3)

Garden Tip:
Acidify soil for acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias with one cup distilled white vinegar to one gallon of water.

acid loving plants like azaleas and rhododendron


Get Rid of Ants

Does Vinegar Kill Ants?

You can get rid of ants with vinegar, but there’s conflicting information as to whether the vinegar actually kills them, or whether they die from drowning. Either way, it’s clear that ants don’t like vinegar. In fact, vinegar repels ants, so if you clean your counters and wipe down the areas of entry with vinegar, it will deter ants from returning to that spot.

Natural Ant Poison

Our problem with the vinegar alone is that ants are extraordinarily persistent and determined creatures, and there are so many of them. Most of the time ants will just find another entry unaffected by the distasteful vinegar. So while the distilled vinegar is great for getting rid of ants in the moment while also cleaning the surface and deterring their return, you may need something stronger that will be taken back to the nest in order to eradicate it.

So for that you can use the ant traps or poison syringes, or make a homemade version using cornstarch and boric acid stirred into a paste. Spread dollops of this onto scraps of cardboard, such as pieces cut from a used tissue or cereal box. Place these pieces in the ant’s traffic zones. You should see diminishing returns on these ants.

Homemade Ant Traps

Home and Garden Tip:
Make your own ant traps for less.

1. Use a small, thin empty cardboard box, such as a bandaid box
2. Tear off end flaps on the thin cardboard box
3. Mix 1 tsp. borax to 3 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp water
4. Make a paste
5. Dap a dollop of paste into the box
6. Set homemade ant trap into ants’ traffic highway

Advantages of Ant Traps

The main advantage to an ant trap is that it keeps the poison covered over and the mess of feeding ants better hidden. If your ants are in the kitchen, this help ensure there’s no accidental contamination, such as tossing a hand towel on the counter, getting poison on it, then using that to dry your hands.

It also means less mess to view, however it’s also good for when you have pets and kits toward helping to keep them out of it. If you have pets, you could even leave the closure tabs on the box. In most cases the ants will definitely still be able to access the borax mixture.

DIY Ant Trap Notes

NOTE on #3: If you accidentally add too much water, you can add a teaspoon or so of cornstarch to thicken the mixture, or just add a little more borax and sugar. Take care to keep to the same well-mixed ratio so that there’s enough sugar to attract the ants but enough borax to nab them.

NOTE on #5: We use a wooden chopstick for dabbing the sticky borax mixture to the inside of the box, because it’s easy to dab and scrape off. But a butter knife works well too. You can also just dab the borax onto a spot in the ant traffic area if you like. The advantage of the “ant trap” is to help keep things from getting into the paste.

We Used a Liquid Borax

We’ve had several rounds of ant invasions in our home this year. Likely, an extremely wet spell sent them looking for cover. There were so many that we wanted to make certain the issue was handled efficiently, so we used a borax liquid ant killer by Terro.

The liquid ant killer worked well and fast. It’s easy to apply quickly in multiple spots. You just definitely need to beware around animals and children and make sure you place it out of reach. The ant traps are less messy, but more expensive than the Terro liquid. However the liquid borax is less messy than the powdered borax, very effective and cheaper than the Terro traps. We also prefer the Terro liquid to the gooey syringe type poison.

Gardening Tip: The liquid borax by Terro is less messy than powdered borax and very effective.

How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites with Vinegar

Well, you can’t get rid of mosquito bites of course, but you can get rid of mosquito bite itching by dabbing a little vinegar on the bites. This might cause a tiny momentary sting, but it evaporates quickly and the itching stops just about as quickly.

What we love about the vinegar for mosquito bites, is that while you may not have an itch remedy in your medicine cabinet, you likely always have some kind of vinegar on hand. So knowing about the vinegar remedy is a helpful backup.

Home and Garden Tip:
Alleviate mosquito bite itching with a dab of vinegar.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with Vinegar

This works like a charm. Place a small bowl of vinegar on the counter, add a few a drops of liquid dish detergent. The detergent creates a skim on the top of the vinegar, and the gnat or fruit fly is drawn to it but can’t escape and drowns.

Home and Garden Tip:
You can catch flies with vinegar! A small bowl of vinegar topped with a few drops of dish detergent attracts and traps fruit flies.

How to Make Flowers Last Longer with Homemade Plant Food

Ah… the beauty of garden flowers brightening up our homes warms a gardener’s heart! But, how to help those flowers last their longest? Once again, vinegar to the rescue!

Yep… vinegar works best… second only to placing the flowers in the refrigerator every night. Add two tablespoons each of vinegar and sugar to the water to help the flowers last longer.

Make cut flowers last longer

Add to the flower water:

  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Exceptions: Daffodils, Marguerite Daisies and Tulips do not like sugar.
For these, just try the vinegar and overnight refrigeration.


Vinegar for Cleaning

Cleaning with Vinegar Saves Money

We save lots of money by using distilled vinegar for much of our household cleaning. From sinks to showers and toilets, vinegar sterilizes these areas and also cleans residue and mineral deposits. We also clean floors with vinegar as an effective, handy DIY floor cleaner for tile, wood and vinyl floors.

You can buy a gallon of distilled vinegar for only 2-3¢ per ounce. Popular bathroom cleaners range in price from 7-31¢ per ounce with the top sellers averaging 15¢ per ounce.

By using distilled vinegar for your primary cleanser, not only are you saving a lot of money, you’re also decluttering your storage areas by reducing from all kinds, sizes and shapes of containers to only one or two. Your big bottle of distilled vinegar and your refillable spray bottle.

Which would you rather spend?
$3.20 / gallon for distilled vinegar or $19.20 per gallon for the top bathroom cleaners?

That’s a no-brainer, right?!


From homemade insect repellent and mosquito bite remedy to cleaning with vinegar and getting rid of ants, vinegar is an essential home and garden staple. The best vinegar to have on hand for cleaning is white vinegar because it has the highest acetic acid content. #garden #gardenbenefits #vegetablegarden #backyard


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