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Vinegar Uses and Misuses


Dirt Doctor Weekly Newsletter 

Vinegar Uses and Misuses 

Vinegar has become an important staple product in the organic program and easier to find in garden centers, hardware stores and feed stores.  There are some vinegar abuses going on, so let’s discuss.

Dirt Doctor Recommended Vinegars  

Spray Grasses and Weeds in
Pavement Cracks and 
Gravel, Around Trees and other Woody plants.




The strongest vinegar available in retail stores is 30%, but it is far too strong and should never be used. 20 % or 200 grain is available, but I consider it dangerous and unacceptable for homeowner use. Some of the products are actually petroleum-based. At 20% strength, it is corrosive enough to eat metal and very harsh on the skin and eyes and dangerous to breathe. Fermented 20% is used for making commercial sweet pickles where stronger acids are needed to override the sugar. The vinegar manufacturers I know agree that it is too strong for homeowner use.

Real vinegar, made from grain alcohol, in 10% or 100 grain concentration, is the proper vinegar to use for killing weeds. It is sprayed straight with no water dilution. For a more powerful product, add 1-2 oz. of orange oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap per gallon of vinegar. I use the Bio Wash product as the soap. Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide and especially effective on weeds in cracks and in gravel areas. It will kill broadleaf plants and grasses. If the mix is used, keep it shaken during the spraying. The Ozark White Pickling Vinegar is excellent for making your own mix. By the way, my assistant Doreen says the Enhanced Vinegar, or your own mix with my formula, is an excellent cleaner, even on glass and mirrors.

The 5% vinegars are for use on food and for helping plants. Use 1 tablespoon to 1 oz. of 5% vinegar per gallon of water when watering potting plants indoors or out.

Apple cider vinegar is best because it has more trace minerals and greater fertilizer value. It can also be used at 1 oz. per gallon of water in foliar sprays or in your own Garrett Juice mix. The best apple cider vinegars are those that are organic and contain the "mother" which is the solid looking material in the liquid. Oh yes, I also take at least a tablespoonful myself twice a day. A few drops in your pet’s water daily or as you remember is also a good idea.

Vinegar Checklist

·  20-30% products – don’t use.
8-15% pickling vinegars (10% is most common) - use in my organic   
   herbicide formula.

Real vinegars only – use those made from fermentation of natural 

Synthetics - don’t use products made from glacial acetic acid – they
   are petroleum based.

Apple cider vinegars (5%) - use in Garrett Juice, in the water can and in  
   your food.

We keep a good reference list on our web site. Click here to find sources where all the stores we know about are listed in alphabetical order. By typing in your city, a list of stores near you that sell at least some of the organic products will come up. The stores that are highlighted tend to specialize in organic products and understand how to answer questions.

If you have any questions regarding this newsletter or any other topic, join me for my radio show heard in Dallas/Fort Worth on Saturday at 11am and across the country on Sunday from 8 - 11am (CST).  Radio. 

To learn more on living a Natural Organic lifestyle, go to

Naturally yours,


Howard Garrett
The Dirt Doctor  



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