The Viral Weed Killer Trick You Should Think Twice Before Trying

The internet is full of viral gardening hacks, and while some of them are worthwhile (like adding orange peels to your garden to keep cats away), others are not all they're cracked up to be. One recent internet hack recommends using Coca-Cola — or any other soft drink — as a weed killer in the garden. While it is true that Coca-Cola can kill weeds because it contains acidic ingredients, it will also kill any plant it touches, not just the weeds. Because of this, it's a good idea to think twice before dumping Coke on weeds that are near other plants you want to keep alive.

This is especially important because pouring soda on a plant will not only kill it but may also cause a build-up of sugars in the soil. While this may not seem like a bad thing because plants need sugar to survive, the problem is that the sugar in Coke cannot be absorbed by plants and, instead, will pull water from the roots of surrounding plants, causing them to become dehydrated. On top of this, the microbes and underground critters that like the kind of sugar present in soft drinks are often not good for plants — and some of them can be actively harmful.

When to use Coke to kill weeds

That's not to say that you should never use Coca-Cola as a weed killer. In fact, soda is an effective herbicide that is more environmentally friendly than many other chemical options on the market. The best time to use Coke as a weed killer is when you have a leftover bottle of flat soda lying around after a pizza night or outdoor cookout. This way, you can make use of soda that would've otherwise been thrown away instead of wasting soda that could've been used and consumed. 

The key to using Coke to kill weeds is moderation and location. Because of the effects the soft drink may have on the soil, the best location for a Coca-Cola herbicide is an area where you don't want any plants to grow at all. Some great examples include cracks in your sidewalk and driveway or under a gravel walkway. However, it's important to know that while plants hate Coke, insects love it. So, you can expect many sugar-loving bugs like ants, bees, and flies to be very interested in the area where you apply your Coca-Cola herbicide for at least a couple of hours afterward.

What you can use instead

While Coke can be a good tool in a weed-killing arsenal, because of its propensity to attract insects and cause negative effects on the soil, you may want to rotate your soda herbicide with other at-home weed-killing solutions. White vinegar is a common household item that is also great at killing weeds. In fact, vinegar is even recommended by the USDA as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical herbicides for large-scale organic farming. Household vinegar works best on young and tender weeds because it has a lower acid content. If you need something a bit more oomph, you can always purchase cleaning vinegar from your local home improvement store. Cleaning vinegar often has a higher vinegar content and is more effective on stubborn weeds.

If you are looking for a powerful weed-killing solution that can be made using only ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen, you can try Martha Stewart's three-ingredient DIY weed killer. This weed killer includes white vinegar, dish soap, and lemon juice and is a potent combination that kills weeds by damaging their ability to intake both water and sunlight.

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