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Eliminate weeds quickly with these highly effective herbicides for your garden.
We updated this article in April 2022 to add more information about each featured product, based on extensive research and evaluations by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Our original top-rated picks remain the same.
After spending hours edging the lawn and tending to flower beds, the last thing you want is weeds popping up and making your newly pristine landscape unsightly. The occasional weed can easily be pulled out by hand, but plucking them out one by one can quickly become a time-consuming chore if you're dealing with a mountain of pesky plants, making fast-acting weed killers a popular choice.
But what should you consider when shopping for the right one to meet your needs? After all, there are many different types of weed killers on the market, including chemical weed killers, natural weed killers, manual tools like torches and fabrics that can help prevent weed growth. Not to mention, when it comes to chemical weed killers, you may be concerned about ingredients that could be harmful to humans or the environment.
That’s where the Good Housekeeping Institute comes in. Our product review experts researched the best weed killers from popular brands we know and trust, as well as products that are highly rated and reviewed. Then we worked with chemical engineering and sustainability experts to evaluate the ingredients and find our top picks for best weed killers of 2022.
This weed killer from Green Gobbler has more than 9,700 reviews on Amazon with a 4.2 rating. It kills many types of weeds such as dandelions, clover, chickweed, thistle and more. It comes with a trigger spray for the bottle making it easy to dispense. It can be used on sidewalks, concrete, mulch beds and other places where weeds pop up.
Reviewers say that this product killed their weeds and was easy to use. However, it is non-selective and so will also kill other types of vegetation, so take care around lawns, flowers or any plants you want to keep alive. It's made with a highly concentrated form of vinegar, so the smell may be bothersome at first but will fade over time.
• Suitable for: Crabgrass, dandelions, clover weeds, white clover, moss, nutsedge, oxalis and more • Application Method: Trigger spray • Time to eliminate weeds: Within 24 hours
Many weed killers that made it through our vetting process cannot be used on lawns because they are non-selective, which means they will kill all types of vegetation, including your lawn. With this weeder, you can specifically pluck out the weed without having to worry about ruining the rest of your grass. It has a long handle so there's no kneeling or bending over to help prevent a sore back or knees.
Customers highly recommend this product on Amazon, giving it a 4.1-star rating from over 1,100 reviews saying it's easy to use. One reviewer suggests waiting for it to rain so that the ground is moist to make the job even easier.
• Suitable for: All weeds • Application Method: Manual hand tool • Time to eliminate weeds: Instantly
Ortho Ground Clear kills all types of grasses, weeds and even moss, with visible results in as a little as 15 minutes. It takes about two hours to dry, but after that it’s rainproof so you won’t have to worry about it washing away after application. It has a spray applicator with a long handle, so it can be targeted at the specific weeds you want to kill.
Take note that this is a non-selective spray, meaning it will kill all types of plants so be sure not to get it on anything you don’t want to kill. It’s one of the highest-rated weed killers on Amazon with over 3,700 reviews and a 4.3-star rating. Shoppers love that the trigger wand sprays exactly where you need it and does not get everywhere for targeted weed killing.
• Suitable for: All types of weeds and grasses • Application Method: Wand spray • Time to eliminate weeds: Within 2.5 hours
If you're looking for an alternative to heavy-duty pesticides, our experts are fans of this weed killer from Earth's Ally, which meets the federal definition of a "minimum risk" pesticide. Its mild formula features common household ingredients such as salt, vinegar and soap so it poses little danger to the health of your family and the environment.
This weed killer works on many common weeds such as broadleaf, crabgrass and clover ivy, as well as dandelions. However, it is non-selective, which means it will kill most vegetation, so take care when spraying around other plants. In our review of third-party data, we found that it starts to brown weeds within just three hours and completely kills weeds within 14 days down to their roots.
• Suitable for: All conventional weeds and grasses, dandelions • Application Method: Trigger spray • Time to eliminate weeds: Within 14 days
Get rid of those pesky weeds sprouting up on your walkway or rock bed with this liquid formula. It’s made to eliminate broadleaf and a variety of grass weeds. It works quickly and results can be seen within 24 hours.
You’ll need to be careful where you spray this weed killer since it is nonselective and will kill all types of greenery, however it does not leach through the soil so you won’t have to worry about the liquid seeping into other areas where you don't want it. Because this solution is concentrated, be sure to follow the mixing ratio according to the instructions to get the desired results. • Suitable for: Perennial and annual broadleaf and grass weeds • Application Method: Use with spray equipment such as hand-held or hose-end sprayers • Time to eliminate weeds: Within 24 hours
You can buy this weed killer in a 5-gallon size which is enough to cover a large area. It’s highly rated on Amazon with over 1,300 reviews and a 4.3-star rating. Shoppers say that this works just as well as brand-name weed killers, but you will need to use more to get the same results. One reviewer commented they used this on their entire backyard full of weeds and saw results in 24 hours.
• Suitable for: Most common weeds and grasses • Application Method: Use with trigger or garden pump sprayer • Time to eliminate weeds: Within 24 hours
If you would rather not use liquid weed killers, this torch is a good option to eliminate weeds. Shoppers gave this over 1,200 reviews and a 4.2-star rating on Amazon. This torch will kill weeds with a quick burst of fire, though it does need to be hooked up to a propane tank that will need to be bought separately.
Many reviewers raved that this killed weeds effectively and preferred to use this over a chemical sprayer. Because this is a torch, it’s best to take precautions such as prewetting surrounding areas and not using this around anything flammable.
• Suitable for: All weeds • Application Method: Hand-held torch • Time to eliminate weeds: Instantly
One of the best ways to keep weeds in check is to prevent them from growing in the first place. This landscape fabric creates a barrier so weeds can not grow through; it also eliminates the light that weeds need to grow while still letting air and water through to keep the soil underneath healthy.
It’s easy to use: simply unroll the fabric and cut to the size needed to cover your landscape. It has over 6,300 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star rating with customers saying that this is more durable than what they normally buy at the hardware store.
• Suitable for: All weeds found in landscaping • Application Method: Rolled fabric • Time to eliminate weeds: N/A (designed for weed prevention)
Every year, our Labs evaluate hundreds of chemical formulas for efficacy and completeness of label directions, safety warnings based on ingredients and how easy each product is to use.
To find the best weed killers, we looked at offerings from popular brands we know and trust, as well as products that are highly rated and reviewed. Because there are chemicals in weed killers that could be of concern to humans and the environment, we teamed up with sustainability expert, Dr. Michael Brown, Ph.D., of Brown and Wilmanns Environmental, to review the ingredients in each and eliminate products that could potentially be harmful from our list.
Some of the harmful chemicals we looked for were possible carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, respiratory toxins or chemicals that may cause skin sensitization. (Some examples of chemicals we avoided are glyphosate and 3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid). To assess these potential hazards, safety data sheets were evaluated for each ingredient; our experts also performed additional research for anything that might not be listed on the safety data sheets.
✔️ Check what types of weeds and plants the weed killer is intended to be used on. Some weed killers will kill all types of vegetation that you may not want killed including lawns, flowers and vegetables.
✔️ Ready to use vs. diluted. Ready to use formulas are convenient as they are ready to go, but concentrated formulas will be able to cover a lot of ground and last a long time since you’ll only use a small amount of product.
✔️ Check the labels for safety warnings and wear protective gear such as goggles or gloves as recommended by the manufacturer. Although a product may be labeled “all-natural” or “organic” it does not necessarily mean it’s safe around kids and pets.
• Emergent weed killers destroy weeds at specific growth stages. Pre-emergent weed killers help prevent weeds from popping up by targeting the sprouting weed underground before it reaches the soil surface. Post-emergent weed killers focus on getting rid of the weed once it has emerged from the soil.
• Selectivity refers to particular weeds the weed killer will target. Selective weed killers will destroy specific vegetation and not others, so check product labels to ensure it's targeting the correct weeds without harming other plants. Non-selective weed killers will get rid of weeds and any other greenery around that it's applied on, so you'll want to take care around plants you want to keep alive.
• Translocated weed killers absorb into the plant's system causing it to slowly die from within. These types of herbicides take longer to produce results, from several days to weeks, but often destroy the entire plant making them a good choice for weeds with deep roots. This is different from contact weed killers, which only kill the part of the plant where it is applied and results can be seen from several minutes to a few days.
• Persistence refers to how long the weed killer stays in the soil once it's applied. Some weed killers deteriorate after several days where others last a few months to possibly a year. If you will be planting in the area where the product is being applied in the near future consider a weed killer that doesn't last as long, however, if that is not an issue a longer-lasting product may be beneficial so it won't need to be reapplied often.
This article was written by Jamie Kim, a freelance writer who specializes in translating technical product information into consumer-friendly language. She has almost two decades of experience in reviews and product testing, and has held leading roles in product development at Nike and other textile companies.
For this article, she worked closely with Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Executive Director of the GH Institute's Health, Beauty & Sustainability Lab, who handled the research and product evaluations. In addition to earning M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, she recently added a professional certificate in sustainability management from Columbia University to her credentials.