The Best Dandelion Killers of 2023

Despite their cheery yellow blooms, dandelions are not welcome in most lawns. Here’s what to use to get rid of them.

By Glenda Taylor | Updated Oct 31, 2022 1:35 PM

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Best Dandelion Killer

Photo: amazon.com

A favorite of children for their delicate seeds that take flight with a soft puff of breath, dandelions are among the challenges many home gardeners face in keeping their lawns lush and green. A single dandelion plant can produce as many as 10,000 seeds that float on the gentlest breeze, so a yard with just a few dandelions can turn quickly into a lawn with hundreds. A practical course of action is to kill the weeds before they can propagate.

In most cases, the best dandelion killer is one that will get rid of the dandelions without harming the surrounding grass. However, if the dandelion infestation is widespread, gardeners may need to kill the entire lawn and start over. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a dandelion killer—the most toxic is not necessarily the best choice—and find out why lawn lovers prize the following herbicides for eradicating dandelion problems.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Eco Garden Pro Organic Vinegar Weed Killer
  2. RUNNER-UP: Natural Elements Weed Killer, Pet Safe, Child Safe
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer, Pet Safe
  4. BEST FOR LARGE AREAS: BioSafe Systems 7601-1 Weed & Grass Killer
  5. BEST PREVENTIVE: Espoma Organic Weed Preventer—25 Pound CGP25
  6. ALSO CONSIDER: Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer
Best Dandelion Killer

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dandelion Killer

Dandelions are categorized as broadleaf weeds because of their wide, flat leaves that spread out along the ground in the shape of a dinner plate. Unlike many weeds with shallow root systems, dandelions develop long tap roots extending as deep as 2 feet or more into the ground, making them virtually impossible to pull out. Successfully getting rid of this invasive weed usually requires applying an herbicide.

Ingredients

Chemical herbicides have been a point of contention and debate for years, and although they have several advantages, they also have drawbacks.

Alternatively, organic herbicides contain only natural ingredients. They won’t leach toxic chemicals into the environment, and they also typically are less potent than their synthetic chemical cousins. Eco-safe dandelion-killer products may contain one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Salt: Very similar to table salt but without iodine.
  • Vinegar: May be concentrated to as much as six times stronger than household vinegar.
  • Essential oils: Common essential oils include clove, cinnamon, and wintergreen.
  • Soaps: Dish soap and natural detergents or fatty soap acids.
  • Plant byproducts: Corn gluten or cornstarch containing proteins that stop weed seeds from sprouting.

Selective vs. Nonselective

Some herbicides are “nonselective,” which means they will kill virtually any vegetation they come into contact with. Other herbicides kill only one or a few types of plants and are called selective herbicides because they won’t harm other types of plants.

Weed-and-feed-type products are selective herbicides because they kill broadleaf weeds such as dandelions but won’t harm turfgrass. Selective herbicides work similarly to pulling up a single weed by hand. A nonselective herbicide is more like running a weed whacker.

If an herbicide negatively affects soil health, the product states how much time should elapse before planting in the treated spot, ranging from a few days after treatment to a year or longer. With the exception of one pre-emergent product that prevents dandelion seeds from sprouting in our lineup, the herbicides suggested in this guide are nonselective and should be applied to weeds only.

Format

Dandelion-killing products are available in different formats, each suited to specific types of infestations and personal preferences.

  • Spray bottle: Among the simplest forms of herbicide for killing dandelions, spray herbicides come in a handy spray bottle for applying directly on the offending weeds.
  • Liquid concentrate: For yards with many dandelions, it may be easier and more cost-effective to purchase a concentrated liquid to apply using a pump-type sprayer.
  • Powder: Powdered herbicides can be used in two ways: dusting with a duster or dissolving in water and applying with a sprayer.
  • Granules: This herbicide requires a broadcast spreader or drop spreader. Depending on the product, the granules may kill existing weeds or prevent new weed seeds from sprouting.

Application Safety Tips

The key to using any type of herbicide safely is to plan ahead and reduce human and animal exposure. Though chemical herbicides present the most risk to humans, pets, and the environment, highly concentrated natural weed killers can irritate skin and kill desirable plants if not applied with care. Gardeners will want to use the following safety tips to help ensure the safe use of the product for the environment and all involved.

  • Read and follow label instructions: This can’t be emphasized strongly enough. Though most quality products have instructions for use, the labels on chemical-based herbicides are federally regulated and bear the phrase: “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”
  • Wear eye protection: In most cases, a pair of sunglasses will suffice for eye protection, but if it’s breezy, opt for goggles with side protection.
  • Protect skin:Wear long sleeves and long pants to keep the product from contacting bare skin.
  • Wait for calm: Winds more than 8 miles per hour are too strong to control herbicide spray.
  • Wash afterward: After applying herbicide, wash hands and other exposed skin. Change into clean clothes after application.
  • Walk backward: Rather than walking forward over a newly sprayed lawn, which virtually guarantees getting the herbicide on clothing and shoes, walk backward to reduce the risk of contact with the product.
  • Stay off: Different products advise users to keep pets, kids, and adults off the lawn until the herbicide no longer poses a health risk, which could be a couple of hours or a few days in the case of toxic herbicides. Natural herbicide products typically pose a risk of skin irritation only while they’re wet. When the solution dries, it’s safe to let the kids and pets out to play.
  • Be patient: It’s frustrating to spray dandelions and then see them looking healthy the next day, but many herbicides take a few days to work. Depending on the product, it may take as long as 2 weeks.

Before Buying Dandelion Killer

Eradicating weeds that mar the look of a lush lawn can feel like a never-ending endeavor, but applying a chemical herbicide that kills the weeds isn’t the only option. In some scenarios, it may be the least desirable option.

Applying an herbicide may not be necessary if good lawn maintenance practices are followed, including regular watering to keep the turfgrass thick and healthy, which helps keep weed seeds from getting a foothold. Mowing before a dandelion flower can go to seed will also help.

With dandelions, it really is a matter of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. A single bright yellow dandelion one year can result in dozens more next year. Simply picking the bright yellow flower before it has a chance to go to seed is a step toward keeping the lawn dandelion-free.

Also consider that dandelions are early bloomers and are often a primary source of pollen for honey bees early in the summer when other plants are not yet blooming. For that reason, we strongly suggest using a dandelion killer that won’t harm honey bees and other pollinators. Readers will also want to check out our How to DIY Your Own Dandelion Killer (below), which describes how to mix up a batch of dandelion-eradicating natural herbicide in the kitchen that will stop dandelions (and other weeds) in their tracks.

How We Chose the Best Dandelion Killers

The dandelion-killer products we chose are all effective, but they’re not the most toxic on the market. We extensively researched more than three dozen different herbicides when selecting the ones for this lineup. Not only did the products have to be effective, but they also had to be environmentally responsible.

The products are made to apply with a sprayer or a broadcast spreader, and each is easy to use. Some require only one or two applications for long-term weed control.

Be advised, however, that many of these products are nonselective, meaning they will kill any vegetation they come into contact with, so use them prudently. Spray only the offending dandelions, and don’t spray the surrounding lawn or nearby plants. Avoid treating the weeds on a windy day when overspray is likely to get on other plants.

Our Top Picks

To qualify as a top pick, a dandelion killer must effectively eradicate the weed and be relatively simple to use. The following herbicides are all made to control weeds, and each is well suited to various dandelion-killing situations. Although there are more highly potent herbicides on the market, when it comes to dandelions, we feel the following products are highly efficient and among the least toxic options for pets, children, and the environment.

Best Overall

Eco Garden Pro Organic Vinegar Weed Killer
Photo: amazon.com

To banish dandelions without harsh chemical herbicides, consider Eco Garden Pro Organic Vinegar Weed Killer. This natural dandelion killer features strong vinegar combined with salt to pack a powerful weed-walloping punch. Eco Garden Pro weed killer comes in a 1-gallon ready-to-use liquid.

This is a nonselective herbicide, meaning it will kill virtually all vegetation it touches. Take care to spray only weeds, such as individual dandelions in the yard or weeds and unwanted grass growing between sidewalk joints or pavers. Don’t let overspray get on desirable plants. This natural herbicide starts to work right away, and results often can be seen within 24 hours as the weeds begin to wilt. Eco Garden won’t leach harmful chemicals into the environment.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient: Vinegar
  • Selective or nonselective: Nonselective
  • Type: Ready-to-use liquid

Pros

  • No dilution necessary
  • Eco-friendly
  • Pet-safe and kid-safe

Cons

  • Sprayer not included

Get the Eco Garden Pro dandelion killer on Amazon or Eco Garden Solution USA (four 1-gallon containers).

Runner-Up

Natural Elements Weed Killer, Pet Safe, Child Safe
Photo: amazon.com

Users won’t have to worry about spraying dangerous chemicals in their yards with the Natural Elements Weed Killer. Like our top pick, this dandelion killer contains sodium chloride (salt) and industrial-strength vinegar that make quick work of killing unwanted weeds. It’s nonselective, though, meaning it will kill weeds along with desirable ornamentals and lawn grass if it inadvertently gets on them.

Natural Elements Weed Killer comes in a 1-gallon jug, and it’s ready to use—no diluting is necessary. It may be used in either a pump sprayer or a trigger-type hand sprayer. The manufacturer suggests spraying an ample amount of the product on the weeds—enough to make them wet. Results should be visible within 24 hours.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient: Vinegar and sodium chloride
  • Selective or nonselective: Nonselective
  • Type: Ready-to-use liquid

Pros

  • Safe for use around pets and children
  • No harmful chemicals
  • No dilution necessary
  • Results visible in less than 24 hours

Cons

  • Sprayer not included

Get the Natural Elements dandelion killer on Amazon or Natural Elements.

Best Bang for the Buck

Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer, Pet Safe
Photo: amazon.com

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to kill unwanted dandelions. Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer contains both vinegar and sea salt in an affordable solution that will kill dandelions and other unwanted weeds. The product is so powerful, results may be seen in as little as 3 hours.

The ready-to-use liquid can be used in a garden-type pump sprayer or a trigger sprayer. This nonselective herbicide will kill lawns and any other desirable plants if it inadvertently gets on them, so take care to spray only on the unwanted weed—and avoid spraying on a windy day. Spray the weed until the foliage is saturated but not dripping. Fortunately, the eco-friendly product is not a threat to honey bees, but it can still irritate bare skin while wet, so users will want to make sure Earth’s Ally is fully dry before letting children and pets out to play.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient: Sodium chloride (salt), vinegar
  • Selective or nonselective: Nonselective
  • Type: Ready-to-use liquid

Pros

  • Won’t harm honey bees
  • Safe for use around pets and kids
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • No measuring or mixing necessary

Cons

  • Can kill desirable plants if overspray gets on them

Get Earth’s Ally dandelion killer at Lowe’s

Best for Large Areas

BioSafe Systems 7601-1 Weed & Grass Killer
Photo: amazon.com

If dandelions are out of control and a large amount must be eradicated, it may be best to kill all the vegetation in the affected area and then replant with lawn grass or such ground cover as clover or lilyturf. In such a case, consider turning to BioSafe Systems weed and grass Killer. Although it will wipe out all the plants it touches, including the lawn, it won’t leave harmful residue behind in the soil.

BioSafe is certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), a nonprofit organization that reviews and rates the environmental safety of various products. OMRI certification means BioSafe can be used where organic crops are grown. Its active ingredient is ammonium nonanoate, also called ammonium salt, a low-toxicity substance that will not leach into the soil or be absorbed by the roots of other plants.

This is a nonselective product, so avoid applying it on a windy day to reduce the risk of overspray. It comes as a concentrated liquid and can be applied to treat large areas of dandelions and other weeds. Results can be seen in 24 hours or sooner.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient: Ammonium nonanoate
  • Selective or nonselective: Nonselective
  • Type: Concentrated liquid

Pros

  • Safe for use around organic-certified crops
  • Kills within 24 hours
  • Leaves no residue in the soil

Cons

  • Overspray will kill desirable plants

Get the BioSafe Systems dandelion killer on Amazon

Best Preventive

Espoma Organic Weed Preventer—25 Pound CGP25
Photo: amazon.com

Keep new dandelions from popping up with Espoma weed preventer, which stops dandelion and other weed seeds from sprouting. Espoma is a natural product that doesn’t pose a health risk to pets and humans, and it won’t pollute the environment. Espoma is a pre-emergent, meaning it keeps seedlings from sprouting and growing. It contains 100 percent corn gluten meal with a high-protein concentration that stops seeds from germinating. Use this Espoma product on established lawns to keep blown-in seeds from sprouting.

Espoma comes in granular form and should be applied with a broadcast spreader. Corn gluten also contains nitrogen (a nutrient that makes grass green). The product can be used twice per year, so for best results, apply in early spring and again in midsummer.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient:Corn gluten
  • Selective or nonselective: N/A
  • Type: Pre-emergent

Pros

  • Natural, nontoxic product
  • Keeps dandelion seeds from sprouting
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Does not kill existing dandelions
  • Will keep desirable seeds from sprouting

Get the Espoma dandelion preventer at Amazon, Overstock, or True Value.

Also Consider

Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer
Photo: amazon.com

Sodium chloride (salt) is the main active ingredient in this natural weed killer that also contains food-grade vinegar to kill a variety of weeds, including unwanted dandelions. The product also contains liquid soap, which acts as a surfactant (a sticking agent) to help the solution adhere to the weed’s surface as it dries, increasing its effectiveness.

Spray the ready-to-use solution directly on dandelions to saturate their leaves. Results in the form of wilting may be seen in just a few hours. The product is safe for use in yards where pets and children play, but while the solution is wet, it may cause skin irritation. Avoid spraying during windy conditions to reduce the risk of overspray on desirable grass or other plants.

Product Specs

  • Active ingredient: Sodium chloride, vinegar, soap
  • Selective or nonselective: Nonselective
  • Type: Ready-to-use liquid

Pros

  • Eco-friendly formula
  • Results can be seen in a few hours
  • No mixing or measuring
  • Safe for use around kids and pets

Cons

  • Overspray will kill desirable plants

Get the Doctor Kirchner dandelion killer on Amazon, Florenmola Marts, or Doctor Kirchner.

Jump to Our Top Picks



Or, DIY Your Own Dandelion Killer 

Buying a commercial weed-killing product isn’t always necessary. A safe weed killer can be made at home with a few affordable products that are often already on hand in the pantry.

Gardeners can follow this simple recipe to make their own solution. Clearly label and store any leftover in a cool, dark spot, such as a basement or under a sink. It should remain viable for up to 5 years.

Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into a clean plastic bucket or pail. Stir in 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix until the salt dissolves. Add in a gallon of water and stir to combine. That’s it! Pour the ready-to-use solution into a trigger spray bottle or a pump sprayer. Apply directly to dandelions and other unwanted weeds, but don’t let overspray get on grass or desirable plants, as it could kill them, too.

Our Verdict

Any weed killers featured in this lineup will do a good job of killing dandelions without damaging the environment or creating a toxic risk. Yet we chose the Eco Garden Pro dandelion killer as our Best Overall for its ease of use and industrial-strength vinegar. Our Best Bang for the Buck pick, the Earth’s Ally dandelion killer, is safe for use in yards where pets and children play, and it comes at an attractive price point.

FAQs 

You now know that broadleaf herbicides can help keep a lawn free from dandelions, but if you still want more information about whether the products are safe for yards, humans, pets, and the environment, read on. Below are answers to some of the most popular questions about dandelion killers.

Q. Why should I remove dandelions from my lawn? 

You don’t have to! Dandelions won’t harm the soil, and their deep roots can help prevent erosion on sloped areas. However, a few dandelions this summer can turn into hundreds next summer, detracting from the look of a lush, green lawn. The best way to keep them out of a lawn is to get rid of them when they first appear.

Q. Are dandelion killers safe? 

It depends on the product. Natural and organic herbicides are safe for the environment but may pose health risks to pets and humans while they’re wet. Chemical herbicides also may pose health risks during application and until the chemicals are absorbed in the soil.

Q. How do I kill dandelions but not the grass in my garden? 

The best method is to treat only the dandelions with a weed killer and take care not to get the solution on the surrounding grass.

Why Trust Bob Vila

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.