Kill weeds with steam by using my easy DIY hack! Instantly kill weeds by harnessing the power of an inexpensive steam mop without chemicals or harming other plants and get back to enjoying your garden. You can use steam to kill weeds in vegetable gardens, landscaping, or pavement.
The demand for natural weed killers has never been greater as chemical weed killers are linked to cancer, but products claiming to kill weeds naturally are unreliable at best. Natural weed killers like vinegar or salt are indiscriminate in their ability to kill everything. Salt accumulation in soil is dangerous and costly in the long term. NEVER USE SALT in your garden.
That is where killing weeds naturally with steam comes to save the day. Not only does steam kill weeds naturally with water, but it turns weeds into compost to improve soil health. Instead of filling trash cans then our landfills with weeds, use steam to rapidly breaks down plant material right in your landscape without the need for a compost bin. Seriously y’all, this is a no brainer. Steam is amazing!
See how CU Boulder is using commercial steamers on campus to control weeds naturally.
DIY Weed Steamer
With only one mediocre steam weeder on the market, naturally killing weeds with steam has not been a viable option for homeowners like myself.
Follow along as I turn my inexpensive steam mop into a lean, mean, weed killing machine.
Supplies for Steam Weeder
- Shark Steam Mop
- Plastic To-Go Soup Container
- Drill bits
- Needle nose pliers
Disassemble Steam Mop Head
First things first. We need to disassemble a mop head to use as parts. My Shark Professional Steam Mop came with two heads. Rectangular and triangular. I never use the triangular one so it’s the one I’m using here. If only one head comes with your steam mop, you can buy additional ones here to use exclusively for steam weed killing.
Set the head aside as you will be working with this small piece from now on.
Remove all four small screws from inside but keep two nearby. You’ll be reusing them.
Next, we need to remove the steam hose from the housing by squeezing this metal clamp.
Use needle nose pliers to squeeze the clamp together while pulling the hose off the plastic nipple.
It helps to have two people but I did it myself with a little persistence.
Now you’re ready to start building your steam weed killer.
Assemble Steam Weed Killer
Carefully drill a hole barely larger than the size of the plastic nipple on the bottom of your plastic to-go soup container.
DO NOT PRESS HARD. These containers are brittle when cool and will crack if you rush it. You’ll see where I got impatient later on.
Install the plastic nipple and pre-drill 2 small holes for the screws. This is where I got impatient and cracked my container.
Reuse the small stainless screws you set aside earlier to attach the nipple to the container. Screws do not need to be tight. Just enough to keep everything together.
Next, put the hose back on the nipple by squeezing the metal clamp as you push. This is where it really helps to have two sets of hands.
Make sure the metal clamp is actually around the hose AND nipple. Steam is coming out at very high pressure and the hose will blow off if it’s not secure.
Last things last, drill two large holes near the collar of the container. This relieves pressure as the steam is released. Without it, you risk the container exploding or worse. Trust me. I learned that lesson quickly.
Attach Steam Mop
All that’s left is to attach your new steam weeding head.
Isn’t she a thing of beauty?
Fill her up with tap water, plug her in, set on Mop, and within 30 seconds you’ll be killing weeds naturally with steam!
When set on “Scrub” you can go pretty fast but it does go through water much faster. “Mop” is a more leisurely pace and should last you a good 15 minutes or more.
Now for the warnings
- You are working with very hot steam. Be careful.
- If you have tall weeds, be careful not to block the steam outlet. You’ll create back pressure and that’s very bad. I think I am actually going to cut the hose shorter myself bc let’s be honest, I let my weeds get a little too tall.
- This is an indoor electrical appliance. You need to be very careful about the cord and water. No one likes being electrocuted.
- Do not steam plants you actually like.
- Steam helps to germinate weed seeds. While it initially leads to more weeds sprouting, it also helps exhaust the weeds’ seed banks and eventually leads to much lower-maintenance beds. Just keep steaming.
Steam Weed Killing Supplies
I tried using a tiny metal bucket instead of the plastic container as my weed steamer head and it failed miserably. The heat disperses too quickly, annoying the weeds instead of straight up killing them.
I would love to hear all about your natural weed killing adventures!
Comment below to share how steam has helped in your garden!
Just built it this morning! Already killed some weeds. Thank you so much for posting this. Great to not have to pull weeds or use pesticides around the kids.
Ya! You totally made my day! So happy to see it’s working for you! I’m just about to go use my steam weed killer on chamberbitter weed that just starting popping up so I’ll keep everyone updated on how it goes. I’m predicting a 100% kill rate without damage to my hydrangeas.
still working good for you? Can i use this in gardens near plants i like or only on walkways?
Yes, you can use it around good plants but stay a few feet away to save the roots. I was able to steam around my hydrangeas & boxwoods without a problem.
This is great! Thank you. I’ve been trying to figure out how to afford a schmancy steamer, but I bet this will do the job. Tip: heat your drill bit end slightly before you drill into the plastic soup bucket- it’ll soften and not crack. (Don’t heat the bucket, heat the drill bit.)
I tried using a very small metal bucket for better durability but it dispersed heat too fast. It wasn’t nearly as effective at killing weeds with steam as the plastic soup container.
Jim in Draperville says
try using a large microwave cook COVER?, heat resistant, larger footprint for areas lIKE driveways, tape over vent holes if needed.
Excellent idea! I completely forgot about those.
Any reason you didn’t just use the triangular plastic head? Im looking at a simple solution for my wife till I can get home and do the fabrication.
Since the triangle head spreads the steam horizontally instead of directing it down vertically, you give the weeds a nice facial. I needed a concentrated steam so it would blast the weeds & contain the steam for maximum efficiency.
Lili Krins says
Thanks for sharing your brilliant idea. Was looking online for professional steam weeders, but this is by far a much cheaper solution. Do you think using a carpet steamer as the unit would work the same? As thats what I have.
Does the carpet steamer actually produce steam? I’ve only seen “carpet steamers” that dispense hot water instead of steam.
Hi! How long do you steam each weed for? My lovely husband thinks we need to set the plastic container on each weed for about 10 seconds. As my yard is overrun with chickweed and creeping Charlie, if I do 10 seconds for every weed, I’ll be 80 by the time I finish one pass. So I’m hoping you can kind of move slowly along and get the right effect. Thanks so much for posting this.
I go about 5 seconds or until they turn bright green.
Evelyn Galbraith says
Will it kill Canadian thistle?
Steam will kill everything. Depending on the root structure, it may take multiple attempts.
Will this kill nutsedge in an iris garden?
Evil, evil sedge. It will definitely kill it but you will need to steam it every time a new shoot comes up. Try steaming then apply 3 layers of cardboard + mulch. It eliminated nutsedge in my infested beds for 6 months and I can easily steam the new plants popping up here & there.
I have to use the triangle because I don’t have the ingenuity to take apart my steamer. Is that okay?
New homeowner here with an awesome 30×5 raised bed made by the previous owners. Was super excited about all the veggies I planted…. Until I noticed a ton of butterfly-wing-looking plants carpeting the entire bed— morning glories!!!!! It’s honestly shocking how many there are. There’s a good section of the bed we haven’t utilized yet so I figure we’d be fine to try this on that part, and I may even sacrifice some of our new seedlings to try to get rid of the blanket of morning glory’s!!!
For huge open spaces like that, look into solarizing the soil if you can wait a while before planting.
I’ve also found putting 2-3 layers of cardboard under mulch 100% blocks weeds/other unwanted plants. It’s the only method that works on bermuda grass and sedges.
Does this entirely kill the weed, or just the above-ground part?
It kills the top which starves the root. It is not very good at killing plants with taproots. You need a spiked steamer to kill those. One day I’ll come up with a hack for that.
Another good tool if you don’t want to do the fabrication work is the Wagner wallpaper steamer. You can use the big attachment for bigger areas, or just use the hose or small attachment for more targeting.
The solution in this post is way nicer for being able to stand while doing it.
Agree. I tried using my Jiffy Steamer and bending over was just not fun. I even attached a pole and it was not worth it.
Jean Moody says
I can’t seem to get the hose back in the nipple. The clamp is off of the hose now. Any recommendations?
That is the trickiest part of this whole process. I use a good long pair of needle nose pliers to loosen the clamp tension with one hand then slide it up once the hose is on the nipple. It’s about impossible without needle nose pliers.