DIY Lavender Vinegar Rinse to Brighten, Deodorize, and Soften Clothes

Fresh lavender and bottle of lavender oil
Rosemary Calvert / Getty Images

Turn laundry from a dreaded chore into a luxury with this easy-to-make aromatic vinegar rinse! Use it in place of artificially fragranced and synthetic fabric softeners. You will be uplifted by the scent of your laundry and pleased with how well it whitens whites, brightens colors, removes odors, and softens your laundry naturally. Plus, its all-natural ingredients easily biodegrade in the environment and won’t harm your health or that of the planet.

Ingredients and Preparation

All you need are to follow two natural ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (100 drops) of French lavender essential oil (Lavandula augustifolia)
  • 16 ounces of distilled white vinegar

To prepare the laundry rinse:

  1. Add the essential oil to the distilled white vinegar.
  2. Using a funnel if necessary, pour the mixture into a glass jar or bottle. 
  3. Shake well and label accordingly so that it's clear it's meant for laundry uses and not for cooking!
  4. To use, shake the jar to reincorporate the essential oils into the vinegar and add ¼ cup to your laundry’s final rinse cycle or to the fabric softener tray if your washing machine has one. For especially large loads, add up to 1/2 cup.

Tips for Using Essential Oils

  • Feel free to replace the lavender with other essential oils that are great for laundry use, such as eucalyptus, which is great for dust mites.
  • Also, when purchasing scents for your laundry rinses, be sure that you are buying pure essential oils and if possible, organic ones. They are often available from natural food markets, vitamin stores, and aromatherapy suppliers.
  • This is a great product to make for gifts since it’s so economical and easy to make. Create some extra fancy labels or gift tags noting the benefits and uses of the product if you give them away as gifts.
  • Many vinegar brands are available for purchase in different sizes. Simply purchase a 16-ounce bottle, remove the label, add the essential oils, and re-label the bottle. What could be easier?
  • If you have a jumbo size vinegar bottle and need a jar or bottle for storing your vinegar rinse, considering re-purposing a mayonnaise jar or glass milk jar.

How Does This Rinse Work?

Vinegar’s acidic properties help remove any remaining traces of alkaline detergent and mineral deposits, which results in soft, bright laundry. In addition, the acetic acid and other properties in vinegar help naturally combat mold, viruses, and bacteria, so it is a great addition to your wash when cleaning rags or especially dirty clothes. Vinegar also naturally freshens.

Lavender naturally scents your laundry and also has inherent germ-fighting properties due to its antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, and fungicidal actions. It also acts as a natural moth repellent.

You can also use this rinse to clean your washing machine. To remove mold, built-up soap scum, or mineral deposits, add one cup of this rinse to a hot-water wash cycle and run the machine empty. This is a great thing to do for periodic machine maintenance, too.

Common Sense Cautions

  • It is important that you use essential oils safely. If you get essential oils in your eyes, flush with water for 10 to 15 minutes. Consult a doctor if irritation persists. If you get essential oils on your skin, wash with soapy warm water. One exception: lavender doesn't harm the skin; in fact, it is often used directly on the skin to treat burns, insect bites, etc.
  • Vinegar can irritate your eyes if contact occurs. Flush liberally with water for 5 to 10 minutes if the product gets in your eyes.
  • Don’t ever mix vinegar with chlorine bleach. It will create toxic chlorine gas.
Article Sources
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  1. Entani, Etsuzo, et al. Antibacterial Action of Vinegar against Food-Borne Pathogenic Bacteria Including Escherichia coliO157:H7. Journal of Food Protection, vol. 61, no. 8, 1998, pp. 953–959., doi:10.4315/0362-028x-61.8.953

  2. Predoi, Daniela, et al. Antimicrobial Activity of New Materials Based on Lavender and Basil Essential Oils and Hydroxyapatite. Nanomaterials, vol. 8, no. 5, 2018, p. 291., doi:10.3390/nano8050291

  3. Essential Oils – Health Warning. Western Australia Department of Health

  4. Knowledge and Practices Regarding Safe Household Cleaning and Disinfection for COVID-19 Prevention - United States, May 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention