How to Remove Laundry Stains With Vinegar

how to remove laundry stains with vinegar illustration

The Spruce / Daniel Fishel

Not much beats the stain-fighting power of vinegar. ​Learn how to treat 13 of your toughest laundry stains with distilled white vinegar and just a bit of elbow grease.

  • 01 of 13

    Tomato Stains

    Young boy looking at shirt's food stains

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    Saturate the tomato stain with vinegar and allow it to soak in. Then, launder as usual. Check to make sure the stain is out ​before you run the clothing through the dryer.

  • 02 of 13

    Mildew Stains

    Mildew stain

    Jeffrey Coolidge / Digital Vision / Getty Images

    If you forgot to move the wash over to the dryer and it smells mildewy or has visible mildew stains, just mix equal parts vinegar and water with some salt, and soak the clothing in the solution. It should lift mildew stains from most fabrics. If you still see signs of staining after soaking, make a solution of undiluted vinegar and salt, and soak it again.

  • 03 of 13

    Coffee/Tea Stains

    Coffee stain

    Judith Haeusler / The Image Bank / Getty Images

    To banish coffee or tea stains, soak the stained fabric in 1/3 cup vinegar mixed with 2/3 cup water. Hang the garment outside in the sun to dry, then launder as usual.

  • 04 of 13

    Mustard Stains

    Mustard stain

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    Mustard stains require a bit of persistence. Start by applying undiluted vinegar to the stain and allowing it to soak in. If that doesn't do it, you may also need to treat the spot with laundry detergent. Just work it into the stain and throw the clothing in the wash, checking to make sure the stain is out before you dry the garment. Repeat the process, if necessary.

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  • 05 of 13

    Sweat Stains

    Armpit stain

    Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

    To banish sweat stains, pour vinegar over the discolored area and rub coarse salt into it. Table salt will work if it's all you have. Place the garment out in the sun to dry before washing it.

  • 06 of 13

    Grass Stains

    Grass stains

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    To lift grass stains, soak the garment in undiluted vinegar for 30 minutes, then launder it. If you can still see signs of the stain after washing, try making a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Use an old toothbrush to coat the stain, then launder it again.

  • 07 of 13

    Ink Stains

    Ink stain

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    Defeat stubborn ink stains by spraying the stain with hairspray, then dabbing vinegar on the hairspray to remove it--and the ink. 

  • 08 of 13

    Blood Stains

    Women hold bed sheet with period blood spot stains on blur background. Need to be cleaning.
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    Fast action is the cure for bloodstains. Pour vinegar over the stain and allow it to soak for 15 minutes before rinsing it with cool water. Repeat if necessary, and wash immediately.

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  • 09 of 13

    Set-In Stains

    Laundry stains

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    Saturate set-in stains with vinegar, then rub the spot with a paste made from equal parts vinegar and baking soda. You can add a couple of tablespoons each of vinegar and laundry detergent to a bucket of water and soak the garment overnight ​if the stain persists. Then, rinse and wash. 

  • 10 of 13

    Crayon Stains


    Alison Samborn / Getty Images

    Rub vinegar into the crayon stain with a brush (an old toothbrush works great), then toss the garment in the wash.

  • 11 of 13

    Vomit Stains

    Woman using white vinegar to clean

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    Rinse the garment in cool water to remove as much of the vomit as possible, then soak the stain in vinegar and wash the garment. Repeat the process, if necessary.

  • 12 of 13

    Rust Stains


    101cats / E+ / Getty Images

    To remove a rust stain, soak a cotton ball in vinegar and use it to blot the stain. Cover the stain with a thin layer of salt and rub it into the vinegar and the fabric. Lay the garment outside in direct sunlight until the stain has faded, then wash as usual.

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  • 13 of 13

    Iron Scorch Marks

    Iron scorch mark

    Jonathan Kantor / Stone / Getty Images

    Accidentally leave the iron on your clothes for too long? Reverse the damage by soaking a cotton ball or rag in vinegar and dabbing at the scorched area. Blot the stain with a clean rag, which should lift the stain. It may take more than one application to remove the scorch mark fully.