Top 10 Uses of Vinegar in the Laundry

  • 01 of 11

    Top Reasons You Should Add Vinegar to Your Laundry

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    Inexpensive white distilled vinegar can be used in the laundry to whiten, brighten, reduce odor and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. It is safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers and is beneficial to septic tanks and the environment. In the grocery store, you will usually find distilled white vinegar next to apple cider vinegar. 


    All vinegars contain acetic acid that works to brighten, soften and kill odors in your laundry. Cider vinegar is made from juices of apples and...MORE has an acidity in the range of 5 to 6 percent. It is yellow or golden amber in color. Distilled, or white vinegar, is produced from the second fermentation of dilute distilled alcohol. The alcohol could be made from grain or the starch from corn, potatoes, rice and barley. Distilled vinegar is usually less acidic than cider vinegars and ranges from 4 to 7 percent acidity.


    When buying vinegar to use in the laundry, choose white distilled vinegar. It contains no tannins—natural plant dyes—that can stain clothes and it is less expensive. If you must use cider vinegar, use less and dilute it before pouring directly on clothes. Keep a bottle next to your detergent to keep laundry looking its best.


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  • 02 of 11

    Brighten and Whiten Clothes

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    The acetic acid in distilled white vinegar is so mild that it will not harm washable fabrics; yet is strong enough to dissolve residues (alkalies) left by soaps and detergents. Adding just 1/2 cup vinegar to the final rinse will result in brighter, clearer colors. If using an automatic dispenser, add the distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or add the vinegar manually at the beginning of the rinse cycle.
     


    The mild acetic acid in vinegar also acts as a whitener and brightener...MORE for gray, dingy clothes in the laundry. To get stained white socks and dingy dishcloths white again, add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water. Heat to boiling and add the articles. Let soak overnight and then launder as usual. This should only be used on 100 percent cotton clothing.


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  • 03 of 11

    Banish Mildew Odor

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    Leaving wet towels in a hamper or a load of wet clothing in the washer  can create mildew growth and a moldy smell. To get everything smelling fresh, fill the washer with hot water, add two cups of white distilled vinegar and run through the wash cycle. Then, run a normal cycle with detergent.


    This works well for small amounts of mold and sour smells. For larger mold issues, you'll need to use a more aggressive treatment.


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  • 04 of 11

    Naturally Soften Clothes

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    If you don't like the idea of using heavily scented commercial fabric softeners, but want softer clothes, white distilled vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener and leaves no residue on laundry. Just add 1/2 cup to the final rinse cycle.


    If you do like a light scent, add a couple of drops of essential oil like lavender to the bottle of vinegar.


    Commercial fabric softeners interfere with the fire retardant qualities of children's clothing—especially pajamas—and should never be used with...MORE their laundry. White distilled vinegar is safe and hypoallergenic for all children's clothes.


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  • 05 of 11

    Reduce Lint and Pet Hair

    Remove lint
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    Just 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle, will help prevent lint and pet hair from clinging to clothes.


    If you accidentally washed something dark with some lint-producing towels, follow these tips to help get rid of the excessive lint.


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  • 06 of 11

    Fight Underarm Odor

    dress shirts
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    Fill a spray bottle with undiluted distilled white vinegar and keep it on hand in the laundry room to remove perspiration odor and stains on washable clothing. Spray the vinegar directly on underarm areas before tossing them into the washing machine. The vinegar will help to cut through residual deodorant left on clothing and prevent underarm yellowing.


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  • 07 of 11

    Erase Hem Lines

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    Kids seem to grow overnight and pants hems have to be let down, often leaving a mark.


    To get rid of the tiny holes left along a seam or hemline when a garment is altered, moisten a white cloth with white distilled vinegar, place it under the fabric and press. Select the correct ironing temperature and use a pressing cloth on top of the fabric to prevent scorching.


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  • 08 of 11

    Keep Dark Clothing Dark

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    Adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the final rinse cycle will remove soap and detergent residue that makes washable black clothes look dull. 


    RELATED: How to Wash Dark Clothes to Prevent Fading


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  • 09 of 11

    Clean Your Iron

    Vinegar can keep an iron clean
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    Mineral deposits can clog an iron's steam vents and spray nozzles. To remove those deposits, fill the water chamber with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and distilled water. Set the iron in an upright position on a heatproof surface and let it steam for about five minutes. When the iron is cool, rinse the tank with water. Then refill the iron and shake water through the vents onto an old cloth. Then, iron then old cloth for several minutes to expel any residue before moving...MORE on to wearable garments.


    To remove scorch marks from the faceplate of an iron, rub with a warmed-up solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt. Finish by wiping down the faceplate with a cloth dampened with full-strength white distilled vinegar.


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  • 10 of 11

    Clean Your Washing Machine

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    Soap scum and mineral deposits can build up in the hoses of your washer restricting water flow and performance. Four times per year, remove soap scum and clean the hoses by running an empty regular washer cycle with hot water and 2 cups of white distilled vinegar.


    If you have automatic detergent or fabric softener dispensers, place the pure white distilled vinegar in the dispensers to clean any build-up that may limit performance.


    Follow these tips for more specific cleaning instructions for front...MORE load washers and top load washers.


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  • 11 of 11

    Get Rid of Smoke Odors

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    If your washable clothing reeks of cigarette or cigar smoke odor, add 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the wash cycle. For dry clean only clothes and furnishings like pillows and drapes, fill the bathtub with very hot water and add 1 cup white distilled vinegar. Hang the clothes or fabric above the steaming water and shut the door so the steam can penetrate the fibers.


    For heavy smoke odors following a fire, follow these steps to remove the odor.