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.
You will usually find distilled white vinegar next to apple cider vinegar. You’ll also find gourmet vinegars – raspberry, basil, balsamic – but leave those for salads and cooking.
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 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 range 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.
Let’s see what vinegar can do for you…
2 of 11 Brighten and Whiten Clothes With Vinegar
The acetic acid in white distilled 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.
To learn more about how to keep whites white, follow these tips.
3 of 11 Banish Mildew Odor With Vinegar
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.
4 of 11 Soften Clothes Naturally With Vinegar
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 their laundry.
5 of 11 Reduce Lint And Pet Hair On Clothes With Vinegar
6 of 11 Fight Underarm Odor With Vinegar
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.
If yellowing has already occurred, follow these tips to remove the underarm discoloration.
7 of 11 Erase Hem Lines With Vinegar
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.
8 of 11 Vinegar Leaves a Blacker Shade of Black
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. But to keep black clothes looking their best, you need to follow these steps.
9 of 11 Keep An Iron Steaming With Vinegar
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.
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.
10 of 11 Clean Your Washer With Vinegar
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.
11 of 11 Cut Through Smoke Odors With Vinegar
If your washable clothing reeks of cigarette or cigar smoke odor, add 1/2 cup 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.
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