Do you use vinegar in your laundry? Are you like me and feel like you’re suddenly hearing a lot of talk about white vinegar in laundry? Well, whether you’re looking for gentler alternatives to on the market laundry products or you’ve seen a TikTok laundry hack, you might be inspired to add vinegar to your laundry routine. BUT there are some things we need to be aware first.
I love vinegar and use it regularly in my cleaning routine because it really does have many uses. In the laundry room, however, there are some things to be aware of before using it, as well as some best practices for using it.
Before we proceed I’m putting out this disclaimer as a WARNING to never mix vinegar and chlorine bleach! You can use one or the other, but never both.
For me the benefits of using vinegar in our laundry outweigh the negatives
Using vinegar in laundry can help with stain removal, odor elimination, as well as getting rid of mold and mildew. It also works great as fabric softener. Below are details about each:
- Stain Removal: Vinegar is effective at treating low-pH stains like coffee, tea, fruit juice, wine, even beer. How to: soak the item stained for at least 30 minutes (sometimes overnight might be required) in a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 1 Tbsp. liquid laundry detergent prior to laundering.
- Mold and Mildew Removal: In a spray bottle, spraying white vinegar will help mold or mildew from fabrics.
- Odor Removal: Vinegar is also excellent at removing odor-causing bacteria (like sweat), so I use a spray bottle spraying the armpits of athletic clothing or anything else that we sweat in.
- Fabric Softener: Since vinegar has natural fabric-softening properties, it’s a great alternative to the store bought commercial liquid.
The import thing to note here is that while vinegar sounds like a miracle laundry product, it can cause damage to washing machines so proceed with caution. Equally, there are certain fabrics that shouldn’t be overly exposed to vinegar so proceed with caution so make sure you read all labels and warning first. It’s best to use vinegar in moderation. Let’s move on to the Do’s and Don’ts
The best use of vinegar in any laundry situation is to get rid of mold and mildew . While chlorine bleach can be used to eliminate mold or mildew from laundry, it should only be used on whites, making vinegar a great choice for washing items that have gotten moldy ~ remember to NEVER use both!
Using vinegar is great to rid clothing or towels that have a musty odor or to remove that “film” they sometimes get. Fabric softener and/or using an incorrect laundry detergent amount is typically to blame for these issues, and vinegar is a gentle yet inexpensive way to strip items of the product buildup.
Another excellent use for vinegar (and I mentioned this earlier) is with athleisure and/or other types of clothing that have a little give, or stretch, to it. Vinegar can help with the sweat stains as well as any lingering odors.
DON’T Use With Chlorine Bleach: First, and most importantly, it is imperative that vinegar NEVER be used in conjunction with chlorine bleach, or any other products that contain chlorine bleach. When vinegar and chlorine bleach are mixed, they create a chemical reaction that results in dangerous fumes that are extremely harmful and can be fatal.
DON’T With Regular Use: Secondly, vinegar should not be used as a part of your regular laundry routine due to the acid in vinegar. That acid can damage washing machine seals and hoses, causing leaks. This is especially true of front-loading washing machines because they have thick rubber gaskets around the door. While vinegar is a natural alternative to fabric softeners, using it regularly is NOT advised because of the damage it can have on the machine.
DON’T With Elastic: Lastly, avoid the overuse of vinegar when washing athleisure wear and/or other types of clothing with stretch or elastic in it. We already know that vinegar is great at stripping odor and/or buildup from the but over time, the acidity of the vinegar can break down those fibers, shortening the lifespan of anything with stretch in it.