7 reasons why you should use vinegar when doing your laundry

Washing machine
Washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you have many laundry detergents (and still not happy), one of the best solutions is probably in your kitchen cupboard right now. White vinegar has become more popular for its miraculous cleaning powers, than sprinkling over food. 

And while the idea of putting vinegar in your laundry may seem counter-productive, it’s actually the best thing you can use in your washing machine. This natural, household product contains acetic acid that works well to clean, disinfect, deodorize and soften fabrics. In addition, vinegar has antibacterial properties, making it the ideal laundry detergent. What’s more, it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, eco-friendly and far cheaper than shop-bought cleaners. 

Bear in mind, you should only use white vinegar for your laundry as the other vinegar types may stain. If in doubt, check out what is the best vinegar to clean with. And if you don't want your home smelling of vinegar, learn how to clean with vinegar without the smell. 

So before you buy the latest, laundry product, or call in a plumber, here are some reasons why you should use vinegar in your laundry.

Ever wondered which is better at cleaning, vinegar vs baking soda? We've got the answer.  

1. Gets rid of limescale 

White vinegar in washing machine

White vinegar in washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Vinegar is a great way to remove limescale and break down deposits inside the machine. Simply add a cup of white vinegar in your detergent dispenser and run an empty washing cycle. This can prevent your washing machine from being clogged up with limescale, resulting in a poor washing performance. In fact, you’ll need to know why you could be ruining your washing machine without knowing it — try these 3 cheap hacks to extend its life and how to clean your washing machine to keep it at its best, unless you want to upgrade to one of the best washing machines.

2. DIY stain remover  

Oil stain on white shirt

Oil stain on white shirt (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Forget expensive stain removers, vinegar is the answer for everyday stains. Apply undiluted vinegar to the stain and let it sit for 10-30 minutes to allow it to soak in. Then wash in the machine at the recommended temperature. To treat stubborn stains, you can add half to two cups of vinegar to the washing cycle.

For more stain removal tips, check out how to remove oil stains from clothes, how to remove red wine stains and how to remove blood stains quickly if you have an accident.  

3. Natural fabric softener 

Colored towels in basket

Colored towels in basket (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want your laundry to stay soft, without the chemicals, vinegar is a great, natural softener. Simply add ¼  to ½  cup of distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser at the final rinse cycle of your washing machine. This will also strip the detergent residue and mineral build-up from clothing, without leaving a toxic fragrance. Vinegar is also great for making towels fluffy, if you want tips on how to wash towels

Never mix distilled white vinegar with bleach though — this creates a lethal chlorine gas. 

4. Banish smelly odors 

Woman smelling a white towel

Woman smelling a white towel (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether it’s bad odors from sweat, smoke or mildew, vinegar is a natural deodorizer. This is often the case if you’ve left your damp laundry in a basket, and it starts to smell. Simply add ½ to one cup of vinegar to your laundry before washing as normal. Don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell of vinegar! 

5. Keeps denims from fading 

Denim jeans on washing line

Denim jeans on washing line (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although vinegar is great for white clothes, it can also prevent new denims or dark colored clothes from fading. This is because vinegar works great to lock in the color in fabrics. It also removes soap and detergent residue that makes colored clothes look dull. Simply mix a solution of half cold water to half vinegar and soak your new denims for one hour before hanging to air dry.  

 6. Gets rid of lint and reduces static 

Rolling lint off yellow sweater

Rolling lint off yellow sweater (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If items are covered with lint or even pet hair in your laundry, vinegar can combat this. This is because it reduces static that makes lint or hair less likely to cling to your clothes. Simply add ½ a cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle to get rid of excessive lint.  

7. Erases hem lines 

Ironing hem line

Ironing hem line (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Children grow fast, and when their pant hems need to be let down this often leaves a hem mark. If you want to erase the small holes left along a seam or hemline when a garment is altered, dampen a white cloth with distilled white vinegar, place it under the fabric and press down. Then, select the right ironing temperature to iron the hem out, using a cloth on top of the fabric to prevent burning.  

Bear in mind that white vinegar is acidic ,and should still be used in moderation. Also, these are 7 things you should never clean with white vinegar to be aware of. White vinegar also works well with baking soda, find out what makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning for better results. Also check out what happened when I used only baking soda and vinegar to clean my home for a week.

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!