White distilled vinegar can be used in the laundry to whiten, brighten, reduce odor and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. It’s safe to use in both standard and high efficiency washers and is beneficial to septic tanks. In the grocery store, you will usually find distilled white vinegar next to apple cider vinegar used most often in cooking.
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’s less expensive
Brighten & Whiten Clothes
The acetic acid in distilled white vinegar is so mild that it will not harm washable fabrics; yet is strong enough to dissolve residues 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 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.
Banish Mildew Odor
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.
Naturally Soften Clothes
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. White distilled vinegar is safe and hypoallergenic for all children’s clothes.
Reduce Lint and Pet Hair
Just 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle, will help prevent lint and pet hair from clinging to clothes.
Fight Under Arm Odors
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 the inside of the underarm areas before tossing them into the washing machine. Allow it to work for at least ten minutes before washing. The vinegar will help to cut through residual deodorant left on clothing and prevent underarm yellowing.