Adding vinegar to your laundry routines will whiten, brighten, reduce odors, and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. Vinegar is inexpensive, and safe to use in standard and high-efficiency washers. When buying vinegar for laundry, choose distilled white vinegar. It contains no tannins (natural plant dyes) that can stain clothes. If you only have cider vinegar, dilute it with water before pouring it directly on clothes.

Banish Mildew Odor

Adding vinegar during the wash cycle can get rid of any moldy or sour odors on towels. Fill the washer with hot water (use warm water for dark-colored towels). Add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and run a complete cycle. Run a second complete cycle with detergent.

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

Brighten and Whiten Clothes

Vinegar can be used to brighten dingy clothes. To get white cotton dishcloths, underwear, and socks white again, add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to 1 gallon of water in a large pot. Heat the solution to boiling, turn off the heat, and add the dingy items. Allow them to soak overnight, and then launder as usual.

Naturally Soften Fabrics

Distilled white vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener by removing trapped body soil and detergent residue that leaves laundry feeling scratchy. Use 1/2 cup in the final rinse cycle instead of a commercial fabric softener.

Reduce Lint and Pet Hair

Using vinegar in the rinse cycle will help prevent lint and pet hair from clinging to clothes. Add 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or directly to the washer at the start of the rinse cycle. Do not combine with a commercial fabric softener.

Fight Underarm Odor

Vinegar can be sprayed onto clothes to remove perspiration odor and stains on washable white clothes. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted distilled white vinegar, and keep it on hand in the laundry room. Spray the vinegar directly on the underarm areas, and allow it to work for at least 10 minutes before tossing the garment into the washing machine.

If the fabric feels stiff before washing, use a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works well) to break up the residue. The vinegar helps to cut through residual deodorant left on clothing and prevent underarm yellowing.