Versatile Vinegar: 12 Tips For Doing Laundry A Greener, Cheaper Way!

Front-loading washing machineImage via Wikipedia

You want fresher and cleaner laundry without spending a ton of money, right?  How about fresher, cleaner laundry done a greener and cheaper way?  As you may know from my previous posts, white distilled vinegar is very versatile and can be used in pretty much every area of your home: kitchen, bathroom, carpets, and other flooring.

Here are 12 ways that white vinegar can be used to boost your laundry:

  1. Get Your Laundry Cleaner!
  2. Boost the cleaning power of your detergent by adding 1/4 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.  This will remove the alkalies in soaps and detergents and also prevent yellowing, act as a fabric softener and reduce static cling!  Vinegar also kills mold and mildew.
  3. Keep colors from running by soaking in vinegar before washing.  No husband wants his white t-shirts to turn pink, right?
  4. Make dingy white socks and dishcloths white again by adding 1 cup of vinegar to a large pot of water.  Bring to a rolling boil, then drop in the items.  Let them soak overnight.
  5. Got fuzzy sweaters? Decrease that pesky lint by adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  6. Remove tough stains* like: barbecue or spaghetti sauce, coffee, ketchup, chocolate, jam, coke, wine and more!  Gently rub the stain with vinegar then wash.
  7. Remove perspiration odor and stains* and also stains left by deodorant residue by spraying full-strength white vinegar on the collar and underarm areas of the clothing before tossing them into the washing machine.
  8. Remove stinky smells, like cigarette smoke from clothing, add 1 cup vinegar to a bathtub of very hot water and let the clothing hang above the steaming water for several hours (make sure you keep the door closed for maximum effect).
  9. Do you use cloth diapers?  To freshen them up and breakdown uric acid, while also removing lingering stains and scents, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  10. Moldy-smelling laundry?  Most of us at some point have discovered forgotten wet laundry in the washing machine.  Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar in the machine and wash clothes in hot water and detergent.  This will eliminate the smell and kill the mold.
  11. Clean your washing machine and its hoses.  Remove soap residue from your washing machine by adding 1 cup of vinegar to an empty laundry cycle (no clothes added).  I suggest setting the smallest load size possible for the shortest duration and skipping the rinse cycle to keep it green.
  12. Get those scorch marks off your iron.  Ever started ironing a white shirt only to discover that the scorch marks were leaving brown streaks on it?  I have and it makes me want to scream!  To remove scorch marks from your iron, make a solution of equal parts warm vinegar and salt.  If the stain is stubborn and won't budge, use a cloth dipped in full-strength vinegar.  That should do it.
  13. Make your patent leather shine!  Wipe down your patent leather shoes and handbags with a cloth dampened in vinegar and watch them gleam!
*As with any stain removal agent, always test on a hidden seam of the fabric to test for colorfastness.

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.
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Ashley Marie said…
Very helpful! Thanks :)
Thanks for the pointers! I knew about vinegar's benefits for odors, but I did not know it could get those white whiter. I need to give that a try.
Elena said…
Glad to help, Ashley Marie! Thanks for stopping by :)
Elena said…
Thanks, Angie! More natural cleaning tips will be forthcoming, so please check back next week.
Great tips! I ALWAYS add a cup of vinegar to the wash when I'm doing towels!
Elena said…
Thanks, "Leigh Ann." I love the way that vinegar whitens whites. No more Clorox in my laundry!
OneMommy said…
Great tips! I'm going to have to try a few with my kid's clothes, the stains are horrible! Happy SITS day!

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