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Vinegar Is the Secret to Soft Towels, Whiter Whites, and More Laundry Solutions

Over the past several years, consumers have become increasingly concerned with the effect that the products they purchase have on the environment and on their health. Awareness surrounding toxic chemicals like parabens, triclosan, phthalates, and ammonia, which are often present in synthetic cleaning products, has been steadily

For this reason, the natural household cleaners market has been on the rise and is expected to reach a market size worth 7.8 billion dollars by 2025 [1].

While these products offer a solution to the health and environmentally-conscious homeowner, they also come with a higher price tag than the conventional cleaning product. For this reason, many are searching for more cost-effective alternatives. 

Luckily, you may have to look no further than your own kitchen cupboard. Distilled white vinegar has many uses, and when used in your regular laundry routine it can remove stains, soften hardened towels, and get rid of odors. 

How Does Vinegar Work as a Cleaning Agent?

The word vinegar actually means “sour wine” in French, and is produced when alcohol, which is produced through fermentation, undergoes a secondary fermentation (for example, when a bottle of wine is left open too long). During this process, the alcohol is turned into acetic acid, which is the primary compound in vinegar, and is what makes it so acidic.

It is vinegar’s acidity that makes it such an effective cleaning agent. With a pH of 2.5* [2], white distilled vinegar, at 5% acetic acid, is best suited for household cleaning, and this acidity can dissolve away soap scum, hard water stains, and even glue left behind by stickers [3,4].

*Note: The pH will vary depending on the type of vinegar being used. For instance, cleaning vinegar, which has concentrations up to 10% acetic acid has a pH of approximately 2.0 [5]. For laundry purposes, it is suggested to stick with a regular 5% solution.

Uses for White Vinegar in your Laundry

When used properly, white vinegar can tackle many of your laundry-related woes. The following are ways that this acidic liquid can improve the quality of your wash on laundry day:

Vinegar Gets Rid of Odors

If your clothes have mildew, you struggle with armpit sweat smells, or your clothes just generally have an unpleasant funk, vinegar can destroy the bacteria that cause these odors. 

For mildewy towels, add 2 cups of distilled vinegar to a washer filled with hot water, add your towels, and run the normal cycle. For clothes, add half to one cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. For smells that are particularly strong and difficult to get rid of, presoak those items in one cup of vinegar mixed with cold water, and let them sit for twenty minutes before washing [6].

Vinegar Removes Stains

To remove stains, spray the affected area with vinegar and allow it to sit for ten to fifteen minutes before washing. If it is a mild stain, you can soak the item instead in a mixture of one cup of vinegar with two cups of warm water. Harsher stains can be removed by using a paste made from one tablespoon of baking soda and vinegar, but this should be used sparingly [6].

Vinegar Protects Color

Dark clothing items, such as a pair of dark-wash jeans, can often become lighter after several washes because of soapy residue that sticks to their fibers. To prevent this, put half to one cup of distilled vinegar into the final rinse cycle, and keep your dark colors dark [6].

h/t: The Hearty Soul