New uses for an old standby

Vinegar has been around for thousands of years. Over time, this miracle product has been used as a preservative, cleaning agent, insect repellent, weed killer—and even a beverage!

Today, vinegar goes to work in the laundry room. More than just a basic additive to the wash cycle, vinegar can do all sorts of amazing things.

Making vinegar work in your wash

When doing a load of laundry, you can enhance your normal wash with regular distilled white vinegar. Try these tips to boost colors, clean more thoroughly and soften your laundry.

  • Out with dull colors and in with the bright: To make dull, tired colors brilliant again, soak clothes in a solution of 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon warm water, then rinse in clean water.
  • Whiten and lighten: Vinegar can act as a natural bleaching agent. Add 1 ½ cups of vinegar to your whites to keep them that way.
  • Make new clothes colorfast: To prevent the dyes in new clothes from running, soak them in one-half cup vinegar and 1 gallon warm water, then wash as usual.
  • Soften fabrics and reduce static cling: Simply add one-half cup vinegar to the last rinse cycle. This also works to limit lint.
  • Freshen clothes, blankets and diapers for babies: Adding vinegar to your wash not only breaks down uric acid in diapers, but also eliminates soap residue that can irritate babies’ skin. This is good for infants and for anyone else with sensitive skin.

Kick the stain habit with vinegar

Vinegar also has amazing stain-removing powers. For many spot treatments, keep an even ratio of vinegar to water in a bottle nearby so you can spray on when needed. This works especially well on barbecue sauce or ketchup stains, as well as deodorant and sweat stains. Spray these stains with the mixture, let soak and wash normally.

Other stains require a different ratio:

  • Coffee or tea: Soak in a solution of one-third vinegar and two-thirds water. Hang in the sun to dry.
  • Mustard: Soak in full-strength vinegar; wash normally.
  • Gum: Warm one-half cup of vinegar in the microwave, then pour over the gum to dissolve.
  • Grass or red clay stains: Soak in vinegar and wash normally.
  • Ink: Dab with vinegar to remove old ink in cotton fabric.

More must-know uses for vinegar

Vinegar is great for cleaning, brightening and removing stains, but it can also freshen up the stinkiest smells and even clean your laundry equipment.

To clean your washing machine, pour a cup of vinegar in once a month, then run a normal cycle without clothing. You can even clean residue off your iron by wiping with a solution of one-half cup vinegar to one gallon water.

And last but not least, a few spritzes of vinegar can freshen fabrics. Hang your smoky clothes over a tub filled with warm water and 2 cups of vinegar. Remove mildew smells from damp towels and other items by adding 2 cups of vinegar to your wash, then run a hot cycle.

With so many uses for vinegar in the laundry room, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!