It’s no surprise that white vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse — especially when it comes to doing the laundry. White vinegar is an all-natural solution for softening fabrics, pre-treating stains and nixing unpleasant odors in clothing. But when you don’t have white vinegar on hand, it’s likely you’ve wondered if apple cider vinegar (ACV) is just as effective at the above tasks. Experts say it is! “Apple cider vinegar is a fantastic natural, inexpensive and non-toxic product to use for cleaning laundry and it is so versatile,” says Laura Mountford (@lauracleanaholic on Instagram) and author of the forthcoming book Live, Laugh, Laundry. Read on for all the easy apple cider vinegar laundry hacks that tackle some of your peskiest wash day problems, from stains to static to odors and so much more.
Apple cider vs white vinegar
“For me, white vinegar is preferred for doing laundry, but apple cider vinegar also works well when used properly,” says cleaning and organizing expert Azure MacCannell (@livecomposed on Instagram). The reason? Unlike white vinegar, ACV contains tannins or naturally-occurring pigments that can stain fabrics, so MacCannell suggests avoiding directly applying ACV onto clothes. Instead, dilute the ACV in water (as directed in the below treatments) to weaken its pigments and prevent them from staining your clothing and fabrics without hindering its efficacy. Then read on to learn how well it works.
Apple cider vinegar laundry use #1: It kills laundry odors
Both white vinegar and ACV contain acetic acid, an odor-killing chemical compound that can get rid of even the smelliest of smells, including cigarette smoke, motor oil and sweat. To deodorize clothes, towels or any other fabrics, add ½ cup of ACV straight into the washer during the last rinse cycle, says MacCannell. The water will dilute the ACV so it doesn’t stain clothes — and don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar afterward.
Bonus! This vinegar rinse also prevents lint and pet hair from sticking to clothes and reduces annoying static cling that can build up in fabrics from tumbling in the washer.
ACV laundry use #2: It softens fabrics
Sure, fabric softener softens your towels, but it also contains oils that can make the fabric less absorbent and stiff and crunchy over time. Plus, liquid fabric softener contains a variety of toxic chemicals, including (but not limited to) benzyl alcohol and ethanol. The natural remedy? “Add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine,” notes MacCannell. The vinegar will release during the final rinse of the wash cycle and break down buildup, making the towels fluffy and absorbent once again.
Apple cider vinegar laundry use #3: It lifts stains
It’s easier than you think to get rid of stubborn coffee, tea or juice stains on clothes with a little apple cider vinegar, notes MacCannell. Just make a solution of ⅓ cup of ACV to ⅔ cup of water in a bowl or basin and let your stained garment soak for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. The acids in vinegar remove the molecules that cause the stains, so stains lift and dissolve with ease.
ACV laundry use #4: It makes fabrics whiter and brighter
“Laundry soap can build up on fabric over time, causing whites to turn yellow and darks to fade and look dull,” says MacCannell. Thankfully, ACV can be used as an effective whitener and brightener!
To brighten whites or restore dull darks to their former saturated glory, simply add ½ cup of ACV straight into the washer during the last rinse cycle. The acids in the vinegar break down stains and lift any yellow tinges in the whites, and they also remove any dulling soap residue that makes fabrics appear dull or dingy.
Apple cider vinegar laundry use #5: It deep cleans a washing machine
“Vinegar is brilliant for cleaning your washing machine, removing limescale, mold, bacteria and nasty odors with ease,” says Mountford. While a spray bottle filled with white vinegar can be used to spritz down areas inside the machine to remove limescale and soap scum buildup, you can nix the grime even faster by adding 2 cups of ACV to the detergent drawer of your empty washing machine, then running it on a hot water cycle. “The vinegar breaks down and clears out any residue, and does a great job at deep-cleaning your machine,” says MacCannell. “Plus, it eliminates most of the mold buildup that can hide in the soap dispenser of your washing machine.”
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