One of the best alternatives to commercial laundry detergents is probably in your pantry right now: vinegar.

You can wash your laundry with distilled, white vinegar as well as apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has a number of benefits, both as a food and as a cleaning aid.

Vinegar works by loosening zinc salts or aluminum chloride, which means that dirt won’t stick to your clothing. In addition to this, vinegar has antibacterial properties.

Washing your clothing with vinegar will leave your clothes odorless — and no, they won’t smell like vinegar. What’s more is that vinegar is relatively cheap and environmentally friendly.

Keep reading to discover 8 earth-friendly uses and benefits of vinegar for your laundry.

To clean your clothes with vinegar, put 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar in your washing machine’s detergent compartment. You don’t need to add any other detergents.

Won’t stain clothing

Vinegar doesn’t usually stain clothes, but it is acidic, so you shouldn’t pour it directly onto clothing without first diluting it.

If you don’t have a laundry detergent compartment in your washing machine, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with a cup of water before pouring it onto your clothing.


Washing your clothes with vinegar is a great way to avoid using harsh chemicals. If you have sensitive skin, certain detergents can irritate your skin and cause an allergic rash called contact dermatitis. If you seem to be allergic to washing detergents, vinegar might be a good substitute.


Vinegar is also earth-friendly. Research shows that the harsh chemicals in certain laundry detergents are harmful to the environment.

If you only use vinegar and other environmentally safe detergents, you can rest assured that it won’t end up poisoning wildlife or harming plants. In fact, water from the washing machine can be added to your lawn, and it won’t harm your plants or animals.

Soap buildup can result in blue or white streaks appearing on your clothing. It can also turn your white clothing yellow and cause dark clothing to fade.

Prevent streaking and yellowing

Vinegar can loosen soap buildup and prevent it from clinging to your clothes.

To remove soapy buildup on clothing, soak your clothes in a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water before washing them in the machine.

You can use vinegar to remove stains on clothing. As with soapy buildup, dirt and food particles can become loosened when they come into contact with vinegar, allowing the water to carry it away.

Dilute 1 cup of vinegar with a gallon of water. Pretreat stains by pouring the solution directly onto the stain or work it into the stain with a clean cloth. Then, wash your clothing as usual.

Vinegar can be used to bleach laundry, making white clothing brighter and reducing stains.

Brighten your clothing

Make a bleach-like solution by combining 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of borax. Add this to your washing machine. You can also soak your clothes in this solution and a gallon of water.

Vinegar seems to neutralize odors, leaving your clothing smelling clean. It can reduce odors from smoke, pets, and sweat. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your laundry to deodorize smelly clothes.

Remove odors

As mentioned before, vinegar won’t leave any smell on your clothes, but you can add a few drops of essential oils if you want your clothing to be fragrant.

You can replace fabric softener with vinegar. It can soften fabrics without using the harsh chemicals often found in commercial fabric softeners. Vinegar also prevents static, which means that lint and pet hair is less likely to cling to your clothing.

Prevent static and lint buildup

When washing your clothing, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the fabric softener compartment just before the last rinse cycle. If you’d like your clothes to have a mild scent, add four or five drops of essential oil into the fabric softener compartment.

Over time, detergents, sunlight, and wear-and-tear can cause bright clothing to fade.

To use vinegar to help with fading, simply add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the load of laundry.

A clean washing machine means cleaner laundry. Vinegar can be used to clean your washing machine, as well as many other household appliances.

Run your washing machine without any clothing in it. Use hot water and a cup of vinegar. This will reduce the lint and soap buildup in the machine.

Before using vinegar to wash your clothing, make sure you don’t have an allergy to vinegar. While this allergy is rare, it can affect some people.

To prevent stains, it’s best to dilute the vinegar with some water. It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t use red wine vinegar, brown vinegar, or balsamic vinegar on clothing, as these varieties can all stain.

Stick to white vinegar and apple cider vinegar when it comes to laundry.

Vinegar is an excellent substitute for laundry detergent — it’s inexpensive, effective, and earth-friendly. It can be used for a range of detergent needs, including as a bleach, deodorizer, and a fabric softener.