Soften fabrics, kill bacteria, eliminate static, and more
There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding 1 cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. Here are the main ones:
- A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
- A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh — so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
- A cup of vinegar will brighten small loads of white clothes.
- Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint- and static-free.
- Adding a cupful of vinegar to the last rinse will set the color of your newly dyed fabrics.
Clean your washing machine
An easy way to periodically clean out soap scum and disinfect your clothes washer is to pour in 2 cups vinegar, then run the machine through a full cycle without any clothes or detergent. If your washer is particularly dirty, fill it with very hot water, add 2 gallons (7.5 liters) vinegar, and let the agitator run for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the washer and let the solution stand overnight. In the morning, empty the basin and run your washer through a complete cycle.
Stop reds from running
Unless you have a fondness for pink-tinted clothing, take one simple precaution to prevent red — or other brightly dyed — washable clothes from ruining your wash loads. Soak your new garments in a few cups of undiluted white vinegar for 10-15 minutes before their first washing. You’ll never have to worry about running colors again!
Brighten your loads
Why waste money on that costly all-color bleach when you can get the same results using vinegar? Just add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your machine’s wash cycle to brighten up the colors in each load.
Make new clothes ready to wear
Get the chemicals, dust, odor, and whatever else out of your brand-new or secondhand clothes by pouring 1 cup white vinegar into the wash cycle the first time you wash them.
Whiten your dingy crew socks
If it’s getting increasingly difficult to identify the white socks in your sock drawer, here’s a simple way to make them so bright you can’t miss them. Start by adding 1 cup vinegar to 1 1/2 quarts (1.5 liters) tap water in a large pot. Bring the solution to a boil, then pour it into a bucket and drop in your dingy socks. Let them soak overnight. The next day, wash them as you normally would.
Get the yellow out of clothing
To restore yellowed clothing, let the garments soak overnight in a solution of 12 parts warm water to 1 part vinegar. Wash them the following morning.
Soften up your blankets
Add 2 cups white vinegar to your washer’s rinse water (or a washtub filled with water) to remove soap residue from both cotton and wool blankets before drying. This will also leave them feeling fresh and soft as new.
Spray away wrinkles
In a perfect world, laundry would emerge from the dryer freshly pressed. Until that day, you can often get the wrinkles out of clothes after drying by misting them with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Once you’re sure you didn’t miss a spot, hang it up and let it air-dry. You may find this approach works better for some clothes than ironing; it’s certainly a lot gentler on the material.
Flush your iron’s interior
To eliminate mineral deposits and prevent corrosion on your steam iron, give it an occasional cleaning by filling the reservoir with undiluted white vinegar. Place the iron in an upright position, switch on the steam setting, and let the vinegar steam through it for 5-10 minutes. Then refill the chamber with clean water and repeat. Finally, give the water chamber a good rinsing with cold, clean water.
Clean your iron’s soleplate
To remove scorch marks from the soleplate of your iron, scrub it with a paste made by heating up equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Use a rag dipped in clean water to wipe away the remaining residue.
Sharpen your creases
You’ll find the creases in your freshly ironed clothes coming out a lot neater if you lightly spray them with equal parts water and vinegar before ironing them. For truly sharp creases in slacks and dress shirts, first dampen the garment using a cloth moistened in a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water. Then place a brown paper bag over the crease and start ironing.
Make old hemlines disappear
Want to make those needle marks from an old hemline disappear for good? Just moisten the area with a cloth dipped in equal parts vinegar and water, then place it under the garment before you start ironing.
Erase scorch marks
Did your iron get too hot under the collar — or perhaps on a sleeve or pant leg? You can often eliminate slight scorch marks by rubbing the spot with a cloth dampened with white vinegar, then blotting it with a clean towel. Repeat if necessary.
Dull the shine in your seat
Want to get rid of that shiny seat on your dark pants or skirt? Just brush the area lightly with a soft recycled toothbrush dipped in equal parts white vinegar and water, then pat dry with a soft towel.
Remove cigarette smell from suits
If you find yourself in a situation where you wind up heading home with the lingering smell of cigarette smoke on your good suit or dress, you can remove the odor without having to take your clothes to the dry cleaner. Just add 1 cup vinegar to a bathtub filled with the hottest water your tap can muster. Close the door and hang your garments above the steam. The smell should be gone after several hours.
Reshape your woolens
Shrunken woolen sweaters and other items can usually be stretched back to their former size or shape after boiling them in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for 25 minutes. Let the garment air-dry after you’ve finished stretching it.
Brush off suede stains
To eliminate a fresh grease spot on a suede jacket or skirt, gently brush it with a soft toothbrush dipped in white vinegar. Let the spot air-dry, then brush with a suede brush. Repeat if necessary. You can also generally tone up suede items by lightly wiping them with a sponge dipped in vinegar.
Pat away water-soluble stains
You can lift out many water-soluble stains — including beer, orange and other fruit juices, black coffee or tea, and vomit –from your cotton-blend clothing by patting the spot with a cloth or towel moistened with undiluted white vinegar just before placing it in the wash. For large stains, you may want to soak the garment overnight in a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part cold water before washing.
Unset old stains
Older, set-in stains will often come out in the wash after being pretreated with a solution of 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons liquid detergent in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Rub the solution into the stain, then blot it dry before washing.
Sponge out serious stains
Cola, hair dye, ketchup, and wine stains on washable cotton blends should be treated as soon as possible (that is, within 24 hours). Sponge the area with undiluted vinegar and launder immediately afterward. For severe stains, add 1-2 cups vinegar to the wash cycle as well.
Get the rust out
To remove a rust stain from your cotton work clothes, moisten the spot with some full-strength vinegar and then rub in a bit of salt. If it’s warm outdoors, let it dry in the sunlight (otherwise a sunny window will do), then toss it in the wash.
Clear away crayon stains
Somehow or other, kids often manage to get crayon marks on their clothing. You can easily get these stains off by rubbing them with a recycled toothbrush soaked in undiluted vinegar before washing them.
Remove rings from collars and cuffs
Are you tired of seeing those old sweat rings around your shirt collars? What about the annoying discoloration along the edges of your cuffs? Give them the boot by scrubbing the material with a paste made from 2 parts white vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Let the paste set for half an hour before washing. This approach also works to remove light mildew stains from clothing.
Pretreat perspiration stains
Want to see those sweat marks disappear from shirts and other garments? Just pour a bit of vinegar directly onto the stain, and rub it into the fabric before placing the item in the wash. You can also remove deodorant stains from your washable shirts and blouses by gently rubbing the spot with undiluted vinegar before laundering.
Make pen ink disappear
Did someone in your house come home with a leaky pen in his pocket? Treat the stain by first wetting it with some white vinegar, then rub in a paste of 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts cornstarch. Let the paste thoroughly dry before washing the item.
Soak out bloodstains
Whether you nick yourself while shaving, or receive an unexpected scratch, it’s important to treat the stains on your clothing as soon as possible; bloodstains are relatively easy to remove before they set but can be nearly impossible to wash out after 24 hours. If you can get to the stain before it sets, treat it by pouring full-strength white vinegar on the spot. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes, then blot well with a cloth or towel. Repeat if necessary, then wash immediately.