It amazes me how the simplest and most natural ingredients around my home often make the most effective cleaning products. Lemon juice, baking soda, club soda—it’s everyday items like these that make the best home remedies when it comes to cleaning. My latest household product obsession comes in the form of white distilled vinegar. If you’re like me, then you also had no idea until recently that this simple liquid can truly work magic in the laundry room. I’m talking about producing whiter whites, brighter colors, and fresher fabrics, post-wash. Sounds too good to be true for something as basic as white vinegar, right? Here’s a bit of science to back my rave reviews…
All vinegars contain acetic acid, which is the magical ingredient that helps to brighten, soften and improve your laundry due to its PH-balancing properties. There are several different kinds of vinegars to choose from, but distilled white vinegar is the way to go. It is less acidic than other vinegars, so it’s gentle; yet its acidity is strong enough to dissolve detergent, odors, or chemical residues. When buying your cleansing vinegar, be sure to get white distilled instead of cider vinegar as the former is free of tannins (natural plant dyes) that could stain your clothes. Simply pour ¼ to 1 cup into your fabric softener dispenser, add your detergent (I recommend using one that’s as natural as possible), and get ready to unveil your cleanest, whitest, brightest and softest load of laundry ever. Now let’s dive into what this cleansing liquid really does…
1. It keeps whites white, darks dark and colors vibrant.
My first discovery of the power of white vinegar happened when I was washing a load of whites that really wasn’t looking it’s best. The T-shirts were a bit yellowed, my white jeans were dotted with stains of ketchup and BBQ sauce (the aftermath of a summer bonfire, I’m sure) and my white bed sheets just weren’t looking fresh. After one load with ½ cup vinegar, my whites appeared brand new again. I’ve also used it with a load of darks—it filters off lint, pet hair, and soaps and detergent, which keeps dark pieces dark instead of dull. And, I’ve used it with colors, which renews their vibrancy. Magic, I tell you!
2. It breaks down mildew.
Have you ever accidentally left a wet towel sitting in a pile on your floor after you shower, only to come home after an entire day to it smelling like moldy mildew? No one likes this musty scent, and you can pretty much say goodbye to the fluffiness of your towels once mildew is present. Pour ½ cup of white distilled vinegar in with your towel load and it will banish the mildew and the smell that comes with it. Your towels will be their fluffiest ever.
3. It softens clothes.
Just as I mentioned how vinegar fluffs up my bath towels, it really helps to soften up clothing and sheets in general. Thin cotton pieces feel so soft after using just ½ a cup. My favorite part? Since vinegar is all-natural, I don’t have to use harsh fabric softeners on our clothes. This is especially important to me when washing Liam’s pint-sized pieces.
4. It cleans out your washing machine.
Just as dirt, stains and detergents can build up on your clothes, they can also diminish the efficiency of your washing machine. If your washing machine’s hoses are bogged down with soap scum and chemicals, the water it washes your clothes with won’t be as clean. Plus, fabric detergents and mineral deposits can build up in your dispensers, too. Run an empty cycle of hot water with 2 cups white distilled vinegar to give your machine a good clean. It will dissolve all the soap scum and other build-up. Once every three months should do the trick.
5. It effectively removes odors.
Aside from having a bottle of white distilled vinegar on hand, having a spray bottle of it in your laundry room is a good idea too. Spray a shirt with less-than-appealing underarm odors, then let it sit for 10 minutes before running through the wash. The vinegar will begin to break down the smell and it will help remove the appearance of pit stains as well. In fact, there really isn’t any odor—bonfire smoke, cigarettes, you name it—that stands a chance against white distilled vinegar.
Isn’t that amazing?
Do you have any at-home cleaning tricks or magic potions of your own?
I love reading about this kind of stuff, so be sure to share your own tips and tricks in the comments below.