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“Mmmmm, your laundry smells amazing… is that vinegar?” said no one, ever.
Although vinegar is one of the best, if not the number one au naturel all-purpose household cleaners, it doesn’t have the most appealing scent. But, if you’ve ever used vinegar in a load of laundry and felt the softness afterward, you might be willing to ignore the fact that you smell like salad dressing.
But what if you could use vinegar as a fabric softener, without the lingering sour stench?
If this sounds too good to be true, keep reading to find out exactly why and how this can actually work for you. And before you know it, vinegar in your laundry just be a regular thing.
How to Use Vinegar for Laundry
Adding vinegar to your laundry routine is a really great adulting trick that can save you money and leave your clothes soft.
Simply pour ¼ cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine. Wash your clothes like you regularly do, and voila!
Your clothes will be softer, and as a bonus, your colors will stay bright. For larger loads, you may want to up your vinegar dosage to ½ cup.
Again, white vinegar is key here. This isn’t a place where you can substitute red wine vinegar or balsamic as it will cause stains and smelly clothes.
Why it Works
Vinegar is naturally acidic. When any kind of ethanol alcohol is fermented, it breaks down into several components, including acetic acid. This, along with a few other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, is what becomes vinegar. And the acid is what makes it such a magical fabric softener.
The acid in the vinegar naturally fights off and removes detergent buildup, which is exactly what causes fabrics to become stiff itchy on your skin.
Liquid fabric softener that you get from the store works by seeping into material and softening the fibers of the fabric. But if you use it often, it can actually contribute to the buildup that’s making your clothing need a softener in the first place.
Vinegar also works as an odor neutralizer. If you’ve got a stinky load of laundry, adding vinegar will soften the fabric and get rid of the smell. With some thicker materials, like towels, you may need to run the vinegar rinse twice.
Benefits of Using Vinegar in Your Laundry
- Money Saver: For right around $5, you can get a big jug of vinegar and use about a quarter or a cup per load of laundry. That’s a huge bargain compared to the smaller bottles of fabric softener costing the same amount and lasting half as long.
- Fewer Chemicals: We know what vinegar is and how it’s made, so we can be sure that it’s not introducing harsh skin irritants to our clothing. Vinegar is also a healthier choice in fabric softener for those with asthma and allergies, too.
- Less Waste: Dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners both contribute additional waste into landfills, with the sheets themselves and the containers they come in.
- Fewer Factories: By using vinegar as a substitute, you’ll be one less person purchasing these and lessening the need, even if it’s just a smidge.
- Water System Friendly: The chemicals in store-bought fabric softener aren’t only possibly dangerous to our skin, but they can also negatively affect our water system. Vinegar won’t run back into our water system and cause contamination.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even inspire a few others to do the same, and you’ll be making even more of a positive impact.
The Bottom Line
Besides all of the other benefits, one of my favorite parts about using vinegar as fabric softener is that it took very little effort to add to my routine.
It was just one more item on the grocery list, and it actually reduced the total bill by a few dollars. It’s such a simple swap out and it’ll make you feel a little better about doing laundry.
What’s your go-to when it comes to fabric softener? Have you ever tried vinegar? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization authority. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and is on a mission to replace every single one of her store-bought cleaners with vinegar.