Using white vinegar in laundry – to deodorize and brighten clothes quickly

Thinking of using white vinegar in laundry? This simple ingredient will leave you with soft, odorless clothes, instantly

Small laundry room ideas
(Image credit: Studio Laloc / Farrow & Ball)

Using white vinegar in laundry may seem like an unconventional way to remove odors and brighten your clothes – but it’s a technique that experts love. 

If you’re a vintage fashion enthusiast – or you’ve forgotten about the washing in your machine for a day (or two) too long, then you have probably asked yourself how to get rid of a foisty scent permanently. However, the secret to success may be a kitchen staple that will elevate your laundry room ideas instantly. 

Here’s why using white vinegar in laundry will change your washing routine for good. 

Using white vinegar in laundry – the expert-approved tip that makes washing simple 

A laundry room with stacked washing machine and dryer

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

White vinegar is great for deodorizing clothes, but its qualities don’t end there. This is how to clean with vinegar for spotless, scentless clothes – and a sparkling clean washing machine.  

Why use white vinegar in laundry?

White utility room with washing machine

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

According to Parenting and Lifestyle Expert Dr. Karen Aronian, white vinegar is one of the best ways to remove odors without worrying about adding chemics to your wash. 

For example, in the case of recycled pieces, the clothing may have laundry detergent, softener, dryer sheet fragrance, or personal perfume from the previous owner in the fabric. However, this can cause issues for your washing, as the odor and chemicals can bleed into your wash. 

‘It can be extremely difficult to get this odor out of clothing with a basic machine or hand wash,’ Karen says. ‘The ‘perfumes and odors make the item unwearable for scent-sensitive people (especially babies). Therefore, the expert suggests turning to white vinegar. 

1. Using white vinegar to get rid of odors

Washing machine

(Image credit: Future / © Tom Meadows)

Dr. Karen recommends creating a mixture of 1/4 of white vinegar and 3/4 of cold water before soaking your clothes in the solution overnight. In the morning, the items are ready to go and ‘rendered scentless.’ 

Cleaning expert Cristy Harfmann agrees. If you’re wondering how to wash towels or clothes that may have a bad odor, then adding 1/4 to 1 cup of vinegar to the washer during the last rinse cycle will get rid of the scent quickly.

‘It will remove the smells without making your clothes smell like vinegar,’ Cristy says. ‘If the smells still exist, you can replace detergent with vinegar and add it a second time in the rinse cycle,’ she says. 

2. Using white vinegar to brighten your wash 

white laundry room with marble sink, washers, shiplap

(Image credit: Alessia Zanchi Loffredo/reDesign home/Ryan McDonald)

While white vinegar is best known as a deodorizer, it is also an effective brightener and softener. To brighten your clothes, Cristy suggests adding vinegar to the bleach dispenser. To soften your clothes, you should add one cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle via your fabric softener dispenser (instead of fabric softener). 

3. Using white vinegar to clean your washing machine  

laundry room cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Eye for Pretty Design)

Knowing how to clean a washing machine can feel like a tedious chore, but you can maintain its shine easily with this versatile ingredient. 

Cristy suggests adding one cup of vinegar to an empty washing machine and running it once a month. ‘This removes soapy residue from your washing machine tub,’ she explains. It really is that quick, simple, but nonetheless effective.   

Buy your white vinegar

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.