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Using Vinegar and Bleach in Laundry

Should you use vinegar in the laundry? Learn about using vinegar and bleach in laundry, which is better for stain removal, and if and when to use vinegar.

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Question

When should I use white vinegar on laundry? To remove stains? On towels? Should I ever use it?

Answer

I generally limit recommending vinegar for use in laundry to using it as a soak to remove crusty build-up on towels. This problem is usually experienced by people who have hard water and are using powdered detergent. The builders in the detergent can combine with dissolved minerals in the hard water, forming insoluble deposits on fabrics. It’s very noticeable on towels because of the increased surface area of the fabric. Plus, the build-up also lowers absorbency. Soaking the towels in undiluted vinegar (5% acetic acid) can help dissolve the deposits, improving their feel and absorbency.

As far as stain removal and whitening, the performance provided by bleach products is far superior; it doesn’t make sense to recommend vinegar as an additive.