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Washing Clothes with Vinegar to Sanitize Laundry

washing machine with vinegar bottle

While some natural or homemade cleaning methods can provide small improvements or help remove soapy residue detergents leave behind, these methods aren't necessarily effective at sanitizing clothing.

More from Clorox experts

Does vinegar disinfect laundry?

Vinegar is not an effective disinfectant. It only works on a few strains of bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that a disinfectant should kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses that cause diseases, therefore vinegar is not recommended for disinfecting.

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How does vinegar to compare to detergent?

Laundry detergent usually has a pH level of 10, which makes it a great alkaline base for removing oils and grime from clothing. Vinegar, on the other hand, is an acidic substance with a pH level of 2.5, making it less effective for laundry. Washing clothes with vinegar is not an effective replacement for detergent.

Why do people use vinegar?

Due to the alkaline nature of detergent, it can leave behind a soapy residue. While vinegar isn’t as good at cleaning clothes as detergent, it can be useful for removing soap build-up that detergents leave behind on thick fabrics like towels. Soaking clothes in vinegar is an effective and natural solution.

Does vinegar remove odors from clothes?

While vinegar alone doesn’t remove odors from clothes, it might help reduce the soapy build-up from other laundry detergents.

How to sanitize laundry

If your towels or other heavy items still smell after washing, soak them in undiluted vinegar (5% acetic acid) to help dissolve soap deposits to improve their feel and absorbency.

To increase the efficacy of your laundry detergent, try adding ½ of a cup of baking soda to your load of laundry. The baking soda can balance the pH level of your laundry, reducing the amount of soapy residue that traps odors.

The most effective way to sanitize your laundry is to use Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer, which is designed specifically to sanitize stubborn smells away. It kills the smelly bacteria that detergents and many home remedies can’t.

How to use Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Pre-Treat Spray*:

  1. 1

    Spray Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer on smelly fabrics to pre-treat odors.

    spraying smelly clothes with fabric sanitizer
  2. 2

    Wait about 3 minutes while the bleach-free sanitizer gets to work.

  3. 3

    Wash laundry with your favorite detergent as usual.

    pouring detergent into measuring cup

Clorox has a solution for all of your laundry sanitizing needs. For sanitizing your everyday loads, try Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer. If you have a tough stain, you can use Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Pre-Treat Spray. Or if you have no time to wash, try Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Aerosol.

  • *

    Use as directed.