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Can You Mix Laundry Detergent and Vinegar? (+ how to do it)

Vinegar is widely used for various cleaning and descaling activities in homes worldwide. Thanks to its high acid content, vinegar is also used for whitening clothes and general laundry purposes. However, it’s common to ask if you can use a mixture of vinegar and laundry detergent while doing your laundry.

You can’t mix laundry detergent and vinegar when washing clothes. A mixture of both substances will result in a neutral solution that may impede washing because most detergents are alkaline, whereas vinegar is acidic. However, you can use both during a single wash, provided you use them separately.

Cleaning your clothes with a mixture of detergent and vinegar won’t be as effective because the neutralization reaction that arises will reduce the detergent’s cleaning ability. Furthermore, the combination may cause your laundry to turn greasy. Keep reading as I discuss the uses of vinegar with laundry and the common questions about using vinegar with laundry detergent.

What Happens When You Mix Laundry Detergent and Vinegar?

Vinegar works well as a clothes whitener and is an excellent fabric softener. Therefore, many people may think mixing it with cleaning agents like detergents when washing clothes is perfect. However, it’s essential never to allow vinegar and laundry detergent mix to protect your clothes.

A neutralization reaction occurs when you mix laundry detergent and vinegar. This neutralization happens because the acidic vinegar (with a pH of 2 to 3) reacts with the alkaline laundry detergent (pH of 10). The resulting mixture is a detergent solution that’s unfit for cleaning clothes.

If you plan on using vinegar for your clothes, add the vinegar solution to your laundry after washing with detergent. Only use the vinegar solution after removing the clothes from the rinse cycle if you use a washing machine.

How Much Vinegar Should You Use With Laundry?

Vinegar can help eliminate various stains, including ketchup and coffee stains in clothes. It’s also an easy way to keep your laundry fresh while keeping the fabrics soft. However, only use white vinegar with your clothes as other types of vinegar may stain your laundry.

You should use no more than 4 oz (118. 29 mL) of diluted white vinegar with your laundry. This amount is enough for an average laundry session, and using too much vinegar may trigger allergies in some people. Using any more than that may cause your clothes to become oily.

The Heinz All-Natural Distilled White Vinegar (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent brand of vinegar that you can use with your laundry. The latter part of this article explains how to clean your laundry using vinegar solution.

Can a Mix of Laundry Detergent and Vinegar Damage Your Clothes or Washing Machine?

The acetic acid in vinegar is gentle enough to protect washable materials. However, it’s also powerful enough to break down residues left by soap and detergent components.

A mix of laundry detergent and vinegar may damage your clothes. It may leave grease stains on some clothing, which may cause irreversible damage to them. However, the mixture of detergent and vinegar can’t damage your washing machine.

The mixture of vinegar and laundry detergent is harmless to your washing machine because the resulting fluid is a neutral solution. Hence, the liquid is comparable to water and will only affect the clothes in your washing machine.

Did you know that you can’t mix laundry detergent and fabric softener?

The Uses of Vinegar With Laundry

Vinegar removes dirt and stains from clothes by dissolving aluminum chloride and zinc salts. Additionally, the solution acts as a microbial agent and helps disinfect laundry. Furthermore, washing with your clothes vinegar is a cheap and ecologically beneficial alternative to fabric softeners and bleach.

The following are the uses of vinegar with laundry:

  • Deodorizer: Vinegar may be added to your laundry to help deodorize smelly laundry. The vinegar solution will leave no residual smells on your cloth and eliminate odors from cigarette smoke, pet scents, and sweat.
  • Clothes whitener: You can use vinegar as bleach for laundry. Using the solution during laundry will brighten white clothes and reduce stains.
  • Fabric softener: Vinegar can be a mild alternative to most fabric softeners. It can soften fabrics without harsh chemicals found in most fabric softeners.
  • Lint remover: Adding white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washing machine will reduce lint on clothes. It also reduces static, so fuzz and pet hair are less likely to stick to your clothes.
  • Color protector: Detergents and other laundry agents may cause laundry color to fade. Using vinegar with your clothes will help protect them from fading.
  • Washing machine cleaner: Add some hot water and vinegar to your empty washing machine to clean it. Vinegar will clear fluff, oil, and soap accumulation in your washing machine.
  • Stain remover: Vinegar is also an excellent stain remover. It’ll remove various stains in laundry even without prior washing with detergent.

You can also use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar for your laundry. The Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar (available on Amazon.com) is a good alternative. Don’t use any other kind of vinegar for your laundry.

I wrote a guide on mixing bleach and laundry detergent that may interest you.

How To Clean Your Laundry Using Vinegar

Generally, regardless of the purpose, you can use vinegar to clean your clothes by observing the following steps:

  1. Wash your clothes with laundry detergent like you usually would.
  2. Add 4 oz (118.29 mL) of distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) to your washing machine.
  3. Wash the clothes like you usually would and rinse.

You can also use vinegar as a standalone cleaning agent for some purposes. For example, you can use distilled vinegar as a deodorizer or fabric softener without washing the clothes first.

Key Takeaways

You can’t mix laundry detergent and vinegar when washing clothes. Washing with the mixture is a bad idea because the resulting solution is a neutral detergent solution that can’t clean your laundry. Furthermore, using the mix for laundry may cause grease stains to form on your clothes.

Although a mix of detergent and vinegar doesn’t affect your washing machine, you should use no more than 4 oz (118.29 mL) of vinegar at a time. Vinegar serves a wide range of uses and can be used with a washing machine as you would laundry detergent.

I have also written a complete guide on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.

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Lululandire

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Put *vinegar* in the fabric softener solution part of your washing machine. Its separate from the detergent. My machine has a tray. When your machine goes into cycle and it starts the fabric softer cycle the detergent has already been rinsed from your clothing. At least my machine.

Teresa

Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

I have used white vinegar and liquid laundry soap in my laundry for years and it's been just fine. It's especially good at getting the doggie smell out of my dogs' beds and blankets. It makes my clothes and towels smell better and they're softer.

My daughter spilled cooking oil and cleaned it up with a bath towel. It made the towel stink like cooking oil and it would not take the water off your body, no matter how many times I washed it. When I washed it with vinegar and detergent, it finally went back to normal.