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Vinegar-Laundry Basics

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Add some vinegar to the wash to soften your clothes.

Vinegar is a veritable powerhouse when it comes to pretreating stains, softening water, and boosting regular laundry detergents. When cleaning fabrics, distilled white vinegar is preferred, but apple cider vinegar works just as well if that's what you have on hand.

This article includes a number of ways you can use vinegar to do a better job with your laundry. We'll start with the basics. (Please note: None of the tips listed here should be tried with dry-clean-only fabrics.)

Blankets: When washing cotton or washable wool blankets, add 2 cups of vinegar to the last rinse cycle. This will help remove the soap and make blankets soft and fluffy.

Clothes softener: Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle of your wash to soften clothes.

Lint: Reduce lint buildup and keep pet hair from clinging to clothing by adding vinegar to the last rinse cycle.

New clothes: Some new clothes may be treated with a chemical that can be irritating to sensitive skin. Soak new clothing in 1 gallon of water with 1/2 cup vinegar. Rinse, then wash as usual.

Static cling: A good way to control static cling is to add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle of your wash.

Special Fabrics

Delicates: If you're washing delicate items by hand, follow the garment's care instructions, and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the last rinse to help remove soap residue.

Leather: Clean leather with a mixture of 1 cup boiled linseed oil and 1 cup vinegar. Carefully apply to any spots with a soft cloth. Let dry.

Silk: Dip silks (do not soak) in a mixture of 1/2 cup mild detergent, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 quarts cold water. Rinse well, then roll in a heavy towel to soak up the excess moisture. Iron while still damp.

As you'll see in the next section, vinegar can be used for special laundry needs as well.

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