Can You Use Vinegar And Laundry Detergent Together?

Not every two products meant for laundry can actually mix perfectly well in the washer.

Take vinegar and laundry detergent for example. You shouldn’t use the two of them together during the wash cycle, because they will react and neutralise each other, creating an inefficient medium for washing clothes.

The best way, therefore, to use both laundry detergent and vinegar is to separate them during washing. The rest of the article will show you exactly how to use both products in the washer without running into problems. 

The proper way is laundry detergent first, then vinegar later

Vinegar has a lot of properties that can benefit your laundry. The best way to add vinegar to a laundry is during the rinse cycle, when and where you’d normally add a fabric softener. That’s because vinegar and fabric softeners have a lot in common when it comes to what they do in the laundry.

Adding vinegar during the wash cycle (and together with laundry detergent and other pre-rinse products) really has no additional benefit, and might even be of a great disadvantage. 

The reason is because vinegar is acidic, whereas detergents are alkaline or basic. Mixing the two together during the wash cycle (at the same time) can impede washing by a slight degree, because strong acids typically react with strong base to neutralize each other, and that can leave only the wash water to do the cleaning. 

It’s important to point out the reason why I said that washing can be impeded by A SLIGHT DEGREE, and not an ALARMING DEGREE. 

Vinegar is not a strong acid, and various detergents out there can have variations in the degree of their alkalinity: from alkaline to very alkaline, so if you happen to have a fairly alkaline detergent, then you have very little to worry about because your clothes will be washed properly even though not as efficiently as it would have happened if vinegar wasn’t used in there. 

The possibility of vinegar to react with detergents and form a neutral solution is the reason why it’s better to wash clothes with laundry detergent, sanitizers and whatever boosters you’re using first, then use vinegar afterwards during the rinse cycle.

Vinegar at rinse session is better

The rinse cycle is important for laundry because it helps remove soiling that may have re-settled after they’ve been removed in the course of washing, and also detergent residue that ends up settling on the surface of clothes and causes them to streak. 

But sometimes, only rinse water may not be effective at removing these extra layer of substances, and that is where vinegar comes into play. 

With detergent residue in particular, vinegar, being acidic, reacts with them to neutralize and pull them off from the surface of the fabric making it appear cleaner and whiter (if white) or brighter (if colored). 

Using vinegar in the rinse cycle also helps with the removal of odor, and can even do a fantastic job at replacing your fabric softener (when it comes to softening clothes) without the unnecessary risks involved. 

What kind of vinegar should i use in the washer?

When it comes to the type of vinegar to use in the washer for conditioning clothes, opt for the distilled white distilled vinegar as it contains no dyes that can stain clothes. You can add it to the fabric softener dispenser or simply do it manually during the rinse cycle. 

As for how much vinegar to use in a cycle, use one half cup of it. When using the apple cider variety, use in lesser amounts and dilute first to prevent staining, especially on white clothes as it contains natural dye in it.

What else does vinegar do in the Laundry?

Aside from making clothes appear softer, brighter, odor free, and also making the whites look whiter, there are also other things you can use vinegar for in laundry.

Take a look at them. 

Remove smoke from clothes

If you have a stubborn smoke stain on your clothes that is refusing to diffuse out, you can use vinegar to remove it.

All you have to do is pour one cup of vinegar into a sink or wash basin containing hot water, then soak the cloth inside for one hour and then launder as directed by the fabric care label. If the cloth cannot be washed in hot water, use the technique below. 

Hand the clothes above the steam of vinegar, but make sure you’re using a closed space so the vinegar isn’t diffused outward but rather concentrated on the cloth so it penetrates the fibers and sucks out the smoke from them. 

Clean and disinfect a washing machine

Vinegar can be used to clean a washing machine. Vinegar has some disinfection properties and it’s also able to break down grime and gunk to give your machine a nice clean interior.

To use vinegar in your washing machine, add 2 cups of it to the empty basket, then add hot water and run a full wash cycle. Follow up with a rinse cycle and the odors, dirt, grime and gunk previously in the washer would be banished completely.

Special warning goes to combining vinegar and bleach for disinfection or cleaning the washer. The two can react and release chlorine gas which can be lethal to humans. So avoid doing so completely. 

Disinfect laundry

The washing machine isn’t the only thing you can disinfect using vinegar. You can also disinfect your clothes, although vinegar isn’t going to do a much better job than bleach or any other laundry sanitizer out there. 

The reason is because vinegar is mostly effective against foodborne bacteria and pathogens, and so the rest of the bacterial and pathogen population on your clothes are pretty much safe and can persist on them, unless hot water kills them! 

Maintain the appearance of black clothes

Adding 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle of your black clothes can help maintain the black colors of your clothes, and not just that, it can also help remove soap scums, soiling, detergent residue, and other substances that persist on clothes after rinse and make them look duller. 

Final Thoughts

It is not advised to combine vinegar and laundry detergent during the wash cycle. Vinegar is best purposed in the rinse cycle just like fabric softeners. It will help soften clothes, disinfect them, and brighten them by removing the soap or detergent residue that persist on them from the washing cycle.