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Okay, y’all. I have the very best laundry tip to share that you are not going to believe the difference it makes in your laundry.

I’ve been using this method for my laundry for a little over a year and can not believe the difference it has made.

I never, ever, ever want to go back.

Like ever.

Are you ready for the tip?


Plain ol distilled white vinegar is a huge life saver, or should I say, laundry saver.

When we built our house, we bought a new washer and dryer set for our laundry room. I was beyond thrilled with this “new and improved” design and just knew that it was the best thing since sliced bread in the laundry department.

Well, after a little while I started noticing a musty smell in our laundry.

The towels seemed to be the worst.

It was horrible!

If you’ve ever had that same problem, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I tried everything from using less detergent, cleaning out the seals of my washing machine at least once a month, buying washing machine cleaner, to calling a repairman. Then, in a conversation one day while talking to my Mama about my Grandmother hanging clothes on a drying line and ironing my Granddaddy’s overalls until they could stand up by themselves, Mama mentioned that my Grandmother was a firm believer in using white vinegar in her laundry.

Why in the world had I forgotten that little fact.

When I began using it in my laundry, I noticed no more mildew smell from my front-load washing machine, my towels seemed fluffier, and whites whiter. As a bonus during the fall and winter when we’ve been outside around our firepit, there was no more residual smell of smoke on our clothes afterward.


Using Vinegar in Laundry

I simply add ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar into each load of laundry.

For sheets, towels, and stained linens, I pour distilled white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser of my washing machine.

As with any change in your laundry routine, I suggest you read your machine’s manual to make sure there are no issues with using vinegar in your washing machine.

Living Recipes

Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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  1. I’m trying it!! I have been doing monthly bleach cleans on my washer and it still irritates me. Plus I’m always nervous when I use bleach 🙂

  2. I’ve been adding vinegar to the rinse cycle and 1/2 cup baking soda when I add the detergent and the improvement is remarkable.

    I’d like your take on another laundry tip I read recently – adding a teaspoon of black pepper along with your laundry detergent helps keep your brights as bright as they can be. I’ve never heard of this and haven’t tried it yet!

  3. Just curious, are you still using fabric softener as well? Do you simply dd both vinegar and softenert the same time to the fabric softener compartment?

    1. Fragranced fabric softeners contain so many harmful chemicals. I had a chemical workplace exposure; became hypersensitive to multiple everyday chemicals. Not God made but man-made.
      Symptoms you may not know to associate with fragranced products: loss of concentration, headache, sleepy ; general fatigue. There are more. If there are 30 kids in a classroom carrying usual germs; then each wearing fragranced products, it has an affect. Same way at work. Perfume is made of chemicals. Hair products, body care; hygiene products = a Chemical Stew.
      Lastly, the allergy symptoms, itchy eyes, nasal problems.
      We blame it on seasonal affects.
      Please investigate for yourselves and look into fragrance; dye free.
      I use vinegar to clean, for laundry soak.
      Seventh generation products unscented, no dyes.
      Am under the care of a Toxicologist; Dermatologist.
      Extremely strong scents will swell my vocal cord, voice goes to the range of Betty Boop; then quits.
      There are products in fragranced products that do not gave to be listed. One I tested allergic to is Balsam of Peru.
      Purell gel is over used; it has fragrance. It wipes out my vocal cords.
      I don’t have Asthma but many do; would benefit by changes.

    2. Just to clarify, I understand you are still using your normal detergent.. Where are you putting the 1/4 cup vinegar? Right into the laundry machine itself with the clothes or into the same chamber as the detergent? Thanks

    3. Hi Sharon,
      Yes, I still use my regular detergent and add the vinegar into the liquid dispenser section of my washing machine.

  4. I’ve tried this before…but in a different method. I cannot stand that towel smell! I have to try this one now. (The other one included baking soda, and no laundry detergent.) Thanks for this, Robyn!

    1. You’ll have to let me know how it works for you. I still use my laundry detergent and no baking soda. But, I believe the method you are using the baking soda works as the detergent.

    2. The baking soda softens the water to make the detergent work better so you dont have to use as much.

    1. To begin with, I only added it to towels and sheets – which worked just fine. Now though, I add it to every single load. 🙂

  5. I have heard from a very technical guy, that they were just as excited about their new washer, and found that the “energy saving” was saving water from one wash to the other, Grey Water. But if you are not washing right away, of course, it will go slimy and stale. Brilliant design! They returned theirs. Just FYI. Silly too, as the laundromat front loaders are just fine! They surely can make ones that work for the home! ANd they can still make them like they use to, with parts that last 30 plus years – another story.

    Since vinegar cuts soap, I was curious – you put it in WITH the detergent?

    There are recipes for home laundry detergents on other sites also, with borax, and soap flakes….to get away from more of the toxic thing they have done to our laundry. I hear it saves money too, certainly plastic! Skin is the largest cleansing organ – so toxic chemical residues in contact with the skin constantly – yikes!! I have recently been in the public schools at the end of the day, to tutor. Holy cow, the dryer sheet and laundry toxins when you walk in the school – it is so toxic! The smell is overwhelming! Nearly choking to one without the exposure. Laundry products are the ONE most toxic indoor pollutant.

    We put vinegar in the rinse cycle. For whites, a second rinse is always very whitening anyway. Woolen dryer balls are excellent softeners. Interestingly, many put some vinegar on their dryer wool balls for extra softening, and the effects last quite a while – so long after the vinegar has dried. All hang-dry items go in for a 10 minute toss with the dryer balls here.

    Borax is actually boron, and any residual would actually be good for our bodies.

    1. I have started making the no grate laundry detergent, I use 1/2 cup per load, and instead of softener, I use vinegar. Just pour it into the softener spot. I also add 1/4 cup baking soda to every load. I am thrilled at the money that I am saving by using just vinegar, and my own detergent!!

  6. I put vinegar in the “softener” ball I bought a few years ago. That way it is released with the rinse? Or whenever that thing pops open LOL.

  7. I’m so glad you posted about this. I had heard about it, but lost sight of it. My towels definately need help!

  8. My mother would be so proud of this post! She’s a vinegar cheerleader and has been for years. But I hadn’t thought of using it with my laundry. She’s suggested it for cleaning the washer, like running a load with just vinegar (no clothing or linens). I wonder – do you get a vinegar smell? Cuz that wouldn’t be pleasant…..

    1. Hi Barbara,
      I was rather worried about a residual vinegar scent as well, but luckily haven’t had one. I’m sure if you added more vinegar, you might have a carryover scent, but I’ve not had one. Just fresh, clean smelling!

  9. I used to do this faithfully several years ago and just got out of the habit. Thank you so much for posting this reminder. I am going to stop and get a gallon jug of vinegar on my way home. No more smelly towels for my family! Thanks!

  10. I’m going to start doing this more often! I’ve only used it when someone, ok it’s me, forgets to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer for a day or two. A little vinegar in the rinse freshens them right up. Now, I’m going to use it for everything! Thanks!

  11. Giving this a try today. My towels have been smelling funky for a while now. Hope this works. BTW I read an article about putting aspirin in with laundry to help fight underarm stains. About six per load. While we haven’t got new undershirts for DH the existing stains have lightened, and I don’t use bleach, more mishaps than worth it when teens are around.

  12. I’ve been putting Borax in with our towels for a while and it completely got rid of the musty smell in our frontloader. 1/2 c. in the drum right before you put the towels in.

  13. I love using vinegar in my wash. We have well water and over time my towels start to smell musty. Vinegar does the trick everytime! 🙂

  14. No one mentioned leaving the washer door open until the rim is dry. I leave my washer door open for a couple of hours after I finish my laundry and do not have any smell.

    1. Jody, I KNOW you’re on the right track. I’ve been doing laundry regularly for over 50 years and have never experienced any bad smell so many have mentioned. I, too, hold the lid of my top loading washer open between loads with a tennis ball that’s dedicated to this task.

  15. Something else you can do is add hydrogen peroxide to the wash. That is the “secret” ingredient in all the “oxy” type products. Cheap and brightens laundry right up.

  16. I got this recipe from Maytag after experiencing the same ‘stank’ from my towels and trying everything to get rid of it.

    Once a month: Put in the detergent dispenser: 1 cup bleach and 1 cup dishwashing powder (either Sunlight OR Cascade Complete – important to use only these, they have higher phosphate); then 1 cup bleach in the bleach dispenser. Use Hot water and run on the Heavy wash cycle.

    Of course it helps to wipe down the gaskets, and let the washer dry out before closing the door. In our house, we could not leave the door open, so I cut a koozie up and tuck it in the lock so the washer can’t close all the way. It did burn out my light, but I no longer have the stank of mildew.

    Since using vinegar to clean it out, I now use it instead of fabric softener (but add dryer sheets periodically), and sometimes baking soda in the loads that are stinky or full sweaty workout stuff and LOVE how fresh my laundry smells.

  17. A friend of mine suggested VODKA for the same reason. Kind of expensive compared to vinegar, but I bet the laundry is happy. Done the vinegar and the leaving open the washer door post laundry. Now, if I could just get the spouse to quit nagging me about putting too much in at once …

  18. This is brilliant! Can you clarify if you add the vinegar in addition to your normal laundry detergent or alone? Is there any risk in mixing vinegar with your normal laundry detergent?

    1. Yes, I still use my normal laundry detergent along with the distilled white vinegar. I’ve not had any issues with using both.

  19. I made sure to buy a washer with the “Sanitary Wash” option, which means it heats the water to 90C – very nice for boiling the germs out of towels and sheets (our grandmothers used to do that too, but stovetop). Between running that cycle periodically, and _always_ leaving the door open, so far we’ve been spared the mildew. The vinegar is cheaper though, and certainly smaller carbon footprint!

  20. I’ve been using vinegar for about a year, due to the musty towel odors, and it is doing a fabulous job. I also stopped adding dryer softener sheets to the towels. Vinegar is a natural softener. I love the way the towels smell now. FYI, I have been rinsing my hair with vinegar for about 5 years. I began getting small, painful acne on my scalp that was actually folliculitis – it also caused my head to itch like crazy. After googling treatments and spending money on special shampoos that were totally worthless, I decided to give it a try. It costs just pennies a week and works wonderfully. The vinegar odor disappears as soon as the hair dries.

    1. How much vinegar do you use for your head? Like a capful or a cupfull? I have been trying to get rid of the itchys on my head for some time and none of the special shampoos seem to work.

    2. Sandy…I’ve never had severe scalp issues, just itchy a bit. I have been reading about the MANY MANY benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for awhile. Turns out it’s awesome for skin and hair. I bought a refillable ketchup bottle and I filled it half with ACV and half with water. That ratio can be adjusted to each persons needs. I leave the bottle in the shower. After shampooing I run the thin tip of the bottle filled with ACV mixture along the hair lines of my scalp then finger massage. I also put some into my hair. It naturally conditions the hair and you do not need to use store bought conditioner (save $$ big time). Yes, it smells bad and be careful not to get any in your eyes. Once you’re hair is dry, the smell is gone. It has helped my itchy scalp and after almost 4 months of doing this, my hair is growing faster and is healthier.

      Another way I use ACV is by using a water/ACV mixture (again, adjusted to personal needs) as a facial toner. I don’t have bad break outs, but my friend does. I gave her the mixture and saw her two weeks later…Big Improvement for her!

      I hope this helps!

  21. We have a brand new – fancy-dancy top loader washer. The first NEW appliances I have ever had. The lid locks once you start the cycle, so I can’t add during the the rinse cycle.
    My Mom is over-the-top nuts about Vinegar and Baking Soda use for anything in the house. So after listening and listening to her talk about it – I’ve compromised on THIS:
    I buy some good smelling fabric softener and mix ‘just a tad’ into my jug that I put my vinegar in. It’s already pre-mixed and a smaller container to handle than the big gallon jug. I just seem to pour that stuff everywhere if it’s in such a big container.
    It softens wonderfully and I still get the hint of ‘exhilaration’ smell by adding traditional softener.
    I’m working on the full monty – but until I get there… my mixture is going to be just fine.

    1. I have also read you can add a little hair condition with the vinegar to give it the good smell. Haven’t tried it myself yet but it is on my to do list as soon as my fabric softener is all gone.

    2. I’ve tried using conditioner with the vinegar but the vinegar cleans away all the scent. I dropped the conditioner and stuck with the vinegar because it works! Even though I’ve had no problem using vinegar as a laundry softener, I plan on making wool dryer balls this week for added benefit (and I think it will be fun). I will be testing out soaking the wool balls in my favorite smelling softener, not for softening, but I to like scented laundry.

  22. I have used the vinegar trick as a replacement for fabric softener for awhile. I also add several drops of Tea Tree Oil with the vinegar to help with the fresh smell. Works beautifully

  23. I use vinegar in EVERY load I do. I have 2 cats and if I don’t clean their litter box DAILY they like to use the dirty laundry. At one point I was washing every load twice and couldn’t get rid of the smell…..since vinegar is sooo powerful I gave it a shot….got my clothes smelling clean and softer in 1wash!!!! I probably add too much, I tend to use about 1-2 cups per load and have never had a problem with my clothes smelling like that nasty vinegar smell. Wouldn’t wash any other way!

  24. Been doing this for a couple months after seeing on here. Really works!!! Between this and leaving washer door open when not in use- the washer actually smells really good! Like the detergent! No more smell at all in washer or towels.

  25. I’ve been wondering myself about the musky towels… They are horrible! lol I am excited to try this. I too have a top loading washer, which locks when in use. Do I add the 1/4 cup vinegar where you’d normally put the softener?

  26. I like to put vinegar in my dishwasher along with the tablet. The dishes come out perfect and my dishwasher insides sparkle. I’m going to now put in my laundry.

  27. I had the same problem with my front loaders and have done this for a few years now. I forgot a load of laundry in the washer for a couple of days and couldn’t get the mildew stench out of it. I ran through a load of whites with bleach, then I started adding a half a cup of vinegar to each washer load. I just pour it in over the clothes when I put them in the washer. Problem solved. No more stink.
    My mother used to use vinegar as she said it was a natural fabric softener (it changes the PH of the water), gets clothes cleaner, sets colors so they don’t fade as quickly, and makes the fibers last longer. It removes the stink from sweaty clothes really well too.

  28. I use both baking soda and vinegar – no need for fabric softener anymore. I immediately noticed the squeaky clean feeling when transferring from washer to dryer. Clothes come out smelling so clean – as if they were line dried.

  29. Laundry has been always my task since I was with my parents house and I love doing it. Now I am 32 years old and married. For regular laundry or dark coloured clothes, I use 50/50 laundry soap and baking soda then put on last rinse a mixture of 40/60 water and vinegar plus 1.5 table spoon of scented oil. That’s basically my fabric softener. Cold water on dark colours. The container for my fabric conditioner mix is the heinz bottle 32FL.

    For whites, using cold water on quick cycle, I pre-treat it with 50/50 dishwashing liquid and Zonrox pink (hydrogen peroxide) to take away grimes or any oil and add pure distilled white vinegar to last rinse. Once the cycle is finished, I wash it again, now using warm water (30-40c for normal or delicate clothes and 60c to towels, pillow cases and bedsheets), I use the same soap and fabric softener combination as above.

    I do not use dryer if it’s sunny. I hang clothes outside. Sun gives that fresh scent and kills dust mites (Icky little creatures). I also do not spin most of the clothes except towels and sheets (the one’s that is hard to wring using hands). I notice the garters of the clothes last and the clothes do not get damaged easily. I have clothes that I own since I was in high school and (luckily) still fits me and I can still wear it at home. We just hang clothes to dry.

    Hope it helps!

  30. Hello Sandra,

    Do you do both a 1/4 cup of vinegar at the beginning and another 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle?

  31. Such a great tip! I use vinegar to clean the minerals from my coffee pot and I’m sure my washer would benefit from this too! My front load washer gets so stinky!

  32. I use vinegar to help with stinky athletic wear. I dump in about a cup into “small load” amount of water in top load washer and let it soak until I remember to go add soap and maybe more water and shut the lid to let the washer start. Has extended the life of many of the clothes that were getting very bad smelling.

  33. I put vinegar in my laundry all the time. I have a front loader and I use power cause they say that’s is the best to use in the machine so I put the vinegar where liquid goes and it dose fine.when I used to have the old type washing machine I just poured it in with the clothes in it did fine so I don’t think it matters how you put the vinegar in it personally.but I use it for all my laundry if it needs it needs it, bedding regular clothes I use vinegar for cleaning my house it works for everything I run it through my dishwasher clean my kitchen counters my bathrooms everything.

  34. Also leave your lid up (or open if a front loader) ALL THE TIME. This will guarantee no residual smells in the laundry. We had an old Maytag top loader that was the best washer ever. BUT it always smelt until we started using vinegar. However even after the use of the vinegar it would still get the odd residual smell. ANSWER Leave the lid open all the time (obviously not while washing). Problem solved.

  35. My saintly husband does the lion’s share of the laundry in our house, so I’m going to post this on his Facebook wall right this minute. 🙂 Thanks Robyn!

  36. We have been using vinegar in the laundry for over a year now. I love the way our clothing feels and I no longer need dryer sheets. We just use dryer balls. The whites look amazing and the vinegar will help get out the smell of anything.

  37. My husband has greasy stinky work clothes that regular detergent just wont cut, someone told me to try vinegar in the rinse cycle but would it benefit me more to add it to the bleach dispenser instead?

  38. To start I hate the smell of vinegar. I am hesitant to use it in the fabric softener tray… I will give A little bit of filler info- we have a 1 yr old samsung he front loading washer and dryer (their top of the line options with steam, etc.) – we also do the self clean option reguarly. The washer smells fine but Blankets, shirts, and especially towels smell either like mildew or wet dog. I want to use the vinegar but there are 4 places to put the vinegar:
    1. Prewash.
    2. Wash Detergent
    3. Bleach or
    4 fabric softener.
    Each compartment has max fill lines so I am not sure 1/2 cup will fit in all of them. My questions are: which compartment do i fill, how much do i put in so that I don’t stink like vinegar, and do i use anything else in the wash (i.e.- vinegar in the fabric softener but still use detergent; or vinegar in the detergent and also add detergent and put fabric softener in the fab softener compartment—- you get the point) Please help! Thanks

  39. I was so excited to get my new washer until all my clothes started to smell awfullll….after reading hundreds of complaints and remedies I realized the problem had to do with the fabric softener dispenser…I stopped putting softener into the dispenser and started using a fabric softener ball…I no longer have horrible smelling laundry but have wondered what I would do if my refillable ball ever broke because I have not ever seen another one…I am anxious to try the vinegar and looking forward to good results…thanks

  40. Vinegar is also a natural disinfectant. I use it in every load to kill germs and bacteria that get on clothing. I put it in my dishwasher.

  41. You said you add the detergent and vinegar into the dispenser. I have a top loader. I assume I jut pour the vinegar into the wash water along with the detergent? Or should I add the vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser that’s in the agitator? (I’ve never used liquid fabric softener so wasn’t sure). Can’t wait to try this!

  42. I’ve tried both (vinegar and citric acid) with misleading results. I tried adding 2 cups of citric acid powder dissolved in water (adjusted to 5% acidity, similar to vinegar).

    The problem with these methods, is when they come out of the wash, they smell pretty good and fresh (even a slight lemon scent from the citric acid). And out of the dryer, they still smell good and fresh (to our noses).

    But venture out into public, especially an enclosed space (corridor) in an office building (where I work), I can smell underlying mildew smell. I know others can smell it too, because I’ve overheard them talking about it.

    I honestly don’t think any form of putting clothes in a washer (bathing in water (especially since we all are forced in modern times to use municipal tap water), and adding vinegar or citric acid to disinfect, will truly eliminate all traces of mildew smell (without exposure to UV Light as a final step) as nature intended to effectively sanitize fabric.

    Since I can’t line dry my clothes (where I live)… To test, I bought one of those UV Germicidal Wands and passed it over my already dried garments. Low and behold, nobody could smell mildew (at the office) that day.

    Unfortunately, they don’t make a clothes dryer with a UV Light built in. This would mimic nature and put dryer sheets out of business.

    So hate to put a rain on the parade, but I think clothes that smell fresh (at home) may be a product of our noses being used to our home environment and smells (which is why I kept smelling fresh lemons at home, but mildew @ work). Just like other people can smell your house (when you can’t), I think it is similar with laundered garments.

    If someone can tell me different (i.e. told in public that their clothes smelled fresh– after using vinegar or another natural method), and not just from people living in your home, i’d like to hear.

    1. I had this problem for a while. I didn’t realize that my clothing and bedding had so much grease and body oils trapped in them. One day I realized how much funk was locked into the clothing. So I took all of the musty clothing and bedding and put it all in the bathtub. I added hot water and 2 cups of commercial degreaser (like simple green on steroids) and (with gloves on) hand agitated the clothing in the bathtub. 

      Keep in mind it was clean out of the wash/dryer at this time… but when I pulled it out of the bathtub… the water was dark. Like so dark I couldn’t see though it. After draining that water I did it again and the water was at least where I could see the bottom. I did that to all of our clothing and bedding and then put it in the washer with some more degreaser and set it for second rinse. Did that a few more times as we regularly washed and the funk was all gone. Now we just use vinegar and all is well. 

      Oh and the degreaser works well for those in the food industry. My sister-in-law is a manager at a greasy fast food joint. She ran out of $$ and brought laundry to our house to do. I immediately smelled the greasy funk. She said it lingered no matter what. So I mixed in about a cup of purple degreaser with the regular detergent and set it for second rinse. Clothing came out smelling like new. I didn’t tell her my secret though… she just thinks we have a really nice washing machine lol 

  43. I had a bunch of t-shirts that had bad perspiration odor. I read to soak the garment in 2 cups white vinegar in the washer with hot water for at least 2 hours or longer then wash normally. I let them soak overnight then washed them twice on warm water. They do not smell anymore. I have some linens that smell “old”. I’m going to try them next. Maybe you need to soak them one time to gets the really set I’m odor out, then wash with 1/4 vinegar each time. Good luck.

  44. I add the white vinegar in the washer (cupful) and in the rinse cycle. Using a product like Damp-Rid in the closet may help, also. It has rid my mother’s bibs of stains when soaked in vinegar water.

  45. I found that throughly cleaning my top-loading washer by running a full cycle using hot water and bleach and rinsing twice, and cleaning seals around the detergent and fabric softener with a toothbrush and bleach solution, then running a cycle with 1/2 gallon of vinegar removed that mildew smell completely.on the advice of my dermatologist, I have stopped using any fabric softener products and my skin is recovering from dermatatic reaction caused by the chemicals they contain.Using vinegar in the rinse 1/2 to 1 cup per rinse keeps the machine odor free, and I also leave the lid propped up with a 1 inch dowel (old broomstick) and that helps to ventilate and dry the tub and drain til next time.
    In addition, I discovered that using much less detergent per load especially the liquid high effecieny ones, improved things. We used to thinl that suds equated cleansing, but it is no longer true with the phosphate free products.
    Also the vinegar does not harm anything in the washer and aids in removing the soap suds in my drain and the water flows freely. I encourage you to try this soon,it’s good forMother Nature, too.

  46. Front loading washers must be left open when not in use. The door seals to keep the water in when in use. When not in use, the closed door also seals and prevents the moisture from drying out.

    If your machine door blocks a door or passageway when open, block it open as much as you can. Elizabeth E. Conboy has very good advice – all that she says in her above comments.

    1. I never leave my front load washing machine door open. I got my first front load in 2007, never had a issue. Moved into a new home, purchased my second set of front loads. I’ve been make my own powder laundry detergent this entire time. The recipe can be found online just by googling. My only difference is I use ivory soap instead and I add a large box of baking soda. Towels come out clean, soft and absorbent. No vinegar rinse ever needed.

    2. Then your the only person I know of that doesn’t have problem with front loader, you should always keep door open mold gets under the rubber
      I have had mold on my clean clothes had to rewash them always seemed to come out but not all
      So I will give the vinegar a try
      As of now I’m getting rid of front loader and going back to top loader Had front loaders for 20 years

    1. I put the vinegar right into the water as it’s loading. I add the detergent and then the clothes(while the water is still running). The white vinegar works great for keeping colors from bleeding and fading.

  47. Do you use vinegar AND laundry soap? Should I use straight vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser?

    1. Hi Gayle,
      I use both laundry detergent and vinegar . I add the vinegar like I detail in my post. I always suggest making sure to check the instructions for your particular washing machine to make sure it’s ok to use. Thanks!

    2. Hi, I’m excited to try this! My mother-in-law has been telling me this for years already. Question, though: I have a front-loader washing machine. If I’m just doing a normal load of laundry (say, kids’ clothes), do I also put the 1/4 cup vinegar into the fabric softener place? Or if not, then where?

      Thanks in advance!

    3. Hi Michal,
      We should always just listen to our Mama’s and mothers-in-law, right?! 🙂 Yes, my washing machine is a front load as well and I just add to the fabric softener side of the dispenser. I hope that helps! xo

  48. I have a problem with a mildew smell in my built-in closet and faintly in that entire room. I have allergies and asthma and found I had a reaction whenever sorting clothes in the closet. Tried everything to air it out. Am suspecting moisture or mould in the ceiling but that’s another story. So I’ve taken all my clothes and linen out of the closet and they now are on an racks and a free standing hanger. I’m in the process of rewashing everything with vinegar and either a hot or warm wash which I usually don’t do for clothes but do for linen. The results have been better smell wise (I like little to no fragrance) but items are dry/crunchy. I suspect that’s the hot water rather than the vinegar and I’m not too worried because next time I can do them on cold. Still, the vinegar is helping give me some peace of mind that I’ve disinfected things 🙂

    1. Do you have a dehumidifier? If not, buy one, turn it on during the day in the humid room, and you will get litters of water in the evening and a couple weeks later your flat will smell much better. Keep the wardrobe’s door open meanwhile. If you have astma, this will improve your healt as well. 

  49. I live in Kent,  where water is extremely hard and we don’t have a water softener . Will white vinegar help soften clothes and towels, I really don’t want to use fabric conditioner if I can avoid it and don’t want to tumble dry if I can avoid that also, as I like the outdoor smell where possible?

    1. I’ve not used it with the intent of softening, Anne. I do love to use it for the tip I mentioned though! If it helps, I’d love to hear. Thanks! xo

    2. I use white vinegar instead of fabric softener and it works perfectly. They come out soft and my daughter’s skin problem is solved. 

  50. Use powdered laundry detergent. I still like vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser, but using powdered laundry detergent eliminated the musty smell in my washing machine (once I got the smell out).

  51. I am a mom of 8 (adopted 4) Grandma to 13. I use the Downey sofener balls filled to top to add vineger during rinse. Careful adding vinegar to products with bleach or using softener in rinse after washing with vinegar as it can cause a bleaching effect. For static control add about 3 diy foil dryer balls. In my opinion only the foil balls also help improve dryer time. To avoid recurring mildew smell add baking soda or 1-2 tsp Dawn dish soap to wash cycle and add vinegar to rinse. Great article and tips.

  52. We live in the country and have hard water, it doesn’t smell bad just leaves light colored clothes looking dingy after awhile. Iron Out is expensive for the amount we would have to use for a family of 6 and it leaves the clothes smelling very odd even after Gain liquid softener and dryer sheets.

    So my 92yr old Mother in law said to use 2cups of white vinegar and a 1/2cup baking soda for a X-large load. Well….it worked! I now do this once a week with our lighter colored clothes and it works awesome!
    No more nasty rotten egg smell like the Iron Out used to leave behind and the cost is cut by 75%.

    My best friend as well as 2 of my coworkers now use this method faithfully. You can even put a couple drops of your favorite essential oils in with this mixture and it is absolutely amazing!

  53. I have just read that fabric softener is harmful and I was looking up all the ingredients because my daughter arm pit is really sore and this is the second time this has happened, anyway I’m going to try vinegar so do i just put a small amount into the drawer as I do with washing powder and is it harmful to clothes.

  54. I had a terrible time with my jeans getting horrible musty smelling, and I think it was from detergent buildup. I washed with vinegar, baking soda, basically everything I could think of and nothing got rid of the smell. Then I remembered I had some enzymatic laundry detergent from a direct sales company that specializes in cleaning naturally, and tried it. Lo and behold, my jeans finally came out smelling fresh again! I’ve noticed some detergent buildup smell on some of my other clothes, as well, but adding vinegar to every load has been enough to get rid of it, and I’ll continue adding it to every load every time I do laundry, and using the enzymatic laundry detergent periodically to really keep things fresh!

  55. When you use vinegar for your towels and sheets, are you using the same amount?  1/4 cup in the fabric softener dispenser?  We are on a septic system so I haven’t been able to bleach my machine.  I’ve tried adding a few drops of tea tree oil, which has helped a little…I’m thinking vinegar may do the trick though!

  56. Hi, we have an HE front load washing machine. I want to try this laundry tip. But reading through all the comments, i didn’t seem to find the answer to my question. Do I add the 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar on the fabric softener compartment at the same time as i add the laundry detergent before i start my washing machine?
    Thanks for your response in advance.

    1. Hi Gina,
      I have an HE front load washing machine, too. I pour 1/4 cup white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser at the same time that I add the laundry detergent before I start the washing machine. Hope this helps!

  57. That’s good to know that you could get less mildew smell from your laundry if you use some vinegar in the washing machine. I would have thought that it would have done the opposite of making it smell better since it smells pretty bad itself. I’ll have to give that a try and see if it makes my towels smell a bit better after a wash.

    1. Hi Tyler,
      Vinegar added to the wash really does help the clothes smell better, especially if you have a front loading HE washer. Hope it works for you, too!