Can Vinegar Bleach Clothes?

We use vinegar for a lot of things: cooking, cleaning, and even doing laundry. However, since it contains acid, many people wonder whether it can bleach their garments. After all, who would want their red shirt to get pink and blotchy?

If you’re worried about using it due to this reason, the answer is no, vinegar will not bleach your clothing. Instead, it could even make their colours more vibrant, and not to mention, smell more fresh! 

Let’s go into more detail about the benefits of using vinegar for your clothes in this article!

Can White Vinegar Bleach Your Clothes? 

White vinegar, the variant we use for cleaning, contains a mixture of around 5% acetic acid and water. It’s known for its ability to clean, remove smells, soften water, and act as a natural disinfectant. 

However, regarding its ability to bleach or whiten clothes, vinegar acts more as a fabric brightener than a strong bleacher like chlorine bleach. 

distilled white vinegar washing machine

When we talk about “bleaching,” we usually mean making something whiter or removing its colour. Vinegar doesn’t work like traditional bleach which can make clothes white. It won’t make your clothes lose their colour, either. Instead, it will help in making your clothes cleaner and brighter, without damaging them. 

TIP: When it comes to cleaning, stick to white vinegar. Using other variants such as malt vinegar can cause staining to your garments due to their coloured properties. 

The Benefits Of Using Vinegar In Your Laundry

Do you need more reasons to start using vinegar? Here are the main advantages of adding white vinegar to your laundry routine: 

It Brightens Colours

As time passes, your clothes will become dull and lose their vibrant colours. This often happens when there’s a buildup of detergent, fabric softener, and minerals from the water that sticks to your fabrics.

Fortunately, white vinegar can solve this issue. Instead of “bleaching” it, the acetic acid in the vinegar helps break down the buildup that has accumulated on your clothes. 

As a result, when you add vinegar to your wash, it will help make your clothes look brighter and more colourful. 

It Removes Stains

Stains are a common laundry problem, whether it’s a drop of coffee on your shirt or paint stains on your child’s clothes. The acetic acid in white vinegar helps break down the substance that causes the stains and makes them easier to wash out. 

distilled white vinegar on avocado stain

If your clothes have stains that are quite difficult to remove, you can even use vinegar as a spot treatment. Apply it directly to the stain and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Then, wash as normal. 

It Softens Fabrics

Shop-bought fabric softeners can make clothes feel softer, but they often do this by leaving a chemical layer on the fabric, which can reduce the absorbency of towels and other items. 

Vinegar, on the other hand, softens clothes naturally. It removes the residues that make fabrics feel stiff, leaving your clothes and towels soft and fluffy without the chemical residue. 

Plus, vinegar is a wonderful softener alternative for those with sensitive skin, as it’s less likely to cause irritation and trigger allergies.

It Gets Rid Of Bad Smells

Nobody likes clothes that smell musty, smoky, or like sweat. Luckily, vinegar can help with this too. 

person smelling shirt

Adding a cup of vinegar to your wash cycle works by neutralising the odours, and not just masking them with fragrance like some detergents and fresheners do. The result? No more musty-smelling garments once they’re done in the wash. 

Things To Remember When Using Vinegar On Laundry

By now, you may be rushing to stock up on your vinegar supply. We can’t blame you, either. However, before you use it, here are some things you need to keep in mind:

Always Check Care Labels

Before using vinegar on any piece of clothing, always check the garment’s care label. Some fabrics can be sensitive to acidic substances like vinegar, and using it on these materials could cause damage. 

wash care label with no tumble dry

For example, delicate fabrics such as silk, wool, or those with special finishes might not react well to vinegar. The care label will provide you with tips on what is safe for the fabric, and will help you avoid possible damage. 

It May Not Be Enough For Extremely Tough Stains

While vinegar is effective for many types of stains, however it might not always do the trick for extremely tough or set-in stains. 

In cases of severe staining, such as old oil stains, paint, or ink, vinegar alone may not be sufficient to completely remove the stain. Hence, you might need to use a specific stain remover or pre-treatment product designed for those types of stains. 

Consider vinegar as a first line of defence, but be prepared to use stronger measures for more stubborn stains, such as oxygen bleach or various stain removers. 

SEE ALSO: What Is Oxygen Bleach (and how to use it)

Moderation Is Key

Using too much vinegar in your laundry can lead to its own set of problems, such as weakening fibres over time or leaving a lingering vinegar smell on your clothes. 

white vinegar in washing machine

Generally, a half to one cup of vinegar per load is sufficient for most laundry purposes. Two cups would work well for large loads. This amount is enough to provide the benefits of vinegar, like softening and odour removal, without the negatives. 

It’s also a good idea to dilute the vinegar with water, especially when applying it directly to fabrics, to reduce its acidity.

Do Not Mix It With Chlorine Bleach

Finally, you should never, and I mean never, mix white vinegar and chlorine bleach for cleaning. This is because doing so will create a dangerous chlorine gas, which is extremely harmful when inhaled. 

Always use vinegar and bleach separately. If you need to use both products, do so in separate wash cycles to avoid any chemical reactions that could be hazardous to your health.

Ready, Set, Go And Use Vinegar!

White vinegar is very easy to find. You can buy it in supermarkets, grocery stores, or even online. Who would have thought that something as simple could work wonders to our laundry sessions? 

Aksoy Distilled White Spirit Vinegar 5L for Cleaning, Pickling, Marinating, Weed Killer & Cooking
  • High-Quality Purity: Made from the finest ingredients for consistent performance.
  • Generous 5L Capacity: Ample supply for all your household needs.

Do you also use vinegar in an unconventional way? Give us more ideas by leaving a comment below!

SEE ALSO: Is It Safe To Use Vinegar In The Washing Machine?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is vinegar safe for coloured clothes?

Yes, vinegar is safe for coloured clothes. It will not bleach them but can make their colours more vibrant.

Can white vinegar damage clothes?

White vinegar won’t damage clothes if used properly, but it’s important to check care labels, especially for delicate fabrics that might be sensitive to acidity.

Does vinegar bleach black clothes?

No, vinegar does not bleach black clothes. Instead, it can help maintain their colour and remove odours without causing fading.

Does vinegar whiten white clothes?

Vinegar doesn’t whiten white clothes in the way bleach does, but it can help brighten them by removing buildup and residues.

Which is better to whiten clothes vinegar or bicarbonate of soda?

For whitening clothes, bicarbonate of soda might be better as it has properties that can help lift stains and whiten fabrics, while vinegar is more effective for brightening and removing odours.

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