Vinegar has multiple roles in the laundry room, including softening fabrics, removing wrinkles, killing odors, removing stains and keeping fabric colors bright. It can also be used to remove unwanted soap residue from the washing machine and clean up starch residue and corrosion on the iron.
Using distilled white vinegar as a fabric softener is a natural substitute for heavily scented commercial fabric softeners. Adding one cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle breaks down uric acid and soap residue on fabrics, leaving them soft and clean. Vinegar is recommended as a fabric softener for all fire-retardant children's clothing, because commercial fabric softeners interfere with the clothing's fire-retardant qualities.
Brightly colored fabrics remain more vibrant when soaked in undiluted vinegar prior to their first wash. The vinegar should always be tested in an inconspicuous area of the fabric first. Vinegar works well on stains caused by spilled soda or wine. To ease the stain, undiluted vinegar should be applied within 24 hours and the item washed and dried as directed. Scorch marks and underarm deodorant and perspiration stains can be eliminated by rubbing them lightly with undiluted vinegar, then wiping with a clean cloth. Freshening the washing machine is easily accomplished by adding a cup of vinegar and running the machine through a normal cycle without clothes.