The Common Household Staple That's Perfect For Cleaning Your Delicate Laundry

If your wardrobe contains chiffon, silk, wool, lace, or thin fabrics such as pantyhose, then you need to treat them like delicates when doing the wash. This means extra care should go into the laundering process, as these fabrics are fragile and you don't want to risk damaging or tearing them. But they're not impervious to odor-causing bacteria, which means you need to launder them with something designed to clean thin fabrics. Luckily, vinegar — a common pantry staple — can do the trick. 

Seeing as the average family spends a whopping $1,800 on clothes every single year, it's important to preserve the integrity of the items you already own. Even more shockingly, the EPA reports that 11.3 million tons of clothing can make their way to landfills yearly. By taking extra care as you wash your clothes, you can reduce the need for new garments. Here's how you can keep delicates looking (and smelling) their best with vinegar. 

Wash delicates in vinegar

Vinegar in the washing machine can have adverse effects, especially if you have a front-loader. You don't want to risk the vinegar damaging rubber parts, such as your seals and belts, so stick to a wash basin for this hack. 

All you need is 1/4 cup of vinegar added to your delicates. If you don't have distilled white vinegar, you can swap in apple cider vinegar. Let everything sit for half an hour before rinsing clean. You can then launder your clothes as normal, although it's best to wash pantyhose, bras, and undergarments in a mesh laundry bag. You should also wash them separately from heavy items such as jeans. 

Even though you used vinegar, your garments still need the enzymes found in detergent. Your delicate cycle relies on less agitation, working to preserve the integrity of your clothes. This means that you can usually wash delicates without special laundry detergent, contrary to popular belief. But a vinegar pre-rinse can work to keep your delicates looking their best. Vinegar can be a versatile cleaning tool, but you don't want to risk skin irritation or chemical burns, so be sure to wear gloves, and if you're worried about it splashing, consider wearing protective eyewear as well. 

Line dry your delicates

Once everything is clean, you'll want to dry your delicates quickly. To help preserve them, consider line drying, which is easier on delicate fibers. It might take a little longer, but when used in tandem with vinegar, it will work to keep your delicates looking their best. Although it might be tempting to use vinegar with every wash, your delicates — including bras and undergarments — have tiny elastic fibers keeping them together. Although vinegar does remove stubborn odors from these items, you don't want to use vinegar too often, as the acetic acid can cause elastic to degrade over time. 

But when used in moderation, vinegar has several benefits — not only does it remove stains, but you might also find that it freshens your clothes, removing any lingering odors. Its acid attaches itself to these molecules, working to remove smells from your clothes in no time.