Is White Vinegar a Good Stain Remover?

White vinegar is known to be one of the best natural cleaning agents. Instead of using commercial cleaning products that use synthetic chemicals, you can use white vinegar for cleaning all kinds of surfaces.

So how good is white vinegar at being a stain remover?

The acidity in white vinegar makes it a good stain remover for anything alkaline and coupled with baking soda it can tackle nearly all kinds of stains caused by things like grass, coffee, mold, and more.

Because it’s a mild acid, vinegar can be used to remove stains from clothes without causing much damage with proper use.

What kind of stains can vinegar remove?

White vinegar can remove all kinds of stains. Whether you dilute it with water or couple it with baking soda, white vinegar is one of the best stain removers you can use – and it’s all natural!

Here are just some of the stains you can remove with white vinegar:

  • Grass stains (an equal mixture of white vinegar and cold water)
  • Sweat stains (2 tablespoons to a cup of water)
  • Mud stains (rub into the stain and add vinegar to washing machine)
  • Coffee stains (wet with water and add some white vinegar)
  • Red wine stains (2 tablespoons to warm water and a squirt of dish soap)
  • Carpet stains (spray a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to water on a layer of baking soda)
  • Mold stains (1 tablespoon of baking soda in a spray bottle and fill with vinegar)

There are many more stains that vinegar can remove.

For small stains, you can spot treat stains with vinegar by pouring white vinegar onto the stain, letting it soak in or rubbing it in yourself. A paste can be made by adding baking soda to water and vinegar and applied to stains.

Spot treating stains with vinegar can be done for blood stains, rust stains, collar and cuff stains, mustard stains, and tomato stains.

Adding vinegar to your washing machine can also help make your clothes cleaner and even remove some yellowing from pale clothes. Adding a cup of vinegar to your usual wash is easy.

A cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle can:

  • Act as a fragrance-free fabric softener
  • Brighten clothes
  • Remove mildew odors
  • Remove soap residue
  • Reduce the static and limit lint and pet hair sticking to clothes

However, there are some important guidelines for using vinegar in your wash. Don’t put too much in – half a cup of vinegar is almost always enough, and you don’t want to overuse vinegar.

Because of its acidity, vinegar can damage fabric fibers over time. You should limit how often you use vinegar in your wash cycle and how much you use.

Does white vinegar and water remove stains?

A mixture of white vinegar and water can remove stains. Depending on how stubborn the stain is, usually you only need to add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to a cup of water, like for sweat stains.

If you want to limit how much vinegar you use on your clothes, it’s best to try the 2 tablespoons to a cup of water mixture for spot treating. This will help you limit how many fibers are damaged by soaking vinegar in.

If the stain still hasn’t gone, you can always make a paste from baking soda and dish soap and try that!

Why is vinegar a good stain remover?

Vinegar is a good stain remover because of its acidity, so it’s especially helpful in tackling alkaline (or “base”) stains. Thanks to it being a rather weak acid, vinegar doesn’t do as much damage as other acidic cleaning agents. Instead, the acidity of the white vinegar cancels out the alkaline stain.

Similarly, an alkaline stain remover like baking soda is best for tackling acidic stains. Using vinegar and baking soda together can remove most stains.

Stains caused by the following alkaline foods are best treated with white vinegar:

  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Berries (including blackberries,
  • Cherries
  • Curry
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelons

Does white vinegar damage clothes?

White vinegar can damage clothes by using too much vinegar too regularly. Depending on the type of fabric, some clothes may be more likely to be damaged. That’s why it’s important to dilute white vinegar with water or use it with baking soda, so the acidity isn’t too much for fibers.

Plant fibers, like cotton and linen, are neutral or slightly alkaline, while silk and wool are slightly acidic.

Using white vinegar to clean silk can restore the shine and soften silk while using baking soda to clean silk can cause damage to the fibers and cause it to fade.

Can you spray white vinegar on clothes?

You can spray white vinegar on clothes, but it’s always best to dilute it. Before applying vinegar to any stain, check what method is best – if in doubt, try the 2 tablespoons to a cup of water method and go from there.

Avoid pouring white vinegar directly onto clothes unless you’re sure of what you’re doing and you’re sure you’ve diluted it enough.

Can I soak clothes in vinegar overnight?

Soaking clothes in white vinegar can help brighten clothes and remove stains, but you should never soak clothes in only vinegar.

Instead, fill a bucket or bath with hot water and add up to 2 cups of white vinegar. This will allow the vinegar to work its magic without being too damaging to your clothes.

How long should I leave white vinegar on my clothes?

For spot cleaning, you should leave white vinegar on your clothes for up to 30 minutes before washing it out or running it under the tap.

10 minutes should work for most light stains, especially recent stains, but more stubborn stains might require more soaking.

As long as you’ve diluted the white vinegar enough, your clothes should be okay for up to 24 hours. Just make sure that you don’t forget about the clothes or it’s not something particularly sentimental or important to you if it does fade or weaken.

Will vinegar take the color out of clothes?

White vinegar can take the color out of clothes if used improperly or if it hasn’t been diluted enough. With proper dilution, you shouldn’t have to worry about your clothes fading.

Vinegar can even reduce fading on clothes by tackling deep staining in the fibers, but it’s important to use it at moderate levels. Damaging the fibers won’t cause the color to fade in your clothes but it will weaken the bonds and potentially cause holes or fraying.

Always make sure to buy white vinegar instead of other kinds of vinegar for your clothes. Malt vinegar could cause your clothes to become brown.

Will baking soda and vinegar bleach clothes?

Baking soda and vinegar can act as bleach but will not fade the color of clothes.

There are two ways that clothes can be bleached – either bleaching that fades color or turns something to white or bleaching that cleans and sterilizes clothes.

Vinegar cleans like traditional bleaching agents but is much milder. As a natural disinfectant, white vinegar can dissolve bacteria, dirt, grease, grime, and mineral deposits.

However, the efficiency of bleaching hasn’t been shown to be as strong as commercial bleach or hydrogen peroxide, so white vinegar can’t be relied upon to sterilize clothes of all bacteria. Until it has been thoroughly tested and certified as a disinfectant, it’s best not to rely on vinegar as a disinfectant for all pathogens.

Vinegar can bleach clothes to make white fabrics brighter but it hasn’t been shown to remove colors like hydrogen peroxide.

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