How to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar for the Best Load of Laundry

Using baking soda and vinegar together is an effective and inexpensive way to get your laundry clean and fresh. The combination of these two common household products creates a natural cleaning solution that helps remove stains, brighten colors, soften fabrics, and deodorize your clothes. With just a few simple steps, you can harness the cleaning power of baking soda and vinegar for outstanding laundry results.

Gather Your Supplies

To start, you’ll need:

  • Baking soda – This acts as a gentle abrasive to help lift dirt and stains from fabric. Look for pure baking soda, not baking powder.
  • White vinegar – The acidic vinegar helps cut through grease and grime. White distilled vinegar works best.
  • Measuring cups – Use these to portion out the right amounts of baking soda and vinegar.
  • Empty spray bottle – Mix up the vinegar solution in a spray bottle for easy application.
  • Laundry detergent – While the baking soda and vinegar work to clean, you’ll still need regular detergent for the best wash.
  • Washable fabrics – Avoid using this process on silk, wool, or other delicates that could be damaged. Focus on cottons, linens, synthetics, etc.

Know the Right Amounts to Use

When using baking soda and vinegar in the wash, small amounts go a long way. For a standard size load, you’ll want:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1-2 cups white vinegar

It’s fine to estimate; you don’t need to measure precisely. If you have an extra large or small load, you can adjust the amounts as needed.

Add Baking Soda to the Wash

Start by adding your usual amount of laundry detergent to the machine. Use the detergent according to package directions based on load size.

Then, sprinkle the baking soda evenly over the laundry load. You can add it on top of the detergent or directly onto the clothes. The baking soda will mix with the wash water to help break down stains and odors.

Fill the Fabric Softener Dispenser

Next, fill your washing machine’s fabric softener dispenser with undiluted white vinegar. Most washers will hold about 1-2 cups of vinegar. This will automatically dispense during the rinse cycle to prevent soap residue and mineral buildup.

If your machine doesn’t have a dispenser, you can add the vinegar during the rinse cycle manually.

Run a Normal Wash Cycle

With the detergent, baking soda, and vinegar in place, simply run a normal wash cycle for your fabric type. Use hot or warm water to allow the cleaning solutions to work most effectively.

The baking soda and vinegar will get to work breaking down stains and odors, leaving clothes fresh and clean! There’s no need to rinse clothes twice – the vinegar in the rinse cycle prevents any soda residue.

Try a Vinegar Soak for Stubborn Stains

For clothes with tough, set-in stains, try letting them soak in a vinegar solution before washing. Add 1-2 cups of white vinegar to a large bucket or sink filled with warm water. Let heavily soiled items soak for 1-2 hours, then launder as usual with detergent and baking soda. The vinegar soak helps loosen up stuck-on foods, grease, and more.

Use Vinegar as a Laundry Spray

Keep a spray bottle filled with undiluted white vinegar near your washing machine. Use it to pre-treat any extra dirty spots, collar rings, armpit stains, etc. Lightly spritz problem areas, let sit briefly, then add to the regular wash. The concentrated vinegar will break down stains on contact.

Try a Baking Soda Soak for Funky Smells

Does laundry still smell musty or stinky after washing? Soak overnight in a baking soda solution. Add 1 cup baking soda to a bucket or sink filled with warm water. Let smelly clothes or towels soak 8-12 hours, then launder as usual with detergent and vinegar. The baking soda soak removes stubborn odors trapped in fabric.

Clean and Freshen Your Washing Machine

Over time, residue builds up inside the washing machine, which can lead to funky smells. Give your washer a deep clean by running an empty wash cycle with baking soda and vinegar. First sprinkle baking soda along the bottom of the empty drum. Then fill the detergent dispenser with vinegar (no clothes!). Run a normal cycle to allow the soda and vinegar to scrub away residue.

Enjoy Fresh, Clean Laundry

Using these tips, you can harness the cleaning power of baking soda and vinegar for fresher, brighter, better-smelling laundry. The natural cleaning and deodorizing abilities of these two staple products make them ideal additions to your laundry routine. Give it a try – your nose will thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does baking soda help clean laundry?

Baking soda is a mild abrasive and an alkali, which enables it to break down dirt and stains on fabric. When dissolved in wash water, baking soda helps lift residue from clothes to allow detergent to work better.

Does vinegar sanitize laundry?

Vinegar is effective at killing many types of bacteria and germs during the laundry rinse cycle. Its acidic properties create an inhospitable environment for microbes. This provides a light sanitizing effect to your laundry.

Can I use baking soda and vinegar every load?

Yes, it is generally safe to use baking soda and vinegar in every wash load if desired. They are gentle on most fabrics. However, you may want to reduce the amounts for smaller loads to avoid waste.

What vinegar is best for laundry?

White distilled vinegar works best for laundry. It provides the most acidic cleaning power at a low cost. Avoid other types like red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, as they may stain fabrics.

Can I mix baking soda and vinegar directly together?

It’s best to add baking soda and vinegar separately in the wash/rinse cycles. If mixed directly, they create a chemical reaction that neutralizes their cleaning effects. Add them individually for the best results.

How does vinegar work as a fabric softener?

Vinegar helps rinse away soap residue that can stiffen fabrics. It balances the laundry’s pH level and acts as an anti-static agent. This provides a light fabric softening effect without the need for chemical softeners.

Do I still need laundry detergent with baking soda and vinegar?

Yes, you still need your regular laundry detergent. Baking soda and vinegar work to enhance the detergent’s cleaning power, but they cannot replace laundry soap entirely.


Baking soda and vinegar are two inexpensive but powerful cleaning solutions for your laundry. Used together in the wash and rinse cycles, they can remove tough stains, eliminate odors, brighten dingy clothes, soften fabrics, and sanitize your laundry without harsh chemicals. Work them into your regular laundry routine and enjoy the simple magic of baking soda and vinegar for fresh, clean clothes every time.