It may sound like a cliché, but adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your usual amount of liquid laundry detergent really will give you “whiter whites” and brighter colours. The baking soda also softens the water, so you can actually use less detergent. Adding 1/2 cup baking soda in top-loading machines (1/4 cup for front-loaders) also increases the potency of bleach, so you need only half the usual amount of bleach. (Check out these other clever uses for baking soda.)
To remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs, pour one cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap the stains and leave the clothes smelling fresh.
Smelly gym socks are often full of bacteria and fungi that may not all come out in the wash—unless you add a cup of alcohol-based, sugarless mouthwash during the regular wash cycle.
There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding one cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. Here are the main ones:
- A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
- A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh — so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
- A cup of vinegar will brighten small loads of white clothes.
- Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint- and static-free.
- Adding a cupful of vinegar to the last rinse will set the color of your newly dyed fabrics.
Here are dozens of other brilliant uses for vinegar all around the house.