Can vinegar damage your washing machine? (11 things to remember)

Vinegar is an acidic liquid that is produced through fermentation (fermentation of ethanol also sometimes with sugar).

Depending on the source ingredients, we can see a wide variety of vinegar (e.g. different pH values, tastes, concentration, etc.).

The main compound is Acetic acid but it’s not the only compound present in vinegar, there’s more to it.

White distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, and coconut vinegar are some of the types of vinegar (Only a few can be used in a washing machine).

Vinegar is mostly added to the washing machine to soften the fabric, remove stains and odors. But in long run, it can damage the rubber seals and hoses in the washing machine, which may lead to leakage.

So, yes you can definitely add vinegar in your washing machine to clean clothes but if you overdo it, you will end up damaging the washer.

Before you could even think of using vinegar as a magical solution for softening OR cleaning dirt let’s take a quick look at what not to clean with Vinegar and how to use it effectively.

Table of Content

What not to Clean with Vinegar?

Even though vinegar can be used to wash clothes there are a few things you should try to avoid such as:

  • Rubber items: Vinegar often does not go well with rubber, as it can cause wear and tear if it’s used frequently to wash hard rubber items. Furthermore, the hoses and rubber seals present in your washer will also get damaged.
  • Clothes with buttons made of rubber or plastic: While vinegar will give a much-needed glow to your clothes and remove the unwanted stains, it can damage the buttons especially if it is made up of plastic or rubber.
  • Suits: Suits are expensive and it’s always a safer option to opt for dry cleaning rather than going for cleaning with vinegar.
  • Clothes with plastic zips: Plastic can deteriorate over the long term if it’s repeatedly washed with vinegar. Cleaning clothes with plastic zips once in a while is perfectly alright, but repeated use is a sure way to damage the zip.

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Which vinegar is best for washing machines?

Distilled white vinegar is considered as the best among all the vinegar alternatives, especially because it’s milder than normal white vinegar and it has a lower concentration of acetic acid.

Furthermore, it’s much forgiving and causes no damage to your washer and clothes if used scarcely.

Alright! Now that you know what items to avoid and which vinegar to use, let’s take a quick look on how to use distilled white vinegar for washing clothes.

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How to use Distilled White Vinegar in the Washing machine?

In your detergent compartment simply add 1/2 cup vinegar for a larger load and 1/3 cup for an average-sized top-loading washing machine.

When using vinegar, no need to add any detergents.

If you still want to use detergent, it’s best to first rinse and drain using detergents and then use a washing cycle with vinegar.

That brings us to the next question, that is, how you can use distilled vinegar in the front-loading washing machine?

Let’s look at it below.

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How to use vinegar in front-loading?

Ideally, white vinegar should be placed in the fabric softener dispenser when you are using a front-loading washing machine. Placing white vinegar in the fabric softener compartment helps to remove the dirt & stains clinging to the fabric, furthermore, it also helps to keep the clothes soft.

Lastly, using vinegar is not costly, in fact, it’s affordable since you only need to fill the dispenser with 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar and then run a complete wash cycle.

But wait, will it not damage your front loader?

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Can Vinegar damage Front Loading Washing Machine?

Extensive use of vinegar will damage your washer by melting the rubber seals and hoses, which inevitably leads to leakage.

No matter, what type of washer you use, extensive use of vinegar will cause damage.

You can still use it though, use it only when you really need to.

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When to put Vinegar in Washing Machine?

There aren’t any set rules as to when you should put vinegar, but for best results, you can use it as below:

  • Scenario 1: You simply use Vinegar to complete the rinse cycle without any detergents.
  • Scenario 2: First complete the rinse and flush cycle using detergents and then follow the same procedure using vinegar.

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Where do you put Vinegar in Washing Machine?

The Process to put Vinegar in the washing machine is simple, follow the below instructions based on the washer type:

  • Front Loading: For Front Loader, you need to add distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser.
  • Top Loader: For Top Loaders, add white distilled vinegar to your washer’s detergent compartment.

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Can vinegar damage clothes?

Adding half a cup of distilled vinegar is unlikely to cause any damage to your clothes. The acetic acid present in distilled white vinegar is mild but equally effective to remove stains & odours.

Having said that, an overdose may cause damage to your clothes as well as the washer.

Will Clothes smell like vinegar?

Washing your clothes with white distilled vinegar will not make your clothes smell like vinegar. On the contrary, it will be odorless if you use it in moderate quantities.

Just ensure you dry the clothes after you are done washing. Damp clothes can definitely smell.

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How much Distilled White Vinegar should you use to clean my washing machine?

Adding about 2 cups of distilled White Vinegar to the detergent dispenser for a large size washer is ideal for cleaning. For the average size washer, 1 cup should suffice.

It’s important you strike the right balance, as you will certainly not like to damage your washer in the long run.

Be careful and avoid using normal vinegar as the acetic acid in a standard vinegar is on the higher side and it can damage the washer if used regularly.

Distilled Vinegar & Normal white vinegar are two different solution, especially due to acetic acid content.

Read: Guide on cleaning portable washing machine

Is Distilled Vinegar the same as white vinegar?

White Vinegar is usually produced by fermenting sugar cane and is considered to be stronger than distilled vinegar. White Vinegar has a larger concentration of acetic acid, ranging anywhere from 5% to over 18% at times.

Whereas, Distilled White Vinegar can be made from any type of vinegar. Furthermore, it’s much milder than the standard white vinegar as the concentration of acetic acid in distilled white vinegar ranges anywhere between 5% to less than 10%. There isn’t any rule set for the acetic acid content, it’s just an average.

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Distilled White Vinegar can be an excellent solution to soften the fabric, clean dirt and eliminate odours if used wisely.

It’s not recommended to use vinegar every day, once a while should be a good strategy to extend the life of your clothes & washing machine.

Just in case you have any more queries regarding portable washers, feel free to browse our FAQ Section where we try to answer anything and everything related to portable washers.

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