Natural Ways to Wash Clothes, For Example in Vinegar


Woman doing laundry Skip the fabric softener and use tennis balls in the dryer. Image Credit: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

You don't need commercial detergents to get your laundry clean, especially if your clothes don't get very dirty. Make an earth-friendly choice in the laundry room by switching to more natural cleansers. Eco-friendly detergents and natural laundry additives, including plain white vinegar, effectively fight stains and remove dirt and odors from clothes. Natural products are also ideal for sensitive skin.

Things You’ll Need

  • Eco-friendly laundry detergent or liquid castile soap

  • Eco-friendly powdered laundry detergent or soap flakes

  • Vinegar

  • Oxygen bleach

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Toothbrush

Step 1

Attack stains with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Fill a spray bottle with full-strength vinegar or peroxide and spray the solution onto stains. Wait 10 minutes before putting the clothes in the washing machine. For tough stains, scrub gently with a wet toothbrush after spraying. Add a sprinkle of baking soda to the toothbrush for extra stain-fighting power.

Step 2

Wash your clothes in cold water. Depending on how dirty your clothes are, you might need to use slightly more cleanser when washing in cold water.

Step 3

Add eco-friendly laundry detergent to your machine, according to the package directions. Buy a product labeled "earth-friendly" or "green" that uses plant-based surfactants to clean your clothes. If your clothes are very dirty or stained, choose a powdered detergent or soap flakes. Another option is 1 ounce of liquid castile soap, which is available either unscented or scented with natural oils. Pour the soap into the washing machine at the same time and into the same compartment as you would regular laundry detergent. Look for castile soap in bottles in the cleaning or bath and body section of health food stores.

Step 4

Add a brightener or stain remover, if desired. Natural options include 1 cup of vinegar, 1 scoop of oxygen bleach, 1/2 cup of borax or 1/2 cup of washing soda. Vinegar also acts as a fabric softener. Oxygen bleach, or sodium percarbonate, is a powdered form of peroxide that works by breaking the bonds between dirt and fabric. Unlike chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach is environmentally friendly and won't ruin your clothes. Add oxygen bleach to the wash at the same time you add laundry detergent.

Step 5

Soften your clothes without fabric softener by using commercially available dryer balls or clean tennis balls. Buy dryer balls in health food stores or supermarkets, and add them to the dryer according to the package directions. If you don't have dryer balls, add two to three tennis balls to a load of laundry in the dryer. Better yet, line-dry your clothes in the sun for a fresh scent with no electricity needed.


For the best results, add powdered detergent to top-loading machines and allow the water to agitate for a minute or two before adding clothes.


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