Does white vinegar remove fabric stains? Best ways to use it – ‘perfect alternative’

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Acetic acid is the main ingredient which makes white vinegar so effective around the home, offering impressive results on hard surfaces like glass and metal. While this popular condiment is undoubtedly good at cleaning dirt and grime, exactly how good is it at removing stains from fabrics? Here are the best ways to use white vinegar to banish stains on carpets, laundry and upholstery.

Does white vinegar remove stains?

Distilled white vinegar can be found in almost every household, making it extremely accessible and inexpensive to use around the house.

According to the dry cleaning service Eco Clean, this simple ingredient can remove “almost any stain you can think of”, making it the “perfect alternative” to chemical based products.

While white vinegar can be effective on fabric stains, it is important to use it in the right way in order to be successful.

Here’s how to do it

How to remove stains with white vinegar

The acetic acid content in vinegar is what makes this liquid such an effective stain remover, but it should be avoided in large quantities on some types of stains.

Stubborn stains like vomit, chewing gum and grass will respond best to an undiluted vinegar treatment, while grass, coffee, tea and juice should be treated with a diluted solution.


White vinegar is effective on clothing stains when used to ‘flush’ the substance from the fibres.

To do this, hold the underside of the fresh stain directly under cold, running water to force the stain out.

Spot treat the stain by saturating it in white vinegar, and leave for 10 minutes.

Once the stain is no longer visible, wash the item as normal and leave it to air dry in the sun.

For stubborn clothing stains like tea and coffee, you may need to soak the garments before washing.

Combine 1/3 cup of white vinegar and 2/3 cup water in a large bowl and add the stained item.

Hang the garment outside in the sun to dry before washing it in the machine.

The soaking method should be done using undiluted white vinegar in order to be effective on clothes covered in mildew, sweat stains and vomit.

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Rugs and upholstery

Stains can ruin upholstered furniture and rugs, leaving the whole sheet of fabric looking dirty and unpleasant.

For items that can’t easily be washed, spot-treat the affected areas using a spray solution.

Mix distilled white vinegar and hot water into a spray bottle and apply the liquid liberally to the stain.

Leave it to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes before blotting with clean hot water and a white cloth.

This works on most fresh liquids such as tomato sauce, mustard, blood and juice.

It is unlikely to be effective on set stains, so it is important to take action quickly for this to work.

Add vinegar into a wash cycle

If you’re dealing with multiple items covered in rust residue, pollen, grass, mud or other light stains, adding a few capfuls of white vinegar to your wash cycle should do the trick.

This will not only make your clothes cleaner, but it will restore the fluffy texture of towels, and bedding while brightening light colours.

Use a liquid laundry cap to measure out the vinegar and pour it directly into the drum alongside your normal wash pod.

For the best results while using white vinegar for stain removal, you should always try to remove as much of the stain as possible with cold water before pre-treating.

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