Cleaning clothes with vinegar is an easy, inexpensive way to deodorize your laundry.
A few years ago, I vacationed in a house full of chain-smokers. When I made it back to my own non-smoking home, I found that all my clothes smelled like I also smoked at least a pack a day. I like my friends, but not that smell! Multiple washings did nothing, and Febreze only helped a little bit, so I turned to Google in despair. I soon found a solution that seems nearly foolproof.
Many people already know that white vinegar in a small bowl will remove smoky or musty odors, and that you can put the bowl on a closet floor or shelf if those odors happen to be stuck in your coats and jackets. What many people do not know is that, if you put white vinegar in your wash water at the beginning of a laundry load, it will both freshen and soften the clothes being washed. The scent of vinegar will have miraculously disappeared by the end of the wash cycle, but everything will smell very clean. You don't need much vinegar: a half cup is sufficient, a full cup is plenty, and exact measurements probably aren't necessary. Don't forget to add your usual detergent, too!
You'll find more reasons to add some white vinegar to your laundry routine after the break.
This is helpful if your clothes are full of a seemingly permanent smoke scent like mine were, if you leave them in the washer too long and they go sour (something a simple rewash doesn't always cure, especially if the clothes need a cold-water wash), if you have dog bedding or dog-bathing towels to wash (it removes the dreaded smell of Wet Dog), and for washing linens anytime.
Why linens? Commercial fabric softeners can create a coating on cotton fabrics, causing them to lose their absorbency, which is the last thing you want to happen to your towels; vinegar will help the towels and sheets stay soft and fluffy without the negative side effects. However, make sure there are no stains that you wish to remove from the linens; vinegar may set them.
DIY Life readers may have noticed that we like our vinegar around here. White vinegar has dozens of household uses, but this one is my favorite. (Most vinegar-related household tips are specifically for white vinegar; other kinds of vinegar are generally food items, though apple cider vinegar may work in some cases where white vinegar is called for. This isn't one of them.) Don't forget to check out our other great vinegar tips!