Can Vinegar Rust a Washing Machine?

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Vinegar is effective, beneficial and safe to use in washing machines.

Vinegar is a natural stain and odor remover. Apple cider vinegar generally has a milder aroma but is not as effective as white distilled vinegar. Using vinegar in the washing machine has many benefits, and it's generally very safe. Vinegar will not cause a washing machine to rust, as it is actually a natural rust-remover.


Vinegar is a natural alternative to chemically produced laundry agents, including stain and odor removers. Vinegar has antibacterial properties that kill lingering bacteria and dust mites. It also helps prevent color fading and running in fabrics, reduces lint and static cling and prolongs fabric life. The cost of a gallon of vinegar is less than most specialty products, and vinegar is just as effective. You use less to accomplish the same results, adding to the cost-effectiveness. Vinegar is safe to use in households with children and pets and is an environmentally friendly product.


Apple cider or white distilled vinegar remove mildew and odor-causing bacteria buildup from washing machine drains. It will also clear a clogged drain. Vinegar replaces the need to add bleach or liquid fabric softener to loads of laundry. The odor-removing properties keep clothes smelling fresh and clean while removing odors caused by sweat, cigarette smoke, mildew and urine. Vinegar also softens fabrics and removes leftover soap and detergent residue from the washing machine and clothing, resulting in cleaner, softer clothes.


Soak heavily soiled laundry in a bucket with half water and half white distilled vinegar to remove odors. Spray tough stains with full-strength vinegar and allow it to soak overnight. Add apple cider vinegar or white-distilled vinegar to the bleach and liquid fabric softener compartments of the washing machine and wash clothes as usual. For clogged drains or improperly draining machines, add 1/2 gallon of white distilled vinegar to an empty washing machine and run it through a full wash and rinse cycle. This will also clean the washing machine and eliminate mildew odors. Scrub any existing rust on the washing machine with full-strength vinegar and a stiff brush to eliminate rust and help prevent further damage.


Using excessive amounts of vinegar in the laundry may cause a lingering vinegar smell in clothes. If this happens, run the clothes through an additional rinse cycle or line-dry them outside. Although both types of vinegar are useful as a fabric softener, apple cider vinegar lingers less and softens more. Some odors and stains may require more than one treatment, depending on the severity of the issue. Do not use vinegar and bleach together in the washing machine, as the mixture will produce harmful vapors.

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Gabrielle Morgan

Gabrielle Morgan has authored business documents, manuals, mental health documentation and treatment plans. She also writes for a variety of online publications. Morgan's extensive educational background includes studies in creative writing, screenwriting, herbology, natural medicine, early childhood education and psychology.