DON'T use vinegar in your washing machine

9 years ago

Today we had a service call from our favourite Miele Senior technician. He said to NEVER use vinegar in the washing machine or the dishwasher Yes, it shines the stainless, but he said it totally eats and rots the rubber hoses and seals. He went on to say that they can always tell the machines that are used with vinegar. He says hoses and rubber seals and parts many times just crumble in his hands, when service is performed!

He said yes it is chemical free, but it is NOT good for the machines. Liquid fabric softener is 100% safe, when used as directed & with normal does NOT build up or gunk the machine (especially if a regular clean machine cycle is done).

Comments (338)

  • crdee1939
    My Samsung also advises NOT TO USE VINEGAR in any of the washing machine dispensers
  • echogardener

    I can't believe this thread is still going. Did anybody read what I said? I'll repeat: I used to have to rinse my towels at least 6 times to get all the soap out even though I used only about 1/8" of detergent in the cap. Now, using a vinegar rinse, the suds are all out in ONE rinse. I suggest you contact your manufacturer and ask them WHY they say you shouldn't use vinegar.

    To Chrissymj - soaking clothes in vinegar before washing won't do a damn thing. And magnetizing vinegar? I never heard of anything more ridiculous. Vinegar doesn't have any metal in it. It's made from plants and/or grains. Now I've got to unsubscribe from this thread because this should have been shut down long ago. Want to get all the soap out? Use it instead of fabric softener. Also rinse your hair with dilute cider vinegar. The scent goes away quickly and it's great for your hair and scalp. Don't believe it? Then don't - but your manufacturer who says don't use vinegar probably has a contract with fabric softener makers.

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  • mamapinky0

    Yep use enough vinegar and it will neutralize the detergent.

  • zenhar24

    Hand soap residue can accumulate in significant quantities within towels as they are used to dry hands, etc. After realizing this I now wash my towels twice: the first time with plain water with no added laundry detergent just to rinse out the residual hand soap, and then a regular wash with laundry detergent. Adding the water-only wash step has cut down in the number of instances where I felt the need to get out the vinegar bottle to dissipate large amounts of remaining suds in the rinse water.

  • mamapinky0

    I always do a prewash on face cloths.

  • olpattycakes

    All this talk about vinegar being bad for your washing machine made me create an account.

    I only use baking soda and vinegar to wash clothes. They smell nice and come out clean.

    My washer only melted twice from the vinegar (joke)

  • mamapinky0


    How much baking soda and how much vinegar per load? TrTraditional top loader or HE machine? How long have you been doing this?

  • Gail O'Brien

    I don't use baking soda in the wash, only the vinegar. I have a top load HE machine and I fill the softener compartment. I've been using vinegar in there for about 6 months and have had no trouble. I also use a homemade laundry soap and have no trouble with that either. I have a Whirlpool Cabrio platinum washer and dryer.

  • mamapinky0

    Gail I would be interested in seeing the insides of your washer. The parts that can't be seen without tearing it apart.

  • Larisa Batchelor

    Oh goodness I too would love to see the inside of the washer. Before I researched better I used to use homemade laundry soap and ended up with a few disasters. A dryer fire happened too. Tore the machine apart and scrapped a two gallon bucket of soap scum out of machine, gross. Then stripped my clothes before washing with strong detergent (not soap) and omg they were black. Nothing was getting clean. From then on I used detergent and ditched soap and vinegar. Vinegar has its uses but for my family it’s NOT in my laundry room.

  • Gail O'Brien

    My washer has no soap scum on the inside of it. Believe me, I've checked. It looks as shiny as the day we bought it. Never had a problem with the dryer, either. I've actually had more trouble with store bought fabric softener and the strong fragrances from the detergents and fabric softeners you buy, too. There was a clump of fabric softener that just kept building up in the place for the softener. No thanks, I'll stick with homemade. My body thanks me every single day for not messing it up with the chemicals that you buy in the store!

    Considering the fact that there are too many chemicals to list in store bought, I will stick with my borax, washing soda, and homemade coconut oil soap, made into a liquid form. I guess I haven't had a problem yet, and I've been using that for over a year and the vinegar I've been using for about 6 months. Not a single issue yet, since it's more water than soap.

  • Larisa Batchelor

    My washer showed no signs of soap scum until I tore it open. The inner tub (where you can see inside) don’t hold the soap scum it’s the outer tub. From looking at it you could never tell it had 2 gallons of soap scum in it.

    The dryer lint screen was clogged to high heaven with soap scum as well which started the dryer fire. Even soaking it in hot water and dish soap yonscrubbit off didn’t help. Only thing that cleared the dryer lint screen was a overnight soak in degreaser.

    Bottom line is you can’t see the soap scum it’s in parts of the machine where you have to tear it apart.

    I bought a used machine from someone else and found out they too had used homemade soap and tore that machine apart to clean and found the same soap scum in outter tub (hubby used a five gallon bucket for that machine and was overblown half full) . Told her about it and sent her pictures and she stopped using homemade too. Her dryer died (it was her second one) and couldn’t figure out why but we later looked at her lint screen too and it was clogged causing it to overheat and eventually die. She ended up giving me the money back for the machine (50.00).

    Soap leaves stuff behind (think soap scum in a bath tub) and detergent does not. Can not buy the ingredients to make detergent alone. Water softners and boosters along with soap just didn’t cut it for our family along with the safety issue. There are some great natural detergent choices out there. I only use plant based fabric softners when I do need a softner as I cannot stand traditional fabric softners as those are made from animal fat (barf).

    I am in no way saying to stop using your homemade soap just sharing my experience :)

  • dadoes

    Gail O'Brien, reference this thread for a look at how scum and residue can accumulate in the areas of washing machines that aren't accessible without disassembly. That's the type of situation Larisa Batchelor is referencing. The visible interior of the inner drum is perfectly clean ... it's the exterior of the inner drum and the interior of the outer tub that catch the smutz.

    Perhaps you've successfully avoided the problem ... but you can't know for sure without disassembly.

  • mamapinky0

    Olpattycakes. This is what happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda together.

  • HU-51812381035

    "soap scum" LOL. One person said they get "soap scum" from using LESS soap. How do you manage that? And sure took a long time before anyone asked, how can you have "soap scum" when you are using DETERGENT?! ...i remember when Zest and other "cleansing bars" (detergents) became so big about 50 years ago because they didn't leave bathtub ring. So if you use detergent and not soap, what is causing this scum? Softeners are much more likely culprit, since they are designed not to rinse out, but to stick to fabrics as long as possible. Or in the case of the person getting scum from using LESS detergent, was it skin cells and such remaining because not enough detergent was used? I also wonder if "scum" is more likely when using cold water. But mainly, i suspect there are several issues here that are all getting lumped under "soap scum."

  • mamapinky0

    I think some of the above conversations talk about soap based laundry soap. And some about detergent.

  • Deborah Ingemansen

    Interesting article. I just read that vinegar ph is 2.3. Rinse aids for dishwashers are 2.2 ph. So tell me again why vinegar is a bad idea? Sounds like they want to scare you into buying their products.

  • Cavimum

    Aren’t vinegar and baking soda what kids mix for science project volcanoes?

  • Marge Plevak Gajkowski

    Can I Use White Distilled Vinegar in HE Washers during the Rinse Cycle?

    If you dislike commercial fabric softeners, white distilled vinegar can be used instead to help soften the clothes.

    The white distilled vinegar should be placed in the fabric softener dispenser so it will be added during the rinse cycle. Fill the fabric softener cup to the top level with the white vinegar. The vinegar helps remove any detergent and soil that is clinging to fabric clothes feeling soft and clean. There will be no vinegar odor clinging to the fabric.

    An added benefit of using white distilled vinegar is that your washer will be left much fresher and cleaner than if you use a commercial fabric softener. Fabric softener residue traps bacteria and encourages the growth of mold and mildew and causes odor in front load washers.

  • Marge Plevak Gajkowski

    So, if you're told that your "hoses" will be destroyed I believe you're being hosed!

  • mamapinky0


    Does not soften clothing the same as fabric softener. It also does not remove detergent residue. If enough is used it may neutralise residue. Once residue expecially carbonates is neutralized the clothes may have a smoother feel. Vinegar being so weak though I'm doubtful the small amount held in the fabric softener dispenser is going to do anything. If it makes you feel better than of course use it. Its harmless enough expecially at such a low dose.

  • georgect

    Ahhhh...Larsi would be so happy this thread is still alive and kicking.


  • Leslie Escobar

    Are washing machines still being made with rubber parts? I checked my drain hose and it's plastic. I don't think vinegar will harm newer machines that don't use rubber parts, anyone know if there are rubber parts on the inside??

  • dadoes

    Yes. Plastic largely isn't soft and flexible enough to serve for bearing and shaft seals, some internal hoses and tubes, etc.

  • Lisa Seatle

    I’ve beeb using vinegar as a fabric softener in my HE machine for 10 yrs. zero problems. My laundry comes out great and the rubber gasket never gets mouldy.

  • Rose Luu

    My bath towels (less than 1yr) smelled moldy despite being washed with detergent and hot water several times. I almost gave up! Before throwing them out I washed them once more using only vinegar and hot water. The smell went away! It was incredibl! I kept sniffing the towels thinking maybe something was wrong with my nose. Nope, they smelled fresh as new. Now I’m worried that maybe vinegar could ruin my machine...

  • georgect

    It won't ruin it HU.

  • claire853

    Hi, I have been using White distilled MALT vinegar for months (cannot find just the white distilled anywhere) and have had no problems at all. I used to use fabric softener but hated the smell, even though I tried different ‘perfumed‘ ones. The only smell now is just clean! Good luck.

  • jujufull

    When our second child was born, his skin was so sensitive that cloth diapers irritated his skin no matter how quickly I changed him. A nurse at the doctor's office (who had six children) told me to use white vinegar in the final rinse to clear out all soap/detergent, and then to dry them in the sunshine (on a clothesline). When I began doing this, he had no more diaper rashes. It was truly amazing and I was so thankful for it.

  • Matthew Cathell

    We have a new Samsung washer. On the Samsung website, in a few places, it actually recommends using vinegar (both in place of fabric softener, and when you're running a cleaning cycle without clothes in the machine).

    On the page Clean your Samsung Washer, in the section titled "Prevent washer mold, mildew, and odors," they state: "Avoid fabric softener: Liquid fabric softeners often leave residue behind that contribute to mold growth. To keep clothes smelling fresh, try using distilled white vinegar instead of fabric softener. And switch to using dryer sheets and dryer balls to soften your clothes."

    On the page Samsung Washer - Prevent and Eliminate Odors, in the section titled "Eliminating Odors," they recommend the following for a cleaning cycle: "Add 1/2 cup of bleach or distilled white vinegar to the tub and run a Sanitize or any Hot cycle. Do not add clothes."

    The devil is probably in the details here. Filling the washing machine up with vinegar would undoubtedly be a different situation that having a small amount (say, the capacity of the fabric softener dispenser) added to a load of water. I just don't believe the latter will cause the kinds of problems described here, particularly if the washing machine is being used regularly (so that any residual acid isn't just sitting around in the machine indefinitely). Also the low pH of the vinegar should be mitigated by the high pH of the detergent, bringing it closer to a neutral equilibrium by the time it all gets agitated together in there.

  • Donna Trahan

    Thanks to everyone's comments regarding using vinegar in the washers. Liquid fabric softeners and softener sheets cause skin irritations for some people and are the culprit to major sinus problems and migraines, plus cause havoc with your internal organs that most people have not read about. For several years (+/-8) I've used 1/2 c white distilled vinegar and 1/2 c baking soda in the final rinse cycle to stop static in my work clothes or anything with polyester. Works great on static! I wash with 1/3 cup SafeCoice Super Clean, which is a household cleaner (I purchase 4 gal at a time to save on shipping)

    I just had to replace my 12+ yr old top load washer, new GE top load washer is HE, and I can select my water levels plus add Extra Rinse or Deep Fill. I was wondering if anyone pauses the HE machines once the rinse cycle starts and then add the vinegar in the final rinse?

  • monicakm_gw

    Donna, which GE did you buy? My goal, when shopping for a new washer was to find one that let me put in as much water as I wanted. Well, the advertising mat on top of the washer said "use as much water as you want". Not entirely true. As much water as you want as long as it's not more than they'll allow :o

    I bought the 4.5 cu ft HE # GTW685BSLWS w/ agitator. It's a good washer but due to the water restrictions, I can't wash as much as I want in one load. No way a king size quilt is going in there. I've had it since mid Oct and Lowes is letting me switch to the GE HE 5 cu ft # GTW845CSNWS. It will have water restrictions too but at least it will be a larger capacity. I like my clothes to move freely in the water.

    I already have it's matching dryer and love it! The washer has a water/soap station (I don't have a sink in my laundry room) and much more! I DO use vinegar in some of my washes. I don't think I've used it yet in the new (soon to be replaced) washer. I use it in the wash cycle to help with stinky sweaty work clothes. Mostly not a problem in the cooler months. I don't use fabric softeners of any kind. Towels aren't as absorbent with fs. I don't put our good clothes in the dryer. They are line dried and I prefer them to have more shape than be limp(ish) due to fs.

    So, no, I don't pause the rinse cycle to add vinegar but if I used vinegar in the rinse cycle, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

  • HU-505854705

    Oh no! Thanks for the heads up. I was always of the naive assumption that vinegar, being a "natural" product was basically harmless. My mistake corrected! Luckily I hadn't quite got around to actually trying it in the washing machine or even on teh windows but I will be careful where I douse my home cleaning products now. Thanks! Ellie ULS

  • elbits

    OMG, my husband and I cleaned the agitator to our Speed Queen tonight and gunk we pulled out was amazingly disgusting! It looked like a dead rat and I never use the fabric softener doodad at the top.

  • Penelope Megquier

    I’ve used vinegar for many years with no problems. I learned that it keeps the drain hoses, etc, clean.


    Yikes elbits! You must be so glad you got that removed! I guess you had to scrub and bleach inside the agitator column. Gag.

    I've tried numerous times to get the fabric softener doo-dad off my SQ to clean under it and that thing is not coming off without breaking the machine in the process. I've watched a few youtube vids on how to, but none of that works for my softener cup (which I never use either). I'm afraid I'd have a yuck too since I've had the machine for over 3.5 years now.

  • dadoes

    elbits ... LOL, common knowledge says that toploaders aren't subject to collecting smutz, that's only in the realm of those infernal frontloaders.

    .... it is, of course, completely wrong "knowledge." :-)

    That looks like a wad of lint with maybe some hair and other debris. Vinegar won't do anything to prevent it.


    Yes dadoes, you are right. TL can get scuzzy too, not just FL.

    After much effort I was able to get the fabric softener cup off (hope I didn't break the machine) of my SQ. The inside of our agitator pole was not too bad. It looks like dark dust. No build up of hair or lint chucks. I was surprised since we have a long hair cat who sheds year round and the SQ by nature makes lots of lint. I wiped it out and good as new. I have a voice mail into SQ to try and obtain a cap to replace the FS cup since I don't use FS and this cup thing collects debris. I'd rather not have it.

    Would you know if it's alright to run wash cycles without the cup in place? I'm thinking it would be fine since it has little drain holes in the agitator pole.

  • dadoes

    Replacing the softener cup with a cap is the same thing as running the machine without the cup ... so no concern. I've read advisories on other agitator brands to never run the machine without the cup in place to avoid small items falling into the agitator, which makes me LOL. Sure, a sock could fall in there during loading (which of course the user *should* notice immediately) but items surely aren't going to leap out of the water into the agitator while a cycle runs.

  • monicakm_gw

    On one of my washers YEARS ago, I covered the FS cup with a few strips of strapping tape. Made it look nice, it wasn't just slapped on there haphazardly. The moisture and heat never caused the tape to peel off and it kept the cup clean.


    Ok, good to know Dadoes. Thank you for the reply.

    I called SQ again today since they didn't return my call yesterday or today. In regards to a cap, they said I'd have to go through my distributor. And that the caps are not made to fit residential models--only commercial models. They claim to not know if the cap would fit my awn432. ??

    Moving on, since I haven't called the nearest SQ distributor yet...I see online there are two parts retailers that have the cap for under $5. I may do that instead One retailer is pwslaundry and the other is appliance parts pros. Do you know if they are reputable suppliers?

    btw, I'm running a load right now sans FS cup because you said it's ok, and it seems fine. I mean, it wouldn't really offend me if there was no cap in my life. Could even possibly be a good thing in that air can now get in there easily to dry it out--remove a place mold can grow. It does looks strange to the eye though, if you know what I mean. I can see how a sock can get dumped in there by accident, but one can fix that easy enough.

    Good thinking Monica. I'm trying to take it a step further and find a stretchable silicone lid. I see them on amazon, but only in multiples. Your idea made think I can probably just use saran wrap with a rubber band lol. Same difference, just not as tidy looking.

  • dadoes

    I ordered from PWSLaundry twice in 2018, they had the best price on the items I needed at the time. Four orders from AppliancePartsPros in 2011, two in 2013. They're still in business so that's a point of favor.

    SQ doesn't directly deal with consumers via distributors or corporate
    (except for extreme complaints, which are referred to the dealer anyway).

    The machine will run perfectly fine without an softener dispenser or cap. Aesthetic concern is your choice. <$5 (+ shipping) may be a reasonable risk for whether it fits (probably it will) ... you can also check for offerings on eBay.

  • Penelope Megquier

    That’s odd. I have been using vinegar in my washer for at least five years and it’s fine. My other washer was twenty years old. Used vinegar in every load. No problem!!

  • elbits

    Yes, that was an accumulation of lint and chihuahua hair. I wash plenty small blankets and towels every few days. My Speed Queen was purchased in December 2011, so this was 8 years worth.


    Well, I'm glad you got that cleaned out elbits. Maybe run a clean cycle with d/w detergent or citric acid for good measure.

  • anoop

    What about a laundry rinse with these ingredients? Is this chemically similar to vinegar since some folks have recommended using vinegar as a laundry rinse.

    Product declaration

    Citric acid 15–30%

    Vegetable alcohol (ethanol) 5–15%

    Water, swirled up to 100%

    List of ingredients as per EC 648/2004

    Aqua, citric acid, alcohol

  • beaglenc

    Anoop, what product is that?

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