Will Vinegar Bleach Black Clothes?

washing black clothes with vinegar

Vinegar is known for its ability to clean, deodorize, and even remove stains from clothes. As vinegar has so many benefits in laundry, what if it stains your clothes? This is a common misconception many people have.

I’ve used vinegar to wash black clothes and can answer your questions. In this article, I’ll answer ‘Will vinegar bleach black clothes’ and provide tips for cleaning black clothes.

Will Vinegar Bleach Black Clothes?

Vinegar does not bleach black clothes. When used correctly and in the right amount, vinegar is safe for black clothes and will not cause any bleaching or fading. However, vinegar is an acidic substance, and when used in large amounts or without dilution, it can cause some discoloration on certain fabrics, such as silk or rayon.

Related: How to remove bleach from clothes?

Cleaning Overview

Working Time:  25 minutes
Total Time:  25 minutes
Skills Required:  Beginner
Estimated Cost:  USD 0

How to Use Vinegar to Clean Black Clothes

1. Do a Spot Test

Different types of fabrics can react differently with vinegar. To be safer, do a spot test on the part of the black shirt that is hidden when worn. Apply a teaspoon of vinegar and rub for 30-60 seconds with your finger or sponge and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. If you see no discoloration, you are good to go.

applying vinegar to black shirt

2. Pre-treat stains

If your black clothes have any stains, pre-treat them with vinegar. Apply a small amount of vinegar to the stain, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing.

sweat stains on black shirt

3. Wash Black Clothes

Add half a cup of white vinegar to the washing machine during the rinse cycle. This will help to remove any odors, make black clothes blacker and leave the clothes feeling fresh and clean.

operating automatic washing machine

4. Air Dry

After washing your black clothes, air dry them in natural air, and do not let them dry directly under the sun, as UV rays can break down dye molecules in your black clothes.

Related: Minimum temperature for drying clothes outside

air dry black clothes

How to Prevent Black Clothes from Fading?

In addition to using vinegar to clean black clothes, several other tips help to keep them looking their best:

  • To prevent fading or discoloration, wash black clothes separately from other colors.
  • Hot water can cause fading and damage to black clothes, so washing them in cold water is essential.
  • Turning black clothes inside out before washing can help prevent fading and keep the color vibrant.
  • Harsh detergents can cause damage to black clothes, so it is important to use a mild detergent specifically designed for dark colors.
  • High heat can cause dullness or damage to black clothes, so it is important to dry them on a low heat setting or air dry them.
  • Adding half a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle can help to set the color and prevent fading.

How to Store Black Clothes?

Proper storage can help to prevent damage to black clothes and maintain their color.

  • Hanging black clothes can help prevent wrinkles and creases, leading to fading over time.
  • Direct sunlight can cause fading and damage to black clothes, so storing them in a cool, dark place is important.
  • Garment bags can help to protect black clothes from dust, dirt, and other particles that can cause damage.
  • Moisture can cause damage to black clothes, so storing them in a dry place is important.

Benefits of Using Vinegar on Black Clothes

i. Removes Stains

Vinegar can help break down stains such as those caused by sweat and deodorant. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps break down the molecules in the stain, making it easier to lift out of the fabric.

ii. Removes Odor

Odors can develop in clothes due to bacteria or sweat buildup. Vinegar can help neutralize these odors. Vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer due to its acidic properties.

When applied to clothing, vinegar creates an acidic environment that can effectively kill odor-causing bacteria. The acidic nature of vinegar also helps break down and dissolve odor molecules, making removing them from the fabric easier.

iii. Disinfect Clothes

Vinegar creates an acidic environment that can help to kill bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that may be present on the fabric. It does this by denaturing the proteins and disrupting the cell membranes of these microorganisms, ultimately causing them to die.

However, it’s important to note that vinegar may not be effective against all microorganisms and should be used with other sanitation methods.

iv. Restores Brightness and Soften Clothes

The acetic acid in vinegar can help break down mineral deposits and buildup, which makes fabrics look dull and rough.

When vinegar is added to the rinse cycle of a washing machine, it can help to remove soap residue and mineral buildup from the fabric. This can help to brighten the fabric and restore its natural luster. Additionally, vinegar can help soften the fabric by breaking down the minerals that make it feel stiff or scratchy.

Furthermore, vinegar is a natural fabric softener that can help reduce static cling in clothing. This can make the fabric feel softer and more comfortable to wear.

Related: Can you use fabric softener as a detergent?

The Science Behind How Vinegar Works as a Cleaning Agent

Vinegar is a weak acid, typically made up of acetic acid and water. The acidic properties of vinegar make it a natural cleaning agent. When vinegar comes into contact with certain substances, such as grease, dirt, or stains, it helps to break them down and dissolve them. This is because the acid in vinegar reacts with the alkaline substances in these substances, causing them to break down and become easier to remove.

In addition to its cleaning properties, vinegar also has antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that vinegar can effectively kill bacteria, viruses, and mold on surfaces. This is due to the acetic acid in vinegar, which can disrupt the cell membranes of these microorganisms, ultimately killing them.

Related: Substitute for fabric softener.

white vinegar bottle

Other Types of Fabrics that May Not be Suitable for Cleaning with Vinegar:

While vinegar is generally safe for most fabrics, some may not be suitable for cleaning with vinegar. These include:

  • Silk: Vinegar can damage the delicate fibers in silk and cause discoloration or shrinkage.
  • Rayon: Rayon is a delicate fabric easily damaged by vinegar. Vinegar can cause the fabric to shrink or lose its shape.
  • Leather: Vinegar can damage the natural oils in leather, causing it to dry and become brittle.

To prevent damage to these fabrics, it is important to do a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area.

  • Does vinegar stain black clothes?

    Vinegar may cause discoloration or fading on black clothes, especially if it is used in large amounts or if it is undiluted.

  • Will vinegar ruin dark clothes?

    Vinegar may not necessarily ruin dark clothes, but it is recommended to dilute it and to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to avoid any potential damage or discoloration.

  • Can I soak black clothes in vinegar overnight?

    It is safe to soak black clothes in vinegar overnight, but it is recommended to dilute the vinegar with water and to rinse the clothes thoroughly after soaking.

  • How long to soak dark clothes in vinegar?

    The amount of time to soak dark clothes in vinegar may vary depending on the fabric and the level of discoloration, but typically 30 minutes to an hour is sufficient for most cases.

  • What happens if you mix vinegar and laundry detergent?

    Mixing vinegar and laundry detergent may have a neutralizing effect, which can reduce the effectiveness of both products.


Vinegar does not bleach black clothes and can safely clean and deodorize them. It is a natural and eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical cleaners and can help to remove stains and odors. Following our tips, you can keep your black clothes looking their best and prevent fading or discoloration.

Related: Substitute for laundry detergent