Don't worry, it won't have a lingering vinegar odor afterward.
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Rarely a day goes by when the sound of my washing machine can't be heard humming through the mudroom door. There’s a lot of laundry to be done in our household, which I take to be a sign of days well spent. I always say that the best days are the two-bath days. Two bath days mean my kids have romped in the yard, run through the grass barefoot, rubbed peanut-butter-and-jelly-covered hands through their hair, blown too many bubbles to count, and sat on the porch steps as homemade strawberry ice cream drips over their bare legs in a battle between waffle cone and afternoon sun. I’ll happily throw on another load of their hard-worn clothes and fill up the tub one more time if these are the type of memories we've made to warrant it.

With all this washing, though, their tiny clothes are bound to start fading sooner than they can grow out of them—something I am definitely not on board with. There are a few tricks that I employ to make the most out of play clothes (and pajamas that somehow end up being play clothes most weekends), but at the center of all of my little tricks of the trade is a good old-fashioned cup of vinegar. Vinegar will lock in color so that your clothes don’t fade quite as fast—but don’t worry, it won’t seal in that pungent vinegary smell along with. It will completely wash out by the end of the cycle, just leaving the crispest, most vibrant clothes without the lingering odor.

About ¼ cup distilled vinegar can be used in place of traditional fabric softener when added directly to your softener compartment. In addition to locking in the most vibrant color, vinegar will help get rid of lingering detergent residue that might have accumulated over time (adding to the brightening effect), eliminate funky fabric smells (for instance, if you let that load sit for too long before adding to the dryer) and work to keep your washing machine clean between deep cleaning sessions.

If color fade is still an issue, or you're plumb out of distilled vinegar, there are still a few things you can do to help your laundry’s cause like using a cold cycle, washing clothes inside out, pulling clothes from the dryer as soon as they’re dry, washing with like colors, and never overstuffing the washing machine.