Save on Pinterest

8 Secret Ingredients You Should Be Adding to Your Laundry

Don't toss in a laundry pod and think you're done. These surprising additions can get rid of tough stains, boost your detergent's performance and make your life brighter.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Full Frame Shot Of Colorful Laundry In WaterBowonpat Sakaew / EyeEm/Getty Images

Laundry Boosters That Actually Work

Life is complicated and messy, but our laundry doesn’t have to be. OK, we might sound like a commercial there, but it’s totally true! Clean, fresh laundry brings a sense of order and tidiness into our lives, but we still don’t want to spend too much time and energy on it. Unfortunately, a number of cleaning hacks that are supposed to make things easier don’t actually work.

Case in point: aspirin. Adding aspirin to laundry won’t whiten your load or get rid of stains, as we once thought, but there are some bona fide laundry boosters out there. The following ingredients live up to their promises — try them for yourself!

1 / 8
Pile of fresh lemon slicesChris Clor/Getty Images

Lemon Juice

When life gives you lemons, you can do more than make lemonade — you can loosen up stains by adding lemon juice to your load, according to Marieke van der Graaf, founder of the California-based Laundrylicious. A lemon’s organic bleaching magic will brighten your cotton undergarments and remove rust, plus leave them smelling lemony fresh.

Just stick to whites when adding lemon juice, since it may bleach some colors. Pro tip: You can also spot-treat stains with lemon. For the best results, van der Graaf advises blotting the stain with the juice rather than rubbing it in.

2 / 8
Coarse SaltAdam Gault/Getty Images


Sure, you know salt makes your popcorn taste better. But who would have thought that a sprinkle could help remove blood, gravy and grease stains? “Salt is not a laundry booster, per se, but it can be effective in removing certain stains,” explains Brandi Winch, owner of HomeMaid Home Solutions in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

How the salt should be used, however, depends on the type of stain. Clothing with blood stains, for example, should be soaked in cold, salt-filled water. With a grease stain, cover it with salt, let it absorb the grease, then brush it away before laundering.

Winch adds that salt is also “commonly touted as an effective delivery vehicle for natural scents — usually essential oils — to the laundry.”

3 / 8
Natron, close-upCreativ Studio Heinemann/Getty Images

Baking Soda

You open a box of baking soda to freshen the fridge, so why not add it to the wash to help deodorize your clothes? Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda at the beginning of the wash cycle when you add your laundry detergent or detergent sheets.

“Baking soda is a natural, economical, and safe laundry booster,” says Winch. “We use it in every load when washing rags in my company.”

4 / 8
Mouthwash BubblesPeter Cristofono/Getty Images


Imagine if your gym socks could smell as fresh as your breath after you rinse with mouthwash. It’s possible! Just toss a cup of sugarless, alcohol-based mouthwash into the regular wash cycle to rid your gym apparel of bacteria and gunk. Or you can add 1/2 cup of mouthwash to the rinse mode.

It’s just one of the many genius mouthwash uses that are helpful around the house. Van der Graaf says that mouthwash is also a great way to get the drum of your washing machine clean.

5 / 8
vinegar cleaner shutterstockShutterstock/ anythings


Vinegar is an old standby, and for good reason — it is simply a great laundry booster,” says Winch. “I prefer to use it during the rinse cycle, which can get a little tricky to remember, but it is most effective [then] since it removes the residue of dissolved things and detergents that may be left suspended in the water between the wash and spin cycle.”

Pour 1/2 cup into the fabric softener compartment right before the last rinse cycle.

6 / 8
Golden Oil Bubbles

Essential Oils

Essential oils offer a chemical-free way to fight bacteria, mold and mildew. Add a few drops of lavender, tea tree or your favorite scent with vinegar or your detergent to prevent mildew buildup and create a bespoke laundry scent.

However, van der Graaf warns that essential oils are an expensive way to add scent to your wash. Instead, lightly spray your clothes with the oil after the wash.

7 / 8
water drops on white backgroundBIMKA1/Getty Images

Rubbing Alcohol

Sponging alcohol on ink stains and pen marks is a great way to target and remove them. Let the solution penetrate the area until you can no longer see the stain, then rinse and wash the item with your regular detergent.

“Dab the alcohol on the stain and let it sit in water,” says van der Graaf. One caveat: Use only on whites, van der Graff says, because “it can have a bleaching effect.”

8 / 8
Oil drops and bubbles floating over water with a blue backgroundJose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

Dish Soap

Looking to get rid of stubborn grease or oil stains? Head to your kitchen. Van der Graaf advises putting a tiny drop of regular old dish soap onto the stain before you toss in the wash. It will target the stain and help your detergent do what it needs to do.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Stacey Marcus
Freelance lifestyle and travel writer for over 20 top regional and national outlets including Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Northshore Magazine, Ocean Home Magazine, , Southern Bride Magazine and others