8 Ways to Boost Laundry Detergent

Updated: Nov. 28, 2023

Optimize the power of your laundry detergent with these natural enhancements.

Is your laundry detergent not performing the way you’d like? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to boost your detergent’s cleaning power, and some of the ingredients are already in your home. Get a fresh load of laundry free of stains and stuck-on odors every time with these 8 detergent hacks. Your family (and your wardrobe) will thank you. Here are the best ways to whiten your whites, darken your darks and keep all kinds of vibrant colors from bleeding.

Keep your laundry safe and snuggly with these laundry detergents.

Baking Soda

It may sound like a cliché, but adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your usual amount of liquid laundry detergent really will give you “whiter whites” and brighter colors. The baking soda also softens the water, so you can actually use less detergent. Adding 1/2 cup baking soda in top-loading machines (1/4 cup for front-loaders) also increases the potency of bleach, so you need only half the usual amount of bleach. Baking soda can benefit your home, too!

Check out these 50 clever tricks for cleaning with baking soda.


Lemons are as powerful in your laundry as they are healthy for your body. To remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs, pour 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap the stains and leave the clothes smelling fresh.

Here are all the ways you can clean with lemon for a fresh smelling home.


Mouthwash does more for your cleanliness than just getting rid of garlic breath. It’s an antiseptic that gets rid of all the baddies in your mouth, and you can use it to purge pretty much everything from your laundry, too. Smelly gym socks are often full of bacteria and fungi that may not all come out in the wash—unless you add a cup of alcohol-based, sugarless mouthwash during the regular wash cycle.


There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding 1 cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. (It can even keep your towels fluffy.) Here are the main ones:

  • A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
  • A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh—so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
  • A cup of vinegar will brighten small loads of white clothes.
  • Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint and static-free.
  • Adding a cupful of vinegar to the last rinse will set the color of your newly dyed fabrics.

Vinegar is the cleanest and thriftiest way to banish bacteria and odors in your house.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest