Pros: Vinegar has a low pH (typically between 3-5), which helps it dissolve away metal and mineral residues that can bind body soils to fabrics. Because of this, it can help decrease malodor caused by the breakdown of body soils trapped in fabrics.
Cons: Adding vinegar to the wash along with your regular laundry detergent might interfere with the detergent's cleaning performance. That’s because detergents, especially ones that contain stain-busting enzymes, are optimized for a specific pH. Also, standard white vinegar in stores is mostly water and only 4-5% acetic acid. That means you would need 5 cups or more to lower the pH level enough to see any benefit.
Pros: Baking soda has a high pH (10.3) when dissolved in water which can swell cotton fibers and loosen trapped body soils. This can help decrease malodors caused by the breakdown of body soils bound to fabrics.
Cons: Adding baking soda along with your laundry detergent can decrease your laundry detergent’s ability to clean away low-pH sensitive stains like coffee, tea, wine, and others. Also, some dyes in colored fabrics are pH-sensitive, which means exposure to high pH can fade their color. You should avoid using baking soda in the rinse as it can cause the formation of carbonate crystals on fabric, making them rough and stiff
Pros: Bleach is the best way to remove deeply embedded odors from fabrics, but must be kept separated from the stain fighters in regular laundry detergents until the time of the wash. If combined too early, it can decrease the cleaning performance of the detergent. Chlorine bleach is powerful enough to remove deeply embedded odors, but it can’t be used on colored or synthetic fabrics.
Cons: Bleach is not color safe and cannot be used on synthetic fabrics. It also must be kept separate from stain fighters in regular laundry detergent and combined at the time of the wash to keep form deactivating them and decreasing laundry performance. Hydrogen peroxide bleach can’t remove odors deeply embedded in fabrics.
Each everyday product has qualities that are beneficial to musty odor and stain removal, but none of them can do it all efficiently or effectively. There’s also the problem of certain products not being safe on certain fabrics. When you’re not sure of what’s safe and what’s not on certain fabrics, the risk of ruining your clothes and wasting money is too high. Ultimately, there needs to be a better way. One solution with all the laundry cleaning and odor-removing benefits without any of the drawbacks, like color or fabric safety. Luckily, now there is.