Home & Outdoors

People are putting black pepper in their washing machines—but should you?

Pepper is the new vinegar when it comes to laundry.

Laundry Credit: GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

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Doing laundry is easy. Doing laundry the right way is hard. Do you use cold or hot water? Do you sort your colors from your whites? Which cycle do you use? The list of questions—and unclear answers—is endless.

That's why people are constantly coming up with DIY hacks for better laundry (a.k.a cleaner clothes and brighter whites). And the latest one floating around the Internet is one of the most bizarre I've ever seen: sprinkling some black pepper into your washing machine. Here's why it's a thing right now and whether or not you should actually try it for yourself.

Why are people using black pepper in their washing machines?

Pepper
Credit: SK Howard/Getty Images

Spice up your laundry.

According to bloggers, adding a teaspoon of ground black pepper to your laundry detergent prevents colors from fading in the wash. That's because it acts as a natural exfoliant, gently scrubbing away the soap residue that is apparently what causes fading in the first place.

And no, your clothes won't come out smelling like your pepper shaker—people who use this method say that it rinses out completely during the wash cycle.

Is it safe to put pepper in my washing machine?

Safe, yes, but not necessary, says our major home appliance and design editor, Cindy Bailen. "I don't think that's the best idea," she explains, adding, "I don't know that it's dangerous, just kind of silly. Why would you want to abrade your clothes? Wear and tear will fade the color."

How else can I prevent clothes from fading?

Laundry Detergent
Credit: Andrey Popov/Getty Images

No pepper necessary.

Do a quick Google search and you'll find that the most popular hack to prevent fading is by adding distilled white vinegar to your laundry. And while Cindy says the vinegar trick doesn't really work, she does admit that "it may restore some colors that alkaline detergents have dulled."

Her top tips? Wash your clothes in cold water and don't overcrowd the washing machine or dryer. And if you're particularly worried about your denim, Cindy advises against washing every time you wear something—in fact, she recommends only tossing your jeans in the wash after every five to 10 wearings.