School uniforms are expensive and if you are like me, you will try to get as much wear out of them.

Here is how I wash my school uniforms for the first time to set the colours in the fabric and also how I continue to wash them each week to maintain bright coloured school uniforms all year.

I have used this method for several years in a top loader machine and now I continue to do so in my new front loader machine. (Before you do anything…please check your garment washing instructions and also check your washing machine manual!)

First wash of new school uniforms:

  1. Remove price tags, turn uniforms inside out and sort the uniforms: sports shirts, blouses, skirts/shorts, jackets etc.
  2. For each pile/uniform type: make up a mixture of 500ml household white vinegar and 5 Litres water, you can double this if you have many items. Soak the items for at least four hours or overnight. (If you have multiple items of the same uniform (eg 10 pairs of dark shorts) consider soaking in the washing machine!)
  3. Pour all the water out – don’t be alarmed if you see coloured water!
  4. Put the uniforms straight into the washing machine and wash on a gentle cycle, in cold water with NO washing soap at all BUT do add 1/3 cup white vinegar into the fabric softener section or final rinse cycle.
  5. Dry the uniforms straight away as gently as you can – make sure they are inside out! Dry them for the shortest time outside in the sun or on a short cycle in the dryer or inside on a drying rack.

Daily or weekly washing of school uniforms:

  1. Turn uniforms inside out and empty all the pockets! (Remember to check for stickers on collars too!)
  2. Wash on a gentle cycle, in cold water with your usual washing soap. Add in 1/3 cup white vinegar to the fabric softener section or to the final rinse.
  3. Dry as usual, making sure to hang very bright colours or darks for the shortest cycle in the dryer, for limited time out in the sun or in a shaded spot. Consider hanging bright or dark coloured school uniforms inside on an indoor drying rack.
  4. Some sports uniforms are made of fabric that can pull and lose threads easily. If this is the case, put them into a lingerie bag when you put them into the washing machine. This will protect them.
  5. Remember to wash white uniforms separately. Hang them out in the sun – it seems to make them whiter.

In case you are wondering….no your school uniforms will not smell like vinegar! The vinegar’s job is to help to maintain the colours of the school uniforms and will make them softer to wear. Use any household vinegar from the supermarket; I use the homebrand ones from the cooking aisles.

And yes….do use this method for your work uniforms too!

Happy washing!

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I’m interested in using this method, but I’m a bit concerned there might be a lingering vinegar smell after first wash


  • While washing corporate uniforms dark colors are to be washed in cold water and should be dried inside out. Drying clothes away from bright sunshine will keep the color perfect for longer time.


  • Never used vinegar to wash uniform or cloths…should give it a try. Thanks for the tips, now that my little one stated school I will keep this in mind when I do wash her uniforms.


  • will give this a try my kids uniforms are always gross.


  • If you don’t have suitable hangers hang uniforms by their hems. Most uniforms are polyester or polyester cotton blend. If hung out as soon as the washing machine finishes the creases will drop out especially if there is a breeze. Sometimes I use wire coat hangers. You can bend the hook down so that when you put it one the line it is less likely to blow off. You can put a peg on top of the hanger/line where it holds both together and prevents the hanger from blowing off. I haven’t broken any plastic pegs doing it.


  • this is a great idea although i am not worried too much about my kid’s uniforms and so they will continue to be washed as per usual due to time


  • Love it! Sounds like a good idea for your normal day to day clothes too!


  • Lke it


  • Thanks, useful info.


  • great tips and good ideas to clean uniform with care


  • thanks for the guidance


  • I never realised there was a special way I was supposed to clean the uniforms!


  • I love the vinegar tip, will have to give it a try!


  • Thanks for the tips. Will have to keep these in mind


  • Always, always check pockets. There is always something forgotten in there and with memory sticks and USBs being so small its easy to put them in the wash. Also I always hang uniforms on hangers to dry, saves so much ironing.


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