Why some people are putting black pepper in their washing machines

When it comes to trying out Pinterest hacks, the results are usually very hit or miss. The melting potatoes I made a few weeks ago came out beautifully (and were delicious!), but other tips from Pinterest I’ve tried? Not so much.

So that’s why I approached Pinterest’s latest strange recommendation, that I put black pepper seasoning in with my laundry, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The One Ingredient To Change Your Laundry Forever Is…Pepper?

Many pins on the social network site and several reputable websites have declared that adding a teaspoon of black pepper to your washing machine, along with your usual detergent, will “change how you do laundry forever.

OK, I’ll bite.

Margeaux Klein / Simplemost

Why Black Pepper In the Washing Machine?

Most instructions about this hack are scant on details, but the idea behind it is that the rough texture of black pepper supposedly acts like an exfoliant for your clothes, sloughing off the soap residue that makes garments look faded and, in turn, keeps them looking bright.. Basically, it’s like a face scrub for your clothes!

Upon reading about this Pinterest laundry hack, I thought of several questions: Would the pepper grains get stuck inside my washing machine and damage it? Would my clothes come out of the wash smelling like a bowl of cacio e pepe, a delicious Italian pasta that I enjoy eating but don’t want my clothing to smell like?


And, lastly, how exactly was this any better than washing your clothes with Borax or OxiClean—inexpensive laundry boosters that are made out of minerals and purport to also remove soap residue from clothing?

So, I decided to test this hack myself to find out.


Testing Out The Pinterest Hack

First, I rounded up several pieces of clothing that have definitely seen better days: namely some bright blue yoga pants and a pair of hot pink fluffy socks I wear 24/7 during the cold months.

Margeaux Klein / Simplemost

I couldn’t find anywhere on the internet that instructed how finely ground the teaspoon of pepper should be, but photos of others trying this hack have prominently featured pepper grinders, so I decided to grind my pepper fairly coarse, thinking that the larger grains would be more likely to have a “light sandpaper effect” on my clothes than more finely ground ones.

As directed, I added the pepper to my clothes inside the washer barrel and not to the detergent tray.

pepper in laundry
Margeaux Klein / Simplemost

The Results Of Putting Pepper In The Laundry

When I took my clothes out of the wash, the first thing I noticed was how much pepper was left covering my clothes and the bottom of my washing machine. One instructional article I followed mentioned that the pepper should “just wash away with the rinse cycle,” but in my case, it definitely did not!

So I had to spend a few minutes wiping down the bottom of my washing machine to remove the pepper flakes and a few more minutes shaking out my clothes.

Margeaux Klein / Simplemost

This is not something I ever had to do using Borax. Granted, Borax is made of much finer granules of boric acid, so it’s possible if I had used smaller granules of pepper, it might have washed away better.

Is Pepper Cheaper Than Packaged Laundry Boosters?

Still, a 4-pound box of Borax costs less than $5, while the same amount of pepper would cost significantly more, so there appears to be no cost savings to using pepper over a commercial laundry booster.


Did My Clothes Smell Like A Kitchen?

Luckily, thanks to my lavender-scented detergent, my clothing didn’t smell pepper-y at all. However, my yoga pants and socks also didn’t look any brighter or different than when I first put them into the wash.


RELATED: Here’s Why You Should Be Washing Your Clothes In Cold Water

The Verdict

Overall, I would say this tip is a #PinterestFail. In the future, I plan to stick to using freshly ground pepper only in the kitchen and not in the laundry room.


Food, Home, News
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About the Author
Margeaux Baulch Klein
Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and digital strategist based in Los Angeles. She has written for publications like the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others.

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