You have a load of laundry to do and you wake up fully prepared to tackle it today, only to find out that your laundry detergent bottle is empty. Running out of laundry detergent is a common household dilemma that we all face from time to time. Thanks to innovativeness, you do not have to run to the shop, as you have other alternatives that may just be as effective as your laundry detergents.

The first thing that may come to mind is the body wash. Is it possible to do laundry using your body wash? The simple answer is yes. You can actually use your body wash to complete your laundry chores. After all, it leaves the clothes smelling fresh. However, it may not have the stain-removing enzymes, thus it may not work effectively if some of the clothes are stained. In addition, it is not recommended for use with a washing machine.

Therefore, that leaves us with a gap that needs to be filled. Read on to find what other alternatives you have apart from body wash, and learn more about what you can use in the machine and what cannot work for machine washing.

Using Body Wash for Laundry

It may happen that you are traveling, and you do not have enough space to park your laundry liquid or powdered detergent. In any case, these things are cumbersome to carry around. Or Perhaps, you need to urgently wash a specific shirt or underwear, but you realize you do not have any laundry detergent left. Without running to the shop, you can still achieve your task remotely using body wash.

However, there some setbacks when it comes to substituting laundry detergent with body wash.

  • The first one is stain-removal. The body wash may not have the needed enzymes to remove stains. Thus, if the clothes have any stains, then it will not do an efficient job of removing them.
  • Second, body wash is not recommendable for machine use because it produces a lot of bubbles that will be hard to remove at the rinsing stage.
  • Thirdly, if you have a whole load of laundry, then using body wash is going to be wasteful because you will need a lot of it to complete the task.

This means that you can only use body wash for just a few clothing items just before you figure out what alternative to use instead if you are out of laundry detergent.

What Alternatives Do You Have If You Run Out Of Laundry Detergent?

The decision to use any particular cleaning agent not meant for laundry depends on whether you are washing the clothes manually by hands or using a machine.

Machine-Washing Laundry Alternatives

If you are doing your laundry using a washing machine, below are your most viable options.

  • The first one is to make use of any remnants in your laundry detergent container. You will achieve this by pouring some water into the detergent box or bottle, shake, and pour it into the washer drum. With this, you can get enough to clear an average sized load of laundry. Most of the time, we use too much of the detergent anyway because an average washer needs only two teaspoonfuls of detergent.
  • The second one after completely draining your containers, you can use baking soda or laundry borax. Normally, you can add a half cup of baking soda or borax to enhance your detergent. Now that you do not have any detergent left at all, you can use a full cup of the same for a normal-sized laundry load. The agitation from the washing machine plus the action from the cleaning agent will get the clothes cleaner than you ever imagined.
  • In the absence of any of the above, you can use oxygen-based bleach but this should be a last resort. Take a half a cup of the powdered oxygen bleach, put it in the washer drum, and then put in the dirty clothes and water. This should do a good job of getting your clothes clean.

Which Washing Products Should You Never Use In the Washer?

Before we move on to the laundry detergent alternatives for hand washing, it is important to point out some products that should never get in the washer. They included the following:

  • Automatic dishwasher Detergent– mostly, these detergents may contain harsh ingredients that may result in color-bleaching and fading of the cloth fabrics. Such ingredients can also leave a residue, which may be sensitive to the skin.
  • Shampoo, body wash, dishwashing soap, and bubble bath– these cleaners produce too much foam that may be difficult to rinse off completely. Additionally, the dishwashing soap will produce many suds, which may overflow and even tamper with the electronic system. You do not want to void your washer’s warranty now, do you?
  • Ammonia or general household cleaners– this kind of products may be too harsh to the fabrics and irritant to the wearer’s skin. Some of them even cause spotting and color loss. They also have certain ingredients that may damage the washing machine.

Laundry Detergent Substitutes For Hand Washing Clothes

If you run out of detergent, and you need to clean some clothes in a basin or sink, you have several options to stand in for your regular detergents. It would be easier to control suds in a sink or basin than in a washer because then you can use a little amount of your substitute cleaner. Consider the following products:


Choose a gentle shampoo such as the baby shampoo. Avoid one with some conditioner in it. You only need one teaspoonful of shampoo for a basin full of water. You can add more if you have more clothes to wash or if the sink is larger.

Bar Soap

You can use regular bath bars or laundry soap to wash your clothes by hand. You just need to put a piece in hot water and let i0t melt, or simply rub it directly on the clothes as you wish. However, you need to choose bars that do not have softeners or oils to avoid spotting your clothes.

Body Wash/Hand Washing Gels

When hand washing the clothes, you can use body wash but in small amounts. Also, remember to choose one without added moisturizers.

Hand Dishwashing Liquid

You can also use the hand dishwashing liquid in small amounts. Ensure to check the formula and confirm that it does not have any bleaching agents.


A vodka is a good option for clothes that need some freshening if they are not soiled. Mix some vodka and water in a spray bottle. Turn the clothes inside out and spritz them with the mixture. Put the clothes in a well-ventilated space to dry. The vodka disinfects the clothes and leaves them fresh without leaving any alcohol smell on them.

Baking Soda

You can use pure baking soda if you run out of your laundry detergent. A cupful will get a full load of laundry all cleaned up. However, it is costly, and you can only use it in an emergency before you can buy regular laundry detergent. Baking soda effectively removes all odors and stains without damaging the fabric of your clothes.

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are an eco-friendly and inexpensive alternative to your conventional laundry detergents. Put a few of them in a mesh bag and throw it in your laundry water. You can use it for up to five loads of laundry and replace it when it turns into a grayish color. To keep the colors brighter, you can add some vinegar or lemon juice to your wash. The soap nuts are natural and non-toxic and you do not have to worry about skin irritation or exacerbating problems.


Use Vinegar to clean dishwasher

Vinegar contains a mild acid that tackles stains leaving your clothes brighter and whiter. Apart from simply using as a substitute for regular laundry detergent, you can use every day to remove any remaining residue on your clothes, getting rid of mildew on damp clothing and removing sour smells and mold. Additionally, it will also serve as a fabric softener for your clothes.

For all the above alternatives, do not pour the cleaner directly on the clothes. Add it to the water and allow it to dissipate before you add clothes. If the clothes are heavily soiled, soak them in the solution for at least 30 minutes. This is enough time for the cleaner to break down the dirt so that you can wash and rinse it away easily.

Lemon Juice

For stained and dingy clothing, lemon juice could be the perfect substitute for your regular laundry detergent. Apart from being safe on all colors, it also makes the whites brighter. It also removes rust, mold, and mildew from the clothes and even curtains.

Related Questions

Why is it important to wash your clothes with soap or detergent?

To remove dirt, odors, and oils from your clothes, it is important to use soap or detergent. If you do not have the normal laundry soap, then there are other items that you could use such as dishwashing soap or even hand soap.

Can you wash your clothes without a detergent?

The aim of washing clothes is to get rid of skin oils, dirt, and sweat. The detergent enables the sweat and dirt to break down so that it can be washed away. If you clean without detergent, the process may not be effective. However, you can use alternatives such as Borax and vinegar.

Related Article: Can You Wash Bed Sheets With Clothes?

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