You’re out of clean clothes and throw in a load of laundry only to discover that you’re out of laundry soap. Not to worry, we’ll show you how to wash clothes without a detergent during those emergencies when you are without proper soap.
Doing a last-minute load of laundry because you’re out of underwear, in a rush for an appointment, or cannot get to the grocery store happens to the best of us.
You assume your laundry detergent bottle is full of soap necessary to get the job done only to discover it is empty. The good news is that it’s possible to wash-clothes without detergent in a pinch.
- Washing Clothes with Laundry Detergent Alternatives
- Washing Clothes without Detergent for Sensitive Skin
- Ways to Wash Clothes without Soap by Re-using a Detergent Bottle
- How to Wash Clothes without a Detergent
- Making a Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap with Soap Nuts
- How to Make a Soap-Based Powder Laundry Detergent
- Make a Soap-Based Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Clean and Freshen Your Clothes with Essential Oil
- Hand-washing Clothes with Shampoo or Body Wash
- How to Hand-Wash Clothes with Bar Soap
- Washing your Clothes with Dishwashing Liquid
- Disinfect Your Clothes with Vodka
- What Not to Use in a Washing Machine
Washing Clothes with Laundry Detergent Alternatives
We all take laundry soap for granted. It’s convenient and easy to use, whether you prefer liquid or powdered detergent. But what happens when you run out?
Fortunately, we have many detergent alternatives to help you get your clothing clean, including cleaning recipes for hand-washing a few items to solutions for the washing machine.
Washing Clothes without Detergent for Sensitive Skin
Washing clothes without detergent seems like a difficult task, especially if you have delicate skin. This recipe is not only ideal for those with sensitive skin and babies but is also safe for HE washing machines as well.
Grate a bar of unscented Castile soap into a large container and add Borax and washing soda. Place a cap on the container and shake well to mix the ingredients.
Put your load of laundry into the washing machine and add one-third of a cup of the homemade detergent. Use the regular wash and rinse cycle on your machine and dry your clothing as usual.
Another idea for cleaning clothing for those with sensitive skin is to use vinegar. Washing baby clothes with vinegar is safe for delicate skin and eliminates stains and odors at the same time.
Ways to Wash Clothes without Soap by Re-using a Detergent Bottle
You already filled your washing machine with a load of laundry and discovered the detergent bottle is empty. One of the easiest ways to wash clothes without soap is to re-use the detergent bottle and add in a little baking soda to boost the cleaning power.
Fill the empty bottle of laundry detergent with warm water and shake it well to loosen leftover soap from the inside of the bottle. Pour the suds into the washing machine and add half a cup of baking soda. Run the washer normally to clean your clothes.
How to Wash Clothes without a Detergent
An oxygen-based bleach is useful as a last resort if you run out of laundry detergent. If you use it properly, it is safe for both whites and colored clothing.
Oxygen-Based Bleach Laundry Cleaner
Pour 1/2 cup powdered oxygen bleach into the empty washing machine. Use the desired water temperature setting and allow the washer to begin filling with water before adding your clothes.
Making a Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap with Soap Nuts
Soap nuts are a berry, and the shell contains a natural soap called Saponin. This recipe is all-natural, biodegradable, and a great alternative if you run out of laundry detergent.
Pour the nuts into a large pot and add the water. Turn the stove to medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid as it cooks to prevent it from boiling over.
Pour the liquid through a strainer positioned over a container and allow it to sit until it cools to room temperature. Place a cover on the container and keep it in the fridge until needed.
Each batch makes roughly four cups of laundry detergent. Use two tablespoons of the soapnut detergent for each load of laundry. Place the soap nuts into a storage bag and freeze. Re-use the nuts up to three times for more batches of detergent.
How to Make a Soap-Based Powder Laundry Detergent
Bar soap is an excellent substitute for laundry detergent. Add Borax and washing soda to boost the power of the soap and remove tough stains and dirt.
Grate ten ounces of bar soap into a food processor and blend until the flakes reduce to a powder. Pour the soap powder into a container and add the Borax and washing soda. Place the lid on the container and shake well to combine all ingredients.
Add one tablespoon of the powder to a HE washing machine or two tablespoons to a standard washer and wash your clothes. When your clothes are clean, put them in the dryer and use a homemade liquid fabric softener to soften them.
Make a Soap-Based Liquid Laundry Detergent
If you prefer using a liquid laundry detergent for cleaning your clothes, liquid soap works just as well as a bar of soap. Use mild liquid dish soap or Castile soap for this recipe for the best results.
To make this Borax substitute for laundry detergent, pour four cups of water into a kettle or pot and bring it to a boil. Combine the Borax, washing soda, and liquid soap in a bowl and stir to mix well.
Pour the boiling water into the soap mixture and whisk to dissolve the powders. Set the bowl aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Pour the cooled soap mixture into a large jug and add six cups of cold water.
Use a third cup of detergent for each load of laundry. Make sure to shake the container well before each use to re-combine ingredients that may have separated.
Clean and Freshen Your Clothes with Essential Oil
While it’s possible to unshrink clothes with fabric softener, it’s not useful for cleaning your clothes when you run out of liquid detergent. Luckily, there are a few items you have in your home that make a homemade detergent and stain remover in minutes.
Grate a bar of soap into a large glass jar and add the Borax and washing soda. Add your favorite essential oil, place the lid on the jar, and shake well to combine all ingredients.
Add one or two tablespoons of the detergent to your load of laundry and wash your clothes like you normally would if you used traditional laundry detergent. Be sure that you wash darks with cold water to keep them from shrinking or fading.
Hand-washing Clothes with Shampoo or Body Wash
If the only thing you have on hand is shampoo or body wash, the best way to clean laundry is by hand washing clothes. Adding these types of soaps to your washing machine is not advisable since they create too many suds.
Liquid Soap Hand-Washing
Fill the wash tub or sink with warm water and add one teaspoon of shampoo or body wash. Place your clothing items in the soapy water and use your hands to agitate the water and rub your clothes gently against each other.
Drain the sink and run cold water from the faucet. Hold each item of clothing beneath the running water until the soap rinses away. Wring out as much water as possible before placing the clothes into the dryer with a couple of dry towels.
How to Hand-Wash Clothes with Bar Soap
Bar soap is handy for cleaning clothing but not in the washing machine. Washing your clothes with this type of soap requires a good hand-washing.
Bar Soap Clothes Washing
Fill the kitchen sink or bathtub with enough hot water to cover your clothing. Soak the clothes in the water and rub a bar of soap over the dirty areas, making sure not to apply too much soap. Replace the clothing into the water and agitate the material.
Drain the sink or tub and hold the garment under cold water to rinse away all soap residue. Wring each item thoroughly to remove excess water and place them into a clothes dryer with a few dry towels and laundry balls or hang on a clothesline.
Washing your Clothes with Dishwashing Liquid
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about dish soap is dirty dishes, but dishwashing soap works as an excellent substitute for regular detergent in a pinch. This type of soap is not recommended for an HE washer, however.
Fill your washing machine with a full load of laundry and add one to three teaspoons of dish detergent. Add a cup of white vinegar as a softener for your clothing during the wash cycle and run the washer as usual. The white vinegar is also ideal for removing hard water deposits.
Disinfect Your Clothes with Vodka
Believe it or not, vodka disinfects your clothing without leaving an alcohol stench behind. Not only does it get your clothing clean, but it removes mildew smells as well.
Pour one cup of vodka into the washing machine as it fills with water, add your load of laundry, and run the washer as usual. If you prefer to disinfect the clothing by hand, fill a bottle sprayer with one cup of water and one cup of vodka. Hang the garment on a clothesline and spray both sides of each item.
What Not to Use in a Washing Machine
While it’s tempting to consider using a variety of household soaps in your washing machine after running out of detergent, it is not a good idea. Some types of soap create too many bubbles and suds for your machine to handle.
Washing Machine Soap No-No’s
Avoid using automatic dishwasher detergent in the washer. This soap is harsher than standard laundry detergent and causes bleaching and fading to clothing and possible skin irritation.
Stay away from ammonia and other household cleaners. These cleaners are too harsh for fabrics and cause damage in HE washing machines. Shampoo, bubble bath, and body wash create too many suds when agitated, especially in an HE washing machine.
Cleaning your clothing is not an issue if you do not have laundry detergent on hand once you know which ingredients work best for either machine or hand washing.
Many common household items such as Borax, washing soda, and white vinegar are great substitutes for laundry soap, and making homemade laundry detergent is a simple and convenient way to clean your clothing in a pinch. Now, get to your loads of laundry, and don’t forget to clean the lint trap.
Now that you know how to wash clothes without a detergent to get clothes looking and smelling fresh and clean, why not share our detergent-free clothes cleaning tips with your friends and family on Pinterest and Facebook?