Laundry Detergent Substitute

Jennifer L. Betts

Out of Detergent, Out of Time

Overwhelmed with the piles of laundry, but can't get to the store to buy more detergent? At this point, you might just give up and wait until tomorrow when you can buy some. However, if you need that laundry done now, all you have to do is look around your bathroom or kitchen. There are several items in your house that can substitute for standard laundry detergent when you're in a pinch.

Shampoo Your Shirts

Very small amounts of shampoo can be used when you are out of detergent. Use a gentle formula and practice extreme moderation. Shampoo tends to produce a lot of suds, which can be dangerous in a washing machine. Your clothes will get clean but the rinse cycle might not be able to get all the soap out. And, you don't want suds running on to your floor. Therefore, a little goes a long way. It's going to vary by brand but start with a small capful.

Soap Up!

Bars of soap can be used in lieu of detergent. Take a vegetable peeler to cut some small shavings, and throw them in with your clothes. You'll only want to use a few shavings because like shampoo, bar soap can produce a lot of suds. The suds will work great for cleaning your clothes, but they might not rinse out very well, making your clothes a bit itchy. If you're afraid you used too much, run the clothes through an extra rinse cycle just in case.

Kitchen Cleanliness

Looking around your kitchen can be helpful when you are out of laundry detergent. With a little white vinegar and baking soda, you're all set. To use baking soda, add a half of a cup to the wash cycle. Once you hit the rinse cycle, add a half of a cup of vinegar. This will act as a fabric softener. Baking soda is also great for smelly clothes like your kid's sports wear.

Not Just For Baking

Do you have baking soda and lemon juice but no vinegar? Well then, you're in luck. This combination can work to get your laundry clean. After measuring out a half of a cup of vinegar, add it to the wash cycle. During the rinse cycle, add about a half of a cup of lemon juice rather than vinegar. For stubborn stains, you can even try adding baking soda or lemon juice as a pre-treater before washing.

Dishwasher Solution

If you are in a bind, you can use dishwashing detergent like Dawn or Palmolive for clothing that don't require any special care. Much like shampoo, a dab will do. To avoid excess bubbles and a huge mess in your laundry room, just add a small squirt to the laundry. This is not even a capful. You might want to even add a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle just to make sure that the powerful stain fighting detergent all gets rinsed out.

All-Purpose Vinegar

You might already know that you can use vinegar to clean stains and your cupboards, but you can use it for your laundry too. Use a half of a cup of distilled white vinegar during the washing cycle. This will knock out stains and smells. And don't worry about that vinegar smell; once dry, your laundry will smell fresh and clean.

Borax It Up

If you have Borax but no detergent, then you are ready to get those clothes clean. Not only can it whiten your whites, but it helps with hard water. While it is great to use in a pinch, you wouldn't want to use it all the time because it can make you itchy. To use Borax in your laundry, just add a half of a cup to a large load. You can even use Borax to make a homemade laundry detergent.

Try Some Lemon Juice

All out of soap? Check the fridge and see if you have any lemon juice or lemons. Adding about a half of a cup of lemon juice can not only brighten your whites, but it can get the stink out of laundry like in your cat's bedding. The acidic nature of lemon juice is also good for breaking up stains.

Done in a Jiffy

You've all been there. You have to get your kids basketball shorts clean for the game, and you have no detergent and no time. Never fear! Using these convenient products will help you toward clean and organized laundry in no time flat. You can even choose to use these alternatives when you aren't in a pinch as a more natural laundry detergent.

Jennifer L. Betts
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Laundry Detergent Substitute