What Can I Use if I’m Out of Laundry Detergent?


If you just ran out, you might wonder what to use to wash clothes besides laundry detergent/soap and we have some answers for you. Don’t panic – you don’t have to go run to the store. There are lots of things you can use when you run out of laundry detergent.

You probably have the solution already at home – in fact, we have a few ideas for you.

What can I use when out of laundry detergent?

Lots of kinds of soaps will work but the important thing is that you don’t use too much of whatever soap you use because it can be difficult to get it out if you use too much.

  • The best replacement for laundry detergent is probably shampoo. You can use the same amount as you would liquid laundry detergent.
  • Another good substitute for laundry detergent is dishwasher detergent (Dawn works well) but don’t use very much or else you’ll have too many suds all over the place. You will want to be careful with colors but it works well with whites. Use an 1/8th of a cup or so – depending on your load size.
  • If you have liquid hand soap, it’ll work fine in your washing machine.

Remember that even though soap is soap, laundry detergent is specifically formulated for cleaning clothes, so the solutions here should just be used in an emergency / temporary basis.

Note: These solutions won’t work if you are out of dishwasher detergent, so don’t try them in your dishwasher as that could ruin the seal around it and you’ll have water all over the floor. These solutions are for laundry detergent only.

Alternatives to Laundry Detergent

Rinse Out the Old Bottle

If you use liquid laundry detergent, run a little warm or hot water through the bottle and you’ll have enough for a load or maybe two loads.

Bar Soap

Using bar soap would work but you would want to use a cheese grater to make it more fine so that it dissolves well.

Baking Soda and Peroxide

Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup peroxide and 1 cup warm water and then put it in the machine with your clothes. Add in some OxyClean for a laundry detergent recipe that works well and will even save you money – plus, you don’t have worry about added fragrances and dyes.

Just Use Water

Worst case, just run your clothes through using water. It’ll rinse them well as the warm water and agitation does the trick. Let them soak a little bit first. There’s probably some soap still in your clothes, so this might work fine. There are people that only use soap every other time they wash clothes. This is also a way to be more eco-friendly. If there’s a lot of grease and dirt, then this won’t work but otherwise, go for it!


The next time you’re out of laundry soap, you can use what we suggest here to help you get your clothes clean. Let us know how these solutions worked for you and if you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments area below.

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