Washing your clothes is very important, but sometimes it feels like a never-ending battle. If you’re needing to do some laundry, but don’t have any laundry detergent that you can use, then you might be wondering what can be done. There are actually some ways that you can wash your clothes using alternative cleaning methods. This might even wind up being easier than you thought it could be.

Take a look at the tips below for washing your clothes without detergent. I’m going to talk about various alternatives that can be used in place of normal laundry detergent. I’ll also mention a few natural methods that you can use to clean your laundry. This is going to give you the information that you need to be able to wash your clothes with confidence, so read on to learn all the details.

Can You Wash Clothes Using Only Water?

There are some people who will try to save money by only using laundry detergent when it’s necessary. You see, there are situations where your clothes aren’t really going to be all that dirty. If you were to simply run them through a wash cycle using no laundry detergent, then you’ll still be able to clean dirty clothes, to an extent, using only the water. This is really only going to work on lightly-soiled clothing, though.

Have you ever been camping before? If you have, then you might have washed your clothes in the river or lake and then hung them up to dry. This is really the same type of thing. It isn’t ideal for really dirty clothes, but it is possible to get by if your clothes aren’t all that dirty.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Laundry Detergent?

When you don’t use laundry detergent, your clothes aren’t going to be getting the same deep cleaning as usual. Laundry detergent works to help break up and remove dirt from the fabric of your clothing. Simply using water isn’t going to work in the same way. You don’t need a lot of detergent to get your clothes clean, but some is necessary to get rid of dirt or oils.

This is only assuming that you’re going to be washing your clothes with pure water. You can make use of alternatives to laundry detergent to give your clothing a better washing. These alternatives may or may not work as well as traditional laundry detergent that you can buy at the store. Take a look at the options below.

Laundry Detergent Alternatives

Here are some laundry detergent alternatives that I think you’ll want to consider using. I’m going to go over the normal alternatives first and then I’ll be discussing some natural ones later on. All of these alternatives have been proven to work to clean laundry, but some might work better than others.


Shampoo is probably the most common thing that people use as a laundry detergent alternative. This is not something that you’ll want to use in your washing machine, though. The suds from the shampoo will be difficult to get out using the normal rinse cycle of the machine. For this reason, shampoo is a good option to consider when washing your clothing by hand.

You’ll be able to use the shampoo to remove dirt and oils from your clothing pretty easily. A gentle shampoo might be easier to work with than something harsher. Only use a little bit and then fill your bathroom sink with water. For larger loads of laundry, you might want to use a tub or a larger sink.

Bar Soap

Bar soap can also be used as a laundry detergent alternative. It’s going to be for washing your clothing by hand only, of course. You need to use bars of soap that don’t contain any oils to avoid causing problems with your clothing. This could be a good way to get rid of stains on clothing and clean small items, but is not ideal for large loads of laundry.

Dish Liquid

Dish liquid can also be used as a detergent alternative in some situations. This will only work for washing clothing by hand and it’s going to be best to make sure that the dish liquid contains no bleach before continuing. So long as there is no bleach, this can work to help you wash a shirt or two in the sink if you’re in need. You should only use a very small amount of the dish liquid while washing your clothes.

Baking Soda

People often use baking soda to enhance the cleaning power of their laundry detergent. This can also be used as a sort of laundry detergent alternative if you’re in need. It can remove odors from your clothing and it’ll do an excellent job of brightening your whites. It’s safe to add a bit of this to your washing machine too, so it’s a good option for those who don’t want to wash things by hand.

Some people will even combine baking soda and bleach when washing white clothing or towels. It can eliminate stains and is really a powerful cleaning combination. If you have some baking soda around your house, then this is going to be one of the most useful laundry detergent alternatives. It works well and it’s very cost effective.


Borax is another potential solution to your problems. This might not be as common to have lying around your house as baking soda, but it’s going to be very useful for washing clothes. It does a great job of removing strong odors from clothing. If you have children that wet the bed, then you should know that Borax does an admirable job of getting rid of that pee smell.

This is an alternative that can give your clothing a truly deep cleaning. It stands beside baking soda as one of the most practical laundry detergent alternatives. Your clothes will turn out great if you decide to make use of this. It can even soften hard water, so it’s certainly going to be useful for many people.

Natural Laundry Detergent Alternatives

Now I’m going to take a look at a couple of natural laundry detergent alternatives. These are going to be perfect for those who wish to use natural things to wash their laundry instead of relying on manufactured products. These options work pretty good and I’m going to highlight exactly what they’re capable of. You’ll be able to come to your own conclusions about how well they work as a true laundry detergent alternative.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is actually a really good laundry detergent alternative that is all natural. There are a large number of people who use lemon juice to brighten their whites. Lemon juice is even capable of removing stains. It’s going to work to eat away at stains and is particularly good for removing rust stains.

You can even use lemon juice to get rid of mold or mildew. If you waited a little too long to wash damp towels or other damp pieces of clothing, then it’s possible that they have mildewed. Using a bit of lemon juice and salt can completely fix this problem. You can make a paste that will be easy to spread and you can clean clothing, curtains, or other fabric items that are having mildew issues.


Vinegar is going to be an easy natural laundry detergent alternative to make use of. You can use this in your washing machine to improve the brightness and whiteness of your clothing. The mildly acidic nature of vinegar is great at eating away stains in your clothes, too. It’s going to work well for both whites and colored clothing.

You also likely know that vinegar has a pretty potent smell. This can actually be used to your advantage, in certain situations. If you have clothing items that have a sour smell, then vinegar might be the best way to get rid of that smell. Simply running the clothes through a laundry cycle with vinegar can get rid of strong odors.

Vinegar even has the added benefit of being useful for pet owners. It does an admirable job of preventing pet hair from sticking to clothing. This also works well for keeping lint from sticking to your clothes. Overall, this is another one of the most useful laundry detergent alternatives.


More on Washing Clothes Without Detergent

It should be clear that there are many different things that you can make use of instead of laundry detergent. You’re going to be able to clean your clothing even if you have run out of laundry detergent. Some people will be looking for alternatives to get by until they can go to the department store. Others are looking for alternatives due to wanting to be able to save money.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting a laundry detergent alternative, you’ll be happy to have so many viable options to consider. The above laundry detergent alternatives are all good in different ways. Some of them will work better for some things than others, but they’re useful to know about. Take this information and use it to its full potential.

You won’t have to fret the next time you run out of laundry detergent. As long as you have some baking soda around, you’ll know that it’s possible to get your clothing clean. Just take the time to use whatever laundry detergent alternative is most appropriate for the situation you’re in. The results should be very good and no one will know that your clothes weren’t washed in a more traditional way.

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