Try these 4 cheap & easy detergent alternatives next time you run out.

What’s worse than being in the middle of doing your laundry only to find that a key cleaning product is missing or empty?

It throws you off your routine and forces you to run out to the store for a replacement. Did you know that there are tons of hacks using products already in your home if you’re in a pinch? We’ll help you find a resourceful way to finish off your loads without having to get out of your pjs or leave your house.

1. Rinse the bottle

Most people use way more detergent than they need to do their laundry loads. You might think you need to fill the detergent cap, but you actually only need about a tablespoon per domestic load. If there is still some detergent left in the bottom or on the sides of your bottle, giving it a rinse with water and dumping it in your machine should be enough.

2. Use borax or baking soda

Borax and baking soda have lots of uses, like cleaning floors, killing bugs, whitening your teeth, and washing your clothes! Toss half a cup of either one into your laundry machine before you put the clothes in. You can even use these to help detergent work better, so they’re great for extra dirty clothes or sheets. Bonus: they also work as fabric softeners.

3. Try white vinegar

This won’t be the best smelling detergent alternative, but in an absolute pinch you can use a cup of white vinegar to clean your clothes. If you can’t stand the smell, a few drops of an essential oil should help to mask it a bit. The good news about vinegar is that it can help get out tough grease stains.

4. Rely on good old water

If all else fails, you can rely on the water in your washing machines to clean your clothes. This may not be the best option for super dirty items like sports laundry, but if it’s just a few shirts, water can do the trick. If you’re forced to do a load without detergent, set your machine to “bulky” or “sanitise” with the hottest water possible, as long as your items will allow it.

And if you’ve run out of dryer sheets? Lots of people opt out by choice, since there are environmental impacts and softeners may also coat delicate fabrics like sports gear, ruining their absorptive qualities. But an easy alternative if you’re committed to softening is to add baking soda to your wash cycle or some essential oils on a wool dryer ball in the dryer.

While it’s good to know there are alternatives to detergent when you run out, we caution you not to get too experimental. Here are some of the things you’ll definitely want to avoid:

Liquid soap, bubble bath, or body wash

These are all products designed to get things clean, plus bubble bath and body wash are designed to be gentle on skin, so surely these would be fine for clothes? They might be alright if you’re washing a few items by hand, but don’t put them into your machine. It’ll likely result in a hilarious sit-com style bubble situation, and leave you with a massive cleanup problem and possibly damage to your machine. 

Dishwasher detergent

Dishwasher detergent won’t cause the same sudsy mess that other liquid soaps would, but it’s incredibly harsh. It will likely damage your clothing, cause excess colour bleeding, and even result in bleach stains. 

Ammonia-based cleaning products (window cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners)

These products will cause both a sudsy mess and likely irreversible damage to clothing. They also run the risk of ruining your washing machine with their harsh ingredients. Plus, they contain irritants that could result in a rash if you wear clothes washed in them. They’re all on the definite “avoid” list.

If you’re in the middle of doing your laundry and discover that you’re out of detergent, don’t fret! There are plenty of common household items that will work as an occasional solution, and get you back out the door looking your best in no time.

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