laundry detergent substitute

Best DIY Eco-friendly Laundry Detergent Substitute That Works

Looking to reduce your environmental footprint and cut down on chemical exposure? Discover 11 DIY eco-friendly laundry detergent substitutes that are both effective and gentle on the planet. These alternatives offer a greener approach to keeping your clothes clean and fresh without compromising cleanliness.


11 Best Laundry Detergent Substitute

The following substitutes for laundry detergent work great when you're in a rush:


substitute for laundry detergent


Vinegar and Baking Soda

When you're facing tough stains on your clothes and find yourself short on laundry detergent, turn to vinegar and baking soda.


substitutes for laundry detergent


  • In your washing clothes, add half a cup of baking soda.
  • For extra grease-fighting power, mix in a small squirt of Dawn.
  • Pour half a cup of vinegar as a fabric softener during the rinse cycle.


Try Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

If vinegar is unavailable, lemon juice is the best substitute for laundry detergent, and combined with baking soda, it can do wonders for white and colored laundry.

  • Add ½ cup of baking soda, vinegar, and half a cup of lemon juice during the rinse cycle.
  • For stubborn stains, consider using lemon juice as a pre-treatment before washing.

Use Shampoo or Body Wash

If you need to hand wash your clothes without laundry detergent, use a mild, fragrance-free body wash, hand soap, or shampoo. While it will give your clothes a clean feel, removing stains might be less effective. So, it's a good idea to treat stains separately before washing.

  • Choose a gentle body wash or shampoo without added ingredients or moisturizers.
  • If you're a parent, baby shampoo or body wash can work well.
  • Fill a large tub with warm water.
  • Mix a small amount of shampoo/body wash into a lather.
  • Soak your clothes in the soapy water, ensuring they're fully submerged.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm or cold water and air dry or tumble dry.


Try Soap Nuts

what can you use to substitute laundry detergent


Soap nuts are a cost-effective and one of the best eco-friendly laundry detergent substitutes for cleaning clothes. They contain natural compounds that clean and soften fabrics without harmful chemicals.

  • Place 4-5 soap nuts in a cotton pouch and toss them in with your usual laundry.
  • Soap nuts are reusable and are biodegradable.

Use White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar can be an alternative for tackling stains and odors when you're out of laundry detergent.

  • Add ½ a cup of white vinegar (distilled) to the washing cycle.
  • The vinegar will help remove stains and leave your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Once your laundry is dry, the vinegar smell will disappear.

Use Borax

Borax is a versatile laundry detergent substitute that can brighten whites and combat hard water in your laundry.

  • Add half a cup of borax to a large load of laundry.
  • Wash and dry your clothes as usual.

Note: Be cautious when using borax, as it can cause skin irritation for some people.


Use Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is great for brightening colored and white clothes while eliminating odors.


laundry detergent substitutes


  • Pour about half a cup of lemon juice into a regular-sized load of laundry to break down stains.
  • Wash and dry your clothes as usual to reveal refreshed and brightened fabrics.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a handy laundry detergent substitute for stain-free and bright white laundry.

  • Fill the washer with water for a regular load.
  • In water, add a cup of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Run the washing cycle as usual to reveal fresh and bright whites.

Use Oxygen-Based Bleach for Whites and Colors

Oxygen-based bleach, not chlorine bleach, is safe for white and colored clothes when you're out of laundry detergent.

  • Add half a cup of oxygen-based bleach to the washing machine drum.
  • Add your clothes and run the washing cycle as usual to keep your fabrics clean and bright.


Final Words

By embracing these eco-friendly laundry detergent substitutes, you’re not only making a positive impact on the environment but also on your health and wallet. Say goodbye to harsh chemicals and hello to a more sustainable laundry routine.


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What Can You Use To Substitute Laundry Detergent?

You can substitute laundry detergent with white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, borax, shampoo/body wash, or soap nuts.

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