can you use body wash instead of laundry detergent

Can You Use Body Wash Instead of Laundry Detergent?

The magic of a washing machine lies not only in its mechanics but in the cleansing agent it employs: laundry detergent. This classic washing aid has long been the go-to choice for countless households. But what if you run out of it or are looking for a creative, albeit unorthodox, substitute? Could something as simple as body wash do the trick?

Yes, you can use body wash instead of laundry detergent, but it may not clean as effectively. It should be used as a temporary substitute and not a regular alternative.

Let’s explore this interesting proposition.

The Advantages of Using Body Wash for Laundry

Using body wash as a laundry detergent substitute may not be a conventional approach, but it does present some unique advantages under certain circumstances.

  1. Availability: If you run out of laundry detergent and can’t immediately purchase more, body wash can serve as a handy substitute due to its widespread availability in most households.
  2. Gentleness: Body wash is designed to clean and nurture human skin, making it inherently gentler than many laundry detergents. This can be beneficial for delicate fabrics or for individuals with sensitive skin.
  3. Pleasant Fragrances: Body wash typically has a stronger and more pleasant scent than standard laundry detergents. Using it for your clothes can leave them smelling fresh and aromatic.
  4. Lower Suds Production: Body wash generally produces fewer suds than laundry detergent. In situations where only a hand-wash is possible, this could make the washing and rinsing processes easier.
  5. Versatility: In a pinch, body wash can be used for both washing clothes and personal hygiene, making it a versatile product to have on hand, especially during travel or camping trips.

Remember, while these advantages make body wash a feasible backup, it should not replace laundry detergent for regular use due to its cleaning inefficiency and potential long-term effects on fabric.

The Disadvantages of Using Body Wash for Laundry

While using body wash as a makeshift laundry detergent might be a handy trick in a pinch, it’s important to remember it has some significant drawbacks.

  1. Inefficient Cleaning: Body wash is designed to clean human skin, not fabric. Therefore, it might not effectively remove dirt and stains from clothes, especially heavy soils and deep-set stains. With innefficient cleaning you may have to wash your clothes more often.
  2. Residue Issues: Body wash can leave behind a residue on your clothes if not thoroughly rinsed. This could lead to a soapy feel on your garments and potentially cause skin irritations.
  3. Economic Factor: Body wash is generally more expensive than laundry detergent per wash. Using it regularly for laundry can significantly increase your household expenses.
  4. Long-Term Effects: Due to its mildness body wash is unlikely to damage clothes in the short term. In the long-term the effects on fabric durability and color retention are uncertain.

Therefore, it’s clear that although body wash can serve as a temporary workaround, it’s not a suitable long-term substitute for laundry detergent.

Using Body Wash Instead of Laundry Detergent

So, you’re considering using body wash. It’s not something to use regularly, but it might just work in a pinch. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Start by measuring out a small amount of body wash – about one-third of what you’d typically use for laundry detergent.
  2. Add the body wash to a bowl of warm water and stir in well, until the wash is fully mixed.
  3. Put your clothes into the solution, ensuring they’re fully submerged.
  4. Agitate the clothes in the soapy water, rubbing any dirty spots.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to ensure all soap residue is removed.

The Middle Ground: Combining Body Wash and Baking Soda

Baking soda can help enhance the cleaning power of body wash, and could prove to be a viable alternative if you’re out of laundry detergent.

  1. Measure half the amount of body wash you’d typically use for laundry detergent and add an equal amount of baking soda.
  2. Dissolve this mixture in a basin of water.
  3. Submerge your clothes in this solution.
  4. Scrub and agitate the clothes well, then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Combining Body Wash and Vinegar: An Enhanced Cleaning Method

If you’re insistent on using body wash and are looking for ways to make it more effective as a laundry cleaning agent, consider combining it with white vinegar. Vinegar is a well-known natural cleaner that can boost the cleaning power of body wash.

  1. Take a small amount of body wash – approximately one-third of what you’d usually use if it were laundry detergent.
  2. Add an equal amount of white vinegar. Vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener and can help remove light stains and odors.
  3. Mix the body wash and vinegar in a basin of water, stirring until the body wash is fully dissolved.
  4. Submerge your clothes in the solution, making sure they’re fully covered.
  5. Agitate the clothes in the solution, paying extra attention to any noticeably dirty spots.
  6. Rinely your clothes thoroughly with clean water to ensure all soap and vinegar are removed.

Remember, while vinegar can enhance the cleaning power of body wash, it’s still not a perfect substitute for laundry detergent. Therefore, use this method as a temporary solution when you’re out of detergent and can’t purchase some right away.

The Traditional Method: Using Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent has earned its place in our households for good reasons. It’s specially formulated to effectively clean clothes, remove stains, and preserve the colors of your fabrics. But how exactly do we use it optimally?

  1. Measure the detergent according to the load size, soil level, and the manufacturer’s instructions. Overloading can lead to residue on clothes while underloading may not clean effectively.
  2. Pour the detergent into the drawer or directly into the drum before adding clothes if your washing machine supports it.
  3. Load your clothes loosely, ensuring there’s enough space for movement which facilitates better cleaning.
  4. Choose the right wash cycle based on the fabric type and level of dirt.
  5. Once the cycle is complete, promptly remove clothes to prevent any musty smell.


Will using body wash damage clothes?

Body wash is milder than laundry detergent, so it’s unlikely to damage clothes in the short term. However, it may not effectively clean heavily soiled clothes.

Can body wash effectively remove stains from clothes?

Body wash isn’t formulated to remove stains as effectively as laundry detergent. For light soils, it might suffice, but for heavier stains, you’re better off using specialized stain removers or laundry detergents.

What are the drawbacks of using body wash instead of laundry detergent?

Body wash might leave a residue on clothes, especially if not thoroughly rinsed. It’s also not as cost-effective as laundry detergent when used for washing clothes.

Do you need to pre-wash clothes before using body wash as a laundry detergent?

Pre-washing clothes before using body wash isn’t necessary. However, for heavily soiled or stained clothes, you might want to pre-treat the stains or rinse off the excess dirt before washing with body wash to enhance cleaning results.

Should you use low-sudsing or high-sudsing body wash as a laundry detergent?

It’s preferable to use a low-sudsing body wash as a laundry detergent. High-sudsing body wash might create too much foam, making it difficult to rinse out fully and possibly leaving a residue on your clothes.

How much body wash should I use to wash my clothes?

Use about one-third of the body wash when compared to the amount of laundry detergent you’d typically use.

Would using body wash instead of laundry detergent affect the color of my clothes?

Body wash is typically gentler and may not affect the colors of your clothes as much as some laundry detergents. However, it may not clean as effectively.

In Summary

While body wash can be used as an alternative to laundry detergent in an emergency, it is not a perfect substitute. It may not clean as effectively, especially for heavily soiled clothes and tougher stains.

However, in a bind, knowing you can use body wash can bring some relief. The combination of body wash and baking soda might improve the cleaning efficiency.

Always remember, however, to use appropriate quantities and rinse your clothes thoroughly after washing to remove all soap residues.