11 Homemade Laundry Detergent Substitutes for Homeowners

The Need for Laundry Detergent Substitutes

When it comes to doing laundry, laundry detergent is an essential product for effectively cleaning our clothes. However, there may be instances when you find yourself without laundry detergent or prefer to use an alternative solution. In such cases, it’s helpful to explore homemade laundry detergent substitutes that can get the job done.

Why Look for Alternatives?

There are several reasons why homeowners and individuals, including wildfire survivors, may consider seeking laundry detergent alternatives. It could be due to environmental concerns, a desire to reduce exposure to certain chemicals, or simply a shortage of laundry detergent. Additionally, some individuals may have specific skin sensitivities or allergies that lead them to explore alternative options for cleaning their clothes effectively.

Benefits of Homemade Laundry Detergent Substitutes

Homemade laundry detergent substitutes offer several benefits that make them appealing to individuals seeking alternatives.

  1. Cost-effective: Making your own laundry detergent substitutes can be significantly more cost-effective compared to purchasing commercial laundry detergents. Many homemade alternatives use common household ingredients, which are often more affordable and readily available.
  2. Environmentally friendly: Homemade laundry detergent substitutes often feature natural ingredients, reducing the environmental impact associated with traditional detergent production and disposal. By opting for homemade alternatives, you can contribute to a more sustainable laundry routine.
  3. Customization: Homemade laundry detergent substitutes allow for customization based on individual preferences and needs. You can experiment with different ingredients and adjust the quantities to tailor the cleaning power and scent to your liking.
  4. Reduced chemical exposure: Commercial laundry detergents may contain certain chemicals that some individuals prefer to avoid. By using homemade substitutes, you have more control over the ingredients and can choose natural alternatives that align with your preferences.
  5. Versatility: Many homemade laundry detergent substitutes can serve multiple purposes beyond just cleaning clothes. For example, ingredients like baking soda and vinegar can be used for various cleaning tasks around the house.

In the following section, we will explore a range of homemade laundry detergent substitutes that can effectively clean your clothes. From baking soda and vinegar to essential oils and DIY laundry detergent recipes, you’ll discover a variety of options to suit your needs. For a detailed collection of homemade laundry detergent recipes, visit our article on homemade laundry soap recipes.

By exploring these alternatives, you can find a laundry detergent substitute that not only cleans your clothes effectively but also aligns with your personal preferences and values. It’s important to note that when using homemade substitutes, it’s recommended to test them on a small scale first and make adjustments to account for factors like water hardness.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Substitutes

When traditional laundry detergent is not available or if you prefer a more natural approach, there are several homemade laundry detergent substitutes you can try. These alternatives are often readily available in most households and offer effective cleaning power. Let’s explore some popular options:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile ingredient that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It helps to neutralize odors and acts as a mild abrasive, assisting in the removal of stains. When added to your laundry, baking soda can also soften hard water, improving the effectiveness of your wash.


Vinegar is another common household item that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It has natural antibacterial properties and helps to remove odors and stains. Adding vinegar to your laundry can also help to soften fabrics and reduce static cling. However, it’s important to note that vinegar should not be used with bleach or hydrogen peroxide, as it can create harmful fumes.


Borax is a mineral compound that acts as a powerful cleaning agent and can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It helps to remove stains, control odors, and brighten fabrics. However, it’s important to use borax in moderation and avoid direct contact with the skin as it can cause irritation.

Washing Soda

Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, is a powerful cleaning agent that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It helps to remove stains, soften water, and boost the cleaning power of your wash. However, washing soda is alkaline and can be harsh on certain fabrics, so it’s important to use it with caution.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a natural, plant-based soap that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It effectively cleans clothes and is gentle on the skin. When using castile soap, it’s important to dilute it before adding it to your laundry to prevent residue buildup.

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are natural berries that contain saponin, a natural cleaning agent. They can be used as a laundry detergent substitute and are particularly popular among those seeking eco-friendly alternatives. Soap nuts are gentle on fabrics and can be used for both regular and delicate laundry.

Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is a non-chlorine bleach that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It helps to remove stains, brighten fabrics, and eliminate odors. Oxygen bleach is gentler on fabrics compared to chlorine bleach and is considered environmentally friendly.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural ingredient that can be used as a laundry detergent substitute. It helps to brighten whites, remove stains, and provide a fresh scent. However, lemon juice can have a bleaching effect on fabrics, so it’s important to use it with caution and avoid direct sunlight when using lemon juice on clothes.


Salt can be used as a laundry detergent substitute to help set colors and prevent fading. It’s particularly useful when washing new garments or dark-colored clothes. Simply add a small amount of salt to your laundry to help maintain the vibrancy of your clothes.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be added to your laundry to provide a fresh scent and impart natural antimicrobial properties. Lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus are popular choices. Simply add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to your laundry during the washing cycle.

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipes

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try making your own laundry detergent using a combination of these ingredients. There are numerous recipes available that allow you to customize the cleaning power, scent, and other properties of your homemade detergent.

By exploring these homemade laundry detergent substitutes, you can find alternatives that suit your preferences and cleaning needs. Experiment with different ingredients and methods to discover the best solution for your laundry routine.

Considerations When Using Substitutes

When opting for laundry detergent substitutes, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure optimal results. These considerations include testing on a small scaleadjusting for water hardness, and storing homemade substitutes properly.

Testing on a Small Scale

Before fully committing to a homemade laundry detergent substitute, it’s advisable to test it on a small scale. This allows you to gauge its effectiveness, compatibility with your fabrics, and any potential adverse reactions. Select a small load of laundry or a single garment to test the substitute before using it on a larger scale. This will help you determine if any adjustments are needed and prevent any potential mishaps.

Adjusting for Water Hardness

Water hardness can vary depending on your location. Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can affect the performance of laundry detergent substitutes. If you live in an area with hard water, you may need to make adjustments to the amount of substitute used or consider adding a water softener, such as borax or washing soda, to enhance the cleaning efficacy. For more information on dealing with hard water, check out our article on homemade laundry detergent alternatives.

Storing Homemade Substitutes

Proper storage is essential to maintain the effectiveness of your homemade laundry detergent substitutes. Store the substitutes in airtight containers or resealable bags to prevent moisture absorption and maintain their potency. Label the containers clearly with the contents and expiration dates, if applicable, to ensure you use them within their recommended timeframe. Keep the substitutes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to maximize their shelf life.

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