Can You Use Body Wash as Laundry Detergent?




Can You Use Body Wash as Laundry Detergent

It’s happened to all of us – the towering pile of dirty clothes is staring you down, but you’re fresh out of laundry detergent.

In these desperate moments, the idea crosses your mind: Can you use body wash as laundry detergent? The temptation is real when you’ve got a full bottle of shower gel sitting in the bathroom cabinet.

However, there are a few important caveats to consider before lathering up your dirty clothes with shower gel.

While it may seem like a quick fix in a laundry detergent pinch, body wash comes with some drawbacks when used for laundry.

In this article, we’ll explore if body wash can effectively get your clothes clean, examine the potential risks of using it, and offer some alternative solutions for when you’ve got a load to do but no detergent in sight.

The Science Behind Detergents and Body Wash

Understanding the science behind these products can shed light on whether body wash can double up as a laundry detergent.

Main Ingredients in Laundry Detergents

Laundry detergents are specially formulated to remove dirt and stains from fabrics. Their primary ingredients include:

  • Surfactants: These reduce the surface tension of water, allowing it to mix with oils and dirt, effectively removing them from clothes.
  • Builders: These soften the water to enhance the detergent’s effectiveness.
  • Enzymes: These break down complex stains like protein or starch-based stains.

Key Components of Body Wash

Body washes, on the other hand, are designed to clean the skin and remove body oils. Their main components include:

  • Surfactants: Similar to laundry detergents, they help in cleaning the skin.
  • Moisturizers: These keep the skin hydrated.
  • Fragrances: These give the body wash its pleasant scent.

Similarities and Differences

At a glance, both products contain surfactants, which are cleaning agents. However, the concentration and type might differ.

Comparing Laundry Detergent and Body Wash

ComponentLaundry DetergentBody Wash
SurfactantsHigh concentrationMilder form

Personal Experiments and Experiences

To truly understand the feasibility, I decided to embark on a personal experiment. Here’s what happened.

Using Body Wash in a Washing Machine

Armed with my favorite body wash, I decided to wash a load of lightly soiled clothes. I used the same amount of body wash as I would with regular detergent. The result? The clothes came out clean with a pleasant fragrance.

However, there was a noticeable difference in the feel of the fabrics. They weren’t as soft as they usually are with regular detergent.

Hand Washing Clothes with Body Wash

Next, I tried hand washing a few garments using body wash. I diluted it in water and soaked the clothes for about 30 minutes.

After a gentle scrub and rinse, the clothes were clean and smelled wonderful. The experience was quite similar to using a mild detergent.

Results, Observations, and Conclusions

From my experiment, it’s clear that in a pinch, body wash can be used to clean clothes. However, there are a few caveats:

  • Effectiveness: While body wash can clean lightly soiled clothes, it might not be as effective for heavily stained garments.
  • Fabric Feel: Clothes washed with body wash might not feel as soft or conditioned as with regular detergent.
  • Cost: Body wash is generally more expensive than laundry detergent. Using it regularly for laundry might not be cost-effective.

Comparing Body Wash and Laundry Detergent

A deeper comparison can help us understand the pros and cons of each product when used for laundry.

1. Cleaning Power and Efficiency

Laundry detergents are undeniably more powerful cleaners. They’re designed to tackle a range of stains – from food spills to mud. Body wash, being milder, might not offer the same level of stain removal.

2. Fragrance and Scent Retention

Body washes are formulated to leave a lasting fragrance on the skin. When used for laundry, this fragrance can be quite strong on clothes. Some might find this pleasant, while others might find it overpowering.

3. Cost-effectiveness and Practicality

As mentioned earlier, body wash is typically more expensive than laundry detergent. If you’re considering using body wash regularly for laundry, it might not be the most economical choice.

4. Impact on Fabrics and Garment Longevity

Repeated use of body wash on clothes might affect the fabric’s longevity. The moisturizers and oils in body wash can accumulate on fabrics over time, affecting their texture and feel.

Potential Risks and Considerations

While the idea of using body wash as a laundry detergent substitute might seem appealing, especially in emergencies, there are certain risks and considerations to keep in mind.

The Sudsing Dilemma in Washing Machines

One of the primary concerns of using body wash in washing machines is the excessive sudsing. Body washes are formulated to produce a rich lather, which can lead to:

  • Overflow: Excessive bubbles can cause the washing machine to overflow.
  • Residue: Too many suds can leave a residue on clothes and inside the washing machine.
  • Damage: In high-efficiency washers, excessive suds can harm the machine’s electronic system and potentially void the warranty.

Residue and Skin Sensitivity Concerns

Body washes contain moisturizers and oils that can leave a residue on clothes. This residue might:

  • Affect Fabric Feel: Clothes might feel slightly greasy or heavy.
  • Cause Skin Irritations: For those with sensitive skin, the residue might cause irritations or allergies.

Long-term Effects on Fabric Quality

Repeated use of body wash on clothes can affect the fabric’s quality. The potential accumulation of moisturizers and oils can:

  • Alter Fabric Texture: Clothes might lose their softness over time.
  • Affect Color: Some body washes might cause colors to fade or bleed.

Alternative Emergency Laundry Solutions

If you’re hesitant about using body wash for laundry, there are other emergency solutions to consider:

1. Using Borax or Baking Soda

Both borax and baking soda are effective cleaning agents. They can be used to enhance the cleaning power of a dwindling detergent supply or on their own.

  • How to Use: Add half a cup of borax or baking soda directly to the washer drum before adding clothes.

2. The Role of Oxygen-Based Bleaches

In the absence of detergent, oxygen-based bleaches can serve as an alternative.

  • How to Use: Add half a cup of powdered oxygen bleach to the empty washer drum before adding clothes.

3. Homemade Detergent Recipes

For those who love DIY solutions, making homemade detergent can be both fun and effective.

  • Ingredients: Bar soap, borax, washing soda, and baking soda.
  • Procedure: Grate the bar soap and mix it with borax and washing soda. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while unconventional solutions can be tempting, especially in emergencies, it’s always best to prioritize the health and longevity of your clothes and appliances.

FAQs – Can You Use Body Wash as Laundry Detergent?

Can I use body wash for hand washing delicate garments?

Yes, body wash can be a gentle alternative for hand washing delicate items. Ensure you rinse the garments thoroughly to remove any potential residue.

Are there any long-term effects of using body wash on fabrics?

Repeated use of body wash can affect fabric texture and color. The moisturizers and oils in body wash can accumulate on fabrics, making them feel heavy or greasy over time.

How can I make my homemade laundry detergent?

Making homemade detergent is simple. You’ll need bar soap, borax, washing soda, and baking soda. Grate the bar soap, mix it with the other ingredients, and store in an airtight container. Use as needed.

Can I use body lotion or hand soap for laundry?

It’s best to avoid using body lotions as they contain heavy moisturizers that can leave a residue on clothes. Hand soap, if mild, can be used for hand washing clothes in emergencies.


  • John

    Hello, My name is John I am the founder and lead writer at canyouwash. co. I have over 10 years of experience in the cleaning and detailing industry and I love to teach people the best practices for washing and caring for all kinds of items.

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