Can You Wash Clothes with Body Wash Guide to Use Body Wash or Shampoo as Laundry Detergent

Can You Wash Clothes with Body Wash? Guide to Use Body Wash or Shampoo as Laundry Detergent

Have you ever found yourself about to start a load of laundry only to realize you’ve run out of laundry detergent? It’s a frustrating situation, especially if you need clean clothes ASAP. In a pinch, you may be tempted to grab a bottle of body wash or shampoo instead. But is it safe and effective to use body wash as a laundry detergent?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about whether can you wash clothes with body wash or can you wash clothes with body soap, including:

  • The pros and cons of using body wash on laundry
  • How body wash compares to regular laundry detergent
  • The best way to use body wash for washing clothes
  • Expert tips for getting great results when you wash clothes with body wash
  • DIY laundry soap recipes using body wash
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about using body wash as laundry detergent

So read on to learn whether you can use body wash to wash your clothes and keep your laundry fresh and clean even when you run out of detergent!

Is It Okay to Use Body Wash on Laundry?

Body wash is designed for cleaning human skin, not fabric. So unlike laundry detergent, body wash does not contain the same powerful cleaning agents intended to penetrate fibers and remove dirt, oils, and odors from clothing.

However, in a pinch, using body wash as a laundry detergent substitute can work. The pros are that body wash:

  • Creates a good amount of suds and bubbles, which helps to lift dirt and stains
  • Has added moisturizers to keep skin smooth and soft, which can have the same effect on fabrics
  • Comes in nice fragrances that can leave clothes smelling fresh

However, there are also some significant cons to using body wash on laundry:

  • Bar soap does not clean as deeply or effectively as laundry detergent – Cannot penetrate fabric fibers as well to remove oils, sweat, and grime
  • May not rinse cleanly – Leaves behind moisturizing residues that attract dirt over time
  • Can cause build-up on clothes – Ingredients like oils, butters, and waxes can leave residue
  • Potential skin irritation – Fragrance and ingredients not meant for prolonged skin contact
  • May cause excess suds – Requires extra rinses to prevent suds from locking into the fabric
  • Not formulated for high-efficiency washers – Excess suds can prevent HE washers from functioning properly

So while body wash makes an acceptable laundry detergent substitute in a pinch, it’s not recommended for regular use. For best results, always wash clothing with a specially formulated laundry detergent or soap.

Next, let’s compare body wash to laundry detergent to understand why regular detergent comes out on top for washing clothes…

Body Wash vs Laundry Detergent – What’s the Difference?

Body Wash vs Laundry Detergent - What’s the Difference
Can You Wash Clothes with Body Wash? Guide to Use Body Wash or Shampoo as Laundry Detergent 5

Laundry detergent and body wash have some overlapping qualities, but some important differences that make laundry detergent the clear winner when it comes to washing clothes:

Cleaning Power

  • Laundry Detergent – Specially formulated to remove dirt, oils, sweat, and odors from fabric fibers
  • Body Wash – Mainly designed to clean surface dirt and oils from skin without harming it


  • Laundry Detergent – Powerful surfactants lift stains, brighteners whiten fabric, enzymes break down proteins
  • Body Wash – Mild cleansing agents combined with moisturizing oils, butter, silicones, and waxes


  • Laundry Detergent – Rinses cleanly without residue
  • Body Wash – Moisturizing ingredients may leave residue attracting dirt over time


  • Laundry Detergent – Added perfumes are weaker and made for clothes
  • Body Wash – Strong fragrances formulated for use on the body


  • Laundry Detergent – Generally recognized as safe for use on skin
  • Body Wash – Prolonged exposure from clothes could irritate skin


  • Laundry Detergent – Very cost-effective per wash load
  • Body Wash – Small volumes make it impractical for regular laundry

The biggest advantage of laundry detergent lies in its specialized formulation to deep clean fabrics. While body wash makes a decent substitute in a pinch, laundry detergent will always provide superior cleaning results.

Next, let’s go over some expert tips for washing clothes effectively with body wash or when you need to wash with hand soap…

How to Use Body Wash to Wash Clothes

How to Use Body Wash to Wash Clothes
Can You Wash Clothes with Body Wash? Guide to Use Body Wash or Shampoo as Laundry Detergent 6

If you do need to wash using body wash or hand soap instead of laundry detergent, follow these tips to get the best possible results:

Check Garment Care Labels

  • Make sure body wash is okay for the specific fabrics you are washing
  • Delicates like wool, silk, or lingerie may require gentler cleansers

Use Hot Water Temperature

  • Hot water provides the best cleaning results with body wash
  • Check clothing tag guidelines to prevent shrinkage or damage

Increase the Amount of Body Wash

  • Use 2-3x the amount you would use with laundry detergent
  • This helps provide more cleaning power for your clothes

Wash with Extra Rinse Cycle

  • Prevents issues with excess suds or moisturizer residue
  • Rinse until water runs clear of suds for the freshest clean results

Optimize Washer Settings for Extra Agitation

  • Delicates and hand wash cycles provide more agitation for improved cleaning
  • Gentler on fabrics than regular wash settings

Avoid HE Washers

  • Excess suds from body wash prevents high-efficiency washers from working properly
  • Either wash by hand or use a non-HE top-load washing machine

With these proper precautions taken, body wash can produce decent laundry results in a pinch. But for regular washing of clothes, continue using traditional laundry detergent for best performance and value.

Next, let’s take a look at some easy DIY laundry soap recipes using body wash…

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipes with Body Wash

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipes with Body Wash
Can You Wash Clothes with Body Wash? Guide to Use Body Wash or Shampoo as Laundry Detergent 7

Adding a few extra ingredients to body wash can help boost its cleaning performance for laundry. Here are some easy homemade laundry soap recipes to try using body wash and bar soap:

Baking Soda Laundry Boost

  • 1/2 cup Body Wash
  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 gallon hot Water and a laundry soap bar

The alkaline baking soda helps the body wash cut through oils and lift stains off the fabric. Just add all ingredients to your washer’s detergent dispenser for an effective homemade laundry soap.

Borax Laundry Booster

  • 1/2 cup Body Wash
  • 1/2 cup Borax Powder
  • 1 gallon hot Water

Much like baking soda, borax provides an alkaline pH boost to improve body wash’s cleaning abilities for laundry. Mix with hot water for best results.

Super Sudsing Laundry Mix

  • 2 cups Body Wash
  • 1 Tbsp Washing Soda
  • 10 drops Essential Oils (optional)

Washing soda supercharges the sudsing action of body wash to punch up its cleaning performance. You can also add essential oils for an extra fresh scent.

Lemon Laundry Detergent

  • 1/2 cup Body Wash
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 gallon of very hot water and a bar of hand soap

The natural acidity of lemon juice lets it cut through grease and grime. Mixed with body wash it makes a nice natural laundry soap alternative in a pinch.

While adding ingredients to body wash can enhance its ability to effectively wash laundry, traditional laundry detergent specifically formulated to deep clean fabrics will outperform any DIY body wash mixture.

Next, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about washing laundry with body wash…

FAQs: Can You Wash Your Clothes With Body Wash

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about using body wash to wash your clothes:

Is it okay to use body wash instead of laundry detergent?

In an emergency, body wash can work to wash clothes. However, it does not effectively deep clean fabric fibers, may not rinse cleanly, can build up on clothes over time, and is not cost-effective. Traditional laundry detergent is specially formulated to wash clothes most effectively.

Can I use shampoo as laundry detergent like body wash?

Much like body wash, the main purpose of shampoo is to gently clean hair and skin without stripping oils. While the suds may help lift some surface dirt off clothing, shampoo is not an effective or ideal laundry detergent alternative for deep cleaning fabric. Laundry detergent is specially formulated to remove embedded dirt, odors, and oils from fabric weave that body washes cannot.

What about dish soap instead of laundry detergent?

Dish soap is a bit closer to laundry detergent in its cleaning abilities than body wash or shampoo. The degreasing formula helps cut through food oils and lift some stains off clothing. It also typically costs much less than body wash. However, laundry detergent still has specialized ingredients and higher concentrations of cleaning agents that make it far more effective at deep cleaning fabrics.

Can I wash clothes by hand using body wash?

Yes, you can hand wash delicate clothing items using a mild body wash if needed in an emergency when laundry detergent is not available. Make sure to fully rinse clothes under running water until all suds have been removed. Then air dry the clothing to prevent residue from remaining trapped in fabric fibers.

What if I have sensitive skin? Is it safer to wash clothes with body wash?

Actually no – with prolonged exposure body wash may irritate sensitive skin more than laundry detergent in some cases. The ingredients formulated for washing human skin are not intended for continuous contact over hours against the skin. Laundry detergent has been safety tested for use on clothing touching skin for extended periods. So while body wash may seem gentler, it’s not necessarily a safer choice for those with sensitive skin conditions.

While body wash can work in a pinch to wash a few laundry loads here and there, laundry detergent formulated specifically for use on fabric provides superior cleaning results. Be sure to keep enough detergent stocked up to wash clothes as needed. And know the proper precautions if you ever do need to use body wash as a backup laundry cleaning agent.

The Takeaway – Can You Wash Clothes With Body Soap

While body wash makes an acceptable substitute for laundry detergent in a single emergency load, it is not well suited for regular clothes washing. The cleaning and degreasing agents formulated to gently clean human skin do not effectively penetrate woven fabric materials. The moisturizing ingredients like oils, butter, and silicones that condition skin may leave behind residues that attract dirt over time.

Laundry detergents contain specialized ingredients at much higher concentrations intended to deep clean clothing fibers. Using hot water washes, extra rinse cycles, higher body wash volumes, and added boosters like baking soda can help improve results. But the best cleaning will always come from purpose-made laundry detergents with advanced stain-fighting and brightening properties uniquely designed for use on fabric.

So save that body wash for the shower where it belongs. And be sure to keep plenty of laundry detergent on hand for all your regular clothes-washing needs!

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