What can I substitute for laundry detergent?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for laundry detergent” with an in-depth analysis of the benefits of using substitutes along with damages caused by regular detergents. 

What can I substitute for laundry detergent?

As laundry detergents contain lots of chemicals that cause not only damage to our outfit but also could cause allergy to our skin, also, harmful for aquatic life and cause pollution in our environment.

Some of these regular detergents give an awful smell to clothes. So, it is much better to use other substitutes rather than these toxic detergents for better results and shine in clothes. 

Laundry detergents can be best substituted with baking soda and borax, salt, lemon, hydrogen peroxide, distilled white vinegar and other plant-based detergents.

Substitutes for laundry detergents:

There are lots of laundry detergents that not only protect our clothes from damage but also give a refreshing odour to clothes. Before discussing each substitute briefly, it is important to know that any substitute we use should be environment friendly, non-toxic, and harmless for aquatic as well as human life.

Some substitutes of laundry detergents include: 

Baking soda and borax:

Baking soda is a natural cleanser that is the best substitute for laundry detergents. Baking soda has the properties of softening wash water so that less detergent is used, and the efficacy of detergent is increased.

It does not contain additives that could cause irritation and allergy to the skin. It makes our clothes brighter and white-coloured whiter and fresher rather than fading the colours as other normal detergents do.


Borax or sodium carbonate is white and found in powdered form. It is also a substitute for detergents. Borax work against acidic stains just like tomato or mustard, because borax is highly basic (alkaline) in nature having a PH of about 9.5

So, it creates an alkaline solution that works efficiently against acidic stains.


Salt is another super substitute for laundry detergents. Salt helps in removing stains from clothes while maintaining bright colours and it is quite helpful in reducing the yellowness of clothes. Salt, especially Epsom salt is the best replacement for laundry detergents.

The colour of fabrics is not faded due to the presence of chloride in salts.


Lemon is also a substitute for laundry detergent. After all, it contains citric acid, which is the best replacement for detergents because it acts as a bleaching agent. So, lemon juice is considered effective for removing stains from clothes and it makes white-coloured clothes whiter and fresher. 

This is because it has a natural whitening action that gets raised when exposed to sunlight. Specifically, lemon juice is preferred to use on cotton fabrics and polyester.

Hydrogen peroxide:

One cup of hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with other detergents to get better results. It helps in removing stains from clothes. We should be careful while mixing hydrogen peroxide because using too much hydrogen peroxide could cause damage and colour fade to our clothes.

Distilled white vinegar:

Vinegar is also considered an excellent substitute for laundry detergents. As vinegar helps in removing stains and germs from fabric also, it softens the fabric. It is not only effective for brightening white clothes but also coloured fabric. The best thing about using vinegar is our clothes smell so good and fresh.

The percentage of acidity in distilled white vinegar is 5%. One important point everyone should get to know is “never use vinegar with bleach” it could damage our fabric badly. Using distilled white vinegar as a substitute for detergent for towels makes them super soft and fluffy.

Plant-based detergents:

These detergents are also termed “echo” or “green” detergents. Plant-based detergent is the replacement of other toxic chemicals containing detergents. A major benefit of using plant-based detergent is it causes no harm to the environment and also it has no side effects for the skin like other regular detergents do have.

Using plant-based detergents causes no damage to aquatic life. Moreover, plant-based detergents have no major pollutants due to which there is no hurdle for them to pass through water passes. As they are natural detergents, they can get biodegraded.

So, it ensures a safe and clean environment. Another major reason for using these plant-based detergents is it saves money, it’s better for health and low energy is used (as they can work at less temperature).

Depending upon all the mentioned side effects of using regular detergents (having toxic chemicals) it is better to use substitutes of these detergents. Substitutes have better results of cleansing. They make clothes brighter, whiter and fresher. The clothes smell nice. These detergents cause no damage to the skin, no allergy, no itching.  


In this short article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for laundry detergent” with an in-depth analysis of the benefits of using substitutes along with damages caused by regular detergents. 



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.