Why You Should Think Twice Before Doing Your Laundry Without Detergent

You get out of the shower and realize you have nothing to wear because all of your clothes are dirty. After berating yourself for procrastinating, you throw a load in the washer and discover the real emergency: you're completely out of laundry detergent. It's definitely a crisis, so what do you do? You wonder if hot water will be effective without detergent, but that might be a bad choice. 

It turns out it's definitely not the best idea. Deeper stains will likely not come out of fabrics in water alone, and unpleasant odors tend to linger, even if your clothes look clean. Also, fabric colors can fade over time and become stiff or hardened by metal deposits when detergents aren't used. The results are less than satisfactory, to say the least. If you're curious about the magic of detergents, we've got the answer. And luckily, there are other things you can substitute in case of future laundry emergencies.

Why we need detergents

Bacteria, odor, and stains are removed from clothes with the help of laundry detergent. Without it, Oily or greasy stains are able to repel water, and the dirt that gets trapped in the folds and nooks of the fabric will remain there. Additionally, water has metals, and these get deposited on clothing. As these deposits build up over time, they can prevent the removal of dirt from the fabric and compromise the texture and colors.

The reason laundry detergent is effective is that it has surfactants, which are chemicals that bond and form molecules around the dirt particles on the clothes. They are able to lift those trapped dirt particles from the fabrics and into the cleaning solution. Additionally, laundry detergent has water conditioners that bind the naturally occurring metals in the water, preventing them from bonding to clothing or interfering with the cleaning process. Finally, it has odor-removing agents that help penetrate deep into the fabrics and provide fresh-smelling linens

What to use instead

If you're out of laundry detergent and wondering what you should use instead, there are a few products you probably have around the house that will work. If you have dish soap, such as Dawn or Palmolive, use less than half a capful at the start of the cycle, and add ½ a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to ensure a thorough wash and stain removal. You can also use a very small amount of shampoo in a pinch.

If your linens are very stained or dirty, try adding ½ cup of baking soda, along with a dab of dish soap and ½ cup of vinegar. It's also recommended to substitute lemon juice for the rinse cycle instead of vinegar for a fresher smell, and it can also be used for pre-treating stains. So the next time you're pulling your hair out because you forgot the laundry detergent, think twice about washing your clothes without anything but water.