can you use shampoo as laundry detergent

Can You Use Shampoo as Laundry Detergent?

If your favourite t-shirt needs a clean, but you’re out of laundry detergent you might be thinking of using shampoo to wash it instead, but is this a wise idea?

Can you use shampoo as a laundry detergent? Yes, you can use shampoo as a laundry detergent. However, you shouldn’t make a habit of washing clothes like this, and you should never, ever, put shampoo into a washing machine. 

If you plan on using shampoo to clean your laundry, you should only hand wash the items with shampoo. 

Let’s find out how you clean dirty clothes with shampoo.


Things to Know Before Doing Laundry with Shampoo

hand wash and machine wash

Here are just a handful of pointers to keep in mind when washing clothes with shampoo instead of laundry detergent:

  • Hand wash items only.
  • Do not put shampoo in a washing machine, it will make too many suds and you risk damaging the appliance! 
  • You only need a little bit of shampoo to clean your items. 
  • Work with one soiled item at a time, two at a max! 
  • Always do a small patch test before dousing the whole garment in shampoo. 
  • Read clothing tags to see how specific items should be washed and dried. 
  • If an item says ‘dry clean only’ then this is how the item should be cleaned. 
  • Don’t use shampoo that’s been specifically designed to wash coloured hair. Try to stick to kinder shampoos, like baby shampoo, they don’t contain as many harsh chemicals.
  • Do not use 2-in-1 shampoos, the conditioner will play havoc with the material’s fibres. 

Let’s start washing! 


How to Use Shampoo as Laundry Detergent

How to Use Shampoo as Laundry Detergent

Washing dirty laundry with shampoo is a quick and convenient way to clean your grubby clothes when you haven’t got access to actual laundry detergent.

What you will need: 

  • Bucket or sink
  • Water
  • Mild shampoo

Steps to follow:

  1. Fill a sink or bucket with water – check the clothing tag on the item to see what temperature you need. Use cold water if you’re unsure.  
  2. Add one teaspoon of mild shampoo to the water. 
  3. Place the dirty item in the water.
  4. Leave it to soak submerged in the water for about five minutes – extra dirty clothes can be left for ten minutes in the water. 
  5. Use your hands to gently massage the soapy water into the item of clothing. 
  6. Pull the item from the water and wash it under cold water. 
  7. Remove any excess suds. 
  8. Gently squeeze excess moisture from the item. 
  9. Dry the item as you would normally – tumble or line (read the clothing tag for further instructions). 

Note: Adjust the measurements above to suit the size of the bucket/sink you plan on using. And if you are going to wash two items at once, you will need to repeat the process above for the second item. 


How to Use Shampoo to Treat Stains

using shampoo to treat stains

If you’ve got a stain to tackle as well, just try the method below to get rid of it! 

What you will need: 

  • Clean cloth
  • Water
  • Mild shampoo
  • Washing machine (optional)

Steps to follow:

  1. Lay the item out flat on a counter. 
  2. Try to remove as much of the dried stain as you can – gently blot at the area to remove toughened dirt.
  3. Grab a clean damp cloth. 
  4. Pop a blob of mild shampoo on the damp cloth. 
  5. Blot at the stained area with the cloth – no rubbing! 
  6. Repeat the blotting process until the stain has disappeared.
  7. Rinse the item with water from the tap. 
  8. Wash the item in a washing machine, or follow the steps above to clean the item with shampoo. 
  9. Dry the item according to the instructions on the clothing tag. 

Note: For extra tough stains you may have to repeat the process above several times, and you might need to use more shampoo.