Can You Wash Clothes With Bar Soap?

Can You Wash Clothes With Bar Soap?

Imagine running out of laundry detergent and the only thing you can find is your bar soap. So, you must be wondering – Can you wash clothes with bar soap?

This blog discusses the same along with the what, why, and how of having to wash your clothes without a laundry detergent or soap.

Can You Wash Clothes With Bar Soap?

can you wash clothes with a bar soap

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Although you can wash your clothes with laundry bar soap, hand wash bar soaps may just do a decent job at cleaning only up to an extent. While laundry bar soaps are convenient for treating stains and washing fewer clothes, hand wash bar soaps aren’t exactly formulated to wash clothes. 

Bar soaps don’t have the same harsh ingredients as laundry detergents do, making them more effective at the whole “cleaning” thing. Laundry detergents are also more practical to use while washing your garments by hand as well as in a machine.

Given that we are discussing hand bar soaps, bar soaps are typically created in a way that prevents moisture loss from the skin and preserves the skin’s natural firmness without drying it out. 

Whereas, laundry bar soaps are preferred for mildly dirty washing clothes. Moreover, these soaps are also more relevant for treating stains. In fact, laundry soap used with natural alternatives such as baking soda or white vinegar can easily remove stains and brighten colors.

Can you wash your clothing using bar soaps now that you’re aware they might not be as effective as laundry detergents and soaps? Of course! You can definitely wash clothes with bar soap if that is your only remaining choice. 

How To Hand-Wash Clothes?

At times, you may have to ditch the washing machine and take a manual approach to wash your clothes. Even though delicate objects are usually the only ones to be hand-washed, it’s an effective option – and sometimes, the only option.

Before starting to wash your clothes, read the care and fiber labels on your clothing for recommended water temperatures and further washing instructions. If the label reads “dry clean only,” avoid washing by hand.

To find out what type of fabric it is, read the care label. Then, find the best washing detergent accordingly. Generally, any typical liquid or powder detergent should work. However, delicate fabrics may require a more gentle and mild, such as light dish soap, gentle detergent, or fine fabric detergent.

Treat stains, if required. How to treat stains? Well, use your fingertips to gently press liquid detergent or laundry stain remover into the spot.

Fill the bucket or sink with water

Depending on the care labels on your clothing, fill your bucket or sink with warm or lukewarm water. The best way to clean wool, silk, and bright colors is with cold water. Add the prescribed quantity of detergent while the water is running. 

Lay your clothing in the water and gently press it down to fully submerge it after swishing the detergent in the water to ensure that it has completely dissolved. Gently squeeze the sudsy water through the clothing multiple times while it’s soaking. Although there is a chance that the water will change its color, it is just excess dye.

Rinse thoroughly

If your faucet has a sprayer, put any lightweight clothing in a colander and rinse it well. If not, put cool, clear water in the sink, submerge the clothes, and then squeeze the water through to rinse. Repeat as necessary.

Remove excess water

Pick each piece of clothing and gently squeeze out as much water as you can with both hands. Don’t wring out your clothes. After that, roll an absorbent towel and clothing together to absorb the water by laying them flat. Always treat your clothing gently.

Lay items to dry

lay items to dry after washing them with bar soap

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Laying delicates flat to dry will help keep them from stretching out of shape, especially knits. Laying sweaters or swimsuits on top of a dry towel will help them dry more quickly and with more care. Flip them over after the front has dried.

How To Wash Clothes Without Laundry Detergent?

Sometimes, you may run out of laundry detergent. But at that point, knowing what to use as a safe substitute laundry detergent that will work until you get to the store is helpful. Some essential things can be hand-washed with a variety of fabric-friendly products.

If the garment is very dirty, letting it soak in the cleaning solution for at least 30 minutes will yield the greatest results. This gives the cleaning agent time to dissolve the dirt in the cloth so that, after some agitation, you can rinse it away.

Before adding the clothes, always thoroughly mix the alternative cleaner into the water. Moreover, to prevent spots, avoid pouring the cleaner straight onto the fabric.

Baking Soda

For a typical load, use one cup of baking soda or borax. The combination of the cleaning agents, water, and agitation from the washer will result in cleaner clothing than you could have possibly imagined. Once more, pretreat stains before washing, and use the warmest water temperature advised for the clothing.

Oxygen-Based Bleach

Use one-half cup of powdered oxygen bleach in place of laundry detergent if you don’t have any. Before adding the filthy laundry and water, add the powder to the empty washer drum.

Homemade Detergent

If you have the time, you may make your own homemade detergent with borax, washing soda, baking soda, and bar soap.

Shampoo, Body Wash Or Hand-Washing Soaps

Use mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo, when hand washing garments. Use only one shampoo at a time, and avoid using tinted or combo products. Just one teaspoon can fill the water in a bathroom sink. Use more for a bigger sink or multiple clothes. For soap, use a small amount and pick a soap without any additional moisturizers.

Bar of Soap

As you are aware, stains can be treated with a variety of laundry bar soaps. By shaving a small amount into hot water to melt or rubbing the bar over heavily dirty areas on clothes, laundry soaps or regular bath bars can be used for hand washing garments. But note that to avoid spots, you should use bars devoid of oils or skin softeners.

Dishwashing Liquid Soap

In an emergency and as a last resort, use dishwashing liquid. Make sure the mixture doesn’t contain any bleaching chemicals before using even the smallest amount.

How To Handwash Clothes When Traveling?

While traveling is enjoyable, washing laundry while you’re on the road may be a chore. However, washing your clothes while traveling allows you to pack lighter, reuse your favorite travel outfits, and have less dirty laundry when you get home.

Hand Wash Items in the Hotel Sink or BathTub

wash clothes with bar soap in hotel sink

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You can hand wash your dirty clothes in the hotel bathtub or sink. This simply involves placing your soiled clothing in the sink, adding laundry detergent, and hand washing it. After that, you can hang them up to dry in the shower or bathtub.

Smaller items like socks, delicates, tank tops, t-shirts, etc. can be washed in a terrific way using this method. For larger loads and more dirty garments, hand washing might be less efficient. Moreover, the duration to dry clothes hung in humid locations, such as tropical nations, will be longer.

Hotel Services

Laundry services are usually provided by full-service hotels and cruise ships. These services consist of washing, drying, ironing, and hanging or folding your items. Many also provide dry cleaning.

When traveling, this is typically the most expensive option for having your clothes washed. However, the convenience of using hotel laundry services comes at a cost as they are quick and simple.


Laundromats are facilities where people can wash their laundry on their own or with minimal assistance from professionals. They are also referred to as coin laundries, launderettes, and laundrettes. 

Laundromats may only have self-service washers and dryers. Or, they may provide extra services such as drop-off laundry services, where someone else does the washing, drying, and folding for you. 

Local Laundry services

If there are no laundromats nearby and you don’t want to pay for hotel laundry services, you might want to look into local laundry services. You can use these services to drop off your laundry, get it done, and then pick it up or have it delivered to you.

On a side note…

The best idea while trying to pack light for your trip is to pack a laundry pod or laundry tablet in your suitcase if you want a bar soap substitute. You might simply take a short stroll to a nearby grocery store and ask for a laundry detergent pack that is convenient for travel.

What Is The Difference Between Soap And Detergent?

The components are the primary difference between soap and detergent. 

In addition to other varied biodegradable materials, oils, glycerin, lye, animal fat, and aroma oils are used to make soap.

Contrarily, detergents contain a greater amount of synthetic compounds, including optical brighteners, dyes, and perfumes as well as synthetic sulfates, frequently sourced from petroleum. Although they do have certain biodegradable components, such as enzymes, these mixtures don’t generally degrade.

Undoubtedly, laundry detergent works better at making clothes look cleaner. If it contains bleach, it can also disinfect clothing in addition to removing difficult stains and odors.

However, laundry detergents don’t treat the environment very well. They don’t biodegrade after usage because of their synthetic constituents. Additionally, they may cause severe skin irritation if they contain substances such as bleach, optical brighteners, dyes, or perfumes.

However, as laundry soap lacks optical brighteners, it is less successful at eliminating stains or brightening whites and colors. Due to the soap’s reaction with lime and subsequent formation of soap scum, soap is less effective in hard water.

Why Is It Not Ideal For Washing Clothes With Bar Soap?

Of course, you can wash clothes with bar soap, as we already suggested. However, as we have stated, doing so is not recommended. Let’s examine the “why” for the same in more detail:

Less effective than laundry detergents

If you’ve ever used laundry soap or detergent to wash your hands, you’re undoubtedly already aware of how quickly the moisture from your hands is removed and dried. Why? because it contains strong chemicals that are meant to clean textiles and not hands, of course!

Although bar soap can be used to wash garments, the question is whether it will be sufficient to get rid of stains and grime. On the body, dirt and stains may be removed with ease, but when it comes to clothing, the situation is very different.

Surfactants are used in laundry soaps and detergents to attempt to separate oil, stains, grime, and dirt from clothing so that they can be removed with water. Standard bar soap isn’t made to do that, which defeats the point of washing the garments in the end with ineffective outcomes and excessive waste.

Contains scent

When it comes to bar soaps, the manufacturers do take into account their target audience’s smell and visual sensations in addition to eliminating the dirt and grime on the skin. This leads to adding scent and color to the soaps in order to increase their attractiveness and saleability.

If a certain fragrance in the bar soap causes you an allergic reaction, you can be sure that it won’t go away before a day of use. Since the fragrance is created by the infusion of chemicals in the soap, it can be abrasive to the skin if you do not thoroughly wash the cloth after using bar soap on it.

May contain colors

You must be asking yourself, “Do laundry detergents contain colors?” To some extent, the answer is yes. However, it is also important to keep in mind that the color from laundry detergents may be readily removed from clothing by rinsing it in water after washing.

In addition, as laundry detergents are formulated to interact with the clothes without discoloring them, the synthetic or natural, which is extremely rare, dyes used in them do not stain the clothing

We can’t really comment on bar soaps because some of them might utilize excessive color for aesthetic reasons, which would result in stained clothing rather than clean ones if you used them on your clothes.

Contains artificial thickeners and sudsings

Since they cannot see the work being done (not in a washing machine, at least), most people do not care if a laundry detergent creates enough sud or lather.

On the other hand, many people believe that bar soaps are only effective when they create a thick lather and provide more sudsing. As a result, the majority of generic brands use synthetic thickeners and overly vigorous sudsing in their bar soaps to produce a thick lather.

But isn’t that advantageous? Isn’t the idea that more suds and lather mean more cleanliness? No, not really! If you’ve ever used body washes, face washes, or bar soaps that don’t foam, you’d be aware that foam and lather aren’t key factors in determining a cleaning agent’s effectiveness.

Make a note of it: lather has nothing to do with cleaning. In fact, if you rub bar soaps over the cloth, the synthetic thickeners might work against you in cleaning your clothes.

When Can You Wash Clothes With Laundry Soap?

When Can You Wash Clothes With Laundry Soap?

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It’s not like using bar soap to wash clothes is completely wrong. In some cases, when laundry detergent is not available, it is actually advised to wash clothes with bar soap.

These are the circumstances in which bar soaps might genuinely function as wonderful cleaning agents — when the sink in the hotel room and a bar of hand soap are your last resort for cleaning your dirty clothes:

Mild stains

If the color of the stain somehow mixes and matches with the color of your clothing, depending on the fabric, you might be able to clean them with bar soap. Of course, attempting to remove a coffee stain with bar soap from a white piece of fabric is pointless.

But if you unintentionally spilled a tiny amount of coffee on a piece of brown fabric, you can use bar soap to remove the residue and lessen the stain.

In addition, it is never too surprising if your picnic break or gym session left your clothes with grass or sweat stains. If the stains are light in nature, bar soaps can be used to remove them. 

Soft fabric

Even though laundry detergent is readily accessible, it is best to wash silk clothing and hand-knit wool clothing with bar soap if you have brought them along for your trip. Laundry detergents can be hard on silk garments since they need to be handled delicately.

But, as hand soap bars are formulated to clean the skin, they are gentler than laundry detergents. They are therefore excellent cleaning solutions for delicate fabrics.

You may always regularly wash your inner vests and socks with bar soaps. This is because they often acquire less filth and are simple to clean.

On-the-go wash

Thus, all you have left is bar soap after you accidentally soiled your clothes. Should you remove the stain from the fabric or should you at the very least leave the staining residue on it?

On a practical level, the latter is a better choice. If washing your clothing with bar soap is your only option while traveling, do it nevertheless. A bar of soap will undoubtedly help remove the residue, lighten the stain, and help eliminate at least some filth and grime, even though it might not be as effective.

Consequently, in terms of personal hygiene, everything is preferable to nothing, especially when traveling.

On the go, laundry with bar soap is OK. Keep in mind not to use colorful and highly scented bar soap. Later, after washing the cloth with bar soap, you may always wash them with laundry detergent or soap when available.


Can I use bar soap in the washing machine?

You can dissolve grated hand wash bar soap in boiling water and add it to the washing machine. But, this would hardly clean your clothes if they are extremely dirty. On the other hand, laundry soap can be used to pretreat your stained clothes by rubbing it on them.

How to remove soap residue from clothes?

Use the hottest water recommended for the fabric to wash the stained clothes once again. The wash cycle should then contain one cup of distilled white vinegar to aid the fibers in slightly relaxing and releasing the residue.

Can I wash clothes without detergent or soap?

If you have no detergent at all, you can try washing your clothes using baking soda, bleach, or white vinegar.

Is it better to wash my clothes by hand?

Hand washing will use much less water than using a washing machine. But unless you use cold water, the energy needed to heat the water in your home will likely be greater. This is in comparison to the electricity used by your washing machine. Moreover, hand washing clothes requires too much time and effort.

Wrapping Up

If the bar soap does not have a strong aroma or color, you can use it to wash your clothes. But, to avoid spots, use soap bars not containing oils or skin softeners. However, be aware that these bar soaps are not formulated to remove stubborn stains. Therefore, emergencies are when you should use these. Contrarily, laundry soaps and detergents can remove stains, grease, filth, and dust from clothing in an efficient manner. 

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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