forgot to put soap in laundry
Kristina Davis

Forgot to put soap in laundry? Do not worry; you are certainly not the only person committing this mistake. It can happen to anyone!

It usually happens when you get distracted by something while loading clothes into the washing machine. But, you realize it when you notice no sign of suds.

Should you let it complete the wash cycle? Or should you try another strategy?

Really, what to do when you forgot to put detergent in washing machine?

Well, there are a number of options depending on your unique circumstances. Let’s discover more about it now! 

Forgot To Put Soap In Laundry: What Are My Options?

options forgot put soap

Can you say you have thoroughly cleaned yourself after a shower if you did not use soap? It is the same with washing clothes without soap.

But, there are exceptions too. 

If you forget to add it in the beginning, you can safely do it in the middle of the cycle. You can also stop, add detergent, and rerun the cycle.

And of course, you can also let it spin and dry your clothes, but it depends mainly on the type of washing machine you have. 

When Is The Detergent Released Into The Machine?

To understand whether or not you can add soap mid-cycle, you need to know when the detergent is dispensed into the machine.

You can normally find the detergent dispenser on the front or top of your washing machine. 

laundry detergent

The detergent is dispensed into the wash water via the dispenser at the correct time in the cycle.

Your machine can sense it automatically.

But there are also washing machines that use a different system. Some use a cup to discharge detergent and water onto the garments directly. 

Tip: Check your manual to know how your machine works, which will help you discover when and how often detergent should be supplied. 

What Can You Do If You Forget To Add Detergent?

what to do forgot detergent

It all depends on when you remember that you forgot to add soap to laundry.

You will be dealing with two situations:

  • You remember it when your machine has already reached mid-cycle.
  • You remember it after the cycle is already done.

In these two situations, you have to react differently. Let’s talk about these two situations in detail to help you decide what to do. 

You Remember It Mid-Cycle

If you are lucky, you will realize halfway through the wash that you forgot to add detergent.

All you have to do is observe the lack of suds to realize you have missed adding detergent.

In this situation, you have to consider whether you have a top-load machine or a front loader. 

What To Do With Top-Loading Machines?

When using a top-loading washing machine, you can typically open the top lid with ease.

It means you can add detergent even if the wash cycle is already underway.

top loading machine

Simply open it and add the correct amount of detergent as directed by the manufacturer if you remember midway through the cycle. 

What To Do With Front-Loading Machines?

Things are rather tricky with front-load machines because they use varying mechanisms to wash clothes.

Instead of dumping the powder or liquid detergent into the drum, you use the front-load washer’s dedicated detergent dispenser.

Then, the water flows through the dispenser and adds “soapy” water to the clothes.

It is possible to add detergent midway through a wash cycle if your drum is not yet full of water.

The detergent can be introduced manually, or you can let the water supply pump a small amount of water into the drum. 


There is a chance you will not be able to add any more water to the washing machine if it is already at capacity.

In that scenario, you can minimize the amount of water in your washer by draining it and following the steps above. 

after a wash cycle

You Remember It After The Wash Cycle

Maybe you ran the entire wash cycle without any detergent and then remembered. So, should you stop the cycle, add detergent, and start it again?

Or should you just keep going with the laundry without bothering to fix the fact that you forgot to add soap?

If your garments are not filthy from dirt and sweat, not adding soap may not matter a lot.

Your clothes may still come out of the wash looking and smelling clean. But, it is not always the case.

Furthermore, there are cases where laundry detergent residue remains even after the garment has been hung to dry. 

If you neglect to add detergent to the wash, the residual detergent may still affect the wash’s outcome.

Tip: If you notice still stains on your garments after the wash cycle, add more detergent and repeat the cycle.   

Is It Really Okay To Add Detergent Mid-Cycle?

add detergent mid cycle

Yes, it is possible to add detergent during the cycle, but there are a number of things to consider.

Once the wash cycle starts, you cannot normally access the top compartment of a front-loading washing machine. 

If you forget to add detergent and the cycle is already in progress, you may have to wait until it is done and then add the detergent before starting it again.

However, in case the drum is not already full, detergent can be added to a front-loading washer using its dispenser and flushed down into the drum. 

Why Is It Not Good To Wash Clothes Without Detergent?

There are a lot of variables that could go into answering this question. 

For instance, you might not even need surfactants to clean your garments if they are not particularly dirty. This is especially true if you wash them at higher temps.

You may not expect them to get completely clean without applying a surfactant if they are sweaty, oil-stained, or otherwise unclean. 

washing clothes without detergent

For most stains, you will need to use additional surfactants in your washing machine anyway.

If you do not use detergent, even if the clothes look clean, the odor may still remain.

This is another reason why washing clothes without detergent is not a good idea. 


You still need detergent if you wash your clothes by hand.

This holds especially true when following the manufacturer’s suggested low-temperature guidelines.

Tip: Be sure to inspect the gasket in the door's opening and clean it if there is any dirt in the way to improve the drying process. 

Are There Any Alternatives To Using Soap In Laundry?

alternatives using soap

Unfortunately, running out of laundry detergent is common in the daily grind.

Still, knowing what to use as a harmless alternative laundry detergent will help get the job done.

Some essentials can be washed by hand with any of the many products on the market that are safe for the sink.

However, you need to be more selective with your detergent selection if your hamper is overflowing.

Here are a few detergent alternatives you can safely put in your washing machine for a complete load of laundry. 

Rinse Out The Box Or Bottle

When you run out of detergent but your next load could use a little, how about rinsing out the bottle to get some?

rinse out bottle

You can reuse the liquid detergent container by filling it with warm water, giving it a good shake, and then pouring the contents into the washer’s drum.

It may not look much, but it will have more than enough to clean a standard family’s worth of laundry. 

Make Use of Baking Soda

Add a half cup of baking soda to your remaining detergent to extend its useful life.

It works as a booster for your detergent and will aid in cleaning your garments.

Put the dry product in the washer drum before adding the detergent, the dirty laundry, and the water.

use baking soda

You will not believe how clean your clothes get with the combination of detergent, water, and the washer’s agitation. 


You should pre-treat stains before washing, and the water should be as hot as possible for the fabric.

Tip: You can use a cup of baking soda in place of detergent for a standard load. 


So you forgot to put soap in laundry and wondering what to do next. Well, you can try several things, but you first need to consider the type of machine you have. 

Mostly, it is possible to add soap mid-cycle, but it may not always be possible with front-load machines.

Just pay attention to the manual and you will learn when to add more soap to laundry.