Can You Put Dish Soap in a Dishwasher? All You Need To Know

Can You Put Dish Soap in a Dishwasher? All You Need To Know

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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While dishwasher detergent might seem like regular soap, it doesn't work similarly to other types of soap. Dishwasher soap is not designed to clean using a thick foam of suds and relies on enzymes to clean up the mess. But can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?

The idea of putting dish soap in a dishwasher can be tempting. However, it might cause an overflow with bubbles creating a mess and a funny picture. Furthermore, if it happens more than one time, the soap scum may build up and cause damage to the dishwasher. As a result, it is crucial not to put dish soap in your dishwasher.

To ensure you have a successful dishwashing process, we have gathered information on why you shouldn't use regular dish soap in your dishwasher. If the worst has already happened, we'll let you know how you can restore your dishwasher to prevent damages in the future.

Why Shouldn’t You Use Liquid Dish Soap?

Using a regular liquid dish soap instead of dishwashing detergent is not recommended. Regular dish soap and hand soaps are designed to create foamy studs. This means that if you add the ordinary dish soap to the soap container of your dishwasher, it can result in suds filling your dishwasher then overflowing to the floor.

As a result, you should only use the detergents that have been specially formulated for dishwashers to avoid suds during the cycle. If you have used an incorrect liquid detergent, you may want to run the wash or rinse cycle two times without the detergent to be able to rinse out the soap suds and residue. You will also need to clean the slippery mess created on your floor.

On the other hand, a dishwasher detergent should never be used to manually clean dishes. Although it will clean your dishes, you may need to add too much dishwashing soap because of a lack of studs. This, in turn, makes it difficult to rinse your dishes properly.

Alternatives- Can You Put Dish Soap in a Dishwasher?

While substituting an ordinary dishwashing detergent or laundry detergent is a recipe for disaster, adding just a few drops of baking soda to the dishwashing soap will help clean your dirty dishes with no mess.

Here is how you can use dish soap to clean dirty dishes in your dishwasher.

  1. Add baking soda to your dishwasher's soap container up to about 3/4 full.
  2. Put a few drops of the dish soap into the containers.
  3. If you're using hard water, add 1/4 cup of salt.
  4. Start your wash cycle

The main aim of using baking soda and regular liquid dish soap is to reduce the sudsy soap and improve the dishwasher's performance.

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent- DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Apart from the store-bought dishwasher detergent, there are ways you can use to make dishwasher detergent alternatives in the comfort of your home.

Dishwasher Detergent

If you'd rather make your dishwasher detergent at home than spend money buying one, here is how you can make your homemade dishwasher detergent;

  1. Add 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of baking soda.
  2. Add 1 cup of kosher salt (only if you have hard water)
  3. Add 3 packets of unsweetened lemonade drink mix (Optional).
  4. Stir all the ingredients thoroughly and store the mix in an airtight container.

How to Restore a Dishwasher with Dish Soap in It

If you accidentally use dish soap instead of a dishwasher detergent, you need to stop the washer or the wash cycle immediately. The sooner you're able to turn off the dishwasher, the better and easier it will be to avoid damages.

Dishwasher with utensils

Draining the dishwasher won't clear everything out but will make the cleaning process a bit easier. So, here are some things you should do to ensure your dishwasher operates at optimal performance.

1. Clean Up

If you could not stop the cycle before the foamy suds start overflowing, you should do some cleaning. Do not allow the water to seep or sit into your cabinets or even beneath your dishwasher. Use a wet mop to clean the surfaces and a dry one to wipe them dry to ensure no residues are left behind.

2. Remove All the Dirty Dishes

Once the dishwasher is done with its initial draining, remove all the dishes and put them in the sink. Rinse off the dishes to remove any soap or suds that have clung up to them. You might decide to wash the dishes by hand or wait until the dishwasher is fully recovered and clean.

3. Getting Suds From the Dishwasher

You need to rinse and dry the inside of the dishwasher to ensure it is fully clean. To do this, use a small bowl and sprinkle it into the dishwasher to rinse the soap in the dishwasher. If you have a sprayer and your dishwasher is close to a water source you can spray water in it to rinse the soap in the dishwasher.

Continue rinsing until all the bubbles disappear. Once it is clean enough, wipe it down with a clean towel to dry out the remaining water.

4. Run the Rinse Cycle

You can choose to run the rinse cycle for about five minutes to remove any resulting suds. This cycle should be able to remove the remaining residue if any.


Dish soap is not the only type of soap you should never use in a dishwasher. There are other soaps that form a thick and susdy foam and should never be used in the dishwasher. They include hand soap, shampoo, laundry soap, body wash, car-washing liquid, and a pressure washer solution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Dishwasher Detergent

1. Can you run a dishwasher without using soap?

Yes. You can run the dishwasher without soap using the rinse cycle only. Simply pre-rinse your dirty dishes by hand and load them to the dishwasher as usual. Set the dishwasher on the rinse cycle and clean.

2. Does dawn ruin a dishwasher?

Never use liquid dish soap in your dishwasher. While you might think it is a safe trade or an easier option, using traditional dish soap in the dishwasher is a critical and bad idea. The dawn dish soap will not only turn your house into your sudsy mess but could potentially ruin the appliance and the surrounding plumbing.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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