Can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?

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Can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?

We get a lot of questions about putting dish soap in a dishwasher, so we thought we’d put all our answers in one place, starting with the big question “Can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?”:

Can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?

The straight answer is NO! Please don’t..

We know you may have run out of dishwasher soap pods at the wrong time (or you are feeling too lazy to rush to the store) but trust us: You will not like what you will see if you put dish soap in your dishwasher.

We definitely expect you to be curious about what exactly will happen if you throw caution to the wind and use liquid dish soap in dishwasher?


So, what happens if you put dish soap in the dishwasher?

Well, it will start to bubble like crazy- in a nutshell, bubbles will cover all of your kitchen floor (there will be enormous soap everywhere).

And more will continue pouring out of your dishwasher and it will soon appear like you had planned to have a massive foam party in the kitchen.

Keep in mind that it will also depend on the product- some dish washing soaps make more foamy mess than others.


Dish soap in dishwasher fix (what to do when it comes to putting dish soap in dishwasher)

So, what should you do if you put dish soap in dishwasher by accident (you could have accidentally put dish soap in dishwasher) or as part of experimenting?

Now, there are a couple of quick fixes that can fix the foaming problem before it wreaks more havoc.


Fix #1- Use de-foaming agent

Firth things first: there’s no other way of stopping more foam forming and spilling out into the floor but stopping the machine so your first step should be turning off the dishwasher.

Also, it will foam up again if you dare start it again before tackling the root cause of the problem (which is the presence of dish soap in the dishwasher).

That being so, perhaps the easiest fix is using a good quality de-foaming agent (here is a good one).

Just to be clear, the defoamer prevents formation of more foam and helps break down all foam that’s already formed.


  1. Clean up the entire mess outside of your dishwasher –you can use a shopvacc here.
  2. Now you will clean inside of the dishwasher: Start by putting some defoamer in a spray bottle/container and then spray the foam inside of your dishwasher.
  3. Let the appliance sit for another day for foam to break down.
  4. Then, the next day, remove all the dishes plus the bottom rack.
  5. Once again use your shop vacuum to get the defoamed water out.
  6. Pour some defoamer into the detergent dispenser.
  7. Turn on the dishwasher and let it run (you can run one wash-load the usual way).
  8. After your load is over, check for any reside foaming/leaks- if none, fill your dishwasher with the dirty dishes and return the bottom rack.
  9. Now add the correct dishwasher detergent/soap and run a fresh wash cycle. Your dishwasher should work perfectly.



How to get rid of soap suds in dishwasher- alternative ways

Here is what else kills soap bubbles:

Laundry fabric softener

You can toss laundry fabric softener (about a capful) into the wash then run it again-the soapy suds will begin to go away and will disappear in a short time.

That is because fabric softener is excellent at breaking the water/bubbles surface tension.

The fabric softener should eventually get washed away.

If it doesn’t, run a couple of cycles until it all goes away.


Use salt

The next option is buying a bunch of table salt then throwing it all over your bubbles.

This can be quick too in bringing down the foam and you will have way easier clean-up to do.

Remember it may leak (a bit) so put towels in front of the machine before you start the clean-up.

You want to rinse out residual suds by running a quick rinse_only cycle.


Use veg oil

When it happens, you can as well add about a ¼(one-quarter) cup of vegetable oil to your wash then run it.

The veg oil should kill the soap and the overflowing bubbles should pass out safely immediately.

To add, there won’t be any clogs on the pipes since veg oil doesn’t thicken.

Of course, a standard automatic dishwasher cleaner should clean out any leftover oil.

Keep in mind that there should be no sponges in your dishwasher if you’re going down this road.

Quick Tip: If you happen to turn off the machine before it is too late, you may not have an absurd amount of suds so you can try to clean up the foam with multiple towels.


What is difference between regular dish soap and dishwasher soap/detergent pods?

The biggest difference is that dish soap has some foaming agents/suds-generating chemicals added unlike in dishwashing-machine specific soap.


Will dish soap ruin a dishwasher?

Well, here is what we so far know: Your kitchen will be a spectacular mess.

But can the foaming that will have formed all over it really damage the dishwasher?

Now, there is a chance that the suds could run your dishwasher’s plumbing.

In other words, the pipes surrounding the dishwasher may be ruined while the filters may get clogged- and this can ultimately cause drainage hiccups.


Dishwasher soap alternative (what can you use instead of dishwasher detergent?)

There are a few emergency options you can try if you have run out of dishwasher detergent:

Here they are:

Baking soda and dish soap in dishwasher

If you must do it, you can get away with putting a very little amount of standard liquid dishwashing soap (like three drops) in the detergent container in the dishwasher.

Good options include Dawn, Fairy, and Palmolive.

You then fill the container with baking soda (about 2/3 of the container).

Lastly, the rest of the container should be filled with salt.

Next, close the soap compartment.

All that remains now is starting a wash cycle the normal way.

Your appliance will run flawlessly (no foaming, flooding, or leaks onto the floor) and your dishes will be sparkling clean when they come out.

Unfortunately, if you dare put too much Dawn, the dishwasher will still overflow with suds like hell so be careful.


Citric Acid

Powdered lemonade (or any other citrus-based powder) can work.

The soap cup should be filled with the powder then a normal cycle run.


Homemade dishwasher detergent

The final alternative is making a homemade dishwasher detergent.

Watch the video below then try to make a DIY dishwasher detergent.  

How to make homemade dishwasher detergent (video)


What else to avoid when it comes to Dishwasher soap alternative

  • Laundry detergents.
  • Car-washing liquid.
  • Household all-purpose cleaner.
  • Hand soap.
  • Shampoo.
  • Body wash.
  • Pressure washer solutions.


Wrap up

So, again can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?

To reiterate, the answer is a huge NO!

Put another way, while you may think you’re improvising (or you’re trying to save some bucks), it is a pretty terrible idea and the appliance will foam all over the place.

Not only will you have a major clean-up to do but the sudsy mess can damage your surrounding plumbing.

You now know.


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