Can You Use Regular Dish Soap in a Dishwasher?

December 2, 2021
Dishwasher Repair

If you’ve suddenly found yourself out of dishwasher powder or tablets, you might be tempted to just pour some regular dish soap into your dishwasher and hope that does the job. But this would be a big mistake, as regular dish soap can cause all sorts of problems and probably won’t even wash your dishes.

In this article, we will explain why you shouldn’t use regular dish soap, explain what will happen if you do, and give you a couple of recipes to make an alternative dishwashing powder.

Why you shouldn’t use regular dish soap

Using regular dish soap in your dishwasher is a bad idea because it is designed to generate lots of suds when being used to wash dishes. If you put it into a dishwasher, the dishwasher will fill up with lots of suds, and if your dishwasher isn’t airtight, they will flow out of the dishwasher and onto your kitchen floor.

Dishwasher powder or tablets, on the other hand, don’t create suds; instead, they mix with the water to create a “suds free” soap that washes your dishes before the dishwasher rinses the soap off. Just as you shouldn’t use regular dish soap in your dishwasher, you also shouldn’t use dishwasher powder to manually wash your dishes, as there won’t be any suds, so you’ll probably use way too much powder which will be hard to rinse off.

What should you do if you have put regular dish soap into your dishwasher?

If you’ve put regular dish soap into your dishwasher, don’t panic. Turn your dishwasher off and wait a few minutes to let the suds “calm down.” After a few minutes, turn your dishwasher on to a rinse mode to drain your dishwasher. However, there is still a risk your dishwasher will overflow, so you’ll have to keep an eye on it, and if it starts to overflow with suds, turn your dishwasher off and restart the rinse cycle. Hopefully, after a few times doing this, your dishwasher will drain out completely.

To make sure all of the soapy suds have gone, turn your dishwasher on to a quick wash cycle once it has been drained to clean out any remaining regular soap still in your dishwasher. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to use your dishwasher again. If you need to wash some dishes and still don’t have any dishwasher powder, check out our recipes below for how to make your own powder.

How to make emergency dishwasher powder

If you have some baking soda, dish soap, and salt, you can easily make an emergency dishwasher powder to use. This powder does use some regular dish soap, but only a couple of drops, so it won’t result in any of the problems that we have outlined in the article so far.

Here’s a simple recipe to create some emergency powder:

  1. Open the dishwasher powder compartment, and fill it about ¾ of the way full with baking soda.
  2. Add a couple of drops of your regular dish soap.
  3. Fill the rest of the container with salt.

You can then turn your dishwasher on to a regular wash cycle. The baking soda will stop the soap from generating too much suds and will be powerful enough to wash your dishes. Using this recipe also has the added bonus of giving your dishwasher a good clean!

How to make natural dishwasher powder

If using the emergency dish powder recipe above turned out well, you should consider using a homemade, natural dishwasher powder as your regular powder. This will save you money and at the same time ensure your dishes come out beautifully clean. The best part is this recipe is extremely easy to make and only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have sitting around the house.

Here’s a great natural dishwasher powder recipe:

  1. In a bowl, add 2 cups of baking soda to 2 cups of washing soda.
  2. Add 1 cup of kosher salt and 1 cup of citric acid.
  3. You can also add a few packets of unsweetened lemonade drink mix or a few drops of essential oils to give your powder a nice smell, but this is optional.
  4. Once all of the ingredients are in the bowl, mix them together and then pour the powder into an airtight container or jar.

This powder works really well, and your dishes will come out sparkling. You can use this powder the same way you would use a commercial powder – for each cycle, fill the powder compartment up to the top and you’ll be good to go.


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