Can You Use Washing Up Liquid in a Dishwasher

Can You Use Washing Up Liquid in a Dishwasher?

Picture this: you’ve just finished loading the dishwasher and you’re about to grab a dishwasher tablet but realise you have none left.

It’s late, the shops are closed and you can’t really be bothered to go out right now. Surely you could pop a little washing up liquid in and that should do the trick? After all, we use washing up liquid to hand-wash dishes so why not in the washing machine?

Unfortunately, adding washing up liquid to a dishwasher can cause all sorts of issues.

The short answer is that no, you shouldn’t use washing up liquid in a dishwasher.

Still not convinced? Read on to find out why you should never put washing up liquid in your dishwasher and what to do instead.


The Difference Between Washing Up Liquid and Dishwasher Detergent

washing up liquid and dishwasher detergent

To understand why using washing up liquid is bad for your dishwasher, it helps to understand the difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent.

Washing up liquid creates a foam of soap suds which cut through grease and food residue.

Dishwasher detergent, can come in the form of solid tablets or even liquid and uses enzymes to break down the food and grease, without foaming up. 


What Happens if You Use Washing Up Liquid in a Dishwasher?

The best-case scenario is that your dishes simply won’t get clean. However, in the worst case, your machine, plumbing and surrounding areas could become damaged.

Washing up liquid is designed to lather and create a lot of bubbles. This is because you need a little more help when you’re tackling the dishes by hand.

However, in a dishwasher, the washing up liquid will create so much lather that the bubbles can end up getting into, and getting stuck in, parts of the machine they shouldn’t be. 

This can cause damage to the mechanics of the machine and even block pipes and filters, causing plumbing issues. 

Plus, when you open the machine, you’ll be confronted with a machine full of foam. This foam can also escape onto your floors and surrounding surfaces and appliances, possibly damaging them in the process. 


What to Do if You’ve Accidentally Put Washing Up Liquid in the Dishwasher

washing up liquid and dishwasher

If you do make this mistake, follow these steps:

  1. First of all, turn off your dishwasher at the plug socket. This will cause the excess water to drain out.
  2. Open the machine and remove the dishes. 
  3. If some of the suds escape from the machine, clean up as soon as possible. Use a mop or wet, absorbent cloth and then a towel. The water is soapy and could leave soap scum behind if it’s not removed correctly. 
  4. Rinse suds out of the machine with vinegar and water. You can either use a spray bottle or just pour a jug of water into the machine until the suds dissipate.
  5. Once all of the suds have gone, run an empty cycle with a cup of vinegar to remove any remaining soap scum. 


What Can I Use if I Run Out of Dishwasher Tablets?

dishwasher tablet alternatives

If you are in a pinch, don’t reach for washing up liquid. Instead, there are several things you can use as dishwasher tablet alternatives. These include:

If you don’t have any of these to hand, clean the dishes you need immediately by hand and wait until you can get to the shops to buy some more dishwasher tablets!