Skip to Content

Can Dishwasher Detergent Be Used For Laundry?

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Many of us run out of clean clothing at the most inopportune time without realizing it. Laundry is a chore that is often at the bottom of the list for many people, so when you absolutely feel the need to wash your stack of dirty clothing but don’t have any washing powder, what can you do to clean your clothes?

Using dishwasher detergent for washing laundry is fine as an alternative to washing powder. Wash all clothing with care, as certain detergents contain bleach and other harsh chemicals that could harm your clothing. Dishwasher detergent works particularly well on stained items of clothing.

Washing laundry using dishwasher detergent is a very handy and inexpensive way to not only eradicate stains from your clothing but also for peace of mind, knowing that your clothes are good and clean, and fresh! Let’s discuss dishwasher detergent and the best way to use it on your laundry.

Using Dishwasher Detergent On Your Laundry

Not all dishwashing detergents are the same. Dishwashing tablets often do not contain bleach, and these are safe to use on all laundry items. If you have a front loader, go ahead and pop one in your washing machine drum. Just make sure to put your machine on its warmest cycle and add an extra rinse at the end of the wash. 

If you have a top loader, make sure the tub fills till it is loaded before adding the detergent tablet. Because dishwasher detergent is not that dissolvable, adding an additional rinse cycle to the wash’s end will help get all the soap out in both front and top loaders. 

If you use dishwashing detergent powder, it is best only to use it on white clothing because it contains bleach which could be harmful to the color of clothing items. 

Suppose you want to brighten dull, crisp-white clothing or make your dish towels stain-free. In that case, you can add ½ cup of dishwashing powder to 1 gallon of boiling water and let your laundry sit in it for at least 15 to 20 minutes before putting it in the washing machine for a complete cycle. 

Here is a guide I wrote on What Temperature to Wash Clothes (Celsius and Fahrenheit) that you may like.

Dishwasher Detergent Vs. Dishwashing Soap

Dishwashing Soap and Dishwasher Detergent – This is not the same thing. Dishwasher detergent, used in dishwashers, has a high PH and typically contains bleach and other chemicals. If you have ever poured some into a bucket of hot water, you will notice that it does not easily dissolve like dish soap. 

Dishwasher tablet and a bottle of dishwashing soap.

It is made this way because it needs to wash dirty and grimy plates and dishes. The dishwasher also sprays water with force and high heat, which helps the detergent easily break up the fat molecules. The same force and heat are not typically used in washing machines, and you need to consider this before using it. 

Dishwashing detergent, or dish soap, is a liquid, like Dawn, that you wash your dishes with in the kitchen sink. It does not contain bleach and consists of a blend of surfactants (things added in cleaning products to help clean). 

Because of this, it makes the PH closer to neutral, making it easier on your skin than dishwashing detergent. 

Did you know you can do laundry without detergent? Check out the article for more info.

Substitutes For Laundry Detergent

Don’t worry if you only have dishwashing powder; you have other options too. 

If you still have some laundry detergent left, you can add some borax or baking soda to make it for the load. You can also hand wash your clothing with a tiny bit of shampoo and then put it in the washing machine for a full wash cycle.

Or, instead of the shampoo, you can add a tiny bit of dish soap if it does not contain any bleach. Wash your garments well, and then put them in the machine for a complete wash and rinse cycle. 

Never pour the dish soap or shampoo directly into the washing machine. These soaps might create too many bubbles for your machine, and it will turn into a bubble monster like you’ve seen in cartoons as a kid. 

Also, it is not that kind to your machine, especially if it overflows on the bubbles and gives you more cleaning work than what you bargained for.

Too much suds.

Find out if powder detergent is bad for your washer in this article.

Surprising Uses For Dishwasher Detergent

Since dishwasher detergent has a stronger PH than laundry detergent, it is excellent for washing grimy, oily things like dishes. You can also use it to wash oily stained clothing in your washing machine. 

First, it is best to rub some dish soap, not dishwasher detergent, on the affected areas and then toss it directly into the washing machine with some dishwasher detergent. Rubbing in some soap beforehand will ensure the item cleans easily in the washing machine. 

You can also use dishwasher detergent in toilets with nasty stains on, and in them. Stains take some scrubbing to remove with the toilet brush, but if you pour some dishwasher detergent onto the stains, and let it soak for a bit, and then scrub, it will work unbelievably well and remove all the nasty stains.

If you have an oil stain on the garage floor or outside on your driveway, you do not have to buy any particular cleaning product for it. Then use your dishwasher detergent. It will effectively clean away stains and often at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a specific household cleaner. 

I also wrote an article on what to do if you used laundry detergent in the dishwasher.


Many are the purposes of dishwasher detergent, but laundry might not be one of them. The best way to wash washing without laundry detergent is by handwashing it with a liquid soap of some sort. But this is time-consuming, and you might not be up to the effort. 

Especially if it is late at night, and let’s face it, if you forgot to buy laundry detergent and only remember to do the laundry late at night, you won’t feel like standing for hours to handwash it either. You would want to get rid of the problem as soon as possible, and the best way to do that is by sticking it in the washing machine. 

I have also written a complete guide on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.

Pin It on Pinterest