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Can You Mix Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap? (+ How much)

Nothing’s worse than getting ready to start a load of laundry only to realize that you’re out of laundry detergent. If this happens, you may wonder what alternatives you have lying around the house that you can use in place of laundry detergent.

You can mix laundry detergent and dish soap to wash your clothes, so if you find yourself running low on laundry detergent, feel free to mix in a small amount of dish soap. 

In this article, I’ll discuss whether or not you can mix laundry detergent with dish soap, if using dish soap is safe for your washing machine and clothing, what ratio of dish soap you should add to your laundry, and other valuable alternatives you can use if you’re out of laundry detergent.

Can You Wash Laundry With a Mixture of Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap?

Can You Dish Soap in the Washer? (+Some better alternatives)

For those times when you really need to start a load of laundry but just don’t have quite enough detergent to make sure your clothes will really get clean, you may wonder what other household cleaning items you can use to mix with your laundry detergent to get the most out of it. 

You can wash your laundry in a mixture of laundry detergent and dish soap. It’s safe for both your clothing and your washing machine as long as you use a small amount of dish soap that’s free from any bleaching agents or other chemicals that’ll damage the color or fabric of your clothing.

You can safely combine dish soap with your laundry detergent to clean your clothes in a pinch. This method is acceptable for both handwashing and running your laundry through the washing machine.

Although there are resources on the internet discouraging you from using dish soap in your washing machine, problems typically only arise with overuse or prolonged use. Occasionally mixing dish soap with your laundry detergent is perfectly safe, assuming you follow a few basic guidelines. 

A dish soap and some powdered laundry detergent.

Firstly, only use a small amount of dish soap. You’ll need very little dish soap compared to how much laundry detergent you typically use; I’ll provide an exact breakdown of how much dish soap to use later in this article.

In addition to using a comparatively small amount of dish soap, you’ll want to avoid using any dish soaps that have bleaching agents, as this may unwittingly whiten your clothing. Some surprising ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, are bleaching agents, so make sure you’re reading the ingredients on your dish soap carefully before using it on your clothing.

Now and then, a small amount of dish soap won’t damage your washing machine, but it’s not recommended for prolonged use. Laundry detergent is specifically formulated for your washing machine, so it’s best to stick with it for general use. 

Will Mixing Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap Damage My Washing Machine?

A leaking washing machine.

Now that you’re aware that you can mix dish soap with laundry detergent to clean your clothes, you may be left wondering if doing so will damage your washing machine.

Mixing dish soap with laundry detergent won’t damage your washing machine when done correctly and occasionally. The most important factor to be aware of is to use a minimal amount of dish soap to avoid producing excessive suds. 

The number one reason people damage their washing machine when using dish soap to wash their clothes, whether mixed with laundry detergent or being used by itself, is simply by using too much of it.

Dish soap has foaming agents that laundry detergent doesn’t have, which can seriously damage your washing machine. Laundry detergent is specifically formulated not to foam up in the way that dish soap does, which is an essential feature for the longevity of your washing machine. 

Oversudsing can damage your machine by bubbling up and out of the washing machine drum, potentially harming the electronic hardware, pumps, or drains in your washing machine.

In addition to the problems that can arise when adding too much dish liquid to your washing machine, over time, the use of dish soap in your washing machine may cause a buildup of soap scum

This can not only cause your machine to work less than optimally but can affect how clean your clothes can get when run through your washing machine. 

If you’re feeling extra cautious, you can thoroughly wash your machine after using dish soap by first running a drum-cleaning cycle with two cups of vinegar followed by a cycle on the hottest setting with half a cup of baking soda. 

Will Mixing Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap Damage My Clothing?

You don’t need to worry about damaging your clothes as long as you are very sparesome with the soap.

Just because a product is safe for your household appliances doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to use it on your personal items, especially if you’re washing pieces of clothing that you’re particularly fond of.

Mixing dish soap with your laundry detergent won’t damage your clothing as long as you don’t overuse it and avoid any dish soaps with bleaching agents or other harsh chemicals.

Not only does overusing dish soap create significant complications for your washing machine, but it can cause problems for your clothing as well. 

Because of the amount of suds that dish soap produces, overuse can make it difficult to rinse the soap out of your clothing, leading to patches of dish soap left on your clothes that can be both unsightly and irritating to your skin.

Furthermore, if you’re not able to rinse all of the dish soap out of your clothes, they can be left feeling stiff, starchy, and heavy, defeating the whole purpose of cleaning them in the first place. 

For this reason, it’s beneficial to mix dish soap with your laundry detergent and use a minimal amount of it. If you find that not all the dish soap has washed out of your clothing, you may want to run your clothes through an extra rinse cycle. 

In addition to causing problems if you overuse it, dish soap can seriously damage your clothing if any of the ingredients include bleaching agents.

To ensure that you don’t accidentally bleach your clothing, read over the ingredient list of your dish soap. If there are any ingredients you don’t recognize, simply search the ingredient on the internet and determine whether or not it’s a bleaching agent. 

In addition to avoiding bleaching agents, it’s a good idea to use a mild dish soap that’s free of any harsh chemicals that may cause your skin to have an allergic or adverse reaction. 

Dish soaps devoid of synthetic fragrances and other chemicals that may result in skin irritation are the only dish soaps you should use on your clothing.

Can you only use dish soap to do your laundry or should you mix it with laundry detergent?

Can You Only Use Dish Soap To Do Your Laundry or Do You Have To Mix It With Laundry Detergent?

The amount of dish soap you add to your load of laundry doesn’t change whether you mix it with laundry detergent or wash it with only dish soap. 

You can use only dish soap to do your laundry, as you don’t necessarily have to mix it with detergent every time. You’ll want to adjust the amount of dish soap you add based on the size of your laundry load and add the soap directly to the washing machine drum.

You may end up with better results if you mix dish soap with laundry detergent, which is specially formulated to wash your clothes, and typically includes additives designed to make your clothes soft. Still, it’s perfectly safe to occasionally replace laundry detergent with dish soap. 

Make sure to add between one and three teaspoons of dish soap directly to the drum of your washing machine based on if you’re washing a small, medium, or large load. 

What Ratio of Laundry Detergent To Dish Soap Should I Mix? 

Now that you’ve decided you’re going to try washing your clothes with dish soap, you may be left wondering just how much of it you should use. The answer to this depends on how large a load of laundry you’re doing. 

The ratio of dish soap you add should be relative to the size of load you wash rather than the amount of laundry detergent you use. Add between 1 and 3 teaspoons (4.93 and 14.79 ml) of dish soap to your wash load, whether you’re mixing it with laundry detergent or replacing it altogether.

Because of how much dish soap foams up, you need a shockingly small amount of it. While this amount varies slightly depending on how large of a load you’re washing, you should never, under any circumstances, use more than 3 teaspoons (14.79 ml) of dish soap to wash your clothes. 

If you’re doing a small load of laundry, you’ll want to add 1 teaspoon (4.93 ml) of dish soap directly to your washing machine drum to clean your clothes appropriately. Add 2 teaspoons (9.86 ml) for a medium-sized load and 3 teaspoons (14.79 ml) for a large load.

Unlike laundry detergent, which you can add to the detergent drawer in your washing machine, you should add dish soap directly to your washing machine drum. Allow the washer to fill with a small amount of water, diluting the dish soap.

Add your laundry once there’s a small amount of soapy water in the washing machine drum; this method prevents concentrated dish soap from getting directly onto your clothes.

When Is It OK To Mix Laundry Detergent With Dish Soap?

Now that you’re familiar with how much dish soap you should be adding to your laundry loads, you may still wonder when it’s ok to mix laundry detergent with dish soap. 

It is ok to mix laundry detergent with dish soap when you’re running low on laundry detergent and need to do one or two loads until you can replace your it. If used correctly, dish soap will not harm your clothes or washing machine but shouldn’t be used long-term. 

The main reasoning for this lies in the differences in formula between dish soap and laundry detergent. 

Laundry detergent is specifically formulated to prolong the lifespan of your clothing and clean clothes optimally in washing machines. 

Dish soap is designed for a completely different purpose. As such, while acceptable for occasional use, it may have adverse effects on the quality of your possessions if used long-term.

What Should I Avoid When Washing My Clothes With Dish Soap?

If you’ve decided you’re going to go ahead and give washing your clothes with dish soap a try, there are some common pitfalls you should try to avoid. 

Here are some of the main things you should avoid doing when washing your clothes with dish soap: 

  • Using dish soaps containing harsh chemicals
  • Placing dish soap in the detergent drawer 
  • Overusing dish soap when washing clothes
  • Replacing laundry detergent with dish soap long-term
What to do if you get too many suds.

If you do decide to hand wash your clothes with dish soap instead of running them through your washing machine, you’ll want to make sure you still keep the amount of soap below 3 teaspoons (14.79 ml). 

The rinse cycle on washing machines is beneficial in removing sudsy dish soap from clothing, so make sure to rinse clothes out extra well when hand washing, and check for stiff, sticky clothing when done to make sure you got all the soap out. 

What To Do if You Run Out of Laundry Detergent

If you run out of laundry detergent but aren’t convinced you want to use dish soap to wash your clothes, there are a few other options you can try. 

First, simply pour some warm water into your detergent container, swirl it around a little, and then pour it into the detergent drawer. 

Laundry detergent is highly concentrated, and in all likelihood, there’s plenty of cleaning solution left in the container, even if you’re having a hard time getting it out. 

You can also try adding vinegar or baking soda to your loads of wash if you run out of laundry detergent (not at the same time).

Baking soda and vinegar offer softening, cleansing, and brightening properties to your load of wash. While they cancel each other out if you use them simultaneously, individually, they’re both excellent natural laundry additives. 

You can use either of these ingredients on their own or in addition to your usual laundry detergent. These two items are beneficial at counteracting any lingering mildew odors you may have in your washing machine or on your clothing. 

Conclusion

If you run out of laundry detergent, feel free to remedy the situation by mixing your remaining laundry detergent with dish soap or replacing it altogether. 

Just make sure the soap you use is free of harsh chemicals that may irritate your skin.

You should only add between 1 and 3 teaspoons (4.93 and 14.79 ml) of laundry detergent to your wash load and pour it directly into the drum of your washing machine. 

If your clothes feel starchy or sticky when you take them out of the washing machine, run them through another rinse cycle. 

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

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