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Using Laundry Detergent in Dishwasher (+How to Clean Up)

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Sometimes you may be in a hurry and inadvertently put laundry detergent in the dishwasher instead of dishwashing detergent.

Or probably, you are short of dishwashing detergent and think, why not use laundry detergent? 

If you’ve been in this situation, this article is for you. You will learn why using laundry detergent in a dishwasher is not a terrific idea, what to do if it happens, alternatives to dish soap, and more!

Why You Should Keep Off Laundry Detergent From Your Dishwasher

Using laundry detergent in place of dish soap is not recommended at all. Dish soap and laundry detergents differ in their ingredients and formulation. This makes them function differently. 

When you use laundry detergent in the dishwasher, you are setting yourself up for disaster for the following reasons.

As we observed above, laundry detergents and dish soaps function differently. Laundry detergents have lots more ingredients and additives than dish detergents. 

These include brighteners, stain removers, fragrances, softeners, and other chemicals. This makes them produce more suds than dish soaps that are mainly designed with fewer ingredients.

Due to this dish soap washing compartment is much smaller compared to the much larger washing machine one. For that reason, sudsing causes overworking of parts and risks dishwasher breakdown. 

Examples include malfunctioning of the spray arms and burning out of the gaskets.

And, of course, you run the risk of voiding the warranty, meaning you will not get compensation for any breakdown that might happen.

Additionally, in that working environment, rinsing is not working as it should. That means there are chances of consuming residues of hazardous chemicals.

Finally, all this leads to the washing solution spilling into the floor, which means more mess for you to deal with.

Accidentally Put Laundry Detergent in the Dishwasher? Do This Next

If you use laundry detergent in the dishwasher, you can do a few things to salvage the situation and restore normalcy.

Cancel the Wash Cycle

The first thing to do when realizing your mistake is to cancel the wash cycle immediately.

This will stop the machine from working up the suds, which can potentially flow into the floor. 

Additionally, this also prevents the detergents from permeating deeper into the dishwasher with potential damage to the machine. Stopping the dishwasher will immediately initiate the draining of the washing solution.

If the water has spilled on the floor, your next step is to mop up the floor. Look for a mop, towel, or anything that can help in removing the water. 

This is essential to avoid slippery accidents from the spilled liquids and also stop seepages into other corners of the house.

With the floor clear, open the dishwasher and unload all the dishes for a safer place, for example, the kitchen sink, as you embark on the process of clearing the mess. 

Only by doing this can you get room to assess the situation properly.

Next, mop up the remaining laundry detergent solution from the dishwasher using any available towel and bowls within reach. 

Alternatively, if you’ve got a vacuum cleaner, that would ease and make your work easier. Be especially keen on wiping the wall, top, the bottom of the dishwasher as well as the detergent dispenser.

Finally, run a rinse cycle on the dishwasher to clear out any suds residues from the machine. Depending on the type of laundry detergent added, suds may not end with the first rinse cycle. 

It may require a repeat of the rinsing process to clear it completely.

If that fails, you can try using white vinegar to dissolve the suds. Adding ½ a cup and running the normal wash cycle should clear all the suds forth.

What Is the Best Alternative to Dish Soap?

If you run out of dishwashing detergent, you can use the following alternatives instead of laundry detergents.

Baking Soda

Also known as bicarbonate of soda, this cleaning substance is quite effective in cleaning dishes.

Baking soda cuts through all the grime in dishes, leaving them squeaky clean. Plus, it is readily available in your nearest convenience store.


Vinegar can be used as a cleaning agent as well as a stain remover. Also, it can be used singly or in combination with others, such as bicarbonate of soda, for even more fantastic results. 

The combined solution works through any grease or food residues to completely clear it.

Soda Crystals

Soda crystals have a wide range of cleaning uses around the home. For instance, they can be used for cleaning dishwashing machines and also laundry machines. 

The reason is that they are more alkaline than regular baking soda, meaning that they are one of the best alternatives to dishwashing detergent. 

Lemon Juice

Lemon is another terrific alternative to dishwashing detergent. Lemon gets its cleaning power from its richness in citric acid.

As a cleaning agent, this acid obliterates all greases and grime from dishes within no time. 

Just cut a lemon into two halves, squeeze the liquid into the dishwasher, and run the machine.

Optionally, you can use the store-bought lemon for the same results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Remove the Laundry Detergent Odor From the Dishwasher?

The smell of laundry detergent dissipates with time. All you need is a little patience. But if you must clear the odor immediately, you can try vinegar. 

Add ½ a cup of vinegar to the dishwasher and run one wash cycle before rinsing. Vinegar will clear the odor fast.

Can I Use Shampoo to Wash Dishes?

The shampoo is a great agent for cleaning dishes, just as it does on hair. It is formulated to clear oily soil making it perfect for clearing greasy grime on dishes. And the best part is it is kinder to the skin too.

Can I Use Laundry Pods as Dishwashing Liquid?

Any kind of laundry detergent shouldn’t be used in a dishwasher. Pods are formulated with the same ingredients as laundry detergents. 

As such, using them in a dishwasher will result in overflowing suds from the dishwasher, just like other laundry detergents.

I also wrote an article on putting dishwasher detergent in the washing machine that may interest you to read next.


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