What To Do If You Accidentally Put Dish Soap In The Dishwasher

By Cory White

You may be tempted to use dish soap in your dishwasher. However, soon you will realize that this is the worst dishwashing decision that you have ever made.   The chemists who made dishwasher detergent took a lot of things into consideration. One of them is that they designed dishwasher detergent to be used in a dishwasher without creating suds or foam.    Dish soap, if used in a dishwasher will create a lot of foam that will start leaking out of the dishwasher door and onto your floor.

What damage can the dish soap cause?

As mentioned above, using dish soap in a dishwasher is a huge mistake. The dish soap contains harsh chemicals that will erode the machine’s plastic parts and lead to cracks. 

When the foam penetrates the seals of the dishwasher it will get into contact with the stainless steel parts of the dishwasher and this will easily lead to rusting of the machine. 

The foam and water will even reach your wooden floor and damage it. 

Using dish soap in a dishwasher can also cause physical injuries to you. The foam will make the floor so slippery that you can easily slip, fall and injure yourself.

Another kind of dangerous thing that can be caused by using dish soap in a dishwasher is electrocution. If you step into the form and water and then touch an electrical appliance with your bare hands, you could be setting yourself up for an electric shock.

What should you do if you put dish soap in the dishwasher by accident?

Clean the overflow

The first thing you should do when you realize that you have used dish soap in the dishwasher is to immediately turn it off. This is so sure that any damage that you have caused is controlled. 

Pull out the dishwasher and plug it or switch the dishwasher off via the circuit breaker. However, you should do this with safety gloves or very dry hands.

Clean the foam that has flooded onto the floor. Use towels for this task. Make sure you have cleaned all of the visible suds around the dishwasher and below the unit to protect your wooden floor and yourself from physical injury. 

Take out the dishes and get suds out

Open the dishwasher’s door to try to remove the dishes and to get the foam out.

Remember to use extra caution because the dishes and water could be hot at the stage.  If it’s too hot, drop in some ice or very cold water to try to cool down the water inside the unit.

Remove the dishes and the racks to create space for you to remove the foam inside the dishwasher. Make sure you clean the dishes and remove all the dish soap on them because it’ll create more suds when you put them back into the dishwasher. 

Use a bowl to remove the foamy water from the dishwasher and pour it into your sink. 

Dry the dishwasher

If you have removed all the suds that you could with a bowl, use dry towels to dry the inside of the dishwasher. Make sure to wipe everywhere and remove all the foam. 

Also, clean and dry the detergent dispenser and make sure it has no dish soap remaining. This is the cause of all your problems. If you leave any dish soap inside, the bubbles will come back.

Take extra caution because the dishwasher might still be hot at this stage. Use a wet-dry vacuum to remove any suds.

Turn the rinse cycle on

Run a rinse cycle to remove all the remaining foam from the dishwasher system.

If the foam is still a lot, dry it with a towel. 

Woman Pressing Button Of Dishwasher

Put a few extra towels on the floor for any surprise suds that will flow out during the rinse cycle. 

If the foam is being stubborn, pour a cup of distilled white vinegar on it and this should help calm them down. Run a rinse cycle again. 

If you’re not having any luck, add 2 tablespoons of table salt onto the suds. This will work against the foaming and you should run a rinse cycle again to get rid of the foam. 

Substitutes for dishwasher detergents

If you ever run out of dishwasher detergent, do not be tempted to use dish soap. You do not have to wash your dishes by hand. There are other substitutes for a dishwasher detergent that will work without creating foam. 

Baking soda

One of the common substitutes for dishwasher detergent is baking soda. Put two spoons of baking soda in the detergent dispenser and run a wash cycle. This should clean your dishes well and baking soda is known to remove bad smells from your dishwasher.

Distilled white vinegar/lemon juice

To use vinegar simply put a cup of vinegar or pure lemon juice in a cereal bowl, put it on the top rack, and run a wash cycle. The acid in the vinegar or lemon will clean your dishes very well.

Combination of dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar.

Put a combination of 2 tablespoons of baking soda, three drops of dish soap, and half a cup of vinegar in the detergent dispenser. Run a wash cycle.

Seeking professional help

If you have made the mistake of using dish soap in your dishwasher, please make sure that you have followed the above troubleshooting steps to control the damage.

If you have cleaned all the foam from the dishwasher, but the suds and bubbles have refused to leave the dishwasher, you will need to call a qualified technician to fix and clean your dishwasher well. 

This is sure that you minimize the damage that has been done to the unit and that you safeguard your wooden floor from getting damaged. 


In conclusion, please do not use dish soap in the dishwasher. You might get tempted to use dish soap when your dishwasher detergent gets done and you consider it an emergency. But if you forget and use dish soap in the dishwasher, turn off the dishwasher as soon as you realize this mistake.

Do not use any kind of detergent that was not designed to be used in the dishwasher. This includes shampoo!

To avoid a flood of suds, try using the alternatives to dishwasher soap that have been listed in this article.

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