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

By Cory White
What To Do If You Accidentally Put Dish Soap In The Dishwasher?

Picture this: you’re in a rush, trying to get the dishes done, and you accidentally put dish soap into the dishwasher. We’ve all been there! But don’t panic, all you have to do is to stop the dishwasher immediately and remove as much soap as possible. Next, clean up the excess suds and run cycles with water only to ensure all soap residue is gone.

Accidentally putting dish soap in the dishwasher can lead to a foamy mess, poor cleaning results, and even potential damage to your appliance. However, with the right approach, you can quickly resolve the situation and get your dishwasher back to its efficient self.

Keep reading as I discuss the risks of using dish soap in the dishwasher, troubleshooting tips, dishwasher maintenance, and important precautions to take when facing this common mishap. Let’s go!

The Risks of Using Dish Soap in a Dishwasher

overflowing dishwasher

Using dish soap in a dishwasher instead of the designated dishwasher detergent can lead to several risks and issues. Dish soap is formulated for hand washing and produces a high amount of suds, unlike dishwasher detergents designed to be low-sudsing agents. When dish soap is used in a dishwasher, it can lead to some potential problems:

Overflowing Suds

As dish soap produces excessive foam, suds can overflow from the dishwasher, creating a mess in your kitchen. This overflow may cause water damage to your kitchen floor or cabinets.

Clogged Dishwasher Components

The excessive foam can also clog various parts of the dishwasher, such as the drain, filter, and spray arms, leading to performance issues and lesser cleaning efficiency.

Damage To Dishwasher Seals

The high amount of suds and foam can put pressure on the dishwasher’s seals, resulting in wear and tear and ultimately reducing the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Inefficient cleaning

Dish soap is not designed for the harsh conditions within a dishwasher, so using it might not clean your dishes as effectively as dishwasher detergent.

Immediate Actions to Take

If you’ve accidentally used dish soap in your dishwasher, acting quickly to mitigate any potential damage is essential. Follow these immediate steps upon realizing the issue:

  1. Stop the dishwasher. As soon as you notice the mistake, turn off the dishwasher to prevent further complications. Most dishwashers can be stopped by pressing the “cancel” or “stop” button on the control panel.
  2. Unplug the dishwasher. For added safety, unplug the dishwasher from the power source to ensure there’s no electrical hazard while you proceed to clean the appliance.
  3. Remove the dishes. Carefully take out all the dishes from the dishwasher, and rinse them thoroughly under running water to remove any soap residue.
  4. Scoop out excess soap. Using a cup or a small container, scoop out as much of the remaining dish soap as you can from the dishwasher’s detergent compartment and interior.
  5. Absorb excess suds. If there are a lot of suds inside the dishwasher, you can use towels or paper towels to help absorb and remove them.

Suds Removal and Cleaning

vinegar and baking soda

After immediate actions have been taken following the accidental use of dish soap in a dishwasher, the next step is to remove the remaining suds and clean your appliance. Here are some effective solutions for suds removal and cleaning:

  • Run short rinse-only cycles. Running a series of short rinse-only cycles can help flush out any leftover soap residue and suds from the dishwasher. Check between cycles and stop once no more suds are visible.
  • Use vinegar. Vinegar can break down suds created by dish soap. Pour a cup of white vinegar into the dishwasher’s bottom and run a complete cycle. The vinegar will help to dissolve the suds and remove any soap residue.
  • Use vegetable oil. Pouring a small amount of vegetable oil onto a sponge or cloth and wiping it along the edges and bottom of the dishwasher can help to break up and remove stubborn suds.
  • Wipe down the dishwasher interior. After the suds are gone, clean the dishwasher’s surfaces with a cloth or sponge to remove any remaining soap residue.

Dishwasher Maintenance After the Incident

dishwasher filter

Once the suds have been removed and the dishwasher has been cleaned, it’s important to perform proper maintenance to ensure the appliance’s safety and functionality for future use. Here are some maintenance tips to follow after the dish soap incident:

  1. Double-check the drain. To prevent any clogs or damage to the dishwasher, examine the drain for any remaining soap residue or debris that may have accumulated due to the dish soap.
  2. Inspect the dishwasher seals. Check the seals along the dishwasher door to ensure they haven’t been damaged or compromised by the pressure from the suds. If necessary, clean them with a damp cloth to remove any residue.
  3. Run additional rinse cycles. Run a few more rinse-only cycles with clean water to make sure all remnants of the dish soap are removed from the dishwasher’s interior and the water lines.
  4. Examine spray arms and filter. Inspect the dishwasher’s spray arms and filter to ensure they’re clean and functioning correctly. Remove any blockages or soap residues, if present.

Alternative Solutions for Dishwasher Detergent

dishwasher salt

Running out of dishwasher detergent might be inconvenient, but there are alternative solutions available to keep your dishes clean and your dishwasher functioning properly. Avoid using dish soap as a substitute, and instead, consider these options:

Dishwasher Tablets

If you typically use powdered or liquid dishwasher detergent, dishwasher tablets are an effective alternative that can be easily found in stores or online. They are convenient, pre-measured, and provide excellent cleaning results.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent that is safe for dishwasher use. You can create a homemade dishwasher detergent mixture by combining equal parts of baking soda and washing soda. Sprinkle the mixture into the detergent compartment and run the dishwasher as usual.

Washing Soda And Salt

Another homemade dishwasher detergent option is a combination of washing soda and salt. Mix equal parts of washing soda and fine table salt, then add the mixture to the detergent compartment for clean, spot-free dishes.

Commercial Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

Some brands offer products specifically designed to be used as an emergency substitute for dishwasher detergents. These can be found in grocery stores or online and are safe to use with your dishwasher.


In conclusion, accidentally putting dish soap in the dishwasher can lead to a messy situation, but with the right steps, you can quickly resolve it. By following our provided solutions and taking immediate action, you can minimize suds, prevent overflow, and restore your dishwasher’s functionality. Remember to be cautious with detergent usage in the future and double-check before each cycle. Don’t let this mishap dampen your dishwashing experience. Take control and get your dishwasher back on track for sparkling clean results.

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