What Happens When You Put Dish Soap in a Dishwasher?

If you’re out of dishwashing detergent and need something in a pinch, the first thing you’ll probably consider is regular dish soap. After all, they both clean dishes, so there should be no problem. 

While this is a logical solution, you will not get the results you’re looking for. In fact, using dish soap in your dishwasher will result in more of a mess than a clean-up.

Many people wonder, “Can you put dish soap in a dishwasher?” The quick answer is no. Putting dish soap in your dishwasher will not only not clean your dishes properly but also lead to a huge mess. 

Dish Soap vs. Dish Detergent

The main difference between dish soap and dishwashing detergent is that detergent doesn’t create suds, while dish soap does. Of course, bubbles and suds are a major hassle to clean, especially when there are so many, they’re pouring from your dishwasher door. 

Even worse, soap scum can eat away at your dishwasher over time, making the components rigid and likely to break. What’s soap scum? It’s the white or gray chalky layer you see on your sinks, shower, and bathroom floor. It’s one of the leading causes of clogged drains and can potentially be unhealthy to household members.

If you only use the wrong soap in your dishwasher once, you’ll have a big mess to clean up, but your machine will probably not suffer any damage. However, if you make this mistake repeatedly, you will surely shorten the lifespan of your dishwasher.

How to Clean Up After a Dishwasher Disaster

If you’ve put the wrong soap in your dishwasher, you’re looking at quite the mess. However, you don’t necessarily have to call a plumbing professional if this is the first time it’s happened. 

Usually, you can clean the bubbles and suds on your own and rinse your dishwasher to restore it to working order.

Follow these steps to clean up after using dishwasher soap in your dishwasher:

Clean Up the Overflow

If you didn’t notice your mistake in time, you probably have suds pouring out of your dishwasher and all over your floor. Don’t let the suds seep into your wood or rugs and walls, as this could cause serious damage. 

Mop up the bubbles with a wet mop as soon as you can. Since the mess includes soap, avoid using dry paper towels to mop it up, as this will leave soap scum behind. 

Take Out Your Dishes

Let the dishwasher finish its initial draining, and then open it up. Now, remove all of your dishes and move them to the sink. They will have soap on them, so you’ll need to give them a thorough rinse before you can load them back into the dishwasher with proper dishwashing detergent. Don’t do this until you’ve finished cleaning your dishwasher thoroughly. 

Rinse the Suds

This is going to be the trickiest part. Here, you need to rinse and remove all of the suds from your dishwasher. If you don’t clean your dishwasher properly, you’ll leave soap scum behind, which could damage your equipment. 

Start with a bowl of clean water, and pour that water in your dishwasher from top to bottom. If your dishwasher is close enough to your sink, you could use your sprayer to speed the process up. 

Keep rinsing until you see no bubbles. Use paper towels to wipe it down and remove any remaining water. 

Let the Rinse Cycle Run

Your dishwasher is likely pretty clean at this point, so you don’t need to waste energy running a full cycle. Instead, just run the rinse cycle for about five minutes. If there are any suds left, this final rinse will eliminate them. Once the cycle is finished, your dishwasher should be back to normal. Remember not to use dish soap again, as you could cause lasting damage. 

When in Doubt, Call the Pros

If you’re concerned about your dishwasher, don’t bother searching for a local plumber if you’re located anywhere near Northborough, MA. You can count on the trusted plumbing experts at Sharp Plumbing & Heating. We offer expert plumbing services to Northborough and the surrounding areas. 

Got a crisis on your hands? We even feature emergency plumbing services for when the unexpected happens. 

Whether you need drain cleaning, sump pump maintenance, or water heater installation, we can handle your job, big or small. Don’t look elsewhere for your plumbing needs. Call us today to schedule your appointment. 

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