Accidentally Put Dish Soap in the Dishwasher? Here’s What You Do Next

Mistakes happen. We’ve all had those “why did I do that?” moments. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you accidentally run the dishwasher with dish soap instead of dish detergent, don’t worry – we’ve seen it before. And we have tips on how to clean up the mess and avoid nasty water damage.

Accidentally Put Dish Soap in the Dishwasher? Here’s What You Do Next

How Does a Dishwasher Detergent Work?

To clean your dishes, a dishwasher detergent makes use of enzymes. When the detergent dissolves in water, enzymes are released and act like tiny cleaners that break down food particles on your dishes. Dish soap does not contain these enzymes which can lead to terrible residue and poor cleaning performance.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Dish Soap in The Dishwasher

Just in case you were wondering but were too afraid to ask – no, you shouldn’t use dish soap in your dishwasher. A small drop of dish soap is all you need to create enough suds and wash your plates by hand. So running the dishwasher with a few tablespoons of dish soap will undoubtedly lead to an overflowing sudsy mess. On the other hand, dishwashing detergent does not create suds, so that’s why it’s important to use both of these products correctly. 

If you or someone in your household puts dish soap in the dishwasher, avoid mess and damage by stopping the cycle as soon as possible, cleaning up any standing water, removing the dishes, rinsing out the dishware, and running a rinse cycle.

How to Clean up After Putting Dish Soap in The Dishwasher

  • Turn off the dishwasher – Don’t wait for the machine to finish the cycle, which will give the dish soap more time to overflow. Hit the ‘Cancel’ button on the dishwasher and let the machine drain out the water and some of the soap suds.
  • Clean up standing water – Using a wet mop or towels, clean up water and soap bubbles from the floor, cabinets, countertops, and everywhere else the suds landed. The longer you wait to do this step, the higher the risk for water damage or mold growth.
  • Remove dishware – After the dishwasher finishes its draining cycle, remove all the dishware, glassware, and silverware. Yes, they’ll probably be covered in dish soap, so you’ll need to move them to the kitchen sink or somewhere else where you can rinse them off. 
  • Clean the inside of the dishwasher – Using a bowl of water and a washcloth, rinse and scrub the inside of the dishwasher unit to remove as much soap as possible. This could take a while since more bubbles will appear as water is applied, but it’s important to get the unit as clean as possible now, so it doesn’t overflow again next time you run a cycle. 
  • Dry out the dishwasher – After cleaning out the bubbles, get some dry towels and wipe away any remaining water from the dishwasher. Dry it out as much as you can. You should also remove all leftover dish soap residue from the soap dish.
  • Run a rinse cycle – Once you feel like you’ve gotten out as much of the dish soap as possible, run an empty rinse cycle. It’s OK if there’s a small amount of suds for this process, as long as it’s not so much that the unit overflows again – but keep an eye on it just to be safe.

If the rinse cycle goes well and you don’t see any more signs of dish soap, then you can return the dishwasher to its normal duty. Just be extra careful of what substance you’re putting in the detergent compartment!

What Can You Use If You Run Out of Dishwasher Soap?

This is a fairly common problem, especially if you have a large group of people in your home or tend to do lots of dishes. If you find yourself in this situation and need to clean dishes but don’t have any dishwasher detergent left, the best option is to hand-wash the dishes.

While there are homemade dishwasher detergents, these may not be strong enough to get rid of tough stains or food particles. They may also result in damage to your dishwasher. Stick to the dishwasher detergent for the best results and to protect your machine. You should also consult your owner’s manual to determine the right quantity of detergent to use.

Do You Need a plumber in The Durham, NC Area?

If you find yourself in the sudsy position of mixing up dish soap with dishwasher detergent, we hope you found this article helpful. Of course, this is just one of the countless plumbing issues you may encounter in your home.
Next time you have a question about a sink, toilet, tub, or any other plumbing fixture, pick up the phone and call Acme Plumbing Co at (919) 688-1348. You can also send us a message to schedule an appointment.

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