I Used Dish Soap In My Dishwasher – Now What?

When you’re out of dishwasher detergent and in desperate need of cleaning up after dinner, you might think it’s no big deal to use dish soap instead. It has to be basically the same thing, right?

I Used Dish Soap In My Dishwasher – Now What


You might think it’s a safe trade, but using traditional dish soap in the dishwasher is a major no-no. Not only will dish soap turn your kitchen into a sudsy mess, but it can also wreak havoc on the dishwasher itself, and potentially ruin the surrounding plumbing.

Why dish soap and dishwashers don’t mix

The reason dish soap differs from dishwasher detergent is quite simple: dish soap creates suds and bubbles! And this doesn’t end well once you start running your dishwasher. 

If you’re finding yourself panicked in the aftermath of a bubbling-over dishwasher, try these five steps to solve the problem and (hopefully) save the dishwasher itself. 

1. Turn off the dishwasher

Stop any additional suds from forming by turning the dishwasher off or canceling the cycle. The fewer suds, the better – and the less clean-up you’ll have ahead of you. Let the dishwasher drain, but don’t be surprised if excess water and dish soap remain in the base of the dishwasher. (We’ll get to this later.)

2. Dry out as much water as you can

It is never a good idea to leave standing water on any surface. Grab a mop to clean up the area as thoroughly as possible. This will hopefully prevent damage to kitchen floors and cabinets. 

3. Remove the dishes

For the next step, you’ll need full access to the dishwasher. Remove any dishes currently being washed and put them away. You’ll need to rinse the dishes thoroughly in the sink if you’re going to put them back in the dishwasher for a second wash. 

If the damage to the dishwasher was extensive with a lot of suds and overflow, it might be a better idea to give the appliance a break and wash your dishes by hand. 

4. Thoroughly clean the dishwasher

Dry out any standing water after the dishwasher has had time to drain and wipe down any visible suds from the bottom of the appliance. Use clean water to rinse out the dishwasher until no more suds forms. This will likely take a while, but be patient. It’s crucial to remove any and all dish soap or suds to prevent the problem from recurring the next time you run the dishwasher. 

5. Run the rinse cycle

Once you’re confident all dish soap has been removed from inside the dishwasher (including on the racks), and with the dishwasher still empty, run the rinse cycle for at least five minutes. If no more suds appear, you should be in the clear and ready to reload and rerun the dishwasher. (Just be sure to use the right detergent this time!)

Dishwasher service in Schererville, IN

If you’ve made this common mistake and can’t seem to right the wrong with the steps above, you likely need professional help to clean out the dishwasher and detect any other potential problems caused by the dish soap residue. For expert dishwasher plumbing service, call Reichelt Plumbing today at (219) 322-4906.


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