Accidentally using dish soap in dishwasher?

You hear of people using dish soap in the dishwasher, and having a sudsy mess to clean up. It’s easy for me to assume it was a kid running the dishwasher who didn’t know better, or someone who ran out of the machine soap just thinking “Well, how bad could it be?”

On Ask This Old House a while back, they were discussing this topic, and IIRC their resident plumber said it’s happened to him before because he didn’t have his glasses on. At the time I accepted this answer, but just tonight I realized that I have NEVER seen a dish soap bottle that even came close to resembling a dishwasher detergent bottle. Has anyone ever seen two that looked similar enough that this mix-up could occur?

It’s possible, I guess. However, my experience is that dish soap is in a clear or translucent bottle, and dishwasher liquid is in an opaque bottle.

(I use dishwasher tablets, because they work best.)

Never. He sounds like someone who’d never run a dishwasher by himself before so didn’t think to check.

I use powdered dishwasher detergent that comes in cardboard boxes, so there is no possibility of confusion. I do keep the liquid dish soap on hand for various purposes.

I believe the consequence of using dish soap in a dishwasher is excessive sudsing that may cause the pump to stall or various other Bad Things. If I’m soaking stuff in dish detergent I always make sure to thoroughly rinse it off before putting it in the dishwasher.

Huh. I always squirt a small ammt of Dawn dish liquid in the general area of where I ‘think’ water squirts into the dish washer along with the pods in the little thing on the door.
I think Dawn is a miracle substance that cuts grease better than anything used inside a home.
YMMV. So don’t do it at your house.
But it’s never over sudsed up and exploded into the kitchen. Mind you, I’m talking about a tablespoon full.

BTW, Dawn has this new stuff in a spray bottle. You spray your dish or pan and the crud practically washes itself off. My new favorite house cleaning stuff. Love it!

Yeah. I think using dish soap will lead to excessive suds and and your dishwasher may leak.

I use the drop-in pods now. I used to use the powder but the pods have proven to be a lot better.


Obviously, he doesn’t keep the BOX of dishwasher soap under the sink while the BOTTLE of dishwashing soap is on the sink.

As a bonus, you don’t need glasses.

Agree with the other posters. I don’t see how you can confuse dishwasher detergent with dish soap unless you are completely clueless. Larger heavier plastic bottle, with a child safety style screw-on cap, and the detergent was thick and goopy. Dish soap is in a smaller bottle, with a pop-up or flip-top cap, and the soap is much runnier.

My wife did this, when we ran out of regular dishwasher.

The resultant foam filled the entire machine, working its way up to the motherboard at the top which meant the premature death of that machine.

My cousin’s wife did this while we were on a family trip at a rented cabin. She was tired and most likely hung over. It didn’t go long before we saw it, so we just cleaned up and ran a real load.

I don’t have a dishwasher at my house so when I do dishes at my mom’s I lid the dishwasher but leave her to add the stuff and run it, for fear of messing up.

[True story]
Back in college, a group of us students went over for dinner and homework-help to a professors’ house (he was way cool, and lived right near the school). After dinner he specifically put dish detergent into the dishwasher, saying, “I do this often. The trick is to reduce the amount of dish detergent so it doesn’t overload the dishwasher with suds.” He loaded about a quarters’ size bead into the little tray, closed up the machine, and let 'er rip.

About twenty minutes later, suds started exuding from the lower half of the dishwasher. There was about two or three gallons’ worth of suds, and it was kind of hilarious. He said, “This happens from time to time, but this gives me the opportunity to mop the floor.” ‘Randy’ grabbed a mop, and wiped down the tile floor with suds from the dishwasher.

Two birds, one stone, all from actively using dish soap in the dishwasher.
[/True Story]

We all were a little eccentric back then.

Like your story, I did the dish soap thing once when I’d run out of DW detergent. I knew of the sudsing problem and put in a tiny amount, figuring I’d get away with it.

It wasn’t tiny enough. Unlike scudsucker’s experience, it didn’t kill the machine. Like the professor in yours, I had a really clean floor when I was done.

It’s fantastic, IME, for taking stubborn stains out of clothes too, that you’re handwashing. Secret weapon, along with hydrogen peroxide for blood stains.

< Backs slowly away >

You really don’t want to know what I use lye for…

IEDs? Icy/hot for sore muscles?


I do know. I don’t have a problem with it.

Well good, then. Using HF…LOL. ‘What was great about Breaking Bad was how realistic it was!’ Snort.

Tripler, how is NaOH used to make an IED? I know about TATP—though not how to make it, and LOL at the idea of me monkeying around with organic peroxide residues—but I didn’t think a strong base was needed in that process. Or in adding nitro groups to compounds in general.

In all seriousness, H2O2 is good at getting out menstrual accidents, and I have a condition where I sometimes bleed on my clothing. It sucks. But it sucks less with stain free clothing.

The technical term for this kind of mistake is “brain fart”. Similar mistakes are putting your keys in the fridge, putting mustard on your fries, using bleach in the laundry instead of fabric softener, etc. Your brain has a general idea of what needs to be done but isn’t really thinking things through all the way. So “put soap in the dishwasher” means grab “a bottle of soap” and squirt it into the dishwasher. Youngsters laughing at this behavior will get to experience it themselves one day.

Is it something to do with your secret predilection for byg butts?