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Have you ever been tempted to put liquid dish soap (the kind you handwash dishes with) in your dishwasher?

Perhaps you’ve heard. Or maybe you’ve learned from personal experience. Try this, and you’ll end up with suds irresponsibly billowing out of your dishwasher. The volume of suds is quite astonishing. On the bright side, your kitchen floor will never be cleaner–once you’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up all the suds.

So–what if you’re out of dishwasher detergent? You could always wash by hand, but hand-washing is so tedious. Is there anything you can use, just until you can get back to the store?

The Damsel will permit you to use the aforementioned liquid. But you must use only a couple of DROPS. If you can’t trust yourself to stop with two drops, then just forget about the whole thing.

Also, add a handful of baking soda to the machine…just throw it in. It will help control the sudsing, and is actually a pretty good cleaner itself. Some folks even say to just skip the two drops of dish soap and use the baking soda alone.

Others make this heretical statement: Take the dishes out of the dishwasher and wash the silly things by hand. The Damsel can hardly bring herself to write such words.

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  • Wash by hands? Are you kidding me? Isn’t that why we have kids? I thought so!

    Funny story. I had some sort of sinus infection type thing and I couldn’t hardly stand up or anything else… so the kind sister missionaries came over and thought they’d do the dishes for me. And they took my super concentrated liquid dish soap and filled up the dishwasher thing, set it to run, and went on their merry way. 3 year old Caramon ran in and said “It’s a MESS!” so I dragged myself into the kitchen and I was seriously knee deep in suds.


    • That’s what almost happened to me when I threw in extra baking soda and table salt. It was so close to overflowing, but this saved the impending catastrophe!

  • washing by hand. um. yuuuuucckkk…so glad your back. I have missed having input from the Damsel.

  • Growing up, I never had a dishwasher. I WAS the dish washer. hee! I didn’t have an actual dishwasher until last year when we bought a house of our own. My kids have no idea how good they have it. When my oldest complains about putting stuff in the dishwasher (or emptying it), I just laugh. YOU HAVE NO IDEA, KID!

    • Washing dishes isn’t much worse than having a dishwasher. Especially when that machine just can’t wash the dishes properly. Next time, I’ll buy one of those professional steam washers that have a two minute cycle instead.

  • Miette

    After handwashing dishes for over a year, I’m proud to say I’m grateful for my dishwasher! Still its better than handwashing clothes. 🙂

  • Our new home has a dishwasher…but after washing dishes by hand for 15 years, I have a hard time using the dang thing.

    • mb

      thats the exact reason i use a dishwasher. i abhor washing dishes by hand and they never get clean enough and b/c of the high heat, it also sterilizes them; keeps colds and flu down significantly

  • Steph

    I’ve used a Tablespoon of Borax mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda before… and the dishes were clean, but I don’t know if I was doing anything to ruin my dishwasher.

  • damsel

    Steph…you won’t hurt your dishwasher doing this. There is actually a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe that is nearly like this, that many people have used. The problem is…it’s hard to find Borax, or washing soda. I’ve been looking and haven’t found it yet in my neighborhood.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen it — and used it — but people complain about Borax, so I try not to use it on a constant basis, “just in case.”

    • Fair Lady

      try stop and shop or walmart in the laundry aisle

    • Mamma knows

      You can make your own homemade washing soda 1 box or a thick layer of baking soda on a baking sheet put in the oven and bake for 1 hour on 400 degrees easiest thing in the world to make nothing to it.

      • thedamselindisdress

        Wow! It’s the same after baking?

  • Thanks for your comments on my blog. They always make me sit up and listen. Your tattoos sound frighteningly beautiful (if there is such a thing). And a reminder of your strength.

    And yes, I’ve put dish soap in my dishwasher before. It was in the early days of my marriage, and we thought it’d work. Coming home from work that evening was fun, soap suds spilling onto the linoleum kitchen floor & all…

  • Phew – I guess I learned from other’s experience.
    A dishwasher repair guy gave me this hot little tip –
    Run a little vinegar through your wash every six months or so to cut down on scum build up and too much soap hanging out in the washer……cool!
    Love your advice!

  • Been there, Done that! A bonus to having suds all over your floor–you get a clean floor!

  • I love your header. And I LOVE your tip. I’ve also tried one tablespoon Borax and one tablespoon Baking Soda when I run out. You can buy Borax in the laundry aisle at most stores (Wal-Mart, Albertson’s, Target, commissary) Of course, you’d have to have Borax on hand- and I don’t think non-cloth diapering people often do. 😉

    I’m going to give the liquid soap and baking soda a try with my next dish load- just for fun. Just two drops eh?

    I’m also going to run with the vinegar too like Gina suggested.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Pingback: Old School » Blog Archive » make your own dishwasher detergent()

  • Hel

    Just had to let you know that I ran out of dishwasher powder (cubes) the other evening and couldn’t bring my lazy butt out of my pyjamas to go buy some more. Of course I remembered you had mentioned something about it and used your suggestion. Clean dishes all the way. Thanks Damsel!!!! I am so glad I follow you.

  • Thank you for any other informative site. The place else may I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal approach? I’ve a project that I’m just now working on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such info.

  • country girl

    I have personally used dishwashing detergent and baking soda.  My dishes come out sparkling clean.  In the compartment you normally put your Cascade, put four drops of dawn dishwashing detergent and the rest of the compartment fill up with baking soda.  It really works!

    • Anonymous

      I’m totally going to try this!

    • jupiter

      I’ve been doing it this way for about a week, no spotty glasses or whatsoever, I might add the cup of vinegar on the top rack so my dishwasher gets a cleanse as well. I have hard water (with a water softener) and over time there will be a build up of residue from the water, hoping the vinegar will control that. 

      • If vinegar isn’t enough, there’s a coupe other things to try: (1) unsweetened Lemonade or Orange KOOL-AID, or the best thing in the world, Lemi-Shine. Honestly, I haven’t tried that yet, but I’ve read loads of good about it.
        Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that certain glasses of mine, even with Cascade or Finish, will cloud-up and look way dirty, even if I bring them through the washer several times! For those, I hand wash them with Dawn, and if they’re already cloudy, I add vinegar with the Dawn, and after rinsing, I “dry scrub” them with a dish towel, polishing until the cloudiness is gone. (There might be a better way, but I wanted to let you know what’s worked for me.)

    • Mer

      oh no…..it was horrible and I thought my dishes were ruined.  Had to take the whole lot out and scrub and I mean scrub by hand to get the baking soda off.  Not good for me.

      • Make sure you run your water faucet on HOT first. Then put two drops of Dawn in the OPEN tray, and throw some baking soda on the door itself. I know that sounds strange, but it’s helped. In fact, this one time when I accidentally used way too much Dawn, I added more baking soda plus some table salt. It kept me from the difficulties I almost had on my kitchen floor! LOL

      • brandy camillo

        your dishwasher must be clogged idiot!

  • Jmax

    We’ve tryed some of these recipes and fight having a white coating on glasses after washing.  Any sugestions?  We were using washing soda and borox.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve had the same problem. The only thing that has helped for me is the vinegar trick. Put a glass right side up in the top rack and fill with a cup or so of vinegar, then let the load run as usual. See if that helps for you.

  • Thanks for the tips!  I just found out I’d run out of dishwashing detergent *after* I’d already loaded up the dishwasher with dirty dishes.  I would have washed them by hand if I’d caught the fact that I was out first, but it was too much to ask of me to load the dishwasher, and then unload the dishwasher, all for the pleasure of washing the load by hand 😉  I’m trying a couple drops of Dawn and baking soda.  Suds-free so far!

  • Stella

    I took the glasses out to wash by hand… scrubbed them inside and out with sudsy hot, hot water — until about the 7th glass, which may have had a crack, it split and sliced my thumb — blood everywhere!  Jagged little scar reminder…  I’m going with 2 drops of Dawn and a handful of baking soda from now on!!!

  • Jen

    I’ve always heard of using white vinegar into the Jet Dry section.  I love the idea of two drops dishwashing liquid and a handful of baking soda, esp how cheap that is!  Will give it a shot soon!

  • Apriljean69

    Wash by hand?  That is just ‘crazy’ talk!  Washing soda is also a good substitute in a pinch.

  • Trina Crouch

    lol that was too funny, I couldnt possibly wash by hand especially when they arent my dishes which, every woman knows is almost always the case 😉 thanks for the tip :). Now Target employees dont need to see my holie sweats lol

    • thedamselindisdress

      thanks for stopping by, Trina!

  • Kjannicelli

    white vinegar in the Jet Dry dispenser works just as good/better too!  Much cheaper by far as well 🙂

    • gail

      I haven’t used jet dry in months. Is it really ok to use white vinegar!?

      • thedamselindisdress

        Sorry this took so long to get back to you! Yes, it’s perfectly ok to use white vinegar. It’s very safe. Your results may vary but it’s safe, if that’s what you are wondering. Margot (The Damsel)

  • Stellarfarms

    Bowing, bowing, bowing!  Thank you, Damsel!!  I am in my pj’s and the dishwasher is whirring.  2 drops, a handful of baking soda tossed in (that was fun!) and vinegar in the rinse dispenser.  Lucky for me that I ran our of detergent.  With all natural dish soap, this method if MUCH more economical and environmental.  Best post/advise all week.

    Sarah Z
    Rutherfordton, NC

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! Thanks!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Betty

    i love your sense of humor- i laughed out loud!

    • thedamselindisdress

      Thanks! That made my day.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Jean

    I recently discovered this place and love it.  Anyway just wanted to mention that it’s better to use the dishwasher over washing by hand, when it comes to water conservation and energy consumption (most people use way more water than they think when they hand wash, try using only 4 gallons of water for a whole load of dishes, which is what a dishwasher typically uses, to see what I mean).  I use the shortest cycle possible during off-peak hours, skip the heated drying and they come out just as clean.

    • thedamselindisdress

      Great tips, Jean! Thanks.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • im trying it right now i didnt have dawn though so Im using a drop of sunlight and the baki8ng soda and vinegar fingers crossed

  • amysdaisies

    This worked very well. Great back up plan. Squeaky clean dishes!

  • Kitty West

    Thank you ! We are broke and I only have baking soda ! thank GOD, but your absolutely right take them out and wash them by hand ! I never even thought of that ? See how spoiled our society is, or let me rephrase, how spoiled “I” am ! Didn’t even think of that, I’m ashamed.

    • thedamselindisdress

      You are welcome! Thanks for stopping by.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Platinum Me

    Hillarious! I have been hand washing for about a week and LIVED LoL!! But I am spending alot of time doing it so thanks for the tip 🙂

    • DirtTrackWife

      I have been too.. but for 2 weeks because we can never seem to remember it when we are at the store…

  • Platinum Me

    I tried 2 drops of dish soap and sprinkled about 1/8 cup of baking soda directly on the dishes. Everything was clean except 1 glass that I should have rinsed in the first place. There was a tiny film on some of my clear glasses but that could have already been there so next time I am going to forgo the baking soda and use 3 drops of dish liquid. I will save about $9 a month ($111) a year doing this 🙂

    • thedamselindisdress

      Let me know how this goes after some time goes by.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • oh thank goodness i found this site. Money is tight and i had no way to get to the store , with a sink and a dishwasher full of dishes. And when you have a dishwasher who wants to wash them by hand and use more water and energy then need be. i looked at three other sites that said there was NO replacement .. I used this advice and so far its all good . I’m thinking if they come out just as clean this way i wont need to waste money on detergent and save.THANKS SO MUCH Damsel..

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! I’m so glad.

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • ugagodawgs!

    I used a Tide Pod last night and didn’t have one problem with over-sudsing like I was afraid of. Not only did I use Dawn as a teenager, but I used about half a bottle…filling up the cup and drenching everything inside the dishwasher, too.

  • Thank you! Dawn dish soap is good for SOOOO many things!

  • DirtTrackWife

    I have been out of dishwasher soap for 2 weeks and can never remember to pick more up. I was scared to try… but thanks for input im gonna go run the darn thing now lol

    • brandy camillo

      make a list it isnt that hard!

  • Thank you for this recipe!! I saw others but would have had to go out and buy something else to make it which would defeat the purpose of needing something now. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks again!

  • Shell

    Washing by hand is all well and good IF your health is all well and good. Washing dishes gives me back pain till I could scream, so I am grateful for the subs and savings ideas.

  • Sir Factant

    there is certainly a lot of focus on dishwashing here.

  • kMarieMe

    Heck YES. I needed this. I’m a first-time mom, and although he’s usually an amazing munchkin, my six month old HATES when I have to leave the room sometimes, and today has been one of those times. I had WAAAY too many dishes stacking up and seriously needed the counter space. I’ve tried the dish soap option before, which resulted in a kitchen full of suds. While the child in me was absolutely tickled to see a floor full of suds, the adult in me was freaked out. So, with that in mind, when I ran out of dishwasher detergent this time, I definitely didn’t consider trying that route again.

    I’m glad I reconsidered- with the addition of the baking soda, I was able to get my dishes washed, clear my countertops, and all while I stayed in the living room with my chipmunk! Thank you so much for sharing this!


    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! This totally made my day.

  • Monique

    I tried using a few drops of dish soap, a bit of baking soda and salt but my glasses came out with a film on it still. What else can I do?

  • Diana

    Gee, I really must say that it’s hard to believe that a lot of people find it a big deal to hand wash dishes. Yes, I also have a dishwasher but do not put large items nor pots and pans in it. I find it no big problem to do them. Lots of people are so spoiled these days. Their work is mostly pushing a button to wash and dry clothes, washing dishes, cooking, runnining the sweeper, etc..They would never make it should all power would be gone forever. Don”t laugh, it can happen.

    • John

      Diana, you are so right. To most of these bloggers it’s a big deal to mop up soap suds.
      How would they enjoy chopping wood for cooking and heat? Also heating up cold water to take a bath and wash clothes and dishes? Getting into a buggy (winter & summer) to buy food that you could not grow on your farm? Not to mention slaughtering your own pigs and chopping off your chickens heads in order to eat? What a bunch of wimps we have today. Worse, the same wimps are raising more wimps.

      • anon

        Good for you, Bertha.