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Can You Use Dish Soap in the Dishwasher?

Only dishwasher detergent is recommended for use in dishwashers because it is specially created for dishwashers and is designed to clean dishes without suds.

If you find yourself with a dishwasher full of dishes and no dishwasher detergent, it might be tempting to use dish soap. Read on to learn why it is recommended to use only dishwasher detergent in your appliance.

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What happens if you put dish soap in the dishwasher?

If you put dish soap in the dishwasher, it will likely create a thick foam of suds inside the dishwasher that may eventually spill out through the dishwasher door. Dish soap relies in part on suds and bubbles to get your dishes clean.

Dishwasher detergent relies mostly on enzymes to clean your dishes, rather than suds. When you put dishwasher detergent or use a dishwasher pod into the dispenser in your dishwasher, it dissolves in the water. As the water moves around inside the dishwasher, the enzymes in the detergent work to clean messes and residues. The enzymes help break the proteins and starches down into small particles until they can be flushed away with the water.

Hand pressing start button Maytag® dishwasher Hand pressing start button Maytag® dishwasher

What to do if you accidentally put dish soap in your dishwasher

If you accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher, stop the dishwasher right away. You will want to make sure that all dish soap is cleaned and rinsed from the dishwasher. It might be beneficial to clean your dishwasher filter, as well.

The steps below will help you get rid of the dish soap in the dishwasher and be back to cleaning your dishes soon.

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Step 1: Stop the dishwasher

If you have accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher, stop the dishwasher right away. This can help minimize the mess or at least stop it from getting any worse. You may need dry towels to help clean any soap that has come out of the dishwasher onto the floor or other surfaces. Allow the dishwasher to fully drain before moving on to the next step.

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Step 2: Remove dishes

Before you begin cleaning the dishwasher, remove your dishes and rinse them in the sink. Once your dishwasher is clean, you will be able to put them back in and run your dishwasher cycle.

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Step 3: Add vegetable oil or vinegar

Once the dishwasher has drained, add ¼ cup of vegetable or other cooking oil to the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a Quick Cycle with no detergent or dishes. The added oil will suppress the suds and help flush the soap through the dishwasher. If suds are still present, repeat this step.


Rather than using vegetable or cooking oil, you could instead use a ¼ cup of vinegar. Pour the vinegar in the bottom in the dishwasher to suppress the suds. Then pour water over the area to rinse the suds away. Finally, drain the dishwasher.

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Step 4: Rinse again

Once the suds are gone, you may want to run a rinse cycle on the dishwasher to remove any soap residue inside and to help ensure that all the dish soap is removed.

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Step 5: Clean the dishwasher

When you are sure that all of the dish soap is out of the dishwasher, cleaning the dishwasher might be a good idea. Using a dishwasher cleaner such as affresh®, you can clean the interior of your dishwasher to be sure that it is ready for your next use.

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Discover Maytag® Dishwashers

Maytag® dishwashers have features you can trust to get the job done load after load. With features like a PowerBlast® Cycle and a steam sanitize option on select models, you can load and unload your dishes with confidence.

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Can you make your own dishwasher detergent?

It is only recommended that you use automatic dishwasher detergent that has been specially formulated for use in a dishwasher. Quality tablets and packs have been proven to work better than powder, liquid or gel detergents at reducing filming on dishes. Making your own dishwasher detergent is not recommended because it could damage your appliance or create a mess.

Learn more about Maytag® Dishwashers

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