The Difference Between Dish Soap and Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwashing Liquid

Not only is learning the difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent important for your dishes, it’s also important for your dishwasher. If you’ve ever used dish soap in the dishwasher, then you’ve probably already learned one key difference in the two. If you’re lucky enough to not have made this mistake, read on to learn the difference between regular dish detergent vs dishwasher detergent and why the two aren’t interchangeable.

Scrubbing Fact From Fiction

Even a small amount of regular dish soap can produce a substantial amount of suds, which is good for when you’re cleaning dishes by hand and can keep an eye on just how much suds are filling the sink, but bad when using dish soap on an enclosed space like a dishwasher. The high suds action can easily spill over out of your dishwasher and onto the floor of your kitchen.

Before buying any type of dishwashing product, take a close look to see what it’s formulated for. Dishwasher detergent doesn’t create suds while the dishwasher is running, and you should always use the proper detergent for whichever method you’re using to wash your dishes.

Wasting Water and Money

Even if you don’t have suds pouring out on the floor if you use regular dish soap in your dishwasher, there’s still a chance that you’ll have to run the dishes through the washer twice to wash off the residue and suds, meaning that you’ll be wasting water as well as money.

Just like you shouldn’t use dish soap in the dishwasher, you also shouldn’t use dishwasher detergent when washing dishes by hand. Even though you’ll clean your dishes, you might accidentally add too much detergent since there aren’t any suds. You also have to think about the fact that you might have a hard time completely rising off your dishes, which means using more water than absolutely necessary.

Getting Rid of Dish Soap From the Dishwasher

In order to get rid of the suds caused by using dish soap in the dishwasher, you might have to do more than simply run the dishwasher again. Unfortunately, you may have to clean the dishwasher before its next use.

The first thing that you’ll want to do is get rid of as much of the suds and water as you can with either a container or a wet-dry vacuum. You’ll also want to make sure that you wash out the soap dispenser well if that’s where you poured the dish soap. Use a towel to dry the inside of the dishwasher before adding a half cup of white vinegar and a generous layer of salt to the bottom of the dishwasher in order to get rid of all of the suds. Once this is done, simply run the dishwasher until the suds have dissolved.

Dishwasher Liquid vs. Dishwasher Detergent

Clean Dishes

Not only should you know the difference between dish soap and dishwashing detergent, you might also be interested in learning the difference between dishwasher liquid and dishwasher detergent.

Dishwasher liquid is usually better able to mix with water, which can affect how wide the liquid can spread inside of your dishwasher. Dishwashing detergent doesn’t dissolve as well in water, which is why it’s often best that you use it with warm water. What this all boils down to is that the same amount of dishwasher liquid will need to be used in order to get the same cleaning ability as a dishwasher detergent.

Another difference between dishwasher liquids and detergents is that liquids can sometimes stick to the inside of your dishwasher. You might notice signs of corrosion inside of your dishwasher if there is residue from dishwasher liquid inside of it. While these corrosion deposits are easy to scrape off, they aren’t always so easy to find.

Now that you better understand the difference between dishwasher detergent and dish soap, make sure that you use caution the next time you reach for that random bottle with the sparking glass on it while washing dishes in the sink or in the dishwasher.

More About Dishwashers:

Kara Zorn

About Author

Kara Zorn is a wife and working mom who loves life hacks that help her schedule allow for as much quality family time as possible. She enjoys cooking with locally sourced food and produce and recently took up brewing Kombucha.


  1. Annia says

    In reality, when you use dishwasher soap instead of regular detergent while cleaning up the dishes by hand, you can save tons of money and water, since the amount of suds is limited, much more than using a regular detergent, even if you use more amount of liquid while expecting more suds. You also save more in water washing them by hand using a dishwasher liquid since the amount of water to rinse them is less due to the limited amount of suds, and lastly, the price of the dishwasher liquid is less also.

  2. lena says

    Hi, Will you tell me the best way to get regular dishwashing liquid that was accidentally used in the D/W creating a lot of suds. Please help!

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