What happens when your dishwasher breaks down and you have to hand-wash your dishes? Even worse is if you do not have a dish soap as you would not have predicted the dishwasher breaking down.

So can you use dishwasher detergent to hand wash dishes? The answer is no. Dishwasher detergent is specifically tailored for use in a dishwasher. As such, it tends to be too concentrated and it will require a significant dilute before it can be used. Should you use dishwasher detergent in its original form, you may end up using more effort and water when rinsing your dishes as compared to if you would have used dish soap.

This article will look at why you should not use dishwasher detergent to hand wash your dishes, the alternatives you have, the difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent and how to use each alternative, among other related issues. Read on to find out more about the problem of using dishwasher detergent to hand wash dishes.

Why you shouldn’t use Dishwater Detergent when Hand Washing Dishes

Ideally, dishwasher detergent produces less suds as compared to dish soap. As such, since you are used to a voluminous amount of foam produced by dish soap, you may end up putting excess dishwasher detergent to attain the same volume of foam.

So what happens once you add excess dishwasher detergent? Simple, excess foam builds up on the dishes and you end using more water to rinse off suds. This also means you may end up using more energy and money cleaning the dishes. On the other hand, if you don’t clean the suds completely, they may end up in your next meal, therefore causing food poisoning complications

All these can be avoided by using dish soap when hand-washing dishes since you can monitor the amount of foam and know when it is enough.

Moreover, dishwasher detergent can damage your skin.

To start, dishwasher detergent is an alkaline solution. Due to its high alkaline content, it can dissolve many things including the human tissues. It, therefore, poses a great threat to damaging your skin. Moreover, since this detergent is designed to work on grease, its harshness tends to strip natural oils from your hands. As such, your hands end up being dry and stiff.

Therefore, if you must use dishwashing detergent to hand wash your dishes, it is recommended you use rubber gloves. This also extends to using dish soap since most of them have the same content as dishwasher detergent. It also explains the popular cliché of wearing the yellow gloves when washing dishes as seen on most advertisements

Moreover, some dishwasher detergents have a fragrance that may cause allergic reactions, irritations on the eyes and other parts, asthma triggers, endocrine eruption and even cancer when exposed to your system. The chemical compounds of the fragrance are also pollutants of the environment and are toxic to the fish.

So, What Alternatives Do you have?

Now that we have agreed that using dishwasher detergent for hand-washing dishes is out of discussion, what alternatives do you have? Well, you use dish soap for hand-washing dishes or you can place the dishes in the dishwasher when using dishwasher detergent. Another alternative is using baking soda and vinegar to hand-wash your dishes.

Difference between Dishwasher Detergent and Dish Soap

Dish soap is manufactured to be used to hand wash dishes, unlike dishwasher detergent that is meant for dishwashers. As such, their differences lay in their use or purpose.

To start, both the dishwasher detergent and dish soap contain ingredients called surfactants. Surfactants are used to separate the oils in the food remains from the water used to clean the dishes. However, the surfactants in dish soap and those in dishwasher detergent are formulated differently.

So that surfactants for dishwasher detergent are manufactured to separate oil from water when under high-pressure wash. That is, in the dishwasher. On the other hand, surfactants for dish soap do not need high pressure to work, since when exposed to such conditions they may end up damaging the dishwasher.

Another difference is that dish soap contains a chemical that makes it produce more suds as compared to dishwasher detergent. As such, using a little amount of dish soap will result in more foam as compared to using the same amount for dishwashing detergent

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar for Hand Washing

So what happens if you do not have a dishwasher? Well, in that case, you can use stuff that is at home to clean your dishes. These ingredients include baking soda and vinegar.

Baking Soda

To use baking soda follow the following procedure

  1. Fill your sink or basin with some warm water
  2. Squish the remaining amount of dish soap that you have. You need a little amount.
  3. Add about 1-3 tablespoons of baking soda to the solution
  4. Use the mixture to clean the dishes

Baking soda works to remove grease and stubborn sauce on dishes. It can also be used to clean seriously stained plastic. To do this, mix baking soda and water in the ratio of 3: 1 then add a small amount of dish soap to form a paste.

Soak the stained plastic in the paste for preferably overnight after adding some hot water. Wash the dishes the next day.



Using vinegar to hand wash your dishes is quite easy. Add some vinegar to soapy water and use it to wash your dishes.

In case you want to get rid of tough stains, first, add salt to the stained dish then pour some vinegar on top. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes then scrub it away. Other than that for glassware dishes, allow them to sit in the paste of vinegar. The paste should consist of vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:3

How to Use Dish Soap for Hand Washing

As mentioned before, a little amount of dish soap is highly soluble in water and forms a lot of foam. As such, when using dish soap you only need a little amount. The following is a step to step guide to using dish soap for hand washing

Step1: Apply a small amount of dish soap on your sponge.

Step 2: Turn on the tap water to allow the soap to lather.

Step 3: When done, turn off the tap and soap up the dishes ad wash them.

Step 4: When you are done washing the dishes, rinse them.

How to use Dishwasher Detergent Correctly

Dishwasher detergent should only be used in a dishwasher, I cannot emphasize this enough. Here is a procedure for using dishwasher detergent

Step 1: Before any cycle, add the recommended amount of detergent in the detergent compartment. Note that different cycles require different amounts of dishwashing detergent. Therefore, be keen to read on the recommended amount for each cycle to ensure optimum performance.

Step 2: Load the dishwasher with the dirty dishes.

Step 3: Open the detergent dispenser by pushing the flap and the cover will slide. Allow some dishwasher detergent to pour out.

Step 4: Cover the flap by pushing it to the left until it clicks.

Step 5: Run the dishwasher on your preferred cycle.

Related Article: Can You Put Dishwasher Tablets In Bottom Of Dishwasher?

Related Questions

Can I use dish soap in a dishwasher?

Just as you cannot use dishwasher detergent for hand washing dishes, it is not recommended to use dish soap in a dishwasher. If anything, it can make the dishwasher machine crush in which case it would be a dire expense. What damages the dishwasher is the surfactants of the dish soap which are not designed to function under high pressure of the dishwasher.

Other than that, as said before, dish soap produces many suds and hence a lot of foam. This foam can be disastrous since in the dishwasher you do not monitor the volume of the foam. Similarly, a dishwasher does not have the intelligence to monitor if the foam is excess. This means that using dish soap in a dishwasher can lead to disasters like spillages of foam on the kitchen floor.

Such disasters mean a lot more work of cleaning the water as well as potential accidents in the kitchen. The hustle in the aftermath of using dish soap for dishwashers is not worth it. Therefore, depending on the methods you settle for to clean your dishes make sure you use the correct detergent.

Can I use Vinegar or Baking Soda in a dishwasher?

Baking soda and vinegar are not only resourceful for hand washing but also for cleaning your dishes in a dishwasher. If anything, they clean both the dishes and the moving parts of the machine.

To use baking soda, add ¼ cup of baking soda to the bottom of the dishwasher before a cycle begins. For vinegar, add 1 cup of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher before each cycle.

To clean the moving parts of the dishwasher add 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher and run the dishwasher.

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