If you own a dishwasher, then you’ve probably run out of dishwashing detergent at some point. It happens to the best of us, and in those times, we need a quick hack to make sure that our dishes are clean for the evening.
You’ve probably considered using washing-up liquid in your dishwasher, but is that really good for the machine and your dishes? We’re going to answer that question in this article, and finally figure out the answer to the question: can you use washing up liquid in a dishwasher. Read on for more.
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Why You Shouldn’t Use Liquid Dish Soap
Right off the bat, we have to say that using a regular bottle of dish soap in your dishwasher is a pretty horrible idea. Hand soaps and ordinary dish liquid are specially designed to create lots of foamy suds and bubbles.
If you are filling the soap dispenser in your dishwasher with regular dish soap, then your dishwasher is going to overflow with soap residue and spill out onto the floor. You’ll be left with a giant mess to clean up and another headache.
The only detergents that you should be using in your dishwasher are those that are specially formulated for the appliance. These are designed so that no suds are created at any point during the wash cycle.
If you have accidentally used the wrong dishwashing liquid for your dishwasher’s cycle, you might need to run the rinse cycle a second time without detergent. This will rinse your dishes off completely and clear away the soapy suds and residue. You’re also going to have to clean up the slippery mess on your floor. Ouch!
Furthermore, dishwashing detergent is not recommended for use when washing your dishes by hand. While your dishes will certainly come out clean, the lack of suds might lead you to add far too much detergent, which can make it very difficult to rinse your dishes completely clean.
Which Detergent Should You Use for Your Dishwasher?
Having a dishwasher is an excellent addition to any household, but it can be tricky to figure out which dishwasher detergent you should be using. If you’re having this same dilemma, then you’re in luck – let’s take a look at the differences between different dishwashing detergents.
Liquids – low cost for high rewards
Liquid detergent is far more budget-friendly than detergent tabs (which we’ll get to in a minute), and are easily dosed into your dishwasher’s dispenser. However, salt and rinsing agents are needed for the best results, and neither of those ingredients is present in dishwashing liquids.
In terms of the results, liquids are not as efficient as tabs or powders, and also generally contain more surfactants. Surfactants are compounds that can be detrimental to the environment. Still, if you are working on a tight budget, then liquid dishwashing soap is definitely the way to go.
Tabs – great convenience, excellent performance
Dishwasher tablets are by far the most popular form of dishwashing detergent, and also make for the easiest loading process. This all-in-one, quick and easy solution contains salt, the detergent, and a rinsing agent – all you need to do is place the tab into the dishwasher detergent dispenser for each wash cycle.
You don’t need to worry about dosing – the tab is the perfect dose level. Of course, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re choosing a high-quality product, as cheaper tabs tend to corrode your glassware and may not always properly dissolve.
Powders – environmentally-friendly, highly economic
Lastly, we have powders, which make for an efficient and cost-effective detergent alternative. They’re more than capable of turning out a perfectly clean pile of dishes, and you can dose powders based on how many dishes are in your machine. The best part? Powders dissolve the easiest.
Additionally, you can spend less money by using less powder, which gives you a great saving in the long run, as well as has a better environmental impact. We must mention, however, that you have to combine washing powder with a rinsing agent and salt to achieve the best results.
No Detergent? No Problem!
If you have ever found that you load up your dishwasher with dirty pots, pans and plates, only to see that you don’t have a drop of detergent left, we’ve got the perfect tip.
Instead of ripping your hair out, removing every dish you own from the machine, and washing them by hand, just run your dishwasher at a higher temperature without any detergent. The results might just surprise you.
Of course, you’re not going to want to make a habit of this, as success depends on how dirty your dishes are as well as the wash cycle length. The process can actually cause a buildup of soap suds in your machine and damage it, but it’s okay to do every now and then in a pinch.
The Smart Way to Load Your Dishwasher
By now you know that dishwashers bring a lot of convenience to your daily life in terms of getting your dishes clean. All you need to do is load your dirty dishes into the machine, choose the right washing cycle, and the appliance does the rest of the work for you.
However, it is important to note that different dishwashers come with different loading capacities, and understanding how to load your dishwasher properly can help you get the most out of each and every wash.
Make sure that your dishes are organized
Delicate dishes made from porcelain, glass, or china, as well as dishes that aren’t as dirty, should be placed at the top basket in your dishwasher since there are special tines for small plates and glassware that require a gentler wash.
Dishes that are very dirty, as well as your dishwasher accessories, should be placed at the bottom basket of your machine to receive a more thorough and intense wash. Furthermore, your tallest items, like your pans and pots, will only be able to fit in the bottom basket.
Scrape off large food scraps
Again, before you start loading up your dishwasher with dishes, you’ll want to use a spoon or fork to scrape off some of the larger food particles that might still be stuck to your plates. A buildup of food in your dishwasher can cause a clog, preventing water from being used properly, which results in a lot of wasted water.
To make sure that every wash is perfect, take this quick extra step each time you load your washer – you won’t regret it.
Only load dishes that are dishwasher-safe
Before you even begin to load your dishes into your washer, you’ll want to check to make sure that they are safe to use in your machine. If not, they could warp, crack, or become discolored, which would ruin them.
Generally speaking, materials like cast iron, aluminum, tin, brass, and bronze are not safe to wash in dishwashers, as they are vulnerable to damage in high temperatures. Glass and ceramic are good to go.
Give your cutlery some space
It’s important to know that not every dishwasher features a special drawer for washing cutlery. If your dishwasher does not have one, we strongly suggest purchasing an auxiliary cutlery basket, and organizing your cutlery in their appropriate slots.
You should also reserve the silver cassette accessory for your silver cutlery to ensure that they don’t become damaged during the wash process.
Make sure the dishes are face-down
Found beneath your dishwasher’s baskets, the machine’s spray arms are there to clean your dishes and crockery by spraying high-pressure water jets upwards. Therefore, it goes without saying that you should load your dishes face-down in the dishwasher if you want to achieve the best results.
In the same vein, be sure to avoid overlapping your dishes as you load them in, as this could prevent those jets from reaching some of the more hard-to-reach spots on your dishes.
Don’t neglect your bottom basket
Speaking of the bottom basket, larger dishes should go here. If you have extra-tall dishes, like big baking bowls and trays, be sure to take the top basket out and wash those dishes in that bottom basket. Make sure that a baking spray head accessory is attached for this.
Make sure that your dishes don’t obstruct rotating arms
The spray arms we mentioned earlier also rotate in order to spread water streams throughout the wash cycle to make sure that your dishes are cleaned effectively. So, you are going to want to make sure that their path is always clear and that the arms are able to rotate properly and provide a full wash.
Tall dishes like jugs or trays, and dishes that stick out under the basket, like pot handles and ladles, should be loaded with extra care.
As you can see, it is a big no-no to use washing up liquid in your dishwasher. There are special products available on the market that ensure that your dishwasher is able to operate safely and effectively, and these are the only products you should be using in your dishwasher.
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).