No, you shouldn’t use dish soap and baking soda in place of dishwasher detergent

Even small amounts of dish soap in the dishwasher creates suds that can damage the machine without really washing the dishes.

An Instagram account with 1.3 million followers called @brunchwithbabs, known for its recipe videos, posted a video in late August of a homemade dish detergent “hack" to use in the dishwasher when you run out of detergent.

The homemade recipe was simple: three drops of Dawn dish soap and three tablespoons of baking soda.

The @brunchwithbabs account is not the first to share this do-it-yourself recipe. A similar dishwater detergent recipe that uses dish soap and baking soda was shared by the Huffington Post as far back as 2014.

THE QUESTION

Should dish soap and baking soda be used as an alternative to dishwasher detergent?  

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, dish soap and baking soda should not be used as an alternative to dishwasher detergent. It will not clean your dishes as effectively, and it could damage your dishwasher.

WHAT WE FOUND

Dishwashers are designed to be used with dishwashing detergent. Dish soap is designed for hand washing dishes.Dish soap can damage your dishwasher, even when used in small amounts and mixed with baking soda, and won’t wash your dishes effectively when used in the dishwasher.

Manufacturers for both dish soap and dishwashers all warn against the use of dish soap in dishwashers.

"We recommend that Dawn dish soap should not be used in the dishwasher,” a Procter & Gamble representative, which owns Dawn dish soap, told VERIFY. “Dawn dish soap is intended for dishes that you hand wash, such as plates, bowls, serving dishes, glasses, utensils, casserole dishes, pots and pans. It is made up of surfactants, [which] can create a high level of suds that can spill out of your dishwasher creating a mess. Instead, we suggest using a dishwasher detergent."

Whirlpool tells customers to only use automatic dishwasher detergent in their dishwashers. 

LG also says to always use detergents intended for automatic dishwashers, and that customers should never use dish soap or hand soap in LG dishwashers because it can fill up the machine with suds and cause it to leak.

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Some versions of the recipe warn people not to use more than a few drops of dish soap because any amount more may cause the dishwasher to leak with suds.

But even a few drops of dish soap is enough to cause a sudsing problem, experts say.

“Any amount of dish soap is going to create suds,” says Appliance Rescue Service, a Dallas-area appliance repair company. “Even if you don't see them spilling out, they are there.”

Appliance Rescue Service says this sudsing can potentially damage your dishwater and even void its warranty. ServiceOne, a Nebraska-based appliance installation and repair company, explains the suds can make their way into the internal workings of the dishwasher and build up to cause a clog. Ken’s Plumbing in South Carolina says this build up of suds can ruin pipes, clog filters and affect drainage within the dishwasher’s plumbing.

And all this risk comes without it even properly washing your dishes.

“Dish soap works as well as it does because of the mechanical motion of washing by hand,” Appliance Rescue Service says. “Because your dishwasher doesn't have that type of motion, it's not effective.”

Bidvest Steiner, a South African company that sells dish soap, says dish soap works by lifting bacteria off the surface being cleaned so that it can be washed away with running water. The soap lifts germs off the surface when it’s worked into a lather, so dish soap requires you to scrub your dishes to actually clean them.

Dish detergent has a similar goal, according to SGS Polymer Solutions Incorporated, a materials testing lab. It pulls debris such as fats, grease and oil from dishes to more easily wash them away, and does so in a way that’s designed to work in a dishwasher rather than by handwashing. Meanwhile, your dishwasher kills the germs with heat rather than with detergent.

If you’ve run out of dish detergent, you’re probably better off hand washing your dishes for the night. But if you insist on saving time with your dishwasher and a homemade detergent, Appliance Rescue Service says to avoid any recipes that call for dish soap.

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