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I Ran Out of Dishwashing Detergent For My Dishwasher and Used Palmolive Dish Washing Soap

Updated on February 2, 2015

My Mess During The 2nd Cycle

The Problem - No Soap

My dishwasher was full, I was low on clean forks and spoons, it was time to run my dishwasher. As I opened my cabinet door to get my dishwasher detergent I noticed I was out of soap. It was night-time and I was not going to the store for this one item. I've had a dishwasher for years so cleaning dishes by hand was out of the question. So I came up with a brilliant idea, why not use my Palmolive dish washing soap. It's used for cleaning dishes so why not?

I though this one over in my mind for a few seconds and tried to come up with reasons why this wouldn't work. Was a reason other people don't do this, or do they? I thought of things such as, maybe it doesn't clean as good in the machine, it's not made for the machine so is it effective or could it damage the machine somehow. I didn't really know the reason so I decided to give it a try.

What Did I Do?

I opened the dishwasher door and filled those two compartments with the Palmolive Dish soap the exact way I always use the dishwasher detergent. I thought for a short moment that maybe I should add more of this soap then the normal one. I was afraid that the dishes wouldn't come out clean but I left it that way anyway. With the door closed I started the cycle and went on to my other business.

A short time later I got hungry and went to the kitchen to find myself a snack. Good thing for hunger because the moment I walked into the kitchen I noticed suds leaking out of my dishwasher on the floor at a fast rate. I quickly got some paper towels and started to wipe up the suds. This method didn't really work out too good and the suds kept coming through. I ran to get towels and spread them on the floor. Wait a second, why not turn off the dishwasher? So I did and opened the door to find a wall of suds from top to bottom, I could hardly see the dishes in front.

Did You Ever Add Hand Washing Soap To Your Dishwasher?

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My Dishwasher

My Solution

What now, what do I do? So I did what I probably should have done in the first place. I went to the world's best resource of information filled with people like me who don't know what they are doing, the internet. I found many others who did the same thing resulting with the same sud problem. The popular solution that I found was to keep running the dishwasher, not only through this cycle but a few more, to clear the suds. Keep wiping and mopping they said. So this is what I did.

During the second cycle the suds kept coming out just as fast as the first cycle. After the second cycle the dishwasher still had a lot of suds in it. I realized that suds settle down when left alone so I decided to let them settle for a few hours. That seemed to help and during the third cycle no more suds were leaking out and it just ran through the cycle the normal way with no leaking. Finally some relief, this consumed my whole evening.

This Was Very Similar To What I Had

Possible Solutions I Found

After the situation was over I decided to search for a professional solution to this problem. I found some comments on popular appliance websites. To my surprise there was not much more than what I already found.

  • Let the suds dissipate for hours. This one I came up with on my own, it made me feel good to read this on the General Electric Website. After doing something stupid something like this gives you a little lift.
  • Add a gallon of cold water to the bottom of the dishwasher, close the door and pump the water out by setting the dishwasher to the drain cycle without running it through a whole cycle. To think that I was running my dishwasher through full cycles. By doing this I was using hot water which creates more suds.
  • Sprinkle several tablespoons of non-dairy coffee creamer over the suds. The fat in the creamer will help break down the bubbles. Wait for the suds to lessen.
  • Another solution was to add cooking oil to the suds. I assume the fat in the oil has the same effect as the creamer.

That was it for solutions. I was expecting to find more but that was all I can find.

Why Does This Happen?

I wondered why suds would leak through the sealed door. Water doesn't come through normally, why the suds? Why does this happen with hand washing soap and not dishwasher detergent?

The suds leak out of the door because the level of the suds rises more than the water does when using the right soap. The water only fills up the tub area, I always thought the entire compartment filled up. The suds in my dishwasher filled up the entire compartment all the way to the top.

The right soap made for dishwashers do not create the amount of suds that a hand washing soap like Palmolive or Dawn creates. I had suds all the way to the top of the washer, they say the right soap only creates a 1/4" of suds.

Another Sudsy Situation

Next time you run out of dishwasher detergent don't do like I did and add regular hand soap. Also, make sure the dishes you add to the dishwasher does not have any hand washing soap on it. I've read it could take only a drop or two to create all those suds. By the way, after I ran my dishes through three cycles my dishes did come out clean. I read in a forum that someone's dishes didn't come out clean. I assume that was an unrelated problem and had nothing to do with the excess suds.

If you ever run out of hand washing soap, do not do the opposite and use dishwasher detergent for hand washing. Dishwashing detergent has a higher PH and has bleach which will be much harsher on your skin. Dishwasher detergent does not suds up and relies a lot on water pressure to clean the dishes.


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