Can You Use Dish Soap As Laundry Detergent?

Your laundry detergent won’t last forever, and purchasing another one right in time after its depletion may be unachievable in some circumstances.

So here comes a situation where you don’t have the laundry detergent, but a pile of dirty clothes are waiting for you to clean. When you look around, however, you can see the dish soap.

Can You Use Dish Soap As Laundry Detergent

So can you use dish soap as laundry detergent? You ask. We have the answer right here. Keep reading.

Before we answer the question, we need to wrap our heads around a few comparison attributes between the two cleaners. Here we go.

Their Similarities:

There are a few similarities between the laundry detergent and the dish soap. Most of the similarities are in the chemical composition of each. For example, colourants, cleaning agents, and enzymes are common to both of them. Likewise, fragrances and preservatives are found in both. The similarities are even more, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences. In fact, there are quite a few that are extremely significant.

Note: The similarities above do not guarantee an interchangeable use of the detergents.


The dish soap and laundry detergent have differences, mostly in terms of their compositions. Here are a few examples.

Mildness Additives

Mildness additives are only found in the dishwasher soap, following their chemical composition and uses. They mainly protect your skin from wear and tear. Scientists thought that the dishwasher soap comes in contact with your skin more often than the laundry detergent.

Consequently, it’s wise to add mildness additives in them to protect your skin from damage. The additives are often made of proteins, moisturizing agents, and some types of oils.


Softeners work in various ways to keep wrinkles, static cling, and roughness at bay. As a result, they alleviate wear and tear on your clothes, increasing their durability. Likewise, most of them feature fragrances that keep your glad rags smelling good.

Softeners are unique to laundry detergents. No dishwasher soap features softeners, because they’re mostly meant for fabrics.


Polymers have several functions in laundry detergent. Their main role is protecting against soil redeposition (hence the name “antiredeposition agents“). They work by removing and holding soils, dyes, and other dirt below the drain. Consequently, the soils won’t be re-deposited in your fabrics.

Antibacterial Agents

Most laundry detergents don’t feature antibacterial agents in them, unlike the dishwasher soap. We’ve already learned that the dishwasher soap often gets in contact with our skins for longer than the laundry detergent.

Therefore, there’s a need to make it safe for the skin. Antibacterial agents are made available in the dishwasher soap to help protect our hands from different types of bacteria. They’re often made to stay in contact with your skin for as long as possible.


Laundry detergent builders work in several ways to enhance the efficiency of the detergent, as well as protect your washing machine from damage. For example, they often bind to magnesium and calcium ions in water to alleviate water hardness (whose effects are well documented). Making these ions less active also protects calcium ion bridging, which is a process by which soil often binds to your clothe’s surface to make it dirty.

Advantages Of Using The Dishwasher Soap Instead Of Laundry Detergent:

  1. The dishwasher soap tends to be more cost-effective and readily available than the laundry detergent.
  2. You only need to use little dishwasher soap for your clothes; it often produces much suds.
  3. It contains less harmful chemicals than the laundry detergent.

Disadvantages Of Using The Dishwasher Soap For Clothes:

  1. It’s hard to rinse off due to the huge amount of suds it produces in the washing machine (which is designed to clean up just a little suds). The dishwasher soap uses sodium Laureth sulphates, and this is the component that’s responsible for excess foam.
  2. It will not clean your clothes as much as the laundry detergent, because it lacks some essential chemicals needed for the same. For example, it doesn’t contain polymers, builders, softeners, and other cleaning components.
  3. The dishwasher soap will sometimes also leave some spots on your clothes. While the spots may be invisible (but present) on white clothes, they’re quite conspicuous on dark clothes.

Conditions Of Use:

The laundry detergent wins. However, you can also use dishwasher soap, but there are a few precautions to take.

The Amount To Use

The dishwasher soap can help you wash clothes in the washer, but it has to be used in small quantities. This attributed to the huge amount of suds that it produces. Too much suds in a washing machine can make it hard — leave alone expensive — to rinse off all the foam. Using soap in small quantities will produce less suds, which are easier to wash off the machine.

The Type Of Washing Machine

You can bump into snags if you don’t watch out for the type of machine that you’re using with dishwasher soap. For example, the top-loading machine can take a little dishwasher soap and still manage to wash your clothes clean and wash off the suds. However, the front loader is quite sensitive to the soap. It’s only best for use with the laundry detergent. If you use the dishwasher soap with it, bubbles will overflow in it, and completely removing the bubbles may just be another century-long experience.

How To Use It Best

If you want to use dishwasher soap without much trouble, it’s a good idea to hand-wash your clothes. This way, you can quickly manage to rinse off all the foam and residue left behind by the soap. You can also apply the right amount of soap that doesn’t produce an excessive amount of suds. Besides, it’ll be easy to “change the waters.”


It’s obvious that the laundry detergent is the best for clothes because that’s what it’s made to clean. It contains the appropriate chemical composition forward seamless stain removal and regular cleaning. However, you can also use the dishwasher soap for your clothes, only that it will clean less efficiently and there are rules to abide by while using it.

Once again, can you use dish soap as laundry detergent? Yes, but you’ll have to bear with a few disadvantages and rules as documented in this godsend article.

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