You may find yourself questioning the status quo — how things are and how they are “supposed to be” done. This occurs frequently in the cleaning industry, and it is most likely how new discoveries are made. Someone had to be the first to try using OxiClean to remove labels or olive oil to polish their stainless-steel refrigerator.
As a result, cleaning hacks and shortcuts are constantly appearing on the internet. Cleaning TikTok, in particular. They sometimes work, and sometimes they don’t. (For example, if you wash your bathroom sink with a vinegar and baking soda mixture without realizing that the two cancel each other out, you’ll end up with what’s essentially salt on your hands.) And sometimes, well-intentioned but incorrect advice can leave you in a dangerous or costly situation. This is the case with the “hack” washing machine that suggests using dish soap instead of detergent in your machine.
Do Not Use Liquid Dish Soap in Your Washer.
While most of us are aware — hopefully not from personal experience! — that using regular liquid dish soap in a dishwasher can result in a shocking bubble mess that oozes from your machine all over the floor, we may be led to believe that a small amount of dish soap in our washing machines is perfectly safe.
However, using soap in ways other than those intended can cause problems over time, and using dish soap in the washing machine is even worse than using it in the dishwasher.
One reason dish soap is problematic in the washing machine is similar to why you shouldn’t use it in the dishwasher: the sudsing action of dish soap can cause problems with your machine. While laundry detergent produces very little suds, dish soap is designed to produce suds and foam, owing to the fact that consumers associate suds and foam with cleanliness.
While foaming, sudsy soap can be a delightful sensory experience while dishwashing, those same elements are bad for your washing machine. They may cause an overflow situation, similar to what can happen when dish soap is used in dishwashers. Even if no visible damage occurs, the suds and foam that shouldn’t be in a washer in the first place are left behind and can cause problems in pumps and drains.
Furthermore, using dish soap in the washing machine will not clean your clothes well and will eventually leave a film of soap scum on your clothes, making them dingy. While there is laundry soap that is safe to use in the washing machine, we most commonly use detergent in the washing machine. Because detergents and soaps work in different ways, they cannot be used interchangeably. Simply put, soap removes dirt by encircling dirt molecules, which are then rinsed away. That is why it is ideal for removing even microscopic germs from our hands.
Detergent, on the other hand, contains ingredients that alter how water behaves, allowing it to excel at removing dirt from your clothes. Surfactants in detergents, in particular, “help in cleaning because they reduce surface tension and improve water’s ability to spread evenly over it.” This results in a more uniform wetness, making dirt and soil easier to wipe away and remove.” Soap, which does not contain surfactants, will not clean your clothes as well as detergent.
Using soap in your washing machine can also cause longer-term problems for your laundry. Unlike detergent, which works well in hard water, the combination of hard water and soap results in soap scum, as we all know. Soap scum and fabric do not go together. Repeated exposure to soap scum will discolor your clothes and break down the fibers in your clothes and other laundered items. The accumulation of soap scum is also extremely harmful to your machine.
Using products designed for your washing machine will help you avoid problems with both your appliance and your laundry. While small dabs of dish soap are effective at removing grease splatters from clothing, they should not be used in place of laundry detergent. It is a short-term solution that will cost you in the long run.