Can You Put Dawn Dish Soap in the Washing Machine?

using Dawn dish soap in washing machine

If you’re struggling to figure out the best way to remove stains and oils from your clothes, then you might have come across people saying that you can use Dawn dish soap as a washing machine detergent alternative.

Dawn is a brand of dish soap that is well known and a family favourite in many parts of the world. You might use it to clean your cutlery and dishes, but you’ve probably never thought about using it in your washer.

The problem is knowing if it’s a good idea to use it on your laundry and if it could potentially ruin your clothes or break your washing machine.

We will be going through the reasons that you may or may not want to use Dawn dish soap to clean your clothes and what the potential outcome might be.

Why you shouldn’t put dish soap in your washing machine

As a general rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good idea to put dish soap in your washing machine. This is because they are designed to foam up in ways that laundry detergents are not.

This means that you will be exposing your washing machine to potentially damaging washing detergents that the manufacturer didn’t design the machine for.

Normal washing machine detergents are designed to penetrate through the water surface with surfactants without foaming up and overflowing inside the drum. This isn’t usually the case for dish soap.

It will foam up and cause your machine to leak

You might have never seen your washing machine foam up and start to leak everywhere and you probably don’t want to.

washing machine overflowing with suds

Putting dish soap in your washing machine is a surefire way to get it to foam up through the soap drawer and leak all over the floor.

This is because dish soap will excessively foam up under high-temperature water exposure and if you put too much dish soap in your washer it will end up turning it into a bubble bath.

It could damage your washing machine

It’s not just an inconvenience to have your washing machine leak because it can actually cause long-term damage to the electrical wiring inside the machine and also cause damage to your home.

Washing machines are designed to be able to cope with normal washing detergents that won’t foam up excessively and end up coming out of the machine.

Dish soaps like Dawn will potentially foam up through the soap drawer and could even spread to the control board on your washing machine which can cause electrical errors.

Dish soap is not supposed to be used for washing clothing

It might seem obvious but the soap you use for washing your dishes is actually not designed to be used for your clothes.

This is because your clothes are more delicate than your dishes and the dish soap that you use might be too strong and harsh on your clothing.

People do use Dawn dish soap for removing stains and sweat stains from clothes, but they do this at their own risk and the long-term damage to your clothes is unknown.

If you want to properly remove stains from your clothes when you’re carrying out a wash cycle you should use high-quality washing detergent, good fabric softener and even add in some specialist stain removers designed for laundry.

Can you use Dawn dish soap to clean clothes?

A lot of people swear by using Dawn to remove hard to fight stains from their clothes whilst doing the laundry.

rubbing dawn dish soap in to laundry

This is because dish soap is usually stronger than washing machine detergent and it’s designed to be used in short spells to fight grease from your dishes.

Your clothes are much more delicate than your dishes and that’s why you should take extra care and consideration before using Dawn dish soap in your washing machine.

If you would like to try using Dawn dish soap to remove stains from your clothes you might be better hand washing them by hand or using a very small amount in your washer.

How to use Dawn dish soap in your laundry

If you want to go ahead and use Dawn in your laundry, then this is the best way to do it without the risk of damaging your washing machine and your clothes.

  1. Add a very small pea-sized amount of Dawn dish soap to the affected area on your stained clothing – Using any more than this will cause the machine to foam up and leak
  2. Rub it in by hand and add a small amount of water so that it’s no longer liquid and it’s covering the affected area on your clothing
  3. Put it in the washing machine and make sure you continue to use your normal laundry detergents – If the stain has not been removed after the wash don’t try and use Dawn again

It’s important that you never use Dawn on very delicate fabrics like silk because it will definitely damage the garment. It should only be used on cotton or polycotton as they are less likely to be damaged.

If you find that the stain wasn’t removed by using the dish soap, then you shouldn’t try it again because repeatedly using dish soap on your clothes can cause them to fade and damage the material.


We have covered the reasons it’s not a great idea to use Dawn dish soap in your laundry including damage to your washer and you’re clothing.

If you want to take the risk and try out dish soap in your washing machine, then you should use a minimal amount and never repeat the process if it doesn’t help remove any stains the first time.

If you only use pea-sized amounts on your clothing and make sure to rub it into the affected areas, then it shouldn’t cause any damage to your machine. The real problems start if you start to use it as a laundry alternative and use large amounts.

If your current laundry detergent just isn’t cutting it, then you should probably try some other laundry cleaners instead of dish soap long-term.

It might even be a good idea to invest in an auto dosing washing machine so that you know that you’re always using the right amount of high quality detergents to clean your clothes properly.