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Oops -- instead of detergent, you put dish soap in the dishwasher. The result? A sudsy mess. Now what?

soap dishwasher, dishwasher detergentHow to make a bigger mess than the one you're trying to clean up: Put regular soap in the dishwasher. Photo: tidefan, Flickr

Who would make the mistake of putting regular dish soap in the dishwasher? My husband, that's who. Don't get me wrong, my husband is a really smart guy. And to be fair, the details of who caused the messy incident are still up for debate in our home. But details aside, somebody put regular soap in the dishwasher, and we didn't notice until the suds were spilling out the appliance's door and onto the kitchen floor.

Has this happened to you? Maybe you didn't even use the wrong soap. You could have just left a bowl to soak with dish soap in the sink and didn't rinse it well enough before putting it in the dishwasher. Maybe you didn't know that regular dish soap could have disastrous results in the dishwasher. Whatever the reason, it really doesn't matter. What counts is the solution to this sudsy mess, which I'm here to help you with.

Here's a simple and natural solution to this dishwasher disaster:

- Cool the water by gathering all the ice cubes you have in the freezer and tossing them into the bottom of the dishwasher. If it's winter and some snow has accumulated outside, scoop some up and dump it in there.

- Scoop out as much of the soapy suds as you can.
You'll never get them all, so clear out what you can with your hands and a sponge, and let the next few steps work for you.

- Sprinkle salt on the suds. Regular table salt will do.

- Pour some vinegar into the suds. Use white vinegar -- the kind you'd use for cleaning.

- Turn your dishwasher on and run a quick rinse cycle.

- Scoop out any more suds that have formed during the cycle.

- Run the dishwasher's mini-cycle a few more times.
The first time or two, monitor things so that the suds don't get out of control. The vinegar and salt should control this.

Once you run a clean mini-cycle without and suds forming, your problem should be solved and you can go ahead and run a regular load.

Ever have a dishwasher disaster? Share your story -- and your solution -- in the comments.

How to Install a Dishwasher
Unusual Things You Can Put in the Dishwasher
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent (Tipnut)
Best Dishwashing Detergents (Real Simple)

  • Pam

    Try fabric softener. My husband had Alzheimer's and also loaded the dishwasher and filled the cup with dishwashing detergent. I had suds all over the kitchen. I put a capful of Downey in the dishwasher and turned it on. The suds disappeared, the dishes smelled heavenly - but I reran them just in case.

  • Mary

    The easiest solution I found is just to put a cap full of fabric softener in the tub and run it. It works like magic............

  • Cathy

    Would it work to put in a cap full of hot tub defoamer, and then run the rinse cycle afterwards?

  • nizeperson

    2 tablespoons of olive oil will take care of it. won't even need to run the dishwasher a second time either.

  • nizeperson

    2 tablespoons of olive oil will take care of it. won't even need to
    run the dishwasher a second time either.

  • Allan

    Old fashioned soap works wonders in breaking the foam. Wave a soap bar throuth the foam and it will collapse. Old fashioned Ivory Snow sprinkled on the foam will break it down. That is, if old fashioned Ivory Snow is still the same thing.

  • 6 Comments / 1 Pages

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