What to Use When You Have No Washing-Up Liquid?

Washing the dishes thoroughly is extremely important for our health, especially if we live in a household with small children or people with weakened immune systems.

What can you do if your dish soap runs out when you need it the most? I think many of us can identify with this. Can we use soaps and detergents made for other purposes to wash our dishes without risking our health?

If you don't have dishwashing liquid at home, one acceptable alternative is to use simple bar soap instead, like they did in the old days.

Another good alternative to dishwashing liquid is a mixture of baking soda and water, which results in a natural yet effective degreasing abrasive paste.

Cleaning agents intended for other cleaning purposes, including personal hygiene products, can be safely used to wash your dishes if they have a non-toxic composition.

Can we use baking soda instead of dish soap?

By adding a little water to baking soda, you can make a degreasing paste. It is also slightly abrasive and can physically remove soil from dishes.

The most important thing is to remove all food debris from your kitchenware, which could provide a breeding ground for bacteria or mold. Baking soda doesn’t kill bacteria, but neither do soaps and detergents, they only help in removing them.

Is it safe to wash dishes with laundry detergent, soap, or shampoo?

All soaps, detergents, washing-up liquids, and personal care products work the same way. They loosen and bind greasy dirt, which is then easily washed off by rinsing with clean water.

It is very important to rinse your dishes thoroughly with clean water after using any soap or detergent so that no food debris or soap residue remains on them.


However, there are also differences in the composition of cleaning agents manufactured for different purposes, as they must meet different cleaning requirements. Therefore, if we use them to clean things other than their intended purpose, we may not achieve adequate efficiency with them. Laundry detergents and universal cleaners, for example, are much harsher than washing up liquids. Shampoos, shower gels, and hand soaps contain perfumes. Porous kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons, cutting boards, or trays can easily absorb and retain these strong smells.

Laundry detergents also contain non-food-safe ingredients that can harm our health, according to a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Using body soap to wash your dishes is probably not as effective as dish soap. Personal hygiene products are usually milder than washing-up liquids to protect the skin’s natural oily barrier. Therefore, they probably won’t remove greasy dirt from dishes with the same power as dish soaps. According to a study conducted by professors at Rutgers University, personal care products often contain phthalates, which are harmful to health in many ways.

You can safely use universal cleaning agents or personal care products made of non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients to wash your dishes. However, thorough rinsing with clean water is still important.

What are phthalates?

Is it OK to wash dishes with just water?

You can’t wash dishes with just water as effectively as you can with soap. It’s especially difficult to remove greasy food residues with just water because water doesn’t mix with grease without adding soap.

Washing dishes with water only might work if you have slightly soiled dishes. It is very important to remove all food debris during washing so that the bacteria have nothing to feed on.


However, it is not safe to wash kitchenware that has been in contact with raw meat, seafood, eggs, or poultry without dish soap, as it may be contaminated with dangerous microorganisms such as Campylobacter or Salmonella.

Are dishwasher detergents safe for manual dishwashing?

Liquid, gel, or powder detergents for dishwashers are much harsher than dish soaps for manual washing and cause skin irritation. Therefore, you should be careful that it does not come into direct contact with your skin or eyes. Moreover, dishwasher detergents do not foam like regular washing-up liquids, which makes it difficult to determine how much of it should be used.

If you ever decide to use dishwasher detergent for manual washing, be careful not to use too much of it, wear rubber gloves, and rinse your dishes thoroughly afterward.

Final thoughts

So, if you’ve just run out of washing up liquid, it’s best to use simple bar soap or baking soda instead.

Laundry detergents, universal cleaners, and personal care products often contain non-food-safe ingredients that can harm your health.

On the other hand, if you have a non-toxic detergent, shampoo, or soap at hand, you can safely use it for washing dishes, as long as you rinse them thoroughly afterward.



My name is Debora, the founder of My Delicious Sweets, and a qualified confectioner with broad experience in the confectionery industry. On my blog, I will share important, interesting, and fun facts about food, along with some of my favorite recipes.

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