Out of Dish Soap? Here’s What to Use Instead

You’ve been piling dishes in the sink all day, hoping to tackle them later. But when that time rolls around, you realize you’re out of dish soap. You wonder — is it better to just let the dishes sit until you can make it to the store, or can you substitute another household item for dish soap?

While reaching for any old type of soap isn’t a great idea, you can clean your dishes with baking soda or vinegar.

no dish soap

How to Wash Dishes with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a top choice for cleaning dishes when you run out of soap. It absorbs grease and provides mild abrasiveness that scrubs away food particles without leaving scratches behind.

To clean your dishes, place some baking soda in a bowl and mix in a small amount of water until a thick paste forms. Then, pre-rinse your dish, dip a damp rag into the baking soda paste, and scrub until clean. Rinse the dish with hot water and then towel or air dry.

How to Wash Dishes with White Distilled Vinegar

When you don’t have dish soap or baking soda, the next best option is white distilled vinegar. The high acid content of vinegar provides some disinfecting properties and is effective at loosening stuck-on food. Vinegar is also a hard water and mineral deposit remover, so your dishes will come out shiny.

To clean your dishes with vinegar, start with a pre-rinse and then scrub each dish with a sponge or brush to remove as much food as possible. Next, fill your sink with half hot water and half white distilled vinegar. Soak your dishes for 30 minutes, then wipe, rinse, and dry.

What About Hand Soap or Laundry Detergent? Is that Safe for Dishes?

While you might think any ole’ soap is suitable for dishes, it’s not true. Most hand soaps contain fragrance and additives to make skin softer. These soaps have milder cleaning properties than dish soap but may not be food-safe. It’s never a good idea to clean eating utensils with potentially toxic substances, so steer clear of washing dishes with hand or body soap.

The same goes for laundry detergent, according to Puracy. Most laundry detergents contain toxic ingredients if ingested, so keep them far from your dishes. Don’t use laundry detergent to hand wash dishes and especially never place laundry detergent in the dishwasher. Not only can it ruin your dishes, but the excess suds can ruin your dishwasher.