Difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent

So, you’ve run out of dishwasher detergent and have an urgent load of dishes that need to be washed. You think you might try using dish soap. You know, the liquid soap that you use to hand wash the dishes when there are only a few to clean. However, you can’t be sure whether it’s safe and so you’ve had to work out whether it is a good idea. Straight up. It is not a good idea.

And here’s why:

Regular dish soap that is used for handwashing is made up differently, with different ingredients. The soap is designed to become super foamy and form a lot of suds. In fact, the person that is washing the dishes can control how soapy the environment gets and how many suds are produced. A dishwasher can’t make this differentiation. There are potentially several disastrous outcomes.

Detergents for dishwashers

Detergents for dishwashers

Detergents that are manufactured for dishwashers are specifically formulated to clean without forming suds. If they formed suds during the wash process the machine would become overwhelmed and the kitchen would become flooded. It would also seriously compromise the working mechanical parts of the machine.

Washing formulas contain an ingredient called surfactants. These work to separate water and oils and well as other substances and this is how the chosen product effects cleaning. Detergents for dishwashers come in liquid, gel and powder format, and they are all formulated to separate the dirt from the dishes in a high-pressure wash environment.  The surfactants in a dish soap are formulated differently and can in fact damage a dishwasher.

How surfactants work

Surfactants change the surface tension in water, which is why when your dishwasher completes is cycle, the dishes are clean. It prevents the water from forming droplets on the dishes and instead it forms a sheet that cleans your dishes but rolls of the dishes once the job is done.

There are several factors that will determine whether a dishwasher detergent is going to do its job well. One of them is the performance of the dishwasher itself. The detergent is designed to work well in a hot, high pressurised environment and if the water pressure in the system drops, results may be disappointing. It is perfectly possible that the outcome will be wet dishes with residual film left from the detergent if the pressure is insufficient.

Different dishwasher detergents

Different dishwasher detergents

You can choose between liquid, gel and powder dishwasher detergents. Some machines are not really designed to take liquid detergent, but most modern machines will be able to be used any of these three.

Liquid detergent

Liquid is effective for quickly washing dishes that are not overly soiled. Liquid detergents formulated for use in a dishwasher still present with similar issues that you would find with hand washing solutions. They are good for a quick clean, however they do not perform well with heavily soiled dishes.

Powder detergent

Powder for dishwashers is usually presented in a tight tablet form that dissolves through the washing process. Powder detergents have been developed specifically for heavily soiled dishes and perform exceptionally well if they are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. They do however contain more chemicals than either the liquid or gel solutions and you may to consider an environmentally friendly alternative.

Gel detergents

The development of semi gel formulations has improved over the years. Gel get last mention because although they do work well, they are known to become sticky and build up a soapy sludge in parts of the machine. When gels and liquids for a layered deposit in the appliance the chemicals that they are made of can cause corrosion. Using gel should be considered when you are able to do so following the exact instructions of the manufacturer and you are able to obtain the desired results.

Consider the environment when thinking about detergents. Apart from the chemicals that they contain, that are damaging they often come in environmentally damaging packaging. There are several eco friendly options out there. These eco-friendly detergent options work just as well and may even lengthen the life span of your appliance because of the reduced chemical composition.

Time to call an engineer

our dishwasher service engineer

If you have cleaned your dishwasher and still have problems with soapy residue, after trying a change of detergent, you may need to call our local dishwasher service engineer. Homemakers are usually quite capable of cleaning and clearing the debris in the dishwashers, but low-pressure washing is likely to be a job for the engineer.

Our service engineers undergo ongoing training and are trained for manufacturer specific service. With a same day/next day callout service and callout fees, your dishwasher will be up and running again in no time at all.

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