10 Non-Dish Uses for Dish Soap

posted by Andrea | 01/30/2018
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non dish uses for dish soap

Dish soap is one of the household cleaners I have chosen not to replace with a natural or DIY homemade cleaner — and I don’t think that will change for a while.

You see, along with washing our dishes, we use dish soap for SOOOO many different tasks in and around our house. It’s such a versatile cleaning tool, relatively inexpensive, and easy to find at any grocery store or home store.

If you’ve never tried using your dish soap for anything other than dishes, you’re totally missing out!

Here are 10 of my favorite non-dish uses for dish soap. 

1. Kill Boxelder Bugs.

I HATE these bugs — they are SOOOOO nasty and we seem to have them everywhere around our house in mid spring and late fall. I’ve done quite a bit of research on how to kill them and how to keep them away from our house, and unfortunately there are not many great solutions besides cutting down and removing every Boxelder tree in your neighborhood.

And since that’s not a realistic solution, I kill as many of the bugs as I can.

If you struggle with Boxelder bugs, simply pour 2 T. of dish soap into a large spray bottle, fill the rest with water, gently shake, and spray the bugs directly. They literally die almost immediately — even in mid-air while they are flying.

I keep a spray bottle full of this homemade concoction easily available during warmer weather and am constantly spraying them when I’m outside. I also make up large batches of this cleaner in one of our gallon pressure sprayers to kill them in masses when they are really bad!

2. Glasses Cleaner and Defogger.

Almost every single morning, Dave cleans his glasses with a teeny, tiny squirt of dish soap and water before heading out the door to school. After drying the lenses with a soft cloth, he’s ready for school.

I did a little research on this one too, and apparently that’s a really good way to clean glass as it also serves to defog it (this works well with swimming goggles too).

3. Tile and Shower Cleaner.

I’ve shared this homemade tile shower cleaner recipe on my blog before, but you can make your own super simple tile and shower cleaner by mixing 1 t. dish soap with 2 c. warm vinegar (the warm vinegar helps to better dissolve the soap).

homemade shower cleaner

4. A Natural Way to Kill Weeds.

This doesn’t work quite as well as RoundUp, but if you’re looking for a natural, child and pet-safe weed killer, this is a great option.

Mix 1 t. of dish soap with 1 c. of salt and 1 gallon of white vinegar. Pour or spray the solution on weeds sprouting in the cracks and crevices of sidewalks, front walks, and patio pavers . Then wait a few days for them to shrivel up and die!

NOTE: this is NOT good for plants, so try to avoid plant leaves when spraying this!

5. Laundry Stain Remover.

My aunt actually shared this tip with me years ago — and she learned it on a whim while they were camping.

She has 5 boys (hello clothes stains) and forgot to bring any type of stain remover along on their camping trip. So in a desperate attempt to save her boy’s clothing, she tried dish soap, and it worked perfectly!

6. Clean Oil Stains from Concrete.

We have a nice, easy-to-clean painted garage floor (which we absolutely LOVE). However, that wasn’t always the case. We used to have a very stained and chipped and yucky garage floor.

I found that by covering the stain in baking soda, pouring some dish soap over it, and then scrubbing with a bristle brush, you can actually get stains out of concrete.

Please note that this method might not work on long-standing stains, but it is a pretty quick, simple, and frugal fix for more recent stains.

7. Safely Clean Granite or Other Natural Stone Counters.

When we renovated our kitchen in 2012, we knew we wanted granite counters. We found a great deal from a local company (here’s the link) and are THRILLED with how they looked.

However, I knew I couldn’t clean my new granite counters with my beloved vinegar kitchen spray as vinegar can etch away at granite and other natural stone surfaces.

So I found a homemade granite countertop cleaner that works really well — just a little rubbing alcohol, dish soap, and water!

8. Remove Greasy Buildup from Hair.

I personally have really dry hair, but I have friends with very greasy hair and they periodically scrub a bit of dish soap in their hair after shampooing with regular shampoo. This apparently helps to remove any extra greasy buildup in their hair.

It’s also a great way to get sticky stuff like Vaseline, peanut butter, etc. out of your hair (not that we’ve ever had any experiences with this!)

9. Homemade Bubbles.

With just a little water, corn syrup, and dish soap, you can make endless amounts of homemade bubbles and keep your kiddos occupied for hours and hours!

Here’s my simple “recipe”!

10. DIY Ice Packs.

Squirt a cup of dish soap into a tightly sealed baggie (I usually double-bag it) and put it in the freezer for a few hours. It won’t quite freeze all the way, so it’s a perfectly pliable ice pack for your lunch box or for body injuries.

Not only is this a really simple way to make your own ice pack, it’s also a fun experiment to try with kids!

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I’m sure I could keep going with this list for a while — there are just so many different ways to use a simple bottle of dish soap. And, since you can get dish soap for $0.99 a bottle at my grocery store (sometimes even less) I’d say it’s a pretty frugal way to go!

One thing to mention, I usually buy Method dish soap (pink grapefruit scent) for our everyday dish soap needs. However, I buy the blue Dawn dish soap for many of these special uses (bug and weed killer, shower and concrete cleaners, bubbles, etc). I’ve found that for some reason, the blue Dawn really does work best!

What are your favorite non-dish uses for dish soap?

Filed under: HomeCleaning

 
 

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44 comments

  1. Nicola

    02/04/2018

    We use blue dawn dish soap to refil our foaming hand soap dispensers. Just add about 1/2cm of dish soap and fill up the bottle with water, and it makes fabulous foaming hand soap. Works perfectly in our Method bottles and we only need to buy a new dispenser about every 5 years 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve heard this works well!!

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  2. Julie

    01/30/2018

    Hi Andrea! Thanks for all the tips, I really enjoy your columns. Thought I’d mention something about the glasses. I have glasses with anti-glare coating, and when I got fitted for them, the tech instructed me never to use dish soap on them because it damages the coating! So I use the special cleaning spray that they sell – I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it does leave my glasses perfectly clean and it’s not high priced. Thought you’d want to know! Thanks again for all you do.

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know! Dave told me that the next time he gets new glasses, he wants to get the anti-glare coating. So I’ll tell him not to wash his glasses with soap once he gets those! Thanks!

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  3. Linda B.

    01/30/2018

    We’ve been paying an exterminator $80 three times a year to get rid of those box elder bugs! We have a female (who knew those were the trees where the bugs nest?) box elder tree in the open space directly behind our house. It is, unfortunately, on controlled land, so we aren’t allowed to touch it. I even offered to pay to have it removed to get rid of the box elder problem among our neighbors, but we were refused permission. I’m definitely going to try your Dawn trick on them before I call the exterminator again. Does the soap leave a residue on your house when you spray the bugs?

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s a lot of money (but still probably worth it if it kills those nasty bugs). Definitely try this in the spring — it literally kills our boxelder bug in mid-air and they drop instantly to the ground! Put it in one of those pressure sprayers so your hand doesn’t get as tired!

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  4. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    01/30/2018

    How interesting, Andrea! I had to change to a natural dish soap because my hands were getting so dry and my skin reacting to it so bad. However, the natural dish soap also does most of what you listed here and washes my clothes. 🙂

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  5. Karen

    01/30/2018

    Box Elder Bugs! So that’s what those are! We replaced the soffits on our house and had thousands of dead ones that had tried overwintering fall out.

    Thank you! I am now armed for this season. I picked up several bottles of blue Dawn a few weeks ago during a store renovation sale. I’ve used it for aphids and other small insects. It apparently works as a wetting agent that strips insects of their natural water repellent “coating” and they drown. I’ve also heard it works for wasps in a hose end sprayer like you would use for plant food application, haven’t had the nerve to try it yet. NB: I would never use it for honey bees or bumble bees, which very rarely sting and are needed for pollination.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the boxelder bugs serve no purpose and really cause no harm — but they are nasty!

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  6. Carrie

    01/30/2018

    Thanks for ideas…always appreciated! Our weed killer uses 2 cups of salt along with the white vinegar and Dawn dish soap. We have been successful killing poison ivy among other pesky plants. Have you had success with killing poison ivy with your solution? I am wondering if we are “oversalting” our weeds…lol.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve never killed something as aggressive as poison ivy — so if you’re killing that with 2 cups of salt, I’d say just keep doing it. That’s TONS cheaper than commercial weed killer from the store!

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  7. Linda

    01/30/2018

    I mix dawn and water. More dawn than water and I squirt some in the toilet to clean it. No need for fancy bowl cleaners!

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    Andrea Reply:

    ah… good to know! I’ll try this if I ever run out of toilet bowl cleaner 🙂

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  8. JJ

    01/30/2018

    Why have I never tried your bubble recipe?!? I will definitely be making these!!! Love the list!!! I’ve never tried dish soap for stains–great to know! I normally use a 97 cent bar of FelsNaptha that I buy at Walmart in the laundry section. It has gotten out almost every stain my crew has brought my way.

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    JJ Reply:

    Oh, and your kitchen gloves! You inspired me to get them! They have saved my hands so much unnecessary grief–thank you!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh, definitely try the bubbles! They are so fun!

    And glad you started using dishwashing gloves — they really are handy (pun intended!)

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  9. Allie

    01/30/2018

    I make a spray bottle of half blue dawn dish soap and half hydrogen peroxide and use that as a stain remover. Works wonderfully!!

    I have quartz countertops….and always use my vinegar spray as a counter cleaner. So this isn’t a good option?? I may need to look into your cleaner instead then….

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    Amy Reply:

    Allie, is this only for whites or colors as well? Just wondering if it has a bleaching effect. Thanks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I think it should be fine for colors — I think it can actually brighten the colors!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, that’s a great stain remover!!
    As for the quartz counters, I’m not 100% sure (our counters are granite). maybe contact the company you bought them from (or do a quick google search!)

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  10. Erica Martin

    02/10/2015

    Tried using dish soap to clean my eye glasses tonight…omg it works great!! My glasses are cleaner than they have been in weeks. May have to get some cheap dish soap just to use on my eye glasses…

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay — glad to help you out! Dave swears by washing his glasses with dish soap and does it almost every morning before school!

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    Brenda Reply:

    I wash my glasses when I’m doing the dishes. Fill the sink with the hot soapy water and then wash my (eye) glasses before any dishes. The Dawn gets the nose piece really clean. I think it keeps my glasses from sliding down my nose.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, Dave washes his glasses with a tiny drop of dish soap every single morning! I should have added this one to my list!

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  11. Cheryl

    02/10/2015

    I personally keep a bottle of the original blue Dawn dish soap in the laundry room….it is the BEST for removing those grease spots from clothes! The blue kind is the best grease-cutting one, in my opinion. Also, I’m gonna make your granite cleaner and give it a whirl!

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  12. Chris k in Wisconsin

    02/10/2015

    I use Dawn w/ water in a spray bottle for bugs on plants in the garden. Even in the veg garden it is safe to use. So much better than chemicals.

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  13. Liane

    02/10/2015

    Just read in morning paper that pro window washers use Dawn and squeegees never Windex. Those are the guys who dangle 100’s of feet on movable scaffolding platform thingies.

    I found that interesting since I use the so called professional stuff you mix with water.

    I love Method dish soap for my motor home since it can sit out on the counter with a very small footprint and has the pump. Whe camping we love stuff that won’t hurt our holding tank enzymes. It seems to be kind to them.

    At home I use dawn and I get the huge bottle at Costco and then pour it into an older Dawn detergent bottle. I never put cleaners in old food containers since that can be bad!

    Roundup or glyphosate as the generics are know breaks down as soon as it hits soil or concrete. It is absorbed by the plant and does something or other to the hormones of the plant. I’m sure if we bathed in it it could be bad but since it cannot be used on lawns or food crops ((unless you are of the ADM mindset and GMO-ize your crops to resist it, I think it is safe to use. I primarily use it to kill those pesky weeds that grow out of the gaps between pavers and in the lines in the driveway. We had some weeds damage a section of pavers. They leverage their nasty little roots between the grout and the get under the pavers and exert slow steady upwards pressure in the same manner as tree roots wreck sidewalks. Other than those relatively few areas we don’t use it and use Preen in the flower beds.

    Not sure what a box elm bug is but could not be worse than 4 inch long tomato hookworms that play peekaboo in the tomato plants and give you heart failure.

    Anyway back to Dawn. We wash our cars with it, use it when skunks spray dogs, and of course it’s used as a degreaser on seabirds since it won’t hurt them. If my hair got as oily as a sea bird in an oil slick however, I may consider changing my diet and shampoo. Hair products won’t build up used correctly and shampoo is designed to remove them not strip the hair of every last bit of natural oil. Remember you can clean your natural bristle makeup brushes and hair brushes in shampoo but I have used Dawn also.

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    Me again! Reply:

    Oops my iPad changed boxelder to box elm

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  14. Lisa

    02/10/2015

    I switched my dish soap to Dr. Bronners. Biodegradable and does the job really really well for all of the above plus shampoo & body wash. It’s super saturated so diluting a bottle makes it last a long time for all the tasks!

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  15. Niecey

    02/10/2015

    We bathe our dogs and other Dawn. It kills the fleas and is gentle on their skin.

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    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… good to know that it kills fleas! I’ll keep that in mind if Nora ever finally convinces me to get a dog 🙂

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  16. Diana

    02/10/2015

    Ugg, I think those are the bugs I have around my house as well (in MI). I very much dislike them!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, probably. They are nasty and seem to serve no purpose except being gross!

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  17. Lela

    02/10/2015

    Interesting post!Thank you!
    Greetings from Greece!

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  18. Shannon

    02/10/2015

    I have used dish soap and hot water poured into a clogged toilet that couldn’t be unclogged with a plunger! It worked great!

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    Jules Reply:

    Me too! It’s a great trick, and there is something very amusing about having bubbles in the toilet 🙂 Talk about entertaining little people!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’ll have to remember this tip for future reference. Nora really likes to put toilet paper in the toilet so we had a clog last week. Thankfully the plunger worked just fine, but I’ll definitely remember this tip in case it doesn’t work the next time 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the tip Shannon — I did not know this!

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  19. Sarah

    02/10/2015

    Does it work on glass shower doors? Or just tile?

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    Andrea Reply:

    just the tile — I’m guessing it would most likely cause streaks on the glass (but I’ve honestly never tried it as we don’t have glass doors on our showers)

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    Maria Reply:

    The dish soap/vinegar combo is our go-to cleaner for shower doors. It works wonders!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — I’ve never used it on glass before 🙂

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  20. Rebecca

    02/10/2015

    Looking forward to using the counter top cleaner!
    Thanks.

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    Andrea Reply:

    It’s really awesome and totally streak-free (great if you have black granite!)

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