Do’s and Don’ts for Using DAWN in the Washing Machine

If you're like us, you're always in search of a "hack" that will make your life a little easier, especially with regard to cleaning. That search has taken us in some interesting directions over the years, but when we hit CleanTok and heard that you could clean your clothes with liquid dish soap, we had to take pause. As a general rule, you should NEVER put Dawn or any other type of liquid dish soap in your washing machine. Not only does it create a bubble mess of epic proportions, but it can ruin your washing machine. However, this particular creator's approach is worth a listen. With that in mind, let's get into the do's and don'ts for using DAWN in the washing machine.

Reasons NOT to Put Dawn in the Washing Machine

Dawn is capable of cleaning a lot of things. Heck, it can clean those poor ducklings from an oil spill; BUT, it was never intended to clean your laundry (nor should you put it in your dishwasher). While it's entertaining when we see someone make this mistake in the movies, the reality of a liquid dish soap bubbly mess isn't quite so funny.

Dawn Can Ruin the Washing Machine

That's right, using Dawn in the wash can ruin the washing machine. While that may not matter to you if you're at the laundromat, but we can assure you that the owner definitely cares. Laundry detergent doesn't get nearly as sudsy and foamy as a liquid dish soap. Therefore, if you use Dawn in the washing machine, it could overflow and also cause issue in the pumps and drains. Your washer was just never intended to handle those kinds of suds.

Using Dawn in the Washing Machine Won't Get Your Clothes as clean as you'd think

If you ran out of laundry detergent, you may think, "what's the harm just this one time." And you may be right. Maybe you'll get lucky, but the truth is that if you consistently use dish soap in the wash, your clothes are probably not as clean as you expect. In fact, Dawn may be leaving a film of soap scum on your clothes that will cause them to get dingy and cause the fibers in your laundry to break down faster. Laundry detergent and dish soap are not interchangeable. Your detergent has specific ingredients (surfactants) that excel at removing dirt from your clothes. Dawn does not.

How to Use Dawn in the Washing Machine

All that said, let's take a look at's approach. 

  1. Only use a tablespoon of Dawn.
  2. Put that tablespoon of Dawn on a  dry rag or washcloth and throw it directly into the wash. DO NOT add Dawn to the detergent dispenser.
  3. Also add in detergent or a laundry pod as you normally would.
  4. If you have a top loader, fill up the wash with water first before dropping in your rag with Dawn on it.

This creator claims that she's been using this approach for 12 years and it brightens her whites better than using bleach (since bleach can cause yellowing to occur). She can also brighten whites while also doing other colors without causing any harm to other garments.

So it's possible that you can use Dawn in the washing machine, but even that TikTok creator knows better than to add dish soap to the laundry detergent dispenser.

Whatever the case, we recommend that you use products that are designed for your washing machine, particularly if you are doing laundry at the laundromat. This will prevent issues with your appliance and ensure that your clothes are getting as clean as possible.


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8 Responses

  1. Tom
    Thanks for that info.!
    • Max
      For years used Joy to wash so called good clothes would use a tablespoon or less because it retained the color. Also I used vinegar in rinse water. To date no problem so I imagine the same could be said for Dawn.
    • Hi! I have for years been fight collar/armpit yellowing on most all white shirts with a printed image (please, unless an undershirt, don’t kill me! Lol! I don’t wear “dress shirts”! If I had to wear a tie to work I’d hang by it by lunch!). What do you recommend for screen printed white shirts? I’ve switched to Degree/Dove (same maker) to dry antidepressants labeled to prevent white on black or yellow on white. Those shirts have done well! (I spray neck, too). I’m hoping to get some older stains out of white t-shirts without ruining the image. Tonight (before finding your page) I decided on another online remedy to try: step 1. Dawn platinum + 3% hydrogen peroxide applied thoroughly on problem areas, 2. soak for 1 hour on label-recommended water, 3. wring out about half, 4. Throw in washer At recommended temp with a Tide 10x pod and a half-scoop oxygen cleaner (must it be “Oxi-Clean” or are they all the same?). About to wash the shirt… the pre soak Dawn/Peroxide seemed to help already! I don’t like the idea of wearing white shirts ONCE then having to toss them after a summer day! Thank you!!!
    • I was tempted to try this but thought to check any other comments before doing so. Thank you for this information, I will stick with laundry detergent.
  2. I have used small amounts of dish soap on my husband shirt collars when he has waited so long to put them in the laundry that they are crying to be washed. It gets the oily stain out great !
  3. Why can nothing ever be straight forward like NO you can not use Dawn for your laundry because your machine will blow up
  4. I have used it on my hair. Good results
  5. I almost went to town with the Dawn but thought I might check first Thank God I did Disaster thwarted!!!🖐️🗽🤩

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