10 Surprising Uses for Dish Soap Around the House

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated August 13, 2021
Person using dish soap and sponge to wash a plate
Nattakorn - stock.adobe.com

Looking to downsize your cleaning closet? Dish soap takes care of more around-the-house jobs than you may have realized.

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By the time we've purchased enough products for cleaning, pest control, and stain removal, there's barely any room left under the kitchen sink. But you'll find an unsung hero sitting just a few feet above the cleaning closet—your dish soap. This versatile cleaner has the right consistency and chemical compounds to pull off a long list of DIY home tasks.

1. Kill Weeds

Do you have weeds popping up through the patio stones or overwhelming your garden? Add a few drops of dish soap to a spray bottle of white vinegar for a quick fix. 

The soap's surfactant properties ensure that the vinegar will latch onto the weeds and dry them out. Be extra careful not to spray the mixture on any surrounding plants—the solution will not only kill weeds. Wait for a day with low wind for extra safety.

2. Trap Pests

Whether in the kitchen or in the garden, an overwhelming population of invasive pests can be hard to control without chemicals. Soft-bodied bugs, such as gnats, fleas, spider mites, and fruit flies, are easy to catch with a simple and natural homemade trap.

Add a tablespoon of dish soap and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a jar of water. Seal the lid with plastic wrap and poke holes only small enough for the pests to enter. The soap holds the pests in the vinegar solution, keeping them from escaping.

Fun tip: Combine a mixture of dish soap and water and spray them on your favorite outdoor plants to discourage aphids from eating your leaves.

3. Melt Ice

Running low on rock salt? If you wake up to a sheet of ice on your walkway, combine a half-gallon of water, and a tablespoon each of dish soap and isopropyl alcohol. The solution won't freeze in low temperatures, melting the ice without damaging your sidewalk and protecting it from the chilly day ahead.

4. All-Purpose Cleaning

The common chemicals in dish soap make it a prime candidate for a long list of unexpected chores around the house outside of the dishes. Add a few drops to a bucket of warm water to clean:

  • Counters

  • Tile or laminate floors

  • Steel appliances

  • Windows (especially particularly dirty ones)

  • Bathroom vanities, tubs, and shower tiles

Once you've gone through the house, deep clean your mop and broom by soaking it in a solution of water and a few drops of dish soap.

5. Unclog a Toilet

When desperate times call for desperate measures, half a bottle of dish soap and a bucket of water can help unclog a toilet. The soap breaks down whatever is clogging up the works while the water provides the pressure to send the soap deeper into the pipes. Opt for hot—but not boiling—water for better results.

6. Treat Clothing Stains

You're likely sensing a pattern by now—wherever you find persistent grease, reach for the dish soap. From marinara sauce to hamburger grease, a drop of dish soap can release the stain before heading into the washing machine. 

Lightly rub the soap on the stain in a circular motion until it foams. Let it sit for a few minutes before fully rinsing with water, letting the water pass through the fabric. For best results, toss into the washing machine as soon as possible.

Man cleaning a ring with microfiber cloth
Piman Khrutmuang - stock.adobe.com

7. Clean Jewelry

Our favorite jewelry loses its luster over time. From the natural oils on our skin to the soaps and lotions that pass over them each day, it's important to give them a wash every few weeks. However, many fine metals don't react well to hard chemicals, making—you guessed it—dish soap an excellent solution.

Add a few drops of dish soap to warm water to soak silver, gold, and even gemstones. After a few minutes of soaking, dry your jewelry with a lint-free cloth.

8. Remove Patio Grease Stains

Grills and patios go hand-in-hand, but grease and pavers do not. After a messy barbecue, you could end up with grease stains on your natural stone patio or synthetic pavers. Cover the stones in pure dish soap and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a thick-bristle brush to scrub the area before rinsing with the hose.

You may need to make several passes with the soap and water before seeing complete results.

9. Clean Hairbrushes

Hairbrushes have the habit of collecting more than just our rogue strands. Dead skins, dust, and dirt can collect at the base of the brush, creating that all-too-familiar layer beneath the bristles.

After removing as much hair as possible, soap the brush in a warm bath of water and a few drops of dish soap. Use an old toothbrush to bring up any remaining debris, rinse, and let it fully dry before use.

10. Remove Carpet Stains

When your glass of wine goes tumbling to the ground, try not to panic. Grab a paper towel and blot up as much of the liquid as possible.

Fill a glass with warm water and lightly pour over the area to see if you can dilute it before trying to remove any of the stain.

If you have clear dish soap handy—colored dish soap could affect the color of the carpet—drop 2-3 drops into a bowl of warm water. Using a clean rag, lightly scrub the outside of the stain with the soap mixture, working your way into the center.

Continue to blot, rinse, and clean until the spot has cleared.

Dish soap may not seem like the powerhouse cleaner of your kitchen, but its gentle and grease-fighting qualities make it an unexpected hero of the home. Make your own green cleaners with a variety of common pantry items without breaking the bank.

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