Home & Garden

All the Things You Didn’t Know Dish Soap Can Clean

We all know the glories of dish soap when used to fight hardened food, grease, and grime on our plates, pots, and utensils (y’all love your Dawn). But are you aware of its myriad potential other uses around the house? From stain-lifting to fruit fly control, behold the many blessed miracles of liquid dish detergent.

Remove grease stains from clothes and carpet

What’s the first thing you should reach for if cooking oil, pizza grease, salad dressing, or even lipstick accidentally ends up on your clothes? Your new bestie, dish soap. Squirt a drop or two on the stain, rub it in, and let it sit a short time before rinsing. Launder your clothes as usual, and say bye-bye to that almost stain. (Dish soap can also be used on non-greasy food stains, washable silk, and ring around the collar.)

To lift carpet stains, dip a clean cloth into a solution of two cups warm water and one tablespoon of dish liquid. Blot the stain. Repeat as necessary until the cloth fully absorbs the stain. Once the stain had been lifted, apply cold water to the affected surface before spot drying.

Spruce up stainless steel and cabinets

When water streaks and a thousand tiny fingerprints take over your kitchen appliances, a damp cloth and a few drops of dish soap will works wonders to remedy the situation. If you’re able to determine the grain of the stainless steel, wipe along the grain to prevent scratches. Finish with a dry towel to make those surfaces gleam; microfiber works best and won’t leave any lint behind.

Dish detergent on a wet sponge (or added to a spray bottle of water) will also cut through the grease and stickiness on top of your cupboards. If the bottom of your kitchen island just so happens to be covered in rubber shoe marks from the repeated kicks of tiny feet (like mine), give it a go there as well.

Clean your grill or oven

Make your own oven-cleaning solution by mixing water, baking soda, and dish soap until it forms a paste. Spread throughout the oven, then spray with a bottle filled with equal parts vinegar and water. Let sit for at least a few hours (or overnight) before scrubbing away the grimy buildup.

For grill grates: After first dislodging any large charred chunks or debris, create a mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda and enough dish soap to form a thick paste. Apply and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

Make gemstones (and silver) sparkle

Seltzer water and dish soap combine to form an unexpected jewelry quick fix. Mix a few drops of dish detergent with seltzer and drop in your diamond, sapphire, and emerald baubles for a five-minute soak. According to Good Housekeeping lab tests, “the carbonation help[s] to loosen soil and remove debris trapped in the settings and on the facets.” Use a soft toothbrush to scrub away any remaining dirt and give them that fresh-from-the-jewelry-store shine.

When it comes to silver, a few drops of dish soap mixed with warm water and applied with a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge can quickly remove tarnish—though this method is not recommended for frequent use.

Trap fruit flies and gnats

Fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap, then briefly microwaving it to amplify the pungent apple cider smell. Sit back and wait while the vinegar attracts the tiny flies, and the dish soap cuts surface tension of the liquid, causing them to drown in the stuff.

Clean outdoor furniture

Patio tables and chairs take a beating living that outdoor life. Remove sticky sap, pollen, and mildew buildup from any material (wood, plastic, bamboo, wicker, or metal) with a sponge soaked in mixture of dish soap and warm water. Rinse with a backyard hose and towel dry for best results.

Remove soap scum, stickers, and labels

Did you know you don’t need to keep shelling out for bottle after bottle of harsh, ammonia-based cleaners for your bathroom? Instead, liberally douse your tub or shower in dish liquid then scrub it with a tub brush, grout brush, or a clean broom (that you only use for this purpose) and watch the soap scum and mildew rinse away. To make a cleaner that will remove stubborn water stains, combine equal parts dish soap and white vinegar (to dissolve the minerals deposited by hard water) in a spray bottle.

Dish soap is also effective at removing pesky leftover residue from price stickers and store labels. Apparently, it can even remove oil stains from concrete and unclog drains! To be honest, I had no idea the depths of dish soap’s utility until today. But now, it’s going to to have to duke it out with vinegar for the title of multi-purpose household cleaner most near and dear to my frugal, DIY, efficiency-based heart.

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