Dear Home Ec 101:
So, uh, how bad is it if I add a little liquid dish detergent when I’m running out of laundry detergent? I swear my momma didn’t raise me this way.
~Bubbling in Beaumont
Chances are if you have some laundry detergent to add to a load of laundry you probably have enough to get your clothes clean.
However, a very small amount of dishwashing liquid, not dishwasher detergent, would not cause harm, provided you are using a top-loading machine.
Can I Use Dish Soap in Clothes Washer (Washing Machine)
Anything more than a small amount of dish soap in any washing machine will cause excessive foaming.
This may be mildly amusing on a sitcom, but as I don’t have someone else to clean up the mess, I would be perturbed. If your laundry room were on a second floor, had carpeting, or hardwood flooring, that mess could quickly become a minor household emergency. Get some salt, scatter it over the foam, and then quickly begin mopping up the mess or use a shop vac (wet/dry, please) and remove the water as soon as possible.
Laundry detergents have chemicals that act as stabilizers to prevent foaming. Dishwashing soaps lack these properties allowing the mounds of bubbles we are familiar with. Why? People see soap bubbles and associate it with cleaning.
There’s far too much sloshing and churning in a clothes washer for foaming to be helpful. In fact. Foaming brings the detergents out of the water, making them less helpful in trapping the dirt from your clothing.
Send your domestic questions to email@example.com.