Bubble Overload! Dish Soap In The Dishwasher

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get rid of extra bubbles

 Dear Home Ec 101,
The other day I started my dishwasher and walked away, a few minutes later, I realized it didn’t sound right, so I opened it up to make sure that the arms were spinning and that water was going where it is supposed to. (If water is dripping from everything, it’s all good on my little portable dishwasher). Everything looked fine, water dripping from the top, everything coved in soap. I closed the dishwasher, and then it hit me —– everything was covered in SOAP!! Oh no!

Somehow dish liquid had gotten in the dishwasher, and there were 6 inches high of soap bubbles at the bottom of the dishwasher, not really knowing what to do, I drained it, and added some vinegar to try to kill the bubbles, it seemed to work, but I did notice bubbles in the next load as well, so much for rinsing the soap off.
Any ideas of what to do in case this happens again?

Home-Ec 101 says:

First of all, sounds like you have at least one kid, and good luck finding the culprit.

Secondly, congratulations, you were on the right track! 

Dish Soap in the Dishwasher 101

Adding vinegar was one of the two things you should do to help reduce the excess foam caused by liquid dish soap when it is added to your dishwasher. The other thing you should add is a generous amount of salt.


Vinegar and salt are both great at reducing the foam caused by detergents for hand washing. Salt reduces the surface tension of the water, inhibiting the production of suds. The dishwasher should then be forced through a rinse cycle.

People like to see soap bubbles, it makes them think their soap is working. Liquid dish soaps for handwashing dishes are very foamy, making them very bad for dishwashers that move water around (which would create a lot of foam very quickly). That foam then gets in the way of the water jets that are supposed to rinse your dishes, and nothing gets as clean as it should. Additionally, liquid dish soap is nowhere near as strong as dishwasher detergent because the detergent is designed to not destroy your hands. 

(Although, if you don’t have dishpan hands in the time of COVID-19, you should maybe get some side-eye, or you are extremely diligent with the lotion, and I am truly impressed). 

Detergents designed for dishwashers contain almost nothing that foams (and they are much stronger because the soap designers aren’t worried about contact with your skin, either.) 

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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