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Every dishwasher owner knows the ease and convenience this appliance brings into our lives. However, with such benefits comes the responsibility of ensuring it operates correctly. One common mistake many homeowners make is using the wrong detergent in their dishwasher. Not only can this compromise the appliance's efficiency, but it can also lead to messy overflows. This guide will delve into how to fix the wrong detergent in the dishwasher, ensuring your machine stays in optimal condition.

Common Detergent Mistakes and Their Consequences

We've all been there: rushing to finish chores and mistakenly grabbing the wrong bottle. Here are the usual suspects:

1) Liquid Dish Soap

A common mistake is adding this can create a mountain of suds that might overflow your dishwasher.

2) Laundry Detergent

Not designed for dishwashers, these can leave residues on your dishes and the machine's interior.

3) Handwash Detergent

These are generally gentler and need to be designed to withstand the high heat of a dishwasher, resulting in less effective cleaning.  

4) Baking Soda or Vinegar

While often touted as natural cleaning solutions, these can erode the seals and gaskets in your dishwasher over time, leading to leaks.  

5) Non-dishwasher Specific Pods or Tablets

These products might not dissolve correctly during a cycle, potentially leaving detergent residues on dishes or clogging the dishwasher.  

Remember, the misuse of detergents can not only affect the performance of your dishwasher but also compromise the appliance's longevity. It's always best to use products specifically designed for dishwashers to ensure optimal operation.

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Immediate Steps to Rectify the Mistake

Realize you've added the wrong detergent? Act swiftly!

1) Stop the Dishwasher Immediately

If it's running and you notice the mistake, hit the stop or pause button.

2) Open and Assess

Check the dishwasher door for excessive suds or any other irregularities.

3) Empty the Dishwasher

Remove all dishes and racks to access and clean every nook and cranny.

4) Manage the Suds

If there's a soapy situation inside, use clean towels or cloths to absorb as much excess suds as possible.

5) Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

Fill a spray bottle with water and use it to rinse the interior of your dishwasher thoroughly. Repeat this process at least three times until no suds are visible.

6) Use vinegar

To neutralize any remaining detergent residues, add two cups of white vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher and run a short cycle.

7) Clean the Filter

Some detergents may have solidified in your dishwasher's filter, causing blockages. Remove and clean it with warm, soapy water before replacing.

Deep Cleaning After a Detergent Mix-up

The wrong detergent can leave residues. Here's how to ensure your dishwasher is spick and span:

1) Cold Water Rinse

Pour cold water (from a bowl or jug) into the base of the dishwasher to help dissipate suds.

2) Salt to the Rescue

A sprinkle of table salt can break down stubborn suds. It's an old trick, but it works wonders!

3) High-Temperature Rinse Cycle

Run a rinse cycle on the highest temperature setting. This will help in removing any lingering detergent residues.

4) Wipe Down

Open up and wipe down all interior surfaces with a damp cloth.

Tips to Prevent Detergent Mix-Ups

Ensure this mix-up is a one-time affair with these preventive measures:

1. Separate Storage

Always store dishwasher detergents away from similar-looking bottles.

2. Clear Labeling

If you transfer contents to other containers, labels are your best friends.

3. Educate the Household

A simple briefing session on which detergent to use can prevent future mishaps.

4. Purchase Dishwasher-Specific Detergents

Commit to buying only dishwasher-specific detergents. This way, even if you pick up a bottle without looking, you're guaranteed it's the right one.

5. Organized Cleaning Supplies

Maintain an organized cleaning supply cabinet. You reduce the risk of grabbing the wrong product by designating specific areas for dishwasher detergents.

6. Double-check

Before loading the dishwasher, always double-check the detergent you use. This simple habit can save you from a lot of unnecessary hassle.


Your dishwasher deserves the best care. Using the correct detergent ensures clean dishes and a longer life for your appliance. If you are ever faced with fixing, you use the wrong detergent in the dishwasher, refer to this guide and keep your machine running efficiently.

Written by Speedy Appliance Repair

Speedy Appliance Repair is your trusted partner for appliance maintenance and repair. With 20+ years of experience, we are experts in diagnosing and fixing a wide range of appliance issues, from refrigerators and dishwashers to washers and dryers.