Laundry Expert Explains: Why You Shouldn’t Follow the TikTok Trend of Using Dish Soap in Your Washing Machine

Updated: Mar. 08, 2024

This is the TikTok laundry hack you're going to want to skip. Trust us.

You’ve mastered how to do laundry and understanding those laundry symbols, but that doesn’t mean you’re not on the lookout for new hacks. Whether it’s removing stains like a pro or de-pilling sweaters, the internet is ripe with clever laundry tricks to keep up your sleeve—and we can thank TikTok for some of our favorite cleaning hacks. One of the most recent viral suggestions includes washing your white clothes with dish soap for a crisp, bright-white finish. And while the resulting videos on TikTok are enticing, there’s a catch, of course, that has laundry experts worried. Here’s what you should know.

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What is the TikTok dish soap hack?

In an attempt to make their white sheets and clothes even brighter, TikTokkers are adding a tablespoon of dish soap to a rag and tossing it in the laundry with their other items. The results show users with crisp, white sheets and clothes so bright, you’d think it is the most genius hack on earth.

@gillaleighhome.designs Dawn Dish soap in laundry #laundryhack #bestkeptsecrets #dawndishsoap #dawn #fypシ ♬ Mr. Clean – Yung Gravy

But while this laundry solution may seem tempting, experts advise against trying it at home. Rick Rome, CEO and founder of WashClub, an eco-friendly commercial laundry service, says it could cause you a handful of problems—and major issues with your washing machine.

“Washing machines are designed to be used with specific types of detergent, and dish soap can cause an excessive amount of suds that could cause your machine to overflow,” he says. “The high-sudsing action of dish soap could also damage the internal components of your washing machine over time.”

Can dish soap clean my clothes?

Unfortunately, no. Dish soap might be helpful with stains, but if you’re relying on dish soap and not other types of detergent to clean your laundry, your fabrics won’t get the thorough wash they need. It’s likely dish soap won’t rinse out completely from your clothing, which means it’s trapping dirt or other grime in the fabric.

Rome also points out that dish soap isn’t meant to clean skin, unlike detergents that are skin-safe and used for clothes that you wear. “Because it isn’t made for human skin, dish soap can cause skin sensitivities like dryness, itching or even rashes.”

How to get whiter clothes

Woman's hands washing white color clothes in the basin.natthanim/Getty Images

While Rome would suggest against this TikTok dish soap hack, he does have a few simple tips you can follow to learn how to wash white clothes and sheets.

Separate clothing

To start, the best thing you can do for your white clothes and sheets is to learn how to separate laundry properly. “Try to wash white clothes separately from colored fabric, and use in-wash dye catcher sheets to catch any dye that might bleed,” Rome says.

Use the proper settings

To keep clothes white and bright, use a cold water wash cycle, says Rome. White clothes should also be line dried or dried using the air-dry cycle on your dryer, if you have one. Learn more about the best dryer settings here.

Be smart about storage

Once your whites are cleaned, Rome says it’s important to focus on storage options. Bright lights and moist, dusty conditions could cause the fabric to change over time, so make sure your organized linen closet is protected from both. “Ensure your clothes are completely dry before putting them away in storage containers that protect from dust and light. Avoid storing your clothes in humid areas, which can lead to yellowing or mildew.”

How to remove yellowing

If your white clothes or sheets still aren’t as bright as you hoped (everyone hates those yellow-stained pillows), Rome says you could always rely on a whitening agent to remove stains and give them that shine you desire. Soaking them in a solution of water with a whitening agent, such as oxygen bleach or distilled white vinegar, should do the trick. “The length of time you should soak your clothes will vary, depending on what whitening solution you use,” he says. “So be sure to follow the instructions for the agent you are using.” You can also learn how to whiten your clothes without bleach.

About the expert

  • Rick Rome is the CEO and founder of WashClub, a wash-and-fold laundry service in New York City.