Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...
Growing up, I remember mom treating dishwashing liquid like it was some kind of magic cure-all. Didn't have any nail polish remover? Use dishwashing liquid! Ran out of detergent for your delicates? Again, dishwashing liquid to the rescue. So, she was wrong about the nail polish removing, but she was spot on (see what I did there?) about it being an easy way to wash up your delicates in a pinch — though, to be fair, I quickly realized that you need a non-abrasive cleaner to be sure you're actually being delicate with your gentle-wash garments. Here are 32 other ways you can use dishwashing liquid. Try them. You'll thank me later.
Mopping — Add a few drops of dish soap to a bucket of water and your floors will sparkle.
Surface cleaning — You don't need special cleaning solutions for your countertops and walls. Just add a few drops of dish soap to warm water and scrub them clean.
Stainless steel — Stainless steel cleaner is so expensive (and unnecessary). Use water and dish soap to clean your appliances, being careful to wipe with the grain. Green Works is a great soap to keep things natural and gentle. If you think it needs a little something extra, polish with baby oil and a paper towel.
Appliances — The rest of your appliances, both large and small, can also benefit from a simple wipe down with dish soap and water.
Cabinets — Cabinets are hard to clean. Not only does your kitchen probably have a ton of them, but they get dirty. Grease and spills from your kitchen tend to stick to the wood, covering them in a nasty film. Thankfully, there's no better grease fighter than dish soap, so a few drops of this in a bucket of hot water should do the trick.
Marble and granite — Most people think natural stone is hard to clean, because expensive cleaners to tend to build up and leave a haze behind. Stop overthinking it and use a simple solution of dish soap and water to leave the surface clean and clear — no haze required.
Windows — You don't need window cleaner to get streak-free windows. Just mix up some water and dish soap and wipe away the dirt and fingerprints.
Clean the bathroom — Save some elbow grease the next time you clean your bathroom. Pour equal parts of dish soap and white vinegar into a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray the mixture on your bathtub, sink and toilet, and let it sit. Rinse away after about 15 minutes and your surfaces will be clean — no scrubbing needed.
Clean soap scum — Pour dish soap on soap scum and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wash it away and soap scum will wipe away with it.
Lubricant — Fix a squeaky door by using dish soap to lubricate the hinges.
Grease stains — That shirt is not ruined forever. Just rub the spot with dish soap and let it sit overnight before washing as you normally would.
Wash delicates — Use a tablespoon of dish soap in a sink of warm water to hand wash delicate clothing.
Manicures — Natural oils stick to your fingernails, making it hard for your nail polish to stick. That shortens the life of your manicure, no matter how expensive that polish is. Mix a drop of dish soap in a bowl of warm water (as warm as you can stand it), and let your hands soak for about five minutes before you apply your polish.
Washing hair — We've already established that dish soap fights grease like nothing else. That goes for your luscious locks, too. If you're having a particularly greasy day, wash your hair with dish soap and follow up with your regular shampoo. Use caution if you color your hair, though, because...
Lightening hair — The next time you overdo it with the home hair color, wash your hair with dish soap to lighten up a shade or two.
Wash your face — Dish soap cuts through grease on your skin just like it does your hair. Use a mild, non-scented dish soap, and don't do it every day or you'll dry yourself out.
Cure poison ivy — Poison ivy spreads when the oils from the blisters spread on your skin. Wash the affected area with dish soap to dry up the oils.
Prevent glasses from fogging — Rub a drop of dish soap on the lenses of your prescription glasses or sunglasses, then wipe clean (no rinsing!). The film left won't be visible, but it will prevent fog from appearing.
Wash hairbrushes — Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with a cup of hot water and soak your hairbrushes. Rinse them and lay them out to dry.
Clean jewelry — Mix a drop or two of dish soap into a bowl of seltzer water and drop your jewelry into the bowl. After the bubbles have done their magic for about five minutes, swish them around, then pull them out. Scrub gently with a soft toothbrush and rinse clean.
DIY ice packs — Fill a freezer bag with dish soap and freeze it to create your own ice pack. It stays frozen longer than water and can be re-frozen. These thin ice packs also work great in lunchboxes.
Clean your grill — In a large plastic tub or trash bag, mix one cup of dish soap with two gallons of water. Set the grill in the mixture and seal, for at least 12 hours. Scrub with a wire brush and rinse.
Clean your wheels — It's not easy to remove brake dust from the wheels of your car, but a mixture of warm water and dish soap will do the job with just a light scrubbing.
Kill weeds — Stop pouring chemicals on your lawn and use a homemade mixture instead. Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with a cup of salt and one gallon of white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply it to any pesky plants.
Remove oil stains from concrete — Those pesky drip stains have a way of ruining your garage floor or driveway. Shake a thick coating of baking soda on the stain, then cover in dish soap. Let it soak for a few hours, then scrub with a sturdy brush. Repeat as necessary.
Clean patio furniture — Outside furniture gets nasty. Mix a few drops of dish soap into bowl of warm water and wipe it clean in just a few minutes. Rinse with the garden hose and you're done.
Clean tools — Soak dirty tools in a mixture of dish soap and water to remove grime and grease. We know, tough guys have dirty tools, but it'll help keep them from rusting, too.
Kill ants and roaches — There's no need for toxic chemicals to get rid of ants and roaches. Pour a teaspoon of dish soap into a spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with water, then shake to mix. Spray it on the creepy crawlies to kill them almost instantly.
Kill fleas — Mix a few drops of dish soap into a spray bottle of water and spray it on carpet and upholstery. The soap will dry up the fleas, and after about 15 minutes you can vacuum away the residue. You can also bathe your cats and dogs in dish soap to kill fleas on contact.
Trap fruit flies — Mix two or three drops of dish soap into a bowl of white vinegar and leave it on your counter or table. The vinegar attracts the flies, and the soap keeps them from flying out of the water.
Guard houseplants — Mix a drop of dish soap into a spray bottle with water and mist your house plants to keep them free from bugs.