Can You Use Dish Soap in a Pressure Washer?

Are you in a pinch and wondering if dish soap can be used in a pressure washer? Pressure washers can handle dish soap. Yet, you want to make sure that it doesn’t create too much foam. The bubbles can clog the inside of your washer. It’s best to dilute the soap in hot water. You may find the result isn’t as effective as using specifically made pressure washer detergent.

Sometimes you want to use some soap to clean parts of your property. You know pressure washers are okay with car washing detergent. Is it possible to use dish soap with your machine, or will it ruin the internals?

If you are wanting to try dish soap in your washer, read on to discover how it’s done.

pressure washer using dish soap on car

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Why use dish soap in your pressure washer?

To clean the grease and stains off your plates, cutlery, and kitchenware, you use dish soap. It’s designed to attack the dirt so you have clean dishes.

That’s the same reason why people want to use dish soap in their pressure washers. It removes grime from the different surfaces around your house.

However, it isn’t a case of one soap being used for all cleaning jobs. The surface you want to clean determines which product you need.

Different surfaces, different requirements

Cleaning stains from concrete requires a different chemical formulation than that for removing the stains on your wooden decking.

Dish soap may do the trick, but if you don’t mix it correctly, you will be wasting water and time. Let’s run you through the different surface formulas.

Floors and deckings

To give your flooring and outdoor decks a spruce up, follow these mixing instructions:

  1. Add 200 ml of cleaning powder to 100 ml of laundry detergent. Allow this to rest overnight
  2. Mix 1 part bleach to 5 parts water.
  3. Combine the dry solution with the wet one you created in step 2
  4. Mix everything carefully

Related Reading: Can Pressure Washers Clean A Deck?


Washing down a concrete surface? Use this method for making your soap:

  1. Mix half a cup of borax and laundry soda into a gallon of water.
  2. Pour in a tablespoon of your dish soap.
  3. Stir everything and leave the solution to settle for 30 minutes.

Related Reading: Can Pressure Washers Clean Concrete?


If you are needing to pressure clean vinyl, make soap by doing this:

  1. Mix ⅓ cup of Trisodium Phosphate with a similar amount of dish soap. Dilute this with a gallon of water.
  2. Slowly mix the solution to avoid bubbles.

Vehicles and boats

You can use dish soap to clean your car or boat. Make a soap using these directions:

  1. Pour 12 tablespoons of dish soap into a gallon of hot water. Stir carefully so that you don’t make suds.
  2. Add ⅓ cup of phosphate
  3. Give everything another stir, but don’t have suds.
  4. Use the final product to clean your car.

Using your dish soap straight

In the last section, we showed you how to create your specific soap. Yet, the processes may seem a little overwhelming.

How do you use nothing but dish soap with your pressure washer? Follow these steps:

  1. Get a dish soap that has degreasing properties.
  2. Add ⅓ cup of soap to a gallon of water.
  3. Check that the soap and water are thoroughly mixed.
  4. If it’s too sudsy, add more water to dilute the soap even more.
  5. Use a 65° nozzle to apply the soap. This tip is specifically made for soap and has the lowest level of water pressure. You could opt for a 40° tip if you want.
  6. Spray the soap over the area you want to clean. Let it rest for a while to break down the dirt and stains.
  7. Use your 40° or 25° tip to rinse away the soap. The 25° tip has a higher pressure, so make sure you use caution when cleaning with this nozzle.

Remember the key to using dish soap with your pressure washer is to minimize the suds. Too much foam and you are going to find your washer clogging up.

Also, as we mentioned the different surfaces need specific cleaning formulas. You may find your cleaning attempt with just using dish soap disappointing.

Why you shouldn’t use dish soap with your washer

You may be tempted to use dish soap with your washer, but there are some warnings to bear in mind.

Your washer doesn’t accept hot water

Hot water is the ideal type to use in pressure washers with dish soap. This is because hot water heats the soap and makes it more effective at dissolving and lifting grime.

If your pressure washer can’t utilize hot water, then using dish soap isn’t worth the effort. The cold soap may seem to work to some degree, but you could be frustrated by the final result.

The soap is too sudsy

You may find that the dish soap has too many suds when it’s being sprayed out. If that’s the case, then you need to do a long and thorough rinse job.

That sees you having to use more water than anticipated.  Also, the overall job ends up taking more time than you expected.

The end result of the clean

Pressure washers are a powerful way of cleaning. Using dish soap may give you a good result, but such detergent isn’t designed for washers.

If you have used specially formulated pressure washer detergent, you will notice the difference in the quality of the wash. Such soap may cost you more to buy, but you are going to get the results you want.

As we just mentioned, the cost of pressure washer detergent may have you thinking of a cheaper alternative. Dish soap can be seen as an attractive option as it saves you money.

Dish soap can leave an unsightly film on the surface. That will have you wishing you used some other product to clean with. Now you are contemplating having to clean the area once more.

It can clog up your washer

Though you can use soap with your washer, you have to keep away from bubbles, suds and foam. These all can block the tubing, hoses, and other components of your washer.

That cleaning job now has to be put on hold as you deal with the clog. A worst-case scenario is that you have to get your machine repaired.

For electric washers, that isn’t a cheap option.

Gas washers are hardier, but they can still be affected by using the wrong type of soap.

You invalidate your warranty

Have a good read of the manufacturer’s manual that came with your washer. Are there soaps that they specifically recommend? Of course, this could be seen as some type of sales pitch. Such may be the case if the brand of the soap is associated with the washer’s manufacturer.

Carefully study the warranty card and see what the terms and conditions are. Is there an allowance made for the use of dish soap? If not, then don’t be surprised when your warranty claim is turned down.

If in doubt about using dish soap, then err on the side of caution. Stick with your manufacturer’s soap and detergent recommendations.

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It is possible to use dish soap with your power washer. Some people choose to do so as it’s cheaper than using washer detergent. Yet, different surfaces require different chemical formulas.

There usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach with washer soap.

You may find that the end clean isn’t as effective as what you would get using commercial washer soap. There can be a filmy residue left after the job is done. That had you contemplating having to redo the job.

Also, using dish soap may invalidate your manufacturer’s warranty. Soap suds can clog and damage the internals.

If you decide to use dish soap, proceed with caution.