Can You Use Dish Soap In A Pressure Washer?

If you want to clean your home using a pressure washer, it’s important to use a specialised cleaner when doing so.

Adding a detergent will make sure that your exteriors are always cleaned thoroughly. However, detergents aren’t always readily available, and dish soap may be the only cleaning product you have on hand.

Dish soap is great for cleaning oily residue from your dinner plates, which makes many people think that it can also be added to their pressure washer. But, is this safe to do so? 

Is Dish Soap Bad To Use In A Pressure Washer?

You might have the best pressure washer on the market, but no matter what, you will always need a detergent to clean your surfaces well. Hot water can remove dirt and debris, but it can’t remove grime that has built up over time.

Detergents have many benefits, like removing bacteria ridden exteriors or targeting caked on oil stains. If you don’t have detergent on hand, dish soap may work as a solution, as it is biodegradable and non toxic. However, there are many disadvantages to using dish soap in your pressure washer. 

  • Dish soap can get overly soapy and bubbly.
  • Dish soap can leave filmy remains on some finishes.
  • You need more dish soap to clean compared to a recommended detergent, which can get expensive over time. 
  • The mixture won’t clean cars well and can damage the paint or wax
  • If you don’t dilute it well enough, dish soap can damage parts or build up inside your pressure washer.

How To Use Dish Soap In Your Pressure Washer Properly

If you still want to use dish soap in your cleaner, it’s important to know how to use it to avoid any disasters later. Here’s some tips for doing so.

Instead of regular dish soap, use a dish soap that has a degreaser, such as Dawn Dish Detergent. 

You will want to dilute the liquid with a good amount of water, so that it is runny and less sticky. Aim for around three ounces of dish soap with a gallon of hot water. 

Make sure that you don’t use too much dish soap, as your mix will lather too much and become sticky. 

Make sure that you have completely mixed your liquid in with the water, as your soap could otherwise damage your pump. 

After you spray your mixture on the place you want to clean, leave it for an hour so that it can get to work on cleaning the dirt, making sure you don’t let it dry completely. Rinse it away afterwards, making sure that all of the excess soap is gone. 

After using the machine, run clear water through it afterwards, so that any remaining dish soap doesn’t build up and stick to the inside of the pump. 

Is Regular Soap Good To Use In A Pressure Washer?

As soap can remove dirt, stains and bacteria well, some may think that it can also be used in cleaning appliances too.

However, there is a huge difference between soap and detergent, and you should be aware of what ingredients are in each product. Soap is made from natural products that are better for the environment, like fats and oils, but it isn’t biodegradable.

Detergent is used when you need a stronger cleaner, as it is artificially made and biodegradable. Soap is good to use when you want to remove makeup or wash your face, but detergent is better to use when you need to wash clothes or wipe down wood.

Eco friendly soaps may be better for you to use overall, but these can still be harmful for your exteriors if they contain harsh ingredients. Household hand soap isn’t made for cleaning cars and could damage your car’s beautiful shiny paint.

As a rule, if you are unsure over what cleaning product should go in your pressure washer, just stick to water, you shouldn’t have any nightmares later. 

Some DIY Cleaners For Pressure Washers

We’ve gone over many reasons why dish soap isn’t the best product to use when cleaning your home. So what can you use instead? Here are some solutions that just might work for you. 

Hot Water 

If the area you want to clean isn’t too dirty, and you just want to remove a bit of grime, hot water may be all you need! Hot water removes germs and can dissolve dirt faster than at a lower temperature. Test it out on the surface you want cleaned and see how it works for you, but do be careful to make sure that you don’t burn yourself. 

Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent is made of ingredients that clean better than dish soap. You only need around half a cup of detergent mixed into one gallon of water. Try and find an eco friendly product, as this may be kinder to your surfaces and skin than standard detergent.

Laundry detergent is good for cleaning your car safely, but do remember to use a lower pressure so you don’t break your windows, mirrors or wipers. 


If you’re looking for a natural option, vinegar is known for its disinfecting and odor banishing powers. Mix around 3 parts of vinegar to 7 parts of water. The smell should vanish once it’s dry, but if you’re still worried, you can add essential oils like mint, which can also make your home smell great. 

Multipurpose Cleaner

Some household multi-purpose cleaners can be used in a pressure washer. You’ll need around 2 cups of cleaner per gallon of water, although you can use more or less depending on the amount of mess you need to clean. 

Never Use Bleach

While bleach is great for disinfecting your toilet, bleach can actually cause a lot of harm to your pressure washer.

More importantly, it’s difficult to control where you spray the mist, so it’s easy to spray bleach onto your skin or eyes and injure yourself. If you do want to use bleach, clean by applying it individually. Use the pressure washer to rinse it away with water afterwards while wearing sturdy eye protection. 


Dish soap is great for removing grease but can cause damage to your pressure washer if used improperly. There are special detergents that are on the market made for your pressure washer. If dish soap is the only thing you have on hand, don’t use too much and mix it thoroughly with water to avoid build up in your machine.

Do be careful when treating treasured belongings with a dish soap mixture, as any damage may be difficult to fix afterwards. If you’re unsure, try the DIY cleaners above, as these are less likely to harm your surfaces.