Household Uses for Dawn Dish Soap (Other Than Washing Dishes)

Do you only use Dawn for washing dishes? This blue staple is also a go-to for many other household tasks and just might save you a little green.
by Rose Scott
Alternate Uses for Dawn Dish Soap photo

Dawn® dishwashing liquid, introduced in 1972 by Proctor & Gamble, is just a few years younger than me, and I don’t think I remember not seeing a bottle under the kitchen sink as a child or an adult. And I’ve relied on it for far more than handwashing dishes, especially after trying so many money-saving alternate uses from Dollar Stretcher readers submitted over the years.

I use it so often that I now buy the big bottle of concentrated Dawn Professional at Sam’s Club when it’s on sale. I keep a glass spray bottle on my kitchen counter that contains diluted Dawn for soaking and washing dishes. But I also use this kitchen staple as a go-to for many of the following household tasks.

Pest Control

Here are some ways Dollar Stretcher readers use Dawn to control indoor and outdoor pests.


I’m not sure why this works, but if I notice ants in our kitchen, I mix a drop of Dawn with powdered sugar and water to create a sweet trap that attracts the ants. Within a few days, they are gone.
contributed by TJ

Here are some additional all-natural ant repellents to try. also recommends diluted Dawn dish soap for combatting outdoor fire ants.

Swarming Bees

My neighbor raises honey bees. When we put in a pool, it looked like a highway of bees going from their house to our pool. We found that Dawn® dish detergent (we used just the regular blue Dawn) mixed with water keeps them away. (We just wanted to deter them, not harm or kill them). We filled a spray bottle with a mixture of it. We used about an inch of dish detergent and mixed it with water. We sprayed it all over the pool and deck, and within 20 minutes, all the bees were gone. They didn’t come back all year, either.

We spent a lot of time at the river this year, and there were always bees at the table, especially when we ate. I started spraying the table every morning. We’d get maybe one persistent bee flying around, but he’d never land on anything and he didn’t stay. I do not know why, but they sure do not like it.
contributed by Elizabeth

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To get rid of gnats, fill a disposable pie pan with the following:

1 3/4 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
2 cups water

Let this mixture sit on your kitchen counter or other problem area. You will be surprised at how many you’ll get.
contributed by Melissa J.

Plant Pests

Mix Dawn with water to spray on plants to ward off certain pests, like aphids.

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Weed Killer

Mix Dawn with white vinegar and salt to create a potent weed killer (get the recipe on Spray it directly onto unwanted weeds in your garden or between cracks in the sidewalk. Just be careful not to get it on your plants, as it can be quite effective!

Pet-Friendly Shampoo

Bathing your furry friend with a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water can help rid them of pesky fleas. It’s a gentle and effective alternative to expensive flea treatments. Rinse thoroughly to keep their coat shiny and skin healthy.

Dawn will also safely and effectively remove oils and dirt from your pet’s fur, especially if they get into something greasy. Or if your dog gets “skunked,” make a solution of Dawn, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the smell. Try this recipe from and make sure not to get it in your pet’s eyes.

Homemade Bubbles for Kids

When my kids were small, they could often make bigger bubbles with dish liquid formulas than the store-bought bubbles. It was worth making a batch rather than getting them frustrated with the cheap store-bought stuff.

You can find plenty of recipes online, but has two good ones to try. Or here’s another one from the Ontario Science Center.

Unclogging the Toilet

A clogged toilet can send anyone into a panic, but before you call the plumber, try Dawn. Pour a cup of Dawn into the toilet bowl, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then flush. The soap can help break down the clog, making it easier to clear without a plunger.

We had a reader who had success unclogging her toilet with Dawn:

My toilet wasn’t flushing very quickly, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, it finally clogged with water right to the brim, so I couldn’t use a plunger. I thought, “Good grief, another unexpected bill to get a plumber out to the house.

Before going to bed that night, I recalled someone saying that putting about half a cup of the Original Blue Dawn dish soap into your toilet and leaving it overnight would unplug the toilet. I did it, got into bed, and about 10 minutes later, I heard a loud swoosh sound. I went to investigate, and the toilet was unplugged! Amazing! I flushed it again, and the water went down at speeds I had never seen before. It worked like a charm and saved me lots of money as well. I should add that I have a city water system. I’m not sure if you could use this with a septic tank.
contributed by Seva

Household Cleaning

Here are several tips for using Dawn to clean everything from clothing to carpeting. Once again, many of these were contributed by Dollar Stretcher readers.

Note: Always test new cleaners on an inconspicuous surface area before applying any kind of cleaning agent to it.

Clothing Grease Stains

Dab a small amount of dish soap onto clothing stains, gently rub it in, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing as usual.

Carpet Stains

A mixture of 1/2 cup Dawn and 2 cups boiling water also makes a great spot remover for carpets. Apply with a damp sponge.
contributed by Margaret

Pet Urine Odors

If your pet has an accident in the house, here’s a way to prevent urine odors. Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar and two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid into a quart of water. Spray it on the spot while the spot is still damp. It’ll take away the odor. It’s cheap and does a great job.
contributed by Natalie

Cleaning Area Rugs

I have wood floors in my home and lots of area rugs. I have all kinds of area rugs, from large Oriental wool rugs to cotton blend braided rugs to synthetic fiber rugs. Instead of renting the rug cleaner machines, I simply carry the rugs outside onto my driveway, hose them down, and then randomly squirt some Dawn® dish detergent on the damp rug. Then, I use the hose to spray all the Dawn® out of the rug, thus deep cleaning the rug. When done washing, I place several two-by-fours under the rug to allow air circulation. The outside air-dry makes the rug smell nice and fresh when dry. I have cleaned my rugs this way several times a year for the last 16 years, and they still look great.
contributed by Laura

Glass Cleaner

I once asked a professional window cleaner at my place of business for the secret to streak-free windows and mirrors. He told me to put three to four drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid into a 30- to 32-ounce spray bottle. First spray and rub with a microfiber cloth to loosen dirt and oils. Then spray once more and use a squeegee. It really works! I never buy glass cleaners!
contributed by Karen A.

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Shower Cleaner

Mix Dawn with equal parts vinegar for a powerful shower cleaner. It can help remove soap scum and buildup. (See also: Cleaning a Shower Without Scrubbing: Tips for Seniors.)

Floor Cleaner

An economical, non-rinse floor cleaner can be made by mixing the following ingredients:

1/4 cup dish soap
2 cups vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
1 to 2 cups water

This recipe is great for cleaning floors, bathrooms, walls, etc.
contributed by Shelly

Dawn can be used to clean tile and no-wax floors. However, avoid using it on hardwood flooring, as it may be too harsh.

Aluminum Cleaner

HGTV shows always say that people’s first impression of your house is important. Therefore, I do spring cleaning on the front of our house. The aluminum front screen door was a problem until I discovered that a squirt of dish soap and two cups of white vinegar in a gallon of water will add shine to the aluminum. It almost looks like new again.
contributed by Jeff

Toilet Cleaner

My family is sensitive to chemicals, so I try to stay all-natural. I’ve found this recipe that works as a toilet bowl cleaner.

2 cups baking soda
1/4 cup Epsom salts
8 to 9 tablespoons liquid dish detergent
Muffin tin
Muffin liners

Mix the baking soda and Epsom salts. Break up any clumps. Slowly add the dish soap. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Put the liners in a muffin tin and pour in the mix. Use a spoon to pack it tight. Let it dry overnight. When ready to clean a toilet, just drop in one and let it dissolve while scrubbing the bowl with your toilet brush. The result will be a clean toilet without chemicals.
contributed by Marci

An All-Purpose Cleaner

I have an all-purpose cleaner that is cheap, easy to make and works great. I also have two dogs and a husband with asthma, so I have to be careful about what cleaners I use around the house.

2 cups water
1/4 cup vinegar (distilled white)
1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid (like Dawn®)

Mix well and pour into a spray bottle (like an old Windex® bottle).

I’ve been using this for years on countertops, toilets, mirrors, windows, and other surfaces. It’s a great all-purpose cleaner.
contributed by Kathy in Greenbrier, AR

Granite Counter Cleaner

A great granite cleaner is equal parts water and rubbing alcohol plus a squirt of dish soap. I just read the label of an expensive brand cleaner to determine which ingredients to use. I use my homemade formula on my granite kitchen and baths and I am very pleased.
contributed by Charly

A Few Other Household Uses

  • Paint Brush Cleaner: Soak your brushes in a mixture of warm water and a drop of Dawn to dissolve the paint and keep the bristles soft. This method is effective for both water-based and oil-based paints.
  • Brush and Comb Cleaner: Soak your brushes and combs in a Dawn solution to help remove natural oil buildup and hair product residue.
  • Ice Pack: Fill a zipped plastic bag with Dawn soap for a reusable ice pack. The soap doesn’t fully freeze, so it remains moldable.

The Blue Liquid That Can Save You Some Green

Who knew that a bottle of Dawn dish soap could be such a versatile tool in your frugal living arsenal? From tackling stains and clogs to entertaining the kids with giant bubbles, it’s clear that Dawn’s uses go well beyond the kitchen sink. So next time you’re tidying up or facing a household dilemma, just reach for that blue bottle.

Reviewed April 2024

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