Is Soap Necessary For Washing Dishes? Get Answers Here!

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a lot of discussion about the best way to wash dishes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approves washing dishes with soap and water to remove bacteria and viruses.

However, there is some debate about whether soap is really necessary. So, what does science say? Is soap necessary for washing dishes?

The answer is No – soap is not necessary for washing dishes. There are many alternatives to soap that can be just as effective, if not more or so. This includes the use of salt, white vinegar, and lemon juice. 

Though a lot of health organizations recommend the use of soap saying that it is necessary, on one hand, it is true. While on the other hand, it isn’t true. Soap is actually less effective than plain water at removing grease and food particles from dishes. In fact, the thing is water does more of the work. 

But why do we continue to use soap for dishes when it is not necessary? Well, for one, it’s a habit. We’ve been using soap to wash our dishes for generations, and it’s become a part of our daily routine.

Additionally, the truth is that soap is a great degreaser and emulsifier. It’s also very good at removing dirt, grime, and other contaminants from surfaces. 

Plus, soap is usually the most gentle option, which is important for delicate dishware. However, soap is not biodegradable and it can be harmful to the environment if it’s not used properly. 

What other methods can I use for washing dishes?

Though the use of soap has become a habit for generations, and new dish soaps have been produced for washing dishes, it is not mandatory to use them. There are other methods you can use to wash your dishes which I will share with you in this segment. 

Fortunately, most of the methods I’d provide are with the items you use at home, so you won’t need to purchase a lot.

Here are the other methods you can utilize for washing dishes:

  • Baking soda paste.
  • Salt.
  • The use of hot water.
  • Utilize wood Ash.
  • White vinegar.

Baking soda paste 

The use of Baking soda is one method you can use to wash your dishes without the use of soap. Baking soda is good because it kills off bacteria and other unwanted viruses on surfaces. Plus, it removes stains easily without harming the object.

Thus, with baking soda, you can easily wash off the debris, food stains, and grease away from your dishes. However, you won’t be using the baking soda alone, you’d have to mix it with water to form a paste. 

  • Put at least a half cup of baking soda in a small bowl.
  • Proceed to use your tablespoon to put some water into the baking soda. 
  • Mix together to form a paste. Note- a paste is usually thick not watery. 
  • Then, put your dish sponge into the paste and use it to wash your dishes. Kindly use the paste little by little.


Salt isn’t just for cooking – giving your food taste, it is useful for many other things. Salt was composed of sodium chloride which made it suitable for many other things, aside from cooking. Did you know that salt-sodium chloride is usually added to soap making? If you didn’t know, now you know. 

Salt is one great way you can succeed in cleaning your dishes without the use of soap. In fact, the use of soap is appropriate for getting rid of food burned in your pans and pots. You won’t have to worry about how you can get rid of food burned from any of your cookware. 

Get the following:

  • Hot water – 1 cup.
  • Dish sponge. 
  • Salt either your usual table Salt or kosher – two tablespoons. 
  • A bowl.


  • Put the two tablespoons of salt and hot water in your bowl.
  • Then, proceed to pour the mixture into the cookware with the residue. 
  • Pout out half of the water from the ware into a bowl.
  • Employ your dish sponge to wash the cookware with the remaining salt water in it. 
  • Feel free to add more salt if needed. 

The use of hot water 

As aforementioned, the trick for washing plates is a little soap and more water. This implies that water does more of the work and water is more needed. But one of the methods I have been able to acquire to wash dishes is the use of hot water. 

Hot water does the trick and it washes the grease and stains off the dishes as expected. You won’t have to worry about soap particles being left on the dishes or unwanted soap odor. 

In fact, viruses and bacteria can be gotten rid of from your dishes by using hot water. 

Get the following:

  • Gloves.
  • Hot water.
  • Dish sponge.


  • Pour the hot water into your kitchen sink.
  • Then, put your dirty dishes into the water. Kindly allow the dishes to soak in the water for 25 minutes.
  • With your gloves on, bring out your dishes one after the other and use the dish sponge to scrub their surfaces. 
  • Rinse in warm water.

Utilize wood Ash

This particular method gives me joy because it is super effective. Instead of using soap, wood Ash would do the work. All the wood Ash from campfires or any fireplace shouldn’t go to waste as they are useful.  Wood Ash is a very natural method to use for your dishes – emphasis on the very. 

It is able to get rid of stains from your dishes and cookware, and take away any food odor totally. This method is usually found stressful because you’d hardly find wood Ash except during camping. 

However, you can just burn a slab of wood to get more than enough Ash for washing your dishes. 


  • Wood Ash.
  • Gloves.
  • Dish sponge.


  • Wet your dishes with water.
  • Then, with your gloves on, put the wood Ash on the dishes.
  • Proceed to use your dish sponge to scrub till the stains on the plates and cookware are gone. 

White vinegar 

White vinegar is often used in place of baking soda, and vice versa. This substance is super effective in getting rid of stains from any item surface. It would also successfully get rid of debris and grease from your dishes without any trouble. 

White vinegar is good for many things, honestly. You will need to get some materials. 

Materials needed

  • White vinegar (distilled) – two tablespoons.
  • Warm water – a cup.
  • Spritz container.
  • Dish sponge. 


  • Put the distilled vinegar and water in your spritz container – shake after covering the container.
  • Spritz the mixture of your dishes – only when you are ready to wash your plates.
  • Employ your dish sponge to wash the dishes.
  • Kindly rinse at least twice. 


Can you wash dishes without using soap?

Absolutely, yea! – you can wash your dishes without the use of soap. As said earlier, there are other alternatives you can use to clean your dishes instead of using soap. Those alternatives include salt, white vinegar, baking soda, and even your cooking table Salt. 

No doubt, dish soap is specially formulated to remove grease, oils, and food residues from dishes, utensils, and cookware. Not only that, but soap is also effective at removing bacteria and viruses from surfaces. But it isn’t mandatory to use it. 

It is often used because it has become a habit from different generations till now. If you run out of dish soap, you can use other methods. 

Do dishes get clean in the dishwasher without soap?

Of course, dishes get clean in the dishwasher without soap. Just like it isn’t necessary to use soap to wash your dishes, it isn’t necessary to add soap to your dishwasher before your plates can get clean. 

There are different models of dishwashers, just like there are different models of washing machines. And just like you have the wash and rinse cycle in your washing machine, you also have it in some dishwasher models. 

In the case of not using soap, you just need to use the rinse cycle with distilled vinegar. With that, your dishes would be made very clean.

As aforesaid, if you run off soap for washing plates and you are worried that you can’t use your dishwasher because of soap, be chill. You can wash your plates in your dishwasher without soap – it will be clean. 

Conclusion- Is Soap Necessary For Washing Dishes?

Soap isn’t mandatory for cleaning dishes. Although due to the pandemic that broke out, the CDC advised the use of soap to kill the bacteria on plates and cookware.

However, you can get your dishes cleaned without using soap. You can always use other alternatives such as salt, distilled vinegar, baking soda, hot water, and many more. 

I have made it easier by providing how you can utilize the other alternatives listed above to wash your dishes. I hope you heed all the instructions and find other questions that were answered useful. 

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