Though dishwasher detergent is specially formulated for use in a dishwasher, it's good for cleaning quite a few other areas around the house. Its grease-busting traits make it good for tackling all sorts of messes, from oily spills in a garage to soap scum in a bathroom.
Uses for Dishwasher Soap
Cleaning the bathroom is one of the best alternative uses for dishwasher soap. Make your own bathtub soap-scum cleaning paste by pouring 1/4 cup or so of powdered dishwasher detergent into a bowl. Add enough water to give the detergent a paste-like consistency. Wet the sides of the tub, sink or shower with a little water, focusing on the areas visibly soiled by soap scum, general grime or mildew.
Apply the homemade cleaning paste to the soiled areas with a damp scrub brush or sponge. While wearing rubber gloves, scrub those areas with the brush or sponge after a few minutes, then rinse.
Pour the leftover detergent paste into the toilet for a powerful toilet bowl cleaner. If you've already used most of the paste, pour a few tablespoons of fresh powdered dishwasher detergent into the toilet bowl. Wait at least 10 minutes, then scrub the inside of the bowl with a toilet brush. Flush the toilet and rinse the toilet brush in the clean water as the toilet flushes.
Cleaning Driveways and Garage Floors
Dishwasher detergent is great for removing oily spots from a driveway or garage floor, too. If the spot is fresh, first pour an absorbent material such as clean kitty litter atop it. Step onto the kitty litter to compress it over the oil. Repeat this with fresh kitty litter for a few days or until it no longer lifts oil or grease.
Wet the oily spot with water, then sprinkle powdered dishwasher detergent atop the spot. Wait a few minutes, then scrub it with a shop broom. Rinse the area with a mop.
Laundry Room Uses
A few dishwasher tablet hacks come in handy on laundry day as well. Add one dishwasher tablet containing bleach to your regular laundry detergent when washing whites. Don't add more bleach, as the tablet serves as the bleaching and brightening agent in this case.
For extra dingy whites, mix one gallon of hot water with a dishwasher tablet and 1/4 cup bleach. Soak the dirty whites in the solution for 30 minutes, then wash them with your favorite laundry soap.
Cleaning the Walls
A DIY cleaner for washable walls is another of the many uses for dishwasher tablets. Dissolve one tablet in a bucket of hot water. Dip a sponge into the solution, wringing out most of the water, then wipe away scuffs and dirty spots on the walls. For tougher spots, sprinkle a tiny amount of powdered dish detergent or baking soda onto the sponge, scrub the affected area, then wipe the spot. Rinse the sponge, wring most of the water out, then wipe it again.
This same cleaner works well for plastic patio furniture and other washable surfaces. Before using this cleaning treatment on painted or wood surfaces, test it in an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn't cause discoloration.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.