15 Surprising Uses for Dish Soap That Go Beyond Cleaning

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Basic dish soap is a cleaning powerhouse — strong enough to cut through baked-on grease and layers of grout grime, gentle on clothing, but tough on stains, and safe to use on just about any surface, from washing your car to scrubbing your face. But cleaning, uh, everything, isn't all those suds are good for — here are 15 unexpected and creative uses for dish soap!

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1. Find gas leaks. Before you throw those steaks on the grill, make sure your gas barbecue setup is leak-free by performing the soapy water test. A gas leak releases pressure that can be visually detected when it comes in contact with a solution containing just enough viscosity to form bubbles. So, to find out if your gas grill is leaking toxic fumes, fill a spray bottle with water and three tablespoons of liquid dish soap, and coat the surface of the tank, the valve, the regulator, and hose assembly. Then turn on the valve so the system begins to pressurize — if you see soap bubbles, you know you've got a leak to fix! This same test works on any gas-fueled appliance.

2. Prevent a slippery sidewalk. Icy streets are another safety hazard that can be easily remedied with a little dish soap. Add one teaspoon of dish soap and one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to a 1/2 gallon of warm water, and then pour the mixture onto walkways before cold, wet weather rolls in. Your sidewalks magically won't freeze!

3. Soften cuticles. Begin your next at-home manicure the way you would at any salon — by soaking your fingers in warm water with a little dish soap mixed in. The solution will soften cuticles and clean your nails so they're pliant and easy to shape.

4. Trap fruit flies. Here's a trick for getting rid of fruit fries before they can multiply. Fill a small bowl with white vinegar, add a few drops of dish soap, and let it sit on your kitchen counter for a day. The vinegar smell will lure them in, but the dish soap viscosity on the surface will make it impossible for them to fly away.

5. Make long-lasting icepacks. Frozen dish soap melts at a slower rate than regular ol' ice, who knew?!

6. Kill weeds. Skip the toxic weed killers and make your own with a 1/2 gallon of white vinegar, a cup of salt, and a single teaspoon of dish soap. Pour the solution wherever weeds are growing and watch them whither almost instantly.

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7. Make bubbles! They're fun for everyone, young and old!

8. Kill fleas. Use dish soap instead of pricey pet shampoo to get rid of fleas and ticks; brands like Dawn are super gentle on your dog's skin and won't make their eyes sting, but the critters trapped in their fur won't stand a chance.

9. Protect houseplants. Add a drop or two of dish soap to a spray bottle filled with water and mist your houseplants to keep bugs at bay.

10. Prevent glass from fogging. As those who live in humid climates know all too well, excessive heat and moist air makes glass fog up. If you're sick of constantly taking off your eye and sunglasses because the heat is clouding your vision, a little dish soap will clear things up. Dab a little on your finger and rub it all over the lenses of your glasses, then wipe away the excess with a tissue or soft cloth — but don't rinse. Not only will they be super clean, but your glasses will be fog-free for the rest of the day.

11. Lighten hair color. Oof, did your at-home hair dye experiment come out a littttttle darker than planned? Fix that Feria fiasco by washing your hair with dish soap instead of regular shampoo — it'll strip away some of the color for a lighter hue you can live with.

12. Prep skin before painting. Dish soap is ideal for cleaning up paint spills on all types of surfaces, including your skin. And better yet, if you slather on a thin layer of dish soap like lotion before you paint, the mess will wash away even easier.

13. Clear a clogged toilet. Put aside the plunger and forget about harsh chemical cleans — unclog that commode with a cup of dish soap instead. Dump it directly into the bowl, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and then force it to flush with a bucket of hot water poured from waist height. This trick also works on clogged sink and shower drains!

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14. Thicken grass. If your lawn is looking thin and patchy, make a non-toxic fertilizer out of corn syrup, a can of Coke, and some dish soap, and spray it all over the grass the next time you water. The mixture will make your grass grow in thick and lush!

15. Kill moss. There is definitely such a thing as too much moss, and unfortunately, because it reproduces by spores rather than seeds, it can spread fast. Dish soap is the secret to controlling moss growth or getting rid of it entirely. Combine two tablespoons of dish soap and a gallon of water, and soak just the moss you want to kill — the solution will cause it to dry out.

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I'm a freelance writer and reporter for outlets like Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, BUST, Nylon, Woolly, and the Appeal, a podcast host for Undisclosed, and once upon a time, I was the founding editor of The Frisky.