Suds in Dishwasher Without Soap! (What to Do?)

Suds in Dishwasher Without Soap (What to Do)

When a rinse cycle has been completed and the dishwasher is opened, it is expected that only a few droplets of water should be seen inside the machine as a result of the cleaning it had just undergone.

However, one common dishwasher issue encountered by owners after running their machines without soap (often after a rinse cycle), is the unexpected suds in the dishwasher, making one wonder where all that soap came from in the first place.

This article is going to uncover the root cause of this happening in your dishwasher and give you solutions.

Suds in Dishwasher Without Soap!

Discovering soap suds clinging to some parts of the inner surface of the machine or even coming out of the closed dishwasher door can be frustrating to watch.

What Causes Suds in Dishwasher Even Without Using Soap?

Here are the main reasons your dishwasher is producing foam without even using soap:

1- Dish Soap Liquid Backing Up Into the Dishwasher From the Sink

In the absence of an air gap between your dishwasher and your sink, and also due to a clog in the garbage disposal, it often occurs that the soapy water in your sink drain line is capable of circulating and forcing its way up into your dishwasher.

And whenever you run your dishwasher without soap in it, the dish soap water from the sink mixes with the water from the machine causing suds to form and stick inside.

2- Residue From Dishwasher Detergent

It is no news that dishwasher soaps are capable of clinging to the inner surface area of the machine.

This residue problem makes the inner surface of the machine become soapy even when the dishwasher has exhausted the soap tablet or liquid soap in its detergent dispenser slot and completed a rinse cycle.

Whenever you run the machine void of soap, you still get to see traces of soapy foams that had formed from the water in the machine shaking up the soapy surfaces.

Does Rinse Aid Make Suds?

Yes, rinse aid is capable of producing soap suds, and if you are currently facing a sudsy dishwasher that is void of soap, it just might be the culprit.

Rinse aid is a relevant dish cleaning product that is often recommended for dishwasher owners because it helps maintain cleaner and etch-free plates, cutlery, and cups.

However, the rinse-aid is made up of active ingredients that are also present in detergents. These ingredients make it possible for the rinse aid to thoroughly tackle grease, hard water, and food residue.

Those components also cause the rinse aid to foam, too, especially when large quantities of the rinse aid spills or leaks directly into the dishwasher and the machine is running its cycle.

Thus, causing the water to develop suds even in the absence of the dishwasher detergent itself.

How Do Unwanted Suds Affect The Dishwasher?

Suds development is necessary for a good cleaning to happen. They are a by-product of agitated soapy water and in this context, it is the dishwasher detergent mixed with the water flowing into the machine.

However, when the suds begin to become unwanted and unnecessary like those caused by the factors stated above, they shouldn’t be ignored, here are the reasons why:

1- It Causes the Dishwasher to Stink

This often comes to play in a case whereby the suds are caused due to soapy water from the sink or garbage disposal being backed up into the dishwasher.

In this situation, the suds are obviously dirty suds and contain loads of germs [bear in mind that they are a product of soap, food residue, grime, and water] owing to where they came from and would naturally cause the dishwasher to stink after a while of being stagnant in the machine.

2- It Affects the Quality of the Water

When the dishwasher has been affected by dishwasher detergent residue or leaking rinse aid (which is causing the machine to continuously foam even in the absence of detergent), the fear of passing dishes, cutlery, and cups through it for a clean would arise.

This is because the water used in rinsing would contain traces of detergent or rinse aid in them and until the source of the suds is addressed, one might as well be serving food or drinks in contaminated crockery.

3- It Creates Soap Scum

If your dishwasher is creating suds without the presence of a dishwasher detergent or tablet in the soap dispenser, there is undoubtedly soap clinging to a part of the inner surface area of the dishwasher or leakage as in the case of the rinse aid.

The soap suds would eventually increase the amount of slimy films, which are called soap scum, and they would get attached to the walls of the dishwasher like the soap residue.

Can Too Much Suds Damage a Dishwasher?

First, it is important to state that suds in the dishwasher, irrespective of whatever the causative factor might have been, can only cause damage to the dishwasher only when it is in extreme excess.

And an ‘extreme excess’ in this context means the following:

Suds Seeping Out of the Dishwasher

When the water in the dishwasher bubbles up so much that the suds and soap water begin to seep out of the machine because the degree of the froth has overwhelmed it, then the dishwasher might be on its way to damage.

This situation would, first of all, cause a mess in the kitchen, but also, the water could circulate and touch a wire connected to or from the machine.

This might lead to a spark and cause the machine to shut down.

Blockage in the Dishwasher Drain

Too much suds in the dishwasher can be a hassle for liquid going down the drain.

The accumulated excess suds are capable of causing a form of blockage in the pipe, making it impossible for the dishwasher to release anything down the drain.

It is one major factor that plumbers deal with when dishwasher owners complain of dishwasher not draining anymore.

The consequence of not being aware of the blockage on time or not addressing it the right way is that it could cause a lot of problems for the machine and might even affect the sink, as there is a high chance that there might be a backup into the sink drain.

The Solutions!

1- Address the Source

The first step in dealing with suds in dishwashers without the presence of dishwasher detergent is to discover and address what is causing the suds.

As we have discussed earlier, the sudden suds development can be due to varying factors like a leaked or spilled rinse aid, backed up sink water, or soap residue.

Finding out the causative factor first is a big step in stopping the suds from occurring, reoccurring, and finally putting an end to their presence in the dishwasher.

2- Run the Cycle Continuously

If suds (being present in the dishwasher without soap) is caused by the presence of too much rinse aid in the water and the leak has been addressed, a sure-fire way to get the suds away completely is to run the dishwasher over and again till the suds dissipate.

There is no fixed amount of time to run the dishwasher when this happens because the degree of the suds might differ.

3- Unclog the Garbage Disposal or Sink Drain

A blocked garbage disposal or sink drain can be the culprit in causing unexpected suds in the dishwasher due to soapy water being backed up into the machine.

When this happens, the best course of action is to call a plumber to help out in getting to the roots of the blockage by loosening the sink pipe or plunging the garbage disposal (depending on which is responsible for the issue) in order to halt the soapy water from getting into the dishwasher.

4- Raise the Dishwasher Drain Hose High

Still on soapy water being backed up into the dishwasher from the sink. Sometimes, the problem might not be caused by any form of blockage, it could be that the dishwasher drain hose might just be set low rather than high.

In cases where the dishwasher is in close proximity to the sink, the drain line of the dishwasher should be raised higher than the sink to avoid water from the sink accidentally slipping into the dishwasher.

5- Fix an Air Gap Between the Dishwasher and Sink Hose

Air gaps are installed to help prevent irregular movement of water to and fro the dishwasher or the sink.

As stated earlier that when suds suddenly appear in the dishwasher despite the absence of detergent in the machine, it could be water from the sink backing up into the dishwasher when in service.

The root cause could be the absence of an air gap and the solution for this problem is to have a plumber fix one.

6- Avoid Using Laundry Detergent or Hand Wash

Using laundry detergent or hand wash in place of the conventional dishwasher detergent often results in an overload of suds in the dishwasher.

The suds could even be too much to curtail and even when removed and wiped away, they could leave behind residues on the inner walls or filter.

7- Wash the Dishwasher With Vinegar

In order to tackle the soap residue present in the dishwasher, a vinegar bath will do the trick.

You can either manually wash the inner surface area or place a bowl of vinegar in the machine and let it run on a hot cycle.

How to Stop Soap Suds in Dishwasher?


1- Salt
2- Vinegar
3- Bowl
4- Wet/dry vacuum


STEP 1: Power off the dishwasher and remove the racks and plates within.

STEP 2: Either use a bowl to scoop the suds out or a wet/dry vacuum to suck the suds.

STEP 3: When the suds have been greatly reduced, pour a large quantity of salt into the dishwasher and let it run on the hot cycle.

STEP 4: After the cycle is done, pour a large quantity of vinegar into the dishwasher and allow it to run on a hot cycle.

STEP 5: Repeat this method till the suds dissipate.


Suds are not out of place to see while washing because of the presence of the soap being used.

However, what do you do when suds suddenly appear when there’s no soap in the dishwasher?

This article elucidated all that you need to know about the appearance of suds in the dishwasher without soap.

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