10 things you should never clean with washing up liquid

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Cleaning expert Heather Barrigan hit headlines this week after she shared the most common cleaning mistakes including condemning the use of washing up liquid on a chopping board. Washing up liquid is used in most households to make dirty dishes clean. Express.co.uk has compiled a list of the items you should never clean with washing up liquid.

Your hair

Washing up liquid can be very damaging to your hair as it can strip it of all its natural oils.

This type of soap can be particularly damaging for anyone with coloured hair because health hair retains colour better than damaged hair.

Hardwood floors

Wooden floors suffer damage easily given they are underfoot.

To clean wooden floors effectively, you should sweep or vacuum the surface before washing the floors with a mop or cleanser specifically designed for wooden floors.

Washing up liquid is not ideal for this task and can leave behind a film on the flooring.


Leather is a sensitive fabric and can hold onto its natural oils.

Using washing up liquid can strip leather fabrics of their natural oils and emollients.

Experts suggest wiping away dirt with a damp cloth, then applying a moisturising product to keep leather supple.

Your pet

Animals should only be washed with specialist products.

Washing up liquid is often unsafe for your pet because it can dry out your animal’s skin and coat.


Silk is a delicate fabric and should therefore be treated with care.

Washing up liquid can damage silk fabrics.


Often washing up liquid solutions can be used to make your own insecticides.

But washing up liquid should generally be avoided on plants because it can be damaging to plants generally.

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Cast-iron frying pans

It is best to avoid using washing up liquid when cleaning a cast iron skillet or pan.

This is because this method can strip the surface of the pan of its seasoning, including multiple coats of thin oil.

Instead, you should use paper towels to quote the surface when it is warm to remove any excess food and oil before rinsing it under hot running water.


Washing up liquid can leave streaks on mirrors and therefore it is not an effective solution if you want shiny mirrors.

If using dish soap, you need to ensure it is thoroughly rinsed off to avoid leaving marks behind.

Chopping boards

Using washing up liquid and hot water does not clean chopping boards as thoroughly as one would imagine according to cleaning expert Helen Barrigan.

This is because soap cannot penetrate the cold cutting board meaning it does not get thoroughly cleaning.

To avoid any cross-contamination and ensure it is clean, it is advised you soak your cutting boards into bleach solution after each use.

This method ensures most bacteria is killed and cannot transfer onto any other food.


Almost half of UK drivers use washing up liquid to wash their car.

The bleach and ammonia contained in washing-up liquid break down the wax that is applied to the paintwork to protect it.

Once that protective layer is damaged, modern water-based paints can turn dull and, in extreme cases, start to crack.

Tips to make sure you are washing your dishes properly

  • Scrape plates free of food into a compost bin
  • Wipe excess grease from plates, pans or baking trays with paper towels
  • Avoid rinsing grease down the drain
  • Soal really grimey items
  • Rinse items after washing items.

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