Can you clean a toilet with washing up liquid? Experts weigh in on the viral cleaning hack

This is one cleaning myth to stay away from

Each week there seems to be a new cleaning hack being peddled as the ultimate cleaning holy grail. From old wives tales to the latest viral hack, we're putting cleaning tips to the test in cleaning myths.

Up first is the washing-up liquid toilet cleaning hack. The hack first appeared on the Facebook group 'Mums Who Clean'. A woman claimed that a squeeze of washing up liquid in the toilet tank was a genius shortcut to a clean toilet. Every time the toilet was flushed it would release the washing-up liquid and clean-smelling bubbles.

toilet with toilet paper

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Unsurprisingly the hack swept across social media as the best new tip for how to clean a bathroom. The hack spawned even further washing up liquid toilet cleaning hacks, including swapping your trusty Domestos and using it to clean the toilet bowl too.

However, while washing up liquid might seem like the most harmless best cleaning product, experts warn that this hack could be damaging your entire toilet system.

'Although the recent trend seems to be getting a lot of interest, this ‘hack’ will end up doing more bad than good and will eventually ruin your toilet system,' says Adam Leech, Owner of Showers Direct.

'Toilet tanks aren’t built to deal with anything else apart from water, washing up liquid will damage the rubber/seals in the cistern.'

toilet with toilet paper and white sink

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Garry Kirkbright, Senior Designer at More Bathrooms agreed saying: 'We don’t recommend using washing up liquid within the toilet cistern as the bubbles can negatively affect the components inside. Instead, opt for a product created specifically for toilet cleaning as this is safer to use.'

While washing up liquid in the tank was off-limits, we decided to see if Fairy Liquid was a good alternative to our standard toilet cleaner when put straight into the toilet bowl. However, according to Adam, even this method could damage the ceramic or porcelain surface of your toilet.

'Products like Fairy Liquid can cause a number of problems for your toilet, from discoloration to damage,' he explains.

'To avoid this from happening, read the label on your toilet cleaner carefully before using it inside of a bowl that has a ceramic or porcelain surface.'

washing up liquid and soap dispenser

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

In the interest of fully testing the hack, I did try a squirt of washing up liquid when cleaning the toilet. All there is to say is I wish I'd listened to the experts.

Rather than a squeaky clean bowl, I was left with an odd smell and an alarming amount of bubbles, which took about three to floor flushes to finally get rid of.

While there is some evidence to suggest washing up liquid is a good option if you're looking into how to unblock a toilet. If you're looking to regularly clean with it, we'd recommend you give this cleaning myth a swerve.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.