How to Clean Up Liquid Soap/Detergent Spills

Rose asked: My child spilled dishwasher liquid all over rug and floor. How can I clean this up?

Cleaning up a soap spill can be a real headache. Our first thought is to mop it up, but adding water only makes the problem worse. Here are the steps and a helpful tips to tackle this mess and clean it up as quickly as possible, whether it is on a hard floor or on a rug.

Cleaning Up Soap Spills on Solid Flooring


You Will Need:

  • Kitty litter
  • Salt
  • Soft cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Mop
  • Dustpan

Steps to Clean Up the Spill:

  1. When a spill happens on a hard floor, there are several ways to absorb it first.
  2. Kitty litter makes a great absorbent. Cover the soap spill with the litter and allow it to sit and absorb the moisture.
  3. Use paper towels to push the moistened litter into a dustpan and dispose of it.
  4. Repeat if needed.
  5. If no kitty litter is available, use salt to absorb the soap with the same method as above.
  6. Use dry paper towels of soft cloths to wipe up as much of the soap as possible.
  7. When a majority of the soap is removed, you are ready to tackle the remaining film. Soap is concentrated and suds up greatly when water is added.
  8. Fill a bucket with plain water.
  9. Use a mop to clean the remaining soap off of the floor. Rinse the mop frequently and change the water as needed to keep lifting the soap from the floor.
  10. If excessive suds begin to form, vegetable oil can be used to reduce them. Both will be removed during the cleaning process.
  11. Once the floor is clean, dry it with a soft cloth.
  12. Allow it to air dry completely.
  13. If there is residue or a sticky film remaining, the floor needs to be mopped again.

Cleaning Up Soap Spills on Carpet

You Will Need:

  • Kitty litter
  • Salt
  • Soft cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Dustpan
  • Wet vac

Steps to Clean Up the Spill:

  1. Carpets can be a real pain to get clean when soap or detergent spills on them. Soaking up as much as possible with absorbent kitty litter or salt is an important first step.
  2. Pour either item on top of the spill and allow it to soak up the liquid for several minutes.
  3. Use soft cloths to scrape the moistened absorbent from the surface of the carpet into a dustpan.
  4. Repeat until no more soap is absorbed.
  5. Next, lay paper towels or soft cloths on top of the area and press firmly.
  6. Repeat until no more soap is absorbed into the towels or cloths.
  7. At this point, there should be a minimal amount of soap in the carpet that can be removed with moisture and a wet vac or carpet cleaner.
  8. Spray the surface with water and suction it back out with the wet vac.
  9. Repeat until the soap is removed.
  10. It may take some time to remove all of the soap, depending on how much remains in the carpet.
  11. Once all of the soap is removed, allow the carpet to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the soap spills on a rug that can be machine washed, that will be the easiest way to remove it. Simply place it in the washing machine (no additional detergent is necessary). If needed, add vinegar to the water to minimize the suds. Wash as normal.
  • If using a wet vac, monitor it carefully. Most soaps and detergents will produce a good amount of suds that will be multiplied by the suctioned removal. Empty the tank frequently to avoid suds being released onto other surfaces.
  • Cold water tends to create less suds and may work better to remove the soapy residue.
  • If any residue remains, clean the floor with white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will cut through the remaining soap film.



  1. Sherri says:

    An even easier way to get the soap cleaned up in a snap is to grab your squeegee and scoop the soap right into a dustpan!

  2. Jessica says:

    These are the most AWFUL instructions EVER! The kitty litter RUINED the carpet. I called a professional out after I couldn’t get it up and he was SHOCKED that I even put kitty litter on the soap to soak it up.


  3. Francey says:

    We used the kitty litter method and it did NOT mess up our carpet at all. Maybe the person above used a kind with chemicals in it. This was just a plain as you can get kitty litter. We had to run to the store to get some. Maybe do a test on the carpet to make sure it doesn’t ruin yours. We had a major laundry detergent spill yesterday and this made the clean up easy (and maybe if you have a squeegee, that would work, but we don’t have one).

  4. Joshua says:

    Thank you so much for posting this information. I have had a terrible spill in the laundry room and the detergent is all over the floor.

  5. Richard says:

    I had a huge spill on my tile floor and I am incompetent at house cleaning. I used the salt – it worked great!
    Thanks mate!

  6. Jes says:

    I would place a thin cloth or a couple paper towels over the spill, then add the kitty litter on top of the cloth or paper towels.That way the kitty litter soaks up the spill without getting on the actual carpet.

  7. Adam says:

    I have a large laundry detergent spill on my carpet. A few minutes ago, I gave the spot a heavy coating of Carpet Fresh and then placed a towel over it. The Carpet Fresh starting absorbing the spill even before I placed the towel there. Once it dries, I’ll either vacuum it up or use the broom. Wish me luck!

  8. Ashlee says:

    What’s that old saying about trying the the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well that was me with water, trying to get the soap out of my car mats (by the way – scrubbing with a towel just makes it worse). After a half an hour of that not working, I decided to google it and the salt/vegetable oil trick worked great!!! I think I may have to try it one more time once it dries, but for the most part the soap is gone! Thank you!

  9. Kat says:

    I had a spill in the laundry room. I got it up with bath towels and cotton clothes. Still a bit of “soap,” but it’s not slick or sticky. I did this without even looking for instructions. I think I’ll have to run the wash at least three times to get all the soap out. I’m doing white vinegar and baking soda! Hope it’s not soapy when I check on it again; I’m also using cold/ cold water! Thanks for the other ideas! I will probably implement it to see how it’s doing!

  10. Abigail says:

    BAD ADVICE! I used the salt… what a terrible idea! I have horrible stains on my carpet and this is a rental unit. We now have to pay for a professional to come out and clean up the stains. Thanks a lot!

  11. Steph says:

    Our cat knocked a two gallon un-opened container of detergent all over the laundry room. It exploded. Used the kitty litter (worlds best kitty litter brand – expensive, but all we had – fresh sent) on my linoleum, scraped it up with a dustpan, mopped with vinegar, swept and swiffered and it’s like it never happened. Other than my floors are cleaner than ever now. THANKS; the kitty litter saved us.

  12. Jayne says:

    We have had a uniformed group using soap to make sculptures in our church hall. They have got bits of it ALL over the floor and it has been trodden in before they brushed it up. In daylight, the result is terrible and despite another leader spending three HOURS trying to remove it, it won’t come off. The floor is unsealed floor boards. An area was mopped to see if that helped, but it became slippery and VERY dangerous so we daren’t do any more. The soap gets onto shoe soles so they are then dangerous on the tile floor of the corridor. Any suggestions of what we should do would be welcome. Just to say the floor is a large area and I don’t fancy trying to scrape it off with wire wool/knives or a sharp blade!!!

  13. Dianne says:

    Thank you. I will try the kitty litter method and see if I can get the whole bottle of sticky stuff up.

  14. Ivonne says:

    My soap bottle fell from the washing machine; there was a LOT of soap. I did not have enough salt so I decided to try a squeegee with a dustpan to collect the soap, then thereafter a moist mop to collect what was left. Then, I cleaned the mop with plenty of water two or three times and it worked!

  15. John says:

    The way I cleaned a large laundry detergent spill up on our tile floor was that I figured that to my knowledge, soaps/detergents are (usually) alkaline. Therefore, I made a large bucket of water with vinegar to neutralize the soap. I saturated an old-style rag mop with the mix and slopped it all over the spill area; I noticed a slight sudsing in the area of the worst of the spill, but even that disappeared. I then dry mopped the floor and it seemed to have gotten all the detergent up. I wasn’t sure my wife would appreciate the vinegar aroma, so I the repeated with a lemon juice/water mix and mopped that up – the floor is perfect; it shines like it hasn’t in a while and smells great!

  16. Janie says:

    I have a question. Detergent spilled over my hardwood floors and it penetrated into it. What stuff can I use to fix that up?

  17. Kathy says:

    I have a question…Laundry soap spilled into an open lid washing machine…the jug fell in when the dryer was running, but I never notice it till this morning. The jug broke and all the soap absorbed in washing machine under the drum…any suggestions besides a repair man?
    Thank you. :(

  18. Henry says:

    Dawn was used to get up a chocolate stain on a rug and now there is what looks like a bleached spot. Any help?

  19. Melanie says:

    Bleached spots usually mean that the dye on the item (in this case, the rug) has been removed. Unfortunately, the only real remedy in that case is to replace the dye. Take a look at the How to Fix Bleached Clothes article for some ideas.

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