How to Clean Up Spilled Laundry Detergent

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By De Roberts

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Laundry detergent spills can create a slippery, soapy mess that seems impossible to clean up. However, with the right techniques and products, you can tackle even the toughest laundry detergent spills and restore your surfaces to their original condition.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about effectively cleaning up spilled laundry detergent on various surfaces.

To clean up spilled laundry detergent, immediately blot liquids and contain powders to prevent spreading, lift residue with diluted vinegar, rinse thoroughly, absorb remaining moisture, and wash any fabrics that were soaked. Use dish soap and water for hard floors, carpet cleaner for carpets, and run empty rinse cycles for washing machines.

Understanding Laundry Detergent Spills

Laundry detergent spills are common household accidents that can occur due to:

  • Knocking over an open detergent bottle
  • A leaky cap or spout on the detergent bottle
  • Lifting the bottle and accidentally tipping it over
  • Detergent bottle falling off a shelf or ledge

Spilled laundry detergent can lead to:

  • Slippery floors or carpets, creating a fall hazard
  • Staining on fabrics, carpets, and floors
  • Soapy residue left behind even after cleaning
  • Damage to flooring with prolonged exposure

Types of Laundry Detergent Spills

Laundry detergent comes in liquid, powder, and pod forms. Each type of detergent requires a slightly different clean-up method:

Liquid Laundry Detergent

Liquid detergents often contain surfactants that can leave behind a sticky, slippery residue. Liquid spills spread quickly and can penetrate into porous surfaces.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Powdered detergents turn into a sudsy paste when mixed with water. The granules can scatter across floors and be ground into carpets.

Laundry Detergent Pods

When a laundry pod bursts, it releases a concentrated gel. This can stain and leave behind a slimy film if allowed to dry.

how to clean up spilled laundry detergent

Steps to Clean Up Spilled Laundry Detergent

Follow these steps to tackle laundry detergent spills on various household surfaces:

Act Quickly

  • As soon as a spill occurs, act quickly to prevent spreading and damage.

Blot the Spill

  • For spills on fabric or carpet, blot gently with a clean, absorbent cloth. Avoid aggressive rubbing.
  • For hard surfaces, use a dry towel to soak up excess liquid detergent.

Contain the Spill

  • For large spills, contain the area with towels or rags to prevent spreading.
  • Cover powder spills with a damp towel to prevent the granules from scattering when dry sweeping.

Lift Residue

  • Mix a solution of warm water and white vinegar. Dip a cloth in this and wring out excess liquid.
  • Gently wipe the spill to help lift any sticky/slippery detergent residue.

Rinse Thoroughly

  • Once detergent is removed, rinse the area with clean water until there’s no more residue.
  • For carpets, use a wet/dry vac to extract rinse water and prevent over-wetting.

Absorb and Blot

  • After rinsing, place clean, dry towels over the spot to absorb moisture.
  • Weigh towels down with a heavy object and let sit 30 minutes.

Routine Cleaning

  • Shampoo carpets regularly to prevent detergent residue buildup.
  • For hard floors, add a capful of white vinegar to mop water weekly.

How to Clean Laundry Detergent Spills on Carpets

Carpets are prone to stains and damage from laundry detergent spills. Follow these steps:

  1. Blot excess detergent immediately with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing.
  2. Dilute remaining detergent by pouring bottled water directly onto the spot.
  3. Apply an enzyme-based carpet cleaner and let soak 5-10 minutes. This will break down proteins in the detergent.
  4. Blot again with clean cloths to absorb the detergent solution. Replace cloths when soaked.
  5. Once no more detergent transfers to the cloth, rinse by spraying with clean water and extract with a wet/dry vacuum.
  6. Allow carpet to air dry fully before walking on it to prevent re-transfer of detergent.
  7. Wash any throw rugs in hot water to remove lingering traces of detergent residue.
  8. Consider having carpets professionally steam cleaned if stains remain. The heat helps release trapped detergent from fibers.

How to Clean Laundry Detergent Spills on Hard Floors

Tile, vinyl, and hardwood floors require a different approach:

  1. Wipe up excess detergent immediately with a dry cloth.
  2. Mix dish soap and warm water in a bucket. Dip a mop in the solution and mop the floor.
  3. Rinse the floor by dipping the mop in clean water and wringing it out well. Refill the bucket as needed.
  4. Allow the floor to air dry to prevent slip hazards. Position fans to speed up drying time.
  5. Once dry, rub a cloth soaked in full-strength white vinegar over the area to remove any haze or residue.
  6. Dry the floor again with a lint-free cloth.
  7. Buff the floor with a microfiber mop pad to restore shine.

How to Clean Laundry Detergent Spills in the Washing Machine

If you accidentally spill detergent inside your washing machine, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any excess detergent with a sponge and bucket of warm water.
  2. Run the machine on the highest water level setting with hot water and no clothes. This will flush out the interior.
  3. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the empty wash cycle to remove any lingering soap residue.
  4. Wipe down the detergent dispenser drawer with a cloth and hot, soapy water to fully clean it out.
  5. Follow up by running a complete wash cycle with cold water and a very small amount of detergent to rinse out any remaining vinegar.
  6. Remove clothing immediately if detergent spills on it and rinse under cold water before washing. Hot water can set stains.
  7. Clean the door gasket and exterior of the machine with an all-purpose cleaner if any detergent dripped out.

How to Remove Dried Laundry Detergent

For dried laundry detergent spills:

  1. Loosen and scrape off any hardened chunks of detergent residue with a plastic scraper or an old credit card. Take care not to scratch delicate surfaces.
  2. Apply a mix of warm water and dish soap over the area and let soak 5 minutes to dissolve any remaining dried detergent.
  3. Blot and wipe away the detergent solution with clean rags or paper towels.
  4. Rinse the area with clean water and extract excess moisture with rags or a wet/dry vacuum.
  5. Allow the surface to dry fully, then spot clean any remaining residue with diluted white vinegar.

How to Clean Laundry Detergent Spills on Wood

For wooden surfaces:

  • Blot spills immediately and lift excess detergent gently with a damp cloth. Avoid aggressive scrubbing.
  • Mix 1 tbsp dish soap per 1 cup warm water. Wring out a cloth in this solution to wipe the area.
  • Rinse with a cloth dampened with clean water. Dry surface thoroughly with a lint-free cloth.
  • Avoid excessive moisture and wipe parallel to the wood grain.
  • Rinse again with distilled white vinegar to remove haze and residue.
  • Re-oil treated wood once fully dry to restore protective finish.

Preventing Future Laundry Detergent Spills

To avoid future laundry detergent mess, be sure to:

  • Store detergent on low shelves or in closed cabinets, not on top of appliances.
  • Keep the detergent bottle tightly sealed and close the dispenser drawer right after adding detergent.
  • Never leave a room while filling the washing machine with detergent.
  • Opt for single-dose laundry pods instead of pouring from a large bottle.
  • Place sticky mats around your washer to catch any drips or spills coming from the machine or clothing.


How can I clean up a liquid laundry detergent spill on a tile floor?

To clean up a liquid laundry detergent spill on a tile floor, you can use a broom and dustpan to sweep up the excess detergent. Then, use a mop or a clean rag soaked in warm water to clean the floor.

What should I do if the spilled laundry detergent has left a residue on the floor?

If there is residue left on the floor after cleaning up the detergent spill, you can try using a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent to scrub the area gently. Rinse with clean water afterward.

Can I use cat litter to help clean up a spilled laundry detergent?

Yes, you can use cat litter to help clean up a spilled laundry detergent. Sprinkle some cat litter over the detergent to absorb excess liquid before using a broom and dustpan to sweep it up.

Is there a way to clean up spilled laundry detergent from a carpet?

Yes, you can try cleaning up the spilled laundry detergent from a carpet by blotting the excess liquid with a clean cloth or paper towel. Then, use a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent to gently clean the stained area. Blot with clean water to rinse and allow it to air dry.

How do I remove laundry detergent from a hard surface?

To remove laundry detergent from a hard surface, like linoleum or tile, you can use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot up as much of the liquid detergent as possible. Then, use warm water and a mild detergent to clean the area thoroughly.

What should I do if the spilled detergent is dyed and has left a stain?

If the spilled detergent is dyed and has left a stain, you can try using a stain remover specifically designed for the type of flooring you have. Follow the instructions on the product and test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage.

How can I prevent future spills of laundry detergent?

To prevent future spills of laundry detergent, you can make sure the detergent bottle is securely closed and stored in an upright position. If using a liquid detergent bottle with a pour spout, make sure it doesn’t drip or leak. Additionally, handle the bottle with care to avoid accidental spills.

Are there any alternative methods to clean up a spilled laundry detergent?

Yes, you can try using a spray bottle filled with warm water and a little bit of a mild detergent. Spray the solution onto the spilled area and gently scrub with a clean cloth or mop. Rinse with clean water and dry the surface with a towel.

Cleaning spilled laundry detergent quickly and effectively takes the right techniques but doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. With some elbow grease and the proper cleaning solutions, you can banish slippery, soapy spills for good. Just follow the steps outlined here to restore any surface in your laundry room to its pre-spill shine.

Roberts profile author
De Roberts

I'm a dedicated content writer and home DIY enthusiast who delights in sharing his experiences, providing valuable tips, tricks, and step-by-step guides with others.

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