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First Aid for Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 26, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the compound. Exposure to the compound may also occur on contact with the eye.


What is Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

  • Automatic dishwasher soaps and detergents are home products that are used to clean kitchen utensils (pans, dishes, and vessels) using a dishwasher
  • Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the compound. Exposure to the compound may also occur on contact with the eye
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning may be also referred to as Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Poisoning and Automatic Dishwasher Soap Toxicity.

What are the Causes of Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

  • Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning is caused by the ingestion of soaps or detergents used in automatic dishwashers. The soap may also get into one’s eyes and cause irritation and burning pain
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Automatic dishwasher soaps may be in the form of liquids or powders that are made from a variety of chemicals that include sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body, such as the digestive system, vascular system, urinary system, skin and ENT may be affected.

The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Burning and pain in the throat and food-pipe; it may also involve the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth (lips, tongue)
  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat; unable to speak clearly
  • Severe burns on skin; it may cause necrosis of the underlying tissue
  • If soap gets in the eye, then eye irritation and pain
  • Blurred vision and vision loss
  • Nausea, vomiting (blood in vomit)
  • Blood in stool
  • Stomach and abdominal pain, which may be severe
  • Sudden decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Breathing difficulties due to soap in the nose and throat
  • Change in blood pH levels, resulting in several organs being affected

How is First Aid administered for Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • If exposure of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give water or milk to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the compound bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional may take the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate and blood abnormalities
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the substance in the body
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
  • Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

First aid for Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms, with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good. Since, dishwasher soaps and detergents are generally not that toxic, the condition is not very dangerous, in most of the cases

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning be Prevented?

Automatic Dishwasher Soap Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any health or cosmetic products
  • Keeping cosmetics, medications, and other healthcare products out of reach of children in child-proof containers
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 7, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 26, 2018