A sunset over a body of water

19 Remarkable Ways to Use Blue Dawn Outside the Kitchen

Take a look under the sink where you keep your cleaning products. See a bottle of Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid? Well, say “Hello” to a very versatile and surprisingly multi-purpose household product.

A sunset over a body of water

Original Blue Dawn, a product of Procter & Gamble was introduced in 1972. Since then it has gone through several tweaks, changes, and upgrades so that today we see a number of varieties including Dawn Ultra and Dawn Platinum, to name just a few. According to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, Blue Dawn is biodegradable and contains no phosphates. 

A close up of a bottle

The Ultra version is highly concentrated. Dawn Platinum contains enzymes to help break down tough, cooked-on foods and that “original” refers to the scent from the original 1972 product.

Does any of this matter when it comes to the amazing ways Dawn can be used so effectively outside the kitchen? Probably not. But does the color matter? I can’t prove it, but I think it does because its formula is a highly guarded and proprietary trade secret. And if it has “Ultra,” 2X or 4X on the label, it’s highly concentrated so you can use less.

Here’s the bottom line: If it’s Dawn and it’s blue, you can count on it to be an amazing product with tons of very effective if not ingenious uses!

Ice pack

Partially fill a strong zip-type sandwich bag with Dawn dishwashing liquid, close. Just to be safe, double bag it. Freeze. Dawn stays cold much longer while remaining flexible, which means it will conform to the place you need an ice pack. It can be re-frozen many times.

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Tree sap

If you get tree sap on your hands, clothes or car, hit it with a bit of Blue Dawn. It will eat through the sap without harming your skin, clothing or the car’s paint finish.

Tub, shower, bathroom scum

Fill a spray bottle half full of white vinegar. Fill the rest of the way with Blue Dawn. Put the lid on and shake well. Spray on your tub and shower walls, allowing it to sit for a few minutes to an hour before rinsing away. This will even take care of the bathtub ring. Let it sit on the shower floor overnight and scrub the scum and gunk away in the morning. More here.

Laundry stains

For fresh or old oil-based stains such as lipstick, grease, butter, motor oil, cooking oil, and most pen inks—even stains that have made it through the washer and dryer multiple times—apply full-strength Dawn liquid directly to the stain. Allow to sit for a bit then launder as usual. For really tough challenges, apply Dawn then scrub with a small brush or toothbrush until the oil is removed.

Floor cleaner

Add 1 drop (just one, please!) Blue Dawn to each 1 cup warm water to clean ceramic tile and no-wax/linoleum floors.

Bubble Party

Mix together 1/2 cup concentrated Ultra Dawn, 1/2 gallon warm water, and 1 tablespoon glycerin, available at any drug store. (Light  Karo syrup works in place of glycerin if you have that on hand). Stir gently. Skim the foam off the top of the solution, as too much foam will break down the bubbles. Dip your bubble wand and get ready for some good, clean fun! Makes big, strong bubbles.

Hand degreaser

Forget those pricey automotive hand cleaners. Full strength Blue Dawn cuts through grease and gets hands and nails clean with no harsh chemicals.

Unclog toilet

Pour a cup of Blue Dawn into the toilet bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour a bucket of hot water from waist height into the toilet bowl to clear it out. An amazing trick.

Clean automotive tools

Soak them in a solution of Blue Dawn before you put them away to remove all the oil and grime. As a bonus Dawn will help prevent rust from forming on the tools. I don’t know why.

Manicure secret

Soak fingers in full-strength Blue Dawn. It makes the cuticles soft and easy to work with. And it removes the natural oil from the fingernails, which allows the polish to adhere very well.

Repel ants

Spray countertops, cupboards and any other area where you see ants with a solution of Blue Dawn and water. Wipe dry. The slight residue of Dawn that remains will not be a problem at all for kids or pets, but ants hate it. Should you see a trail of ants, go ahead and hit them with the Blue Dawn spray. You’ll see. It will kill them.

Kill wasps

Add 1 tablespoon Blue Dawn to a quart of hot water. Pour into a spray bottle and let those wasps have it. Instant annihilation!

Poison Ivy

If you have an unfortunate encounter with poison ivy, wash the affected area with Blue Dawn. It helps to quickly dry the blisters and keep it from spreading.

Pet shampoo

Use Blue Dawn to bathe the dogs. It kills fleas on contact and is much cheaper than expensive dog shampoos.

Window cleaner

Mix 3 drops of Blue Dawn in 1 gallon of water. Use this liquid to fill a spray bottle. Spray your windows and wipe just as you would with any window cleaner.

Hair product buildup

Once a month use Blue Dawn in place of your regular shampoo. It will remove excess oil from your hair and scalp and strip away any build-up of styling products—without any damage. Perform this regularly and you won’t have to buy expensive salon products that do the same thing.

Driveway clean-up

Ugly oil and grease spots on a concrete driveway are no problem if you know this secret: First sprinkling kitty litter on the fresh oil to absorb the excess oil. Next, cover the spot with warm water and a squirt of Blue Dawn and scrub with a stiff brush or broom. Allow to sit for a while, then safely rinse away with a garden hose.

Pool cleaner

Squirt Blue Dawn full strength down the middle of the pool and all of the dirt, suntan lotion, etc. will move to the edges of the pool for easy cleanup and a sparkling pool.

Defog eyeglasses

To prevent your glasses from fogging up, rub a small drop of Blue Dawn on the lenses and wipe clean.

Stuff in hair

Kids get the darnedest things in their hair, like Vaseline, baby oil, gum, Silly Putty, etc. Dawn dish soap is mild enough to use on their hair and strong enough to remove the most stubborn grease.

Repel insects

Put a single drop of Blue Dawn in a spray bottle with water. Mist household plants to repel aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.

Pool cleaner

Squirt Blue Dawn full strength down the middle of the pool and all of the dirt, suntan lotion, etc. will move to the edges of the pool for easy cleanup and a sparkling pool.

Gift idea

I got this clever idea from my friend Carolyn, who has a long list of friends and colleagues she likes to give a useful yet affordable gift to each Christmas. One year she created a list similar to the one above, printed it in a very attractive way and then attached it to a small bottle of Blue Dawn—one for each of her friends. Cool idea!

Where to find

Blue Dawn is readily available in supermarkets, discount department stores, warehouse clubs in the U.S. It is available online. Still, I get quite a few questions from people outside the U.S. and around the world asking where they can buy Dawn. Here is what I know:

  • Proctor & Gamble sells Fairy brand instead of Dawn in Australia, France, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. It’s not blue, but give it a try! Experiment and let us know what you discover.
  • Proctor & Gamble sells Dreft brand instead of Dawn in the Netherlands. It’s not blue.


First published: 12-11-17; Revised & Updated 3-5-20

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  1. Robin Rives McAdoo says:

    I switched to Dawn when a boutique shop employee recommended it to me to get a stain out of a silk knit top (which came from there) that hubby had accidentally dropped a –get this — sardine in tobasco and oil on. I had already washed the top using my usual stain removal techniques and had line dried
    to no avail. Heard of using Dawn, rubbed it into the spot, washed it again and, Voila! I’ve been a convert ever since. I’ve used it on dried blood stains, too.

  2. Patsy says:

    Is it only the BLUE Dawn that works like this? Not any of the other varieties of Dawn they have available now? How come?

  3. Denise Roland says:

    Since I am trying extremely hard to get ALL chemicals out of our home…has ANYONE ever found out what is exactly IN Blue Dawn? It makes me more than a little nervous to use something on my hair (head) that kills wasps and fleas!

    • Janice says:

      The reason blue dawn will kill ants, wasp, and fleas is because they have “soft bodies”. Some insects may have shells covering the top of the body, but the bottom side is soft. The soap penetrates the body and disrupts the cells. Any soap will work, liquid dish soap dissolves easily in the water. My husband is a horticulturist and will frequently advise people to use it on their plants for aphids and other problems. He prefers to avoid chemicals when possible, and liquid dish soap is something people have on hand so they do not have to buy another product. Read Mary’s note above regarding its use by the bird rescue center, it is safe.

  4. Leslie says:

    I have been involved in a few home renovations. Do you have 10 layers of wallpaper in a house that was built in the 1800’s? Hot water, dawn and Vinegar in a spray bottle will take it right off. I had a friend that engaged her teenage son to help. After 3 days of chiseling she asked me what to use. I told her and her Son said “Why didn’t you ask her 3 days ago?” In another instance, my daughter bought a house that had belonged to a disabled man who was a heavy smoker. We couldn’t paint over the amount of oily nicotine. We again used Hot water, Dawn and vinegar. It was disgusting to watch, but the yellow melted right off. My house is never without Dawn.

    • Suzanne Patterson says:

      We need to remove some wallpaper in our house. What proportions did you use of Dawn, water, and vinegar?

  5. Kay says:

    Wow, Mary, this article brought back memories for me when you mentioned how Dawn is marketed as Fairy brand in the UK. In the early 60’s, as a teen whose dad was stationed at a nearby USAF base, I worked for a summer as an au pair for our next-door neighbors in a suburb of London, England. The mom in the family had developed a fungal infection of her fingernails, and the doctor said NO soaking hands in water for her, all summer! So they hired me to help with preparing meals, dishwashing, mopping, and other housework. That’s where I first used the clear Fairy Liquid for the dishes–and to this day, I can remember the scent of it! It actually kind of smelled like Ozium Air Sanitizer (if any of your readers are familiar with that old product)–it’s a kind of ozone scent. Anyway, thanks for all the tips on the use of Blue Dawn, which is always in my kitchen!

  6. Linda Koch says:

    We fill the household hand cleaner pump dispensers with water and enough liquid Dawn to color the mix a medium blue. It works great and can be refilled easily since we always have dawn on hand.

  7. Ginny Meacham says:

    This may sound odd but a drop of blue Dawn into about 10 oz of warm water will clean dentures better than the OTC products when soaking overnight. . It will loosen adhesive very well to make it easier to remove.

  8. Kay Novotny says:

    I remember using Fairy Liquid (Dish Detergent) in England circa 1962-65. I worked one summer for our English neighbors, doing cleaning, washing dishes, and other chores because the mom in the family had a fungal infection under her nails and had to keep them as dry as possible while the infection healed. I can remember the scent of that dish detergent–very strong and distinctive. I wonder if Fairy was made by Procter & Gamble back then, as it is now? Blue Dawn doesn’t have a strong smell, but Fairy was strong enough to clear your sinuses!

  9. Jim T says:

    We used to have one of those sponge wands you could fill the handle with detergent but it leaked and wastefully soaked up too much soap. My wife saved an empty, used hand soap dispenser (the foaming kind) and filled it half-n-half with Dawn and water. We now pump a little foam into a small container by the sink that contains a scrub brush. This setup uses way less detergent than before and is actually more effective for scrubbing dishes, pots and pans clean. It is also easy to pump a little foam onto a dish rag or to clean greasy hands.

  10. Jennifer Covington says:

    I coordinate the Housekeeping department at a non-profit with hundreds of people. We are always endeavoring to save money and for cleaning carpet stains, Dawn and warm water in a foaming spray bottle and some scrubbing removes dirt and grease that professional cleaners don’t. It just needs to be rinsed and extracted after, but it works on all kinds of old and new stains. We love it!

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