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Dishwashing liquid (BrE: washing-up liquid), known as dishwashing soap and dish soap, is a detergent used to assist in dishwashing. It is usually a highly-foaming mixture of surfactants with low skin irritation, and is primarily used for hand washing of glasses, plates, cutlery, and cooking utensils in a sink or bowl.
The reduced surface tension of dishwashing water, and increasing solubility of modern surfactant mixtures, allows the water to run off the dishes in a dish rack very quickly. However, most people also rinse the dishes with pure water to make sure to get rid of any soap residue that could affect the taste of the food.
Notable brands of dishwashing liquid include Fairy Liquid, which is the bestselling brand in the United Kingdom & Ireland, Dawn, which is the leading brand in the United States, and Joy.
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A dilute combination of dishwashing liquid with water can be used to produce soap bubbles. Dishwashing liquid has also been administered orally as a substitute for soap as a form of corporal punishment. This is often colloquially referred to as washing the mouth out with soap or another similar phrase. However, this use carries health risks and has declined substantially in recent decades. Dishwashing liquid has also been used as a stain cleaner.
Dishwashing liquid has also been used to treat birds affected by oil spills. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, the International Bird Rescue Research Center received hundreds of cases of Dawn dishwashing liquid that were used to clean up birds and other animals contaminated with spilled oil. It can also be used to mix mortar when there is no Plasticizer available on the building sites.
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