Tumbling with dishwashing liquid

by Leanne

I'm new to jewelry and I'm basically self taught with help from fabulous blogs like yours. I wanted to start tumbling jewelry and I've read in a few places that if using dishwashing liquid, do not use the ultra kind eg. Dawn Non Ultra or so.

I've noted that ultra dishwashing liquids state they are not to be used in dishwashers so is that why they are not to be used in tumblers? Can you please clear it up for me as to why the dish washing liquid has to be non-ultra? Thanks so much!

Stacy's Answer:

Hi Leanne!

There are a lot of rumors out there about tumbling and as many opinions about the subject as there are persons tumbling. Many folks believe that you cannot use anything but the original blue Dawn dish soap in a tumbler. However, not always having access to OBD, I've had to make due with other types of liquid soap. And guess what. Most worked just as well and some even better! Go figure.

My personal favorite is the peach colored Dawn that has Oil of Olay added probably because I prefer the way it smells. LOL But it does work great. What you want to avoid are dish soap products that contain bleach (most dishwasher detergents do) or pumice-like substances for "scrubbing". Anything abrasive and you'll get a brushed finish on the metal and/or gemstones and glass if the pumice is harder than your gem material.

As there are many misconceptions about what you can and cannot do when tumbling, the best way to know for sure is to....try. Dish soap acts as an agent that holds the crud removed from the metal in the tumbling process in suspension - away from the metal. So really, any dish soap will do as long as it does not contain the above mentioned ingredients. People are going to disagree with me and they're entitled to their opinions. But this is my blog and my opinion. :-) However, it's not just an opinion. I've experimented quite a bit with this and share the results. In a pinch, I've even used hand soap! It works OK, but not as well as dish soap.

"Ultra" soaps are more concentrated so you would use a little less. Dishwasher designed soaps are different than hand-wash style dish soaps. Hand wash soaps cannot be used in a dishwasher as they produce too much sudsy bubbles. This has nothing to do with tumbling. I have a bottle of Dawn Ultra that we've been using it in the jewelry studio for a few months and it has performed just fine. Lovely, shiny silver, gold, brass and copper items come out of the tumbler every day having been tumbled with the Ultra Dawn. And, contrary to popular belief, I use a healthy squirt of dish soap in the tumbler, not a "drop".

Try the dish soap you have available Leanne and then tumble a load using the original Dawn - if you can find it! If not, some other variation of Dawn dish soap. Use the one that gives you better results. And report back here with your findings! Tumbling is a popular topic!

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Jewelry Q & A.