Is Dawn Hand Soap or Dish Soap?
Facebook’s “Reels” feature prioritizes TikTok-like videos. That this is an imperfect system is not in dispute, and in fact the feature is prioritizing misleading content — including an October 6 2021 clip claiming that Dawn dish soap is in fact a hand soap, in the sort of sticky “today I learned” engagement-baiting content designed specifically to rack up shares.
The ‘Dawn Is Actually Hand Soap’ Videos, Explained
Originally shared to TikTok (but with far less traction), the clip was a “duet” utilizing an earlier viral video by a separate user (for reasons we’ll address shortly). This is the original video:
@lyndseyjaeking##dawn ##themoreyou ##foryou ##fypシ♬ original sound – Lyndsey Jae King
In the original clip, the user says:
Number 426 of things that I feel dumb for … I’ve been buying this right here for years to wash my dishes. [Displays Dawn “Apple Blossom scent” soap.] Will you look closely? Hand. Soap …
The second user’s “duet” added very little to the original content, essentially copying King’s video to Facebook and racking up four million views. Expanding the comments on Facebook further illustrated that the “mind blowing discovery” was disputed:
“This one is both…. It literally also says “Dishwashing Liquid” 😕”
“it says “vs dawn dishwashing liquid.” Lol”
“Imma just leave this here. Look on any website, it’s both. I didn’t see the vs but it’s still both. Dawn only makes dish cleaning soaps but they make some not as potent so you may use it for hand soap. This was done since so many people wash dishes bare handed as back then dish soap would deteriorate your skin. Dishes were meant to be washed with rubber gloves”
Is Dawn a Hand Soap and Is Everyone Using It Incorrectly?
In a word, no.
As is often the case when claims of the sort (of which there are many) spread, Dawn was bombarded with social media questions or complaints about the misconception — a circumstance that suggested Dawn’s brand reputation suffered due to the inaccurate claim promoted by Facebook’s Reels:
Looks like dish washing liquid. But it’s hand soap. Just noticed. It’s been washing pots and pans well, but am I missing some important dish cleansing element? Bought it in dish liquid section of grocery. So many questions @DawnDish -that’s not #dish Why? pic.twitter.com/XfWdCPaaku
— Lea Hurt (@LeaHurt) November 25, 2021
Hey @DawnDish, why would you make your hand soap and dishwashing soap have the same color and same container? Really confusing & deceiving. The hand soap was even shelved among the dishwashing liquid and it says 50% less scrubbing & compares it to another dishwashing liquid. pic.twitter.com/ZdRTrpDTJi
— Precy Larkins (@precylarkins) November 23, 2021
@DawnDish what is this confusion tactic? Are we using hand soap on our dishes? Or dishwashing liquid on our hands? pic.twitter.com/Dkczw0falt
— Mr. J (@MrJ_20) October 25, 2021
Notably, the tweets above and others like it were directed at Dawn’s presence on Twitter — which was @DawnDish. Whoever was tasked with fielding social media questions had to repeatedly reply to debunk the falsehood that Dawn is not a dish soap, or that it is secretly a hand soap masquerading as dish soap in order to somehow trick people washing dishes with it.
The @DawnDish account explained that Dawn was unequivocally a “dishwashing liquid,” with secondary hand washing capabilities:
We’re glad you asked, and hope it helps to know, Dawn Ultra Antibacterial is a dishwashing liquid, also designed to help fight bacteria on hands when it is used full strength as a hand soap in accordance with the directions. Send us a DM if you have any questions. 😊
@DawnDish’s “we’re glad you asked” alluded to the fact that for everyone individual asking the question, many more could have taken the claim at face value and discontinued their use of the brand — based entirely on false information.
Here’s One Weird Reason False ‘Shocking’ Claims About Very Common Products Are Always Spreading Virally
King’s initial video from September 2021 on TikTok appeared to be a sincere observation, its popularity wholly organic because it purported to reveal novel information about a common household product.
The same couldn’t be said for the “duet” based upon it, nearing four million views and 12,000+ comments on Facebook as of November 30 2021. A cursory look at the original poster’s page immediately led to a slew of posts about a specific multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme and myriad solicitation posts pertaining to said MLM.
As we have noted on several prior fact checks, MLM recruiters routinely collaborate on ways to game algorithms on platforms like Facebook, with the specific goal of generating engagement of any description for greater visibility (positive or negative, as indicated by comments disputing the claim).
In one instance, a person involved with a MLM scheme shared a viral post encouraging engagement on an audio clip “only people under 40 can hear.” Then, we explained:
Incidentally, both posts were shared by individuals recruiting for multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes, commonly described as “huns” or “hunbots” on Facebook. By sharing posts intended to “go viral,” both users boosted their visibility on Facebook — which in turn facilitates efforts to recruit and sell for MLMs. This content was likely shared with the intent to accrue more shares and exposing more readers to MLM pitches.
In this vein, the first poster separately shared a post about the other, in which commenters alluded to its leverage for MLM purposes[.]
Another extremely similar claim promised to blow readers’ minds with a minor falsehood involving laundry detergent caps. Again, the goal had nothing to do with spreading useful information, and solely sought to bring in potential MLM recruits.
As we indicated, that claim followed on the heels of an earlier, similar viral post — indicating that multi-level marking recruiters mine viral posts to scrape, re-share, and possibly introduce others to MLM sales pitches:
Use of highly-sharable viral Facebook posts seemed to be an uptrending MLM tactic, as indicated by a similar widely-shared post from a multi-level marketing recruit asking others to share her recording of a sound only people over a certain age could hear. Promotional motives are a relevant factor, because it means that the user may possibly be more concerned with the promise of likes and shares, and possibly less concerned with veracity.
The “detergent cups in laundry” hack also appeared suspiciously soon after a massively popular claim that laundry detergent or Downy could be poured into a toilet tank to make the bathroom smell nice, which is not great advice.
Why This Is Potentially Bad
There are a number of reasons any form of engagement — liking, commenting, or sharing — on content like the “Dawn is hand soap” video is bad for the social media landscape.
Those reasons include:
- Very commonly, organically viral content is scraped and re-shared to promote multi-level marketing or serve as other engagement bait;
- It unfairly misinforms (or even actively disinforms) consumers about common household products, and possibly harms sales;
- It trains algorithms to send more low-value, possibly detrimental content to you and your friends, and;
- It’s almost never accurate, sometimes veering into “very bad idea” territory.
A viral Facebook Reel falsely contended thatt Dawn dish soap was in fact “hand soap,” a claim scraped from an earlier TikTok video. Viewers tweeted about it to Dawn (whose handle is @DawnDish) to complain, and Dawn clarified that their well-known product was, in fact, dish soap that could also be used on hands. The Facebook post was promoting a multi-level marketing (MLM) scam, leveraging Facebook’s algorithm with another person’s video. The claim was false, as indicated by @DawnDish repeatedly in October and November 2021.