Best Dishwasher Detergent

Even the best dishwashers need quality help to clean your dishes well. Good automatic dishwasher detergents can significantly affect the performance of your dishwasher. The safety of your kitchen items and people who use them also depends on your choice of detergent. Like all essential quality products, automatic dishwasher detergents must be picked with care. Current market offers such a wide selection of detergents, it can be far too easy to end up with a detergent that simply doesn’t perform well. To make sure your dishwasher gets appropriate treatment, it might be wise to stick to the trusted brands and known certified products.

Top-3 Dishwasher Detergents on the Market

Best Cascade Dishwasher Detergent
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 78 count
  • Package: One 40.9 oz tub
Best Finish Dishwasher Detergent
  • Type: Tablets
  • Quantity: 85 count
  • Package: One 53.5 oz box
Best Seventh Generation Detergent
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 43 count
  • Package: 2 x 27.3 oz each

Things to Consider

Regardless of the age or price bracket of your dishwasher, it is important to get a high quality detergent. At its core, the overall cleaning quality as performed by any given dishwasher depends on the internal wash system, hot water treatment, and the effectiveness of the detergent. Even the most powerful wash systems won’t be able to clean certain soils without chemical enhancement.

First and foremost, the potential suitability of each dishwasher detergent for your particular needs is defined by its price. After you establish how much you are willing to dedicate to the regular supply of dishwasher detergent, it’s time to consider which detergent type is best for you. This also includes the form of packaging and the quantity of any given form of detergent it provides.

Detergent types

Most commonly used detergents come in the forms of powder, gel, tablets, packs or pads. Powders are considered to be rather effective, though some powder detergents tend to either lump upon contact with hot water or partially stick inside the detergent tray. Gel is an excellent solution for getting shinier glassware, with the only downside being the unspecified amount needed for different types of loads. Tablets and packs are pre-measured in order to effectively service each single load. The best tablets and pods contain organic ingredients for safe and environmentally-friendly use. Efficient single-portion detergents can also be wrapped in water-soluble films for easier handling. Films made with the use of polyvinyl alcohol, or PVA, dissolve especially fast and leave no trace inside the dishwasher. If you are greatly concerned with the cruel treatment of animals in the chemical industry, look out for cleaning brands that don’t conduct animal testing or specify their detergents to be cruelty-free.

Detergent scents

If you are looking for pleasantly fragrant detergents, remember to check all ingredient lists to see the nature of their fragrance additives. The best and safest detergents come with plant-derived elements that enhance the natural scent and avoid harsh chemical odors. The most common fragrances are citrus-based, garden-inspired, like lavender and basil, or simple crisp and fresh scents. Households with small children might benefit from choosing fragrance-free detergents with softening qualities that are safe for washing baby bottles and other items that your child uses directly and frequently. Always check the ingredient list for allergens and try to use hypoallergenic detergents to avoid skin irritability and dangerous allergic reactions.

Quantity

The optimal choice of packaging largely depends on your budget. You can choose to purchase your detergent either in bulk of multi-packs containing around 20 tablets and 12-16 oz bottles, or single packs with high item count. Single packs can offer between 43 and 85 counts that can supply you for 2 to 6 months, depending on your use of the dishwasher. Small households that require semi-regular cleaning of light loads can choose smaller quantities to cut down on their expenses. Large households with more family members or considerably-staffed office settings might consider buying multi-pack detergents with high counts to ensure a regular and consistent supply of detergent for longer periods of time. The best offers include 2-pack gel or powder detergents and 3-pack tablet detergents. Single packs with counts between 78 and 85 are also a great option for busy kitchens. Environmentally-responsible users may be interested in detergents that come in special biodegradable pouches and bottles that can be reused or recycled. Some handy pouches also feature improved seals, allowing you to open the package as many times as you want without damaging the cleaning effects of the remaining detergent.

Review of the Best Dishwasher Detergents

Specs
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 78 count
  • Package: One 40.9 oz tub
  • Fragrance: Fresh
Features
  • Pre-measured ActionPacs
  • Enhanced rinse aid effects
  • Optimal dissolution speed
  • Fine glassware treatment
  • Fresh clean scent
  • Removes tough grease

Formulated with the grease-eliminating power of Dawn, Cascade is ranked No.1 in the US market, providing reliable and consistent washing quality.

Designed for heavily soiled loads, the effective Cascade Complete ActionPacs detergent is able to remove food stains as old as 24 hours, namely dry baked-on leftovers and tough cooking grease, so there is no need to pre-rinse or scrub your dishes before loading.

All ActionPacs are wrapped in soluble foils and provide effective cleaning action for any type of wash cycle. After the wash, glassware doesn’t cloud or smudge, retaining a clean shine.

A single ActionPac is pre-measured to be used for one load with any soil level. All Cascade packs are able to clean even large loads with tough and grimy cooking items.

This detergent is phosphate-free, containing sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, and powerful enzymes. It dissolves quickly and resists food deposits.

The clear scent of each Cascade ActionPac is subtle and refreshing, adding to the crisp clean feeling of your washed dishes without leaving the unpleasant chemical sensation.

Specs
  • Type: Tablets
  • Quantity: 85 count
  • Package: One 53.5 oz box
  • Fragrance: Fresh
Features
  • Universal All-in-1 formula
  • Powerful tablet design
  • Controlled usage
  • Trusted global brand

Ranked No.1 among the world’s most recommended brands, the Finish All-in-1 Powerball detergent ensures best possible cleaning for all cooking utensils and items regardless of the grease levels in any particular load.

The Powerball® design of each tablet is aimed to enhance the pre-soaking process, loosening tough spots and scrubbing the hardest dried-on food stains. Old grease and coffee or tea stains can also be removed in one wash, and glassware is cleaned evenly, bearing no residue or cloudy qualities.

Compared to the regular Finish powder, these Finish All-in-1 Powerball tabs are proven to be at least three times more powerful, producing better cleaning results with less amounts of detergent. The tablets can be used with septic systems.

Pre-measured All-in-1 tablets make sure you are always aware of the remaining number of possible loads and don’t waste unnecessary amounts of detergent the way it may happen with powder agents.

Specs
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 43 count
  • Package: 2 pouches, 27.3 oz each
  • Fragrance: Fresh citrus
Features
  • Mineral-based components
  • Plant-derived active ingredients
  • Powerful grease-fighting action
  • Certified biobased detergent
  • Water-soluble wrap
  • Cruelty-free

Featuring an improved washing formula, this Ultra Power Plus Seventh Generation detergent delivers powerful cleaning results even when used with any dishwashing cycle and water type.

The pre-measured detergent dissolves safely and completely due to PVA film packaging. The pack can be put directly inside the tub of a dishwasher as the synthetic water-soluble film ensures fast dissolution and requires no unwrapping.

This Seventh Generation detergent is an 80% USDA Certified Biobased Product, manufactured without the addition of synthetic fragrances, dyes, chlorine bleach, or phosphates.

Main ingredients are all mineral-based. This includes cleaning agents, cleaning enhancers, anti-spotting agents, oxygen stain removal agents, processing aid and colorants. 

Other ingredients are plant-derived, including water softeners, soil dispersants, and enzymes. All fragrances are plant-based and use botanical extracts, including bergamot, orange, grapefruit, and lavender.

Even the 48-hour dried-on food stains are easily removable with the addition of a single Seventh Generation pack. Implementing plant-derived enzyme blends, namely the soil removers, this dishwasher detergent effectively eliminates starch and protein-based food soils, while old grease layers are removed by the active surfactants.

The Seventh Generation detergent scrubs off dirty cookware, leaving no trace of dry food. Glass items and surfaces are cleaned to the even shine, without any streaks or murky effects.

Specs
  • Type: Foaming soap
  • Quantity: 16 fl oz
  • Package: 3 pump bottles
  • Fragrance: Unscented
Features
  • Baby-safe and gentle
  • Non-toxic plant-based formula
  • Easily rinsed off
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Suitable for eco-friendly daily use
  • Cruelty-free

This natural dish cleaner by Babyganics is designed for gentle use with baby dishes and other items like baby bottles and sippy cups.

This foaming soap doesn’t contain any harmful elements such as phosphates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and dyes.

Fragrant free and non-allergenic, this Babyganics dish soap is completely safe for your baby, while its time-saving formula allows you to use the soap for regular daily washing. This dish soap isn’t tested on animals.

The main ingredients are plant-based, including foaming agents, cleansers, and foam stabilizers. Dermatological tests show that none of the elements cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

Babyganics uses dual cleaning agents that require less water and foam well. As a result, they are washed off easily, leaving no residue on baby bottles.

This foaming dish soap comes in a reusable pump bottle that allows for faster washing and more freedom of movement. In addition, the 3-bottle package reduces your regular household expenses, ensuring you never run out of detergent unexpectedly.

Specs
  • Type: Tablets
  • Quantity: 45 count
  • Package: One 31.7 oz box
  • Fragrance: Citrus
Features
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic
  • Plant-derived components
  • Ingredients based on minerals
  • Cuts through tough soils
  • Cruelty-free

Ecover’s automatic dishwasher detergent removes even the toughest soils, while at the same time softly cleaning glass surfaces for achieving clear, streak-free results.

Based in Belgium, Ecover has been supplying eco-friendly cleaning products for over 35 years, proving to reliable and harm-free.

Contained in recyclable packaging, the phosphate-free Ecover tablets contain plant-derived and mineral-based ingredients. As a result, these tablets are non-toxic and fish-friendly.

In addition to highly effective cleaning performance, the Ecover tablets eliminate unpleasant odors with their fresh citrusy fragrance.

For best cleaning results, it’s recommended to remove the wrapper around the tablet and place the detergent inside the dispenser in your dishwasher. Use only one Ecover tablet for one dishwasher cycle. It’s best to remove large food particles from your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher to assist the dish tablet’s cleaning.

With 45 tablets per package, the Ecover dishwasher detergent is an affordable multi-tab option, providing a long-term supply of cleaning aid for your appliance and minimizing household expenses.

Specs
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 50 count
  • Package: One 30 oz pouch
  • Fragrance: Unscented
Features
  • Natural plant-based components
  • Sulfate-free and non-toxic
  • Baby- and pet-safe
  • Non-allergenic
  • Resealable pouch
  • Water-soluble wrap
  • Cruelty-free

Developed by experienced chemists, this Puracy detergent is manufactured within the guidelines of the 3rd generation natural formula that ensures universal cleaning effects for every dishwasher-safe item regardless of the soil levels.

Puracy natural detergent packs are plant-based, sulfate-free, and hypoallergenic, making them non-toxic and safe for cleaning the items used by children and pets. Main ingredients are all plant-derived, including water softeners, cleaners, and enzymes, all of which are free of harmful chemicals.

The detergent pack wrapper is made of biodegradable and water-soluble film, so there is no need to unwrap the detergent before placing it in the dispenser. The pouch can be refilled to cut down on plastic usage, saving more water and energy.

This natural detergent is suitable for water with any type of hardness as well as all dishwasher-safe objects, including large cookware, plastic and silicone items, delicate porcelain, baby bottles and pet toys. 

It’s recommended to use one Puracy pack for one cycle regardless of the load size. There is no need to rinse the dishes, though it’s best to scrape them first. Always reseal the Puracy pouch to retain the clean and fresh quality of the detergent.

Specs
  • Type: Tablets
  • Quantity: 60 count
  • Package: 3 boxes, 20 count each
  • Fragrance: Unscented
Features
  • Non-toxic components
  • Effective enzyme formula
  • Three-layer tablet design
  • Rinse aid effects
  • Dissolvable foil
  • Money-saving packaging

Featuring an improved three-layer tablet design, this Miele dishwasher detergent is a powerful cleaning aid capable of servicing the messiest cooking items.

The washing process is enhanced with the enzyme-based and phosphate-free formula contained in each tablet, making it suitable for all appliance brands and degree of soilage.

Miele tablets are wrapped in water-soluble foil, so there is no need to remove the packaging before placing the tablet in the dispenser of your dishwasher. For optimal cleaning of heavily soiled loads, it’s recommended to add 2 tablets to the dispenser.

Many experts recommend Miele tablets for protecting hardware and glass items due to the special salts included in detergent’s chemical composition. Miele detergent is able to prevent soap buildup and reduce etching or other residues.

The gentle washing of glassware is achieved by the cleaning agents in Miele tablets reacting softly with rinse aid, resulting in clear and sparkling glass surfaces.

This money-saving Miele detergent package contains three boxes with 20 counts each, amounting to 60 tablets in total.

Specs
  • Type: Packs
  • Quantity: 45
  • Package: One pouch 23.8 oz
  • Fragrance: Unscented
Features
  • Rinse aid action
  • Soluble wrapping
  • Triple wash formula
  • Plant-based components
  • Non-toxic ingredients
  • Battles effects of hard water
  • Cruelty-free

Designed as multi-level cleaning packs, the Method dishwasher detergent uses triple action cleaning formula, targeting the hardest spots and easily dissolving stains that have been drying for as long as 48 hours.

Method pouches are recyclable and can be resealed after you remove each single pack for a washing cycle. Each pouch comes with 45 individual packs, so you can enjoy efficient cleaning without constantly worrying about your detergent running out.

Method dish soap packs don’t need unwrapping, so you can simply place them in your dishwasher inside the dispenser. One pack should be enough for one cycle regardless of load size.

This detergent contains non-toxic ingredients, giving preference to plant-based agents and elements of mineral origin.

By implementing rinse aid-typical agents, one pack of Method detergent can thoroughly wash your glassware, cutlery, and ceramics without leaving any water spots or soap residue. The end result is devoid of streaks or cloudy filming, providing clean sparkle and clear scent.

Specs
  • Type: Pods
  • Quantity: 60 counts
  • Package: One 38 oz pouch
  • Fragrance: Unscented
Features
  • Advanced green formula
  • Pre-measured pods
  • Natural minerals
  • Non-toxic components
  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Organic enzymes
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Resealable velcro pouch
  • Cruelty-free

The Grab Green natural detergent applies advanced green technologies, providing not only highly ecological performance but also efficient phosphate-free cleaning results.

Packaged in separate pods, the detergent comes in effective pre-measured quantities able to wash off the messiest soils at all water temperatures.

Grab Green makes non-toxic detergent that contains no chlorine, ammonia, phosphates, solvents, phthalates, fillers, masking agents, optical brighteners, or dyes.

Main Grab Green ingredients consist of natural minerals and non-ionic cleaning blends, including water softeners, cleaning agents, and mineral rinse aid.

Organic enzyme blends are able to break down starch and protein-based spots, and special oxygen-carrying elements remove tough stains. Other biodegradable cleaner blends and degreaser blends provide anti-caking qualities, namely silica, while citrus-derived minerals act as cleaning aid.

Even though the detergent is unscented, it gives your dishes a clear and fresh essence, completely free of chemical smells. Grab Green pods are also safe for septic systems.

Each individual pod is easy to handle, minimizing all residual mess after the wash. The pouch, containing 60 counts, can be resealed with the velcro closure that provides a faster and neater seal compared to ziplocks. The packaging is recyclable, while the Grab Green detergent itself is cruelty-free with no history of animal testing.

Specs
  • Type: Pods
  • Quantity: 60
  • Package: 3 packs, 20 counts each
  • Fragrance: Lemon verbena
Features
  • Cruelty-free
  • 97% natural ingredients
  • Non-toxic
  • Eco-friendly
  • Fresh garden-inspired scent of lemon verbena
  • Efficient packaging
  • Cruelty-free

One of the standout aromatherapeutic detergent products, Mrs. Meyer’s automatic dish pods deliver not only clean and sparkling dishes, but freshen each item with garden-inspired clear scent of lemon verbena.

Suitable for all dishwashers, the pods contain no phosphates or chlorine, remaining environmentally-friendly as opposed to detergents that use harsh chemicals as their source agents. 

Mrs. Meyer’s dishwasher pods use natural oxygen bleach to remove hard dried-on stains and old food grime. All main ingredients are 97% natural, providing plant-derived and mineral-based cleaning and water-softening qualities.

Easy-to-use soap pods don’t leave any residue in the dispenser of your dishwasher nor result in streaks or water spots, delivering sparkling-clean glassware and cutlery.

Holding 20 individual pods, each single pouch also features a new design that makes it more comfortable to store and handle. Three packs contain 60 pods in total.

Specs
  • Type: Powder
  • Quantity: 24 oz
  • Package: 2 biodegradable bottles
  • Fragrance: Fresh lemon
Features
  • Active detergent booster
  • Rinse aid qualities
  • Machine cleaning
  • Performance optimization
  • Clean lemon scent
  • Natural citric acid components
  • Non-toxic formula
  • EPA Safer Choice
  • Cruelty-free

An effective combination with auto dish detergent, Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster is aimed for both regular and machine cleaning dishwasher cycles, working hard to eliminate residual filming and water spots caused by high grain levels.

To remove the effects of hard water—normally the result of high concentrations of certain ions like calcium and magnesium—you can use the Lemi Shine Booster with the main detergent and run with any cycle. The Booster can rinse all soil and soap residue, cut through tough grease and old 48-hour stuck-on food soils.

Lemi Shine Booster is non-toxic and contains no surfactants, artificial additives, dyes, phosphates or chlorine, instead using natural citric extracts that are highly efficient and safe.

In addition, the inclusion of natural citric oils improves the washing results with fresh lemon scent, safely deodorizing not only your kitchenware but also the interior parts of the dishwasher. This way all unpleasant residual odors are eliminated and your dishwasher always carries a clean citrusy scent. The Booster is also safe to use with septic systems.

It’s recommended to run your dishwasher empty with the addition of the Lemi Booster at least once a month for machine cleaning purposes. All hardware and interior parts are thoroughly cleaned, freed from deposits, and the overall function is optimized.

The eco-friendly packaging is biodegradable and can be recycled for larger environmental benefits. This detergent booster is a certified EPA Safer Choice, making it safe for humans, animals, and the environment.

In Conclusion

What can I use in place of dishwasher detergent?

Not every contingency can be planned for, so it is a rather common occurrence to find your dishwasher detergent unexpectedly running out. Even with no detergent left to help you with an emergency wash, you can make a DIY detergent all by yourself from simple household ingredients.

One of the simplest homemade detergent recipes includes salt, dish soap, and baking soda. To make it, follow these easy steps:

  1. Scrape hard food particles from the dishes and load all dirty items in the dishwasher.
  2. Take the regular dish soap and add three drops inside the detergent tray. It’s important to add only the smallest amount since large amounts of regular dish soap can foam up and leak through the floor, interfering with the cleaning process.
  3. Take regular baking soda and add it to the same section of the detergent tray, filling it up by about ⅔ of the capacity. Baking soda acts as a water softener which is especially important for households with hard water sources.
  4. Take salt—it should only be small grain salt—and add on top of the baking soda until the tray is almost filled up.
  5. Select any cycle and run it.

More complex detergent recipes may also include borax, washing soda, citric acid, kosher salt, and vinegar. For one of the most effective compound recipes, you may need to purchase at least 5 packs of unsweetened lemonade mix first. The following process is extremely easy:

  1. Take a medium container or jar with an air-tight lid for better preservation and water-proofing.
  2. Add 1 cup of borax.
  3. Add 1 cup of washing soda.
  4. Add ½ cup of kosher salt.
  5. Add 5 packets of unsweetened lemonade mix.
  6. Mix all ingredients well.
  7. For regular loads, add 1 tablespoon of the mix to the detergent dispenser. For heavily soiled loads, use 2 tablespoons.

Most DIY detergents are able to do a decent job at cleaning and rinsing the dishes, but some glass surfaces can retain smudges or extra-dry stains. Most automatic detergents will significantly improve the cleaning performance of your dishwasher.

Can I use liquid detergent in dishwasher?

Normal washing up soaps and liquids should not be used as a complete replacement of the dishwasher detergents. If you find yourself in a situation where you simply have nothing else to use for  your dishwasher, try not to use the liquid detergent on its own or in large amounts.

Is liquid detergent bad for dishwasher?

Adding large amounts of dish soap can result in foaming or significant build up of suds. The hot water, combined with the movement of the wash system of your appliance, can further increase the foam, creating more suds that prevent the dishwasher from cleaning the load. The interior can overflow with dish soap suds and cause major leaks.

If by any chance you encounter this problem, there are a few things you can do in addition to cleaning the dishwasher from the effects of the liquid detergent. Try the following steps:

  • Clean all excess water and suds out of the tub. If only a little bit of the suds or water remains which is impossible for you to remove, leave it be.
  • Pour one cup of olive oil inside the tub.
  • Run the entire normal cycle with the empty dishwasher.
  • After the cycle is completed, check if the oil successfully broke down all suds and washed the residue away. If not, repeat the steps.

Can you put dishwasher detergent in bottom of dishwasher?

Most pre-measured detergent tablets and packs work better when placed in the detergent dispenser, unless explicitly stated in the product specifications. If you put a single dose tablet directly inside the tub, it may dissolve before the main cycle even begins, meaning that the dishwasher will circulate regular water without the detergent. If the pre-wash stage of the cycle uses up all detergent, this can produce less than desirable overall cleaning results.

How do you use Finish gel dishwasher detergent?

Liquid gel detergents should be added directly to the dispenser tray in your dishwasher. If you want to use Finish gel instead of your regular dry detergent, add the liquid to the same section used for packs and tablets. You should fill the dispenser tub according to the needs of each specific load. For heavily soiled items and hard water, add slightly more detergent. If your water is soft or your dishes are only lightly soiled, use slightly less gel. Some dispenser trays feature measuring lines to help you assess proper gel amounts. Optimal temperature for gel detergents is 140° F.

Are dishwasher pods bad for your dishwasher?

All non-toxic pods and packs of detergents that are specifically designed for dishwasher use are not harmful to the dishwasher itself or the items inside. If used correctly, the pods will only improve the washing quality. Pay attention to the exact directions provided by manufacturers to avoid any issues with the hardware and prevent any damage to the dishes. Product instructions also provide helpful tips recommended amounts of detergent that are aimed for optimal dishwasher and rinse aid performance.

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