Best Dishwasher Detergents of 2020

Updated
Categories Dishwashing
Pods, gels, or powder — what will it be? 

Nobody likes doing the dishes. It’s kind of gross, it takes a while and it can be tricky to remove stubborn sticky food. That’s where a dishwasher comes in handy!

If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you’ll know the challenge of finding the perfect dishwasher detergent. For instance, some appliances require certain types of detergent. If you have hard water, that can also affect the detergent’s efficacy.

We’re here to recommend you the best dishwasher detergents for various uses. With our list, you’ll find something that works in your dishwasher. Every time.


Types of Dishwasher Detergents

When it comes to dishwasher detergents, there are three main types: powder, gel and pods.

Powder

Ecover, Automatic Dishwashing Powder, 48 oz
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While powder isn’t the most popular choice, it might be just right for you.

PROS:
  • Most affordable.
  • Best for hard water.
  • Easy to adjust the quantity.
  • Less packaging waste.
CONS:
  • Messy.
  • You need to individually measure it out.

Gel

Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange, Dishwasher Detergent Tablets 84 count
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Gel detergent either comes pre-packaged or as a liquid, so you can choose your preferred type.

PROS:
  • Dissolves easily.
  • Comes pre-measured or as a liquid.
  • Powerful cleaning ability.
  • Less abrasive on delicate dishes.
CONS:
  • More costly.
  • Not good for hard water.
  • Messy if the bottle bursts.

Pods and Tablets

Cascade Complete ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, Fresh Scent
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Pods and tablets are the most common dishwasher detergent.

PROS:
  • Prepackaged for convenience.
  • Great cleaning power.
  • Scented options.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Saves space.
  • May include powerball for added cleaning power.
CONS:
  • May not dissolve fully, especially in cold water.
  • May contain harsh chemicals, including bleach.
  • Individually wrapped, which contributes to more waste.

Are Dishwasher Pods Bad for Your Dishwasher?

Dishwasher pods are perfectly safe for your dishwasher. Common issues are the pods not dissolving well — so make sure you find a pod that is good for your dishwasher. Secondly, we don’t recommend something with bleach if you have a stainless steel interior on your dishwasher. It can cause damage (1).


How to Choose the Best Dishwasher Detergents

With all this information on dishwasher detergents, considering these criteria can make it straightforward when it comes to choosing your detergent.

Type

Firstly, decide between powder, gel and pods. Weigh up the pros and cons to decide which is best for you.

Water Type

If you have hard water, you will need something with a softening agent or an added rinse aid. However, you can choose any of our options if you use an added rinse aid product, sold separately.

Dishwasher Material

Consider your dishwasher material. For instance, stainless steel is definitely not compatible with bleach — and you should also be careful with powdered detergent. Always check the dishwasher tablet manufacturer’s instructions to check if your dishwasher is compatible.

Budget

Dishwasher detergents can range from fairly cheap to quite expensive. Decide your budget and stick to it, and we’re sure you’ll find something.

More Value This Way

Instead of going for the cheapest pack, check the price per pod, or the price per ounce. For instance, if a pack is $5 but there are only 20 pods, and there’s another $15 pack with 100 pods, that’s cheaper per pod, which is better.

Eco-Friendliness

If you want something eco-friendly, there are plenty of options on the market. Look at the packaging and check if it’s heavy on the plastic. You should also look at the ingredients. We like looking for detergents that are free of phosphates, fragrances, dyes and other additives.

Scent

There’s something lovely about opening the dishwasher up to a fresh clean scent. If you want something scented, keep that in mind when shopping.

Extra Features

Does the detergent come with extra features? This could include a rinse aid, a powerball, or degreasing, scrubbing and shining qualities?


The Best Dishwasher Detergents of 2020

We’ve spent hours researching expert advice, ingredient lists, customer reviews, as well as applying our own insight. With all that in mind, here is our list of the seven best dishwasher detergents.

1. CASCADE Complete Fresh Scent

Best Pod Dishwasher Detergent

Cascade Complete ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, Fresh Scent
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Pods are our favorite dishwasher detergent type, and nothing can really beat the Cascade Complete fresh scent pods.

For the maximum power at removing tough, dried and sticky messes — try these pods out for yourself. Customers love that they’re super easy to use. No need to unwrap any pods. Just take it from the box and slot it into the detergent drawer, add your rinse aid (if necessary) and let the detergent do the hard work.

No need to pre-rinse your dishes. This detergent can clean 24-hour stuck-on food so you can save water by skipping the pre-rinse. That saves you money, water, energy and time!

These pods are designed to dissolve quickly to start their work early in the dishwashing cycle. This ensures that every item in the dishwasher gets cleaned well from start to finish.

Something to Note

This product does not have an included rinse aid, but Cascade does sell one separately. However, many customers reported that these pods were enough to clean their dishes, even in hard water. Test it out for yourself. You may not need a rinse aid!
PROS:
  • Removes caked-on dried food.
  • Fresh scent.
  • No need to unwrap the pods.
  • Leaves a good shine.
CONS:
  • Overwhelming scent for some customers.
  • Pods easily stick together in the box.

Additional Specs

Type Powder and gel tablets
Water Type Soft and hard
Extra Features Dawn grease-fighting power
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 78 tablets

2. Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent

Best Dishwasher Detergent for Hard Water

Finish - Quantum - 82ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs
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Many of us live in hard water areas and struggle with the yucky residue left on all our dishes. While we could always use a rinse aid, that’s another step and another product to buy. But with the Finish Quantum detergent, you don’t need a rinse aid. This detergent is super effective in hard water, leaving you with sparkling clean and residue-free dishes.

It’s made with three different features for three different purposes. So, your dishes will come out of the dishwashing cycle absolutely spotless every time.

First, the powder scrubs and breaks down tough food. Then, the gel has grease-cutting power to wipe clean the toughest messes. Finally, the liquid powerball dries and shines your dishes.

We know it’s a little bit more of an expensive product. But you don’t need a rinse aid (which saves you money) and you get consistent results.

PROS:
  • Great for hard water areas.
  • Scrubs dishes clean and cuts grease.
  • Dries and shines dishes without residue.
  • Cleans dishes on the first wash.
CONS:
  • Pricey.
  • Pods at the bottom may stick together.

Additional Specs

Type Powder and gel tablets
Water Type Soft and hard
Extra Features Powder, gel and powerball
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 82 tablets

3. Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent

Best Dishwasher Detergent With Rinse Aid

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent 92 Scent ActionPacs Net Wt 51.2 Ounce
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The Cascade Platinum pacs are another great option if you live in a hard water area, and want to cut down on adding a separate rinse aid. These pacs have five main benefits: they work as a rinse aid, they remove residue, protect glasses, cut through grease and generally clean your dishes.

This product is formulated with the grease-fighting power of Dawn dish soap. The pacs can quickly dissolve to kick start their cleaning abilities early in the cycles. They can even remove 24-hour stuck-on food, so you can skip the pre-wash.

Customers also love that these pacs keep their silverware — and the dishwasher itself — spotless. You’ll find your forks, knives and spoons are sparkling clean!

PROS:
  • Works as a rinse aid.
  • Protects glassware.
  • Works on 24-hour stuck-on food.
  • More powerful than other detergents.
CONS:
  • It discolors aluminum.
  • Expensive.

Additional Specs

Type Powder and gel tablets
Water Type Soft and hard
Extra Features Rinse aid included
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 92 tablets

4. Finish All in 1 Tablets

Best Budget Dishwasher Detergent

Finish All In 1, Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs, Fresh Scent, 94 Count Each
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The Finish All in 1 Tablets are a budget-friendly but high-quality choice. For a fair price, you get 94 dishwasher tablets, giving you months of clean dishes!

These tablets have eight power actions. This includes, but isn’t limited to, cutting through greasy messes, scrubbing dried food of dishes, and removing tough stains. It’s no wonder Finish is the worldwide leader in dishwashing products.

Each tablet comes with a supercharged powerball. What exactly does it do? It helps the tablet work at maximum effect. It aids grease-cutting power, helps with scrubbing and stain removal, as well as attacking burnt and sticky bits of food.

We also love that these tablets have rinse-aid ingredients. These help with hard water deposits, spots, and residue, leaving you with sparkling and shiny dishes.

PROS:
  • Best value for money.
  • Great for hard water areas.
  • Cuts through grease and stubborn foods.
  • Removes stains.
CONS:
  • Each tablet is individually wrapped in foil.
  • Tablets are often broken inside the foil, making it quite messy.

Additional Specs

Type Powdered tablets
Water Type Soft or hard
Extra Features Supercharged powerball
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 94 tablets

5. Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Best Scented Dishwasher Detergent

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods, Tangerine + Lemongrass-With Essential Oils, 60 Count, Organic Enzyme-Powered, Plant & Mineral-Based
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If you want something scented, look no further than the Grab Green natural pods. These comes in four different scent options:

  • Tangerine and lemongrass.
  • Red pear and magnolia.
  • Thyme and fig leaf.
  • Unscented.

With lots of unique scent options to choose from, you’ll be impressed with this brand. Grab Green prioritizes natural products that are safe for you, the whole family and the environment. Each pod is scented with naturally occurring essential oils so there are no synthetic fragrances in these pods.

With conscious ingredients, these pods are still effective in the dishwasher. They’re designed to clean dishes, remove grease and grime and leave zero spots. If you live in a hard water area, test these out!

PROS:
  • Four scent options.
  • Cuts through grease.
  • Leaves zero spots on dishes.
  • Naturally-derived ingredients.
CONS:
  • Scent lingers on dishes.
  • Don’t always fully dissolve.

Additional Specs

Type Powdered tablets
Water Type Soft and hard
Extra Features Four scent options, natural ingredients
Eco-Friendly Yes
Quantity 60 tablets

6. Finish All in 1 Gelpacs

Best Gel Dishwasher Detergent

Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange, Dishwasher Detergent Tablets 84 count
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Many people prefer gel because it dissolves really easily in all cycle temperatures. Our top recommendation for a gel dishwasher detergent is the Finish All in 1 Gelpacs.

They have 4x power actions so they can cut grease, scrub away dried food and remove burnt bits. If you hate pre-rinsing, and tend to leave dishes for a while before turning on the dishwasher, these are the pacs for you!

There is no need to unwrap these individual pacs either. Just slot them in the detergent drawer and they will get to work in the cycle immediately.

These also have a fresh orange scent, so every time you open your dishwasher you’ll be greeted by the citrusy aroma.

Customers love that these gels clean their dishes without leaving behind any kind of residue, which can often be the case with powdered tablets.

PROS:
  • Dissolves in all temperatures.
  • Citrus scent.
  • Great for dried on and greasy food.
  • Easy to use.
CONS:
  • Not as effective in hard water.
  • Pacs stick together and may burst when pulled apart.

Additional Specs

Type Gel tablets
Water Type Soft
Extra Features Citrus scent
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 84 tablets

7. Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder

Best Powder Dishwasher Detergent

Ecover, Automatic Dishwashing Powder, 48 oz
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This Ecover detergent is a great option if you want to try out a powder for your dishwasher. The ingredients are plant-based and mineral, biodegradable and safe for aquatic life. This phosphate-free formula is definitely a more eco-friendly option.

What can it do for your dishes? It can attack stuck and stubborn food and leave your dishes sparkling clean. It can remove dried food and tough stains without leaving behind a nasty residue. You’ll love that it even has a nice fragrance, derived from 100% natural ingredients.

Customers love that this powder works super effectively. If you’re the kind of person who hates pre-rinsing dishes, then this is the detergent for you! Even if you put the dirtiest plates in the dishwasher, this detergent ensures they come out spotless.

Ecover never tests their products on animals, and this detergent is safe on septic systems.

PROS:
  • Eco-friendly ingredients.
  • Attacks stubborn foods.
  • No need to pre-rinse dishes.
  • Vegan and biodegradable formula.
CONS:
  • Strong smell.
  • Not great in hard water areas.

Additional Specs

Type Powder
Water Type Soft
Extra Features Scent
Eco-Friendly Yes
Quantity 48 ounces

Dishwasher Detergent Comparison Chart

Product Best Type Water Type Extra Features Eco-Friendly
CASCADE Complete Fresh Scent Pod Powder & gel tablets Soft & hard Dawn grease-fighting power No
Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent Hard Water Powder & gel tablets Soft & hard Powder, gel & powerball No
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Rinse Aid Powder & gel tablets Soft & hard Rinse aid included No
Finish All in 1 Tablets Budget Pick Powdered tablets Soft or hard Supercharged powerball No
Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods Scented Powdered tablets Soft & hard Four scent options, natural ingredients Yes
Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Gel Gel tablets Soft Citrus scent No
Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder Powder Powder Soft Scent Yes
Jump to the Full Dishwasher Detergent Reviews

Dishwasher Detergent FAQs

Is Vinegar Bad for Dishwashers?

Vinegar is often used as a rinse aid or as a dishwasher cleaner. But is it safe for your appliance?

When you use vinegar on any kind of appliance that has rubber (this includes garbage disposals, dishwashers and washing machines), you run the risk of damaging the appliance. That’s because the acetic acid can destroy the rubber parts (2).

However, this depends on the dishwasher. Some rubber reacts with vinegar, some doesn’t. You should always check with your manufacturer to see if it says you can use vinegar or not.

Does Vinegar Damage Rubber Seals?

Potentially. Vinegar is an acid so it can eat away at rubber seals, but if you’re using diluted vinegar, it should be fine. Always check with the manufacturer and avoid full-strength vinegar, especially on seals made from polyacrylate, fluorosilicone, and Buna-N (3).

Is Liquid or Powder Detergent Better for Dishwashers?

It depends on your dishwasher, but as long as you’re buying from a quality brand, both should be fine. Your manufacturer may recommend a dishwasher detergent. Many people like to test a few brands before deciding.

Caution

Got a stainless steel dishwasher? Don’t use anything with chlorine or bleach in it, as this may cause damage.

Spotless Dishes

You may need to test out a few before you find your perfect detergent. But with these recommendations, the journey is much easier.

All our recommendations are effective and work in all types of dishwashers. So choose your favorite type — pods, gels, or powder — and then decide which detergent you’re going to go for.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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