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Best Dishwasher Detergents of 2023

Updated
Helping you find the right detergent for spotless dishes.

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 best 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. After hours of research into real customer reviews, dozens of products, and our own experience, we found seven super options. You’ll find something that works in your dishwasher — every time.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Cascade Complete Fresh Scent
Best Pods
Cascade Complete Fresh Scent
  • Removes caked-on dried food
  • No need to unwrap the pods
  • Leaves a good shine
Product Image of the Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent
Best for Hard Water
Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent
  • Scrubs through grease
  • Dries & shines without residue
  • Cleans on the first wash
Product Image of the Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent
Best With Rinse Aid
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent
  • Uses power of Dawn soap
  • Protects glassware
  • Works on 24-hr stuck-on food
Product Image of the Finish All in 1 Tablets
Best Budget Dishwasher Detergent
Finish All in 1 Tablets
  • Best value for money
  • Great for hard water areas
  • Removes tough stains
Product Image of the Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Pods
Best Scented Dishwasher Detergent
Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Pods
  • Four scent options, including tangerine lemongrass
  • Leaves zero spots on dishes
  • Naturally-derived ingredients
Product Image of the Finish All in 1 Gelpacs
Best Gel Detergent
Finish All in 1 Gelpacs
  • Dissolves in all temperatures
  • Great for dried & greasy food
  • Easy to use — no need to unwrap pods
Product Image of the Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder
Best Powder
Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder
  • Safe on septic systems
  • No need to pre-rinse dishes
  • Vegan & biodegradable formula

Review Methodology: At Oh So Spotless, we provide you with a thorough analysis and assessment of the best dishwasher detergents, ensuring that you can trust our reviews and make informed decisions. Our hands-on experience, research, and data-driven evaluations help us rank and compare these products based on key criteria such as cleaning performance, eco-friendliness, scent, and value for money. We evaluate products from a user’s perspective, sharing our professional expertise and quantitative measurements of each detergent’s performance. Our findings will help you identify what sets a product apart from its competitors, and we provide first-hand evidence to support our recommendations. Dive into our comprehensive review to discover the top dishwasher detergents, taking into account factors like effectiveness, ease of use, and safety for your dishes and dishwasher.



The Best Dishwasher Detergents of 2023

We’ve spent hours researching expert advice, ingredient lists, customer reviews, as well as applying our own insight. We looked at each product’s formula, cleaning ability, and extra features to ensure we only recommend powerful detergents.

Are you ready to meet seven splendid dishwasher detergents? It’s time!

Cascade Complete Fresh Scent

Best Pods

Pods are our favorite dishwasher detergent type, and nothing can beat the Cascade Complete fresh scent pods.

For maximum power at removing tough, dried, sticky messes, try these pods out for yourself. Customers love that they’re super easy to use.

You don’t need to unwrap any pods. Just pop the pod into the detergent drawer, add your rinse aid (if necessary), and let the detergent do the hard work.

You’ll also enjoy the fact that you don’t 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!

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.
  • Contains Dawn dish soap for grease removal.
  • No need to unwrap the pods.
  • Leaves a good shine.
  • They dissolve quickly to clean throughout the entire cycle.
  • No need to pre-rinse dishes.

Cons

  • Overwhelming scent for some customers.
  • Pods easily stick together in the box.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
5 / 5
Eco-friendliness
1 / 5
Sensitivity
3.5 / 5
Scent
3.5 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"Got these Cascade dishwasher pods after using the liquid version for a while, and I'm quite impressed! The pods are super convenient, as they easily drop into the detergent door and dissolve completely during the wash cycle. In the two washes I've done so far, my dishes have come out nearly perfect - no cloudiness or stains. I also appreciate that these pods don't damage my vintage silverware like another product I tried. The built-in rinse aid is a nice touch, but I still use a separate one for optimal results."

Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent

Best for Hard Water

Many 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 uses 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.
  • No need to pre-rinse dishes.
  • Tackles 24-hour dried stains.

Cons

  • Pricier than other options.
  • Pods at the bottom may stick together.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4.5 / 5
Eco-friendliness
1 / 5
Sensitivity
4 / 5
Scent
4 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"My experience with these dishwasher pucks has been nothing short of amazing. They leave my dishes sparkling clean and glassware crystal clear without any residue. Although occasionally I've encountered a "wet dog" smell that requires extra rinse cycles, the convenience and affordability of these pucks still make them a top choice for me."

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Detergent

Best With Rinse Aid

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, 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 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.
  • Removes burnt-on food.
  • Uses power of Dawn for grease-fighting power.

Cons

  • It might discolor aluminum.
  • Expensive price per pod.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4.5 / 5
Eco-friendliness
1 / 5
Sensitivity
4 / 5
Scent
4 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"This product truly outperforms other dishwasher detergents I've tried, especially in areas with hard water. Not only do my dishes come out clean and free of lime deposits, but the added Oxyclean and Finish components in the gel pacs make them shine even on low-energy settings. Although they may be a bit more expensive, the results and convenience are well worth it in my opinion."

Finish All in 1 Tablets

Best Budget Dishwasher Detergent

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 off dishes, and removing tough stains. It’s no wonder Finish is the worldwide leader in dishwashing products.

Each tablet comes with a supercharged Powerball. This 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 tough stains.
  • No need to pre-rinse dishes.
  • Removes spots and film from hard water.

Cons

  • Each tablet is individually wrapped in foil.
  • Tablets are often broken inside the foil, making it quite messy.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4.5 / 5
Eco-friendliness
1 / 5
Sensitivity
4 / 5
Scent
4 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"In my experience, Finish's All in 1 Powerball Dishwashing Tablets have been a fantastic addition to my kitchen cleaning routine. These tablets consistently provide outstanding cleaning results, easily tackling tough food stains and leaving dishes sparkling clean without any residue. The individually packaged tablets make dishwashing more efficient and less tedious, while the subtle, fresh scent adds a pleasant finishing touch. With a pack of 94 tablets, it's an excellent value for regular use."

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Best Scented Dishwasher Detergent

If you want something scented, look no further than the Grab Green natural pods. These come in four different scent options:

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

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 these pods have no synthetic fragrances.

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, including tangerine lemongrass.
  • Cuts through grease and dried-on food.
  • Leaves zero spots on dishes.
  • Naturally-derived ingredients.
  • Easy velcro close bag.
  • Products are made in the USA.

Cons

  • Scent lingers on dishes.
  • Don’t always fully dissolve.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
5 / 5
Sensitivity
5 / 5
Scent
5 / 5
Total Rating
4.75 / 5

Community Feedback

"Excellent product with a healthy EWG score, mild scent, and effective cleaning. I appreciate that this dishwasher pod is non-toxic and free from harsh chemicals. While the dishes may not have the "sparkle" that some mainstream brands offer, the addition of a rinse aid like Lemi helps improve results. Though the pods can occasionally stick together and break when pulled apart, the overall performance outweighs this minor inconvenience."

Finish All in 1 Gelpacs

Best Gel Detergent

Many people prefer gel because it dissolves 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 residue, which can often be the case with powdered tablets.

Pros

  • Dissolves in all temperatures.
  • Pleasant citrus scent.
  • Great for dried-on and greasy food.
  • Easy to use — no need to unwrap the pods.

Cons

  • Pacs stick together and may burst when pulled apart.

Product Specs

Type Gel tablets
Water Type Soft
Extra Features Citrus scent
Eco-Friendly No
Quantity 32 tablets

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
1 / 5
Sensitivity
4 / 5
Scent
4 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"My experience with these gel dishwasher packs has been fantastic compared to other brands I've tried in the past. These packs dissolve completely during the dishwasher cycle, leaving my dishes sparkling clean without any residue. The scent is much milder than other products, which I appreciate because it doesn't linger on my dishes. Despite having hard well water, these gel packs have proven to be effective. The only downside I've encountered was one bag arrived burst open, but overall, I'm highly satisfied with the product's performance."

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder

Best Powder

This Ecover detergent is an excellent 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-on and stubborn food, leaving your dishes sparkling clean. It can remove dried food and tough stains without leaving behind a nasty residue. You’ll love that it has a pleasant fragrance derived from 100 percent natural ingredients.

Customers love that this powder works super effectively. If you’re the kind who hates pre-rinsing dishes, 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 its 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.
  • Safe for septic tanks.

Cons

  • Strong smell.
  • Not great in hard water areas.

Product Specs

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

Our Ratings

Cleaning Performance
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
5 / 5
Sensitivity
4.5 / 5
Scent
3 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

Community Feedback

"Got this eco-friendly dishwasher detergent and it has truly impressed me with its cleaning power, especially considering its natural ingredients. I used to struggle with residue and etched glasses, but this product has eliminated those issues, leaving my dishes spotless even without rinsing all the food off. While it may not work perfectly with every dishwasher or water type, I found it to be a fantastic alternative to harsher detergents and I feel better about having it around my kids."

Product Comparison Chart

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

Types of Dishwasher Detergents

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

Powder

While powder isn’t the most popular choice, it might be just right for you. We love it because it usually contains more eco-friendly and sustainable ingredients and packaging. You’ll also find it easy to adjust the quantities, which is handy if you’re doing a smaller load.

Pros

  • Most affordable price point.
  • Best for hard water.
  • Easy to adjust the quantity.
  • Less packaging waste.
  • More likely to use sustainable ingredients.

Cons

  • Can be messy to use.
  • You need to measure it out individually.

Gel

Gel detergent either comes pre-packaged or as a liquid, so you can choose your preferred type. This is popular because it offers a super deep clean. The gel dissolves, distributes well, and might even contain enzymes to effectively clean your dishes.

Pros

  • Dissolves easily in various water temperatures.
  • Comes pre-measured or as a liquid.
  • Powerful cleaning ability.
  • Less abrasive on delicate dishes.

Cons

  • More costly.
  • Not suitable for hard water.
  • Messy if the bottle bursts.

Pods and Tablets

Pods and tablets are the most common dishwasher detergent. We use these because they are so simple to use. They come pre-measured, so you just have to open them up, pop them in the detergent drawer, and start the cycle.

Pros

  • Prepackaged for convenience.
  • Great cleaning power.
  • Scented options available.
  • Cost-effective, especially when you buy in bulk.
  • Saves storage space.
  • May include a Powerball for added cleaning power.

Cons

  • May not dissolve fully, especially in cold water.
  • May contain harsh chemicals, including bleach.
  • Sometimes individually wrapped, which contributes to more waste.

Are Dishwasher Pods Bad for Your Dishwasher?

Dishwasher pods are totally safe for your dishwasher. However, the pods may have trouble 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

Considering this information on dishwasher detergents, considering these criteria can make it straightforward when choosing your detergent.

Type

Firstly, decide between powder, gel, and pods. Weigh up the pros and cons to decide which is best for you. Personally, we choose a pod or tablet, but gel is super effective if you have tough grease and grime.

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 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 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. We’ll give you a simple yes or no as to whether each product is eco-friendly.

Scent

There’s something lovely about opening the dishwasher to a fresh, clean scent. If you want something scented, keep that in mind when shopping. You’ll typically find most scents are citrus-based, so be sure that the fragrance is something you’ll enjoy.

Extra Features

Does the detergent come with extra features? This could include a rinse aid, a Powerball, or degreasing, scrubbing, and shining qualities. Always check these details as they could make or break your opinion on the detergent.


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 appliance with rubber (this includes garbage disposals, dishwashers, and washing machines), you risk 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, and some don’t. You should always check with your manufacturer to see if it says you can use vinegar or not.

Personally, we use vinegar to clean our dishwashers, and we’ve never had an issue.

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, as this may cause damage.

What Should You Not Put In a Dishwasher?

You should not put wooden, cast ironware, and sharp knives in a dishwasher. The detergent can strip the natural oils from chopping boards and wooden spoons, while sharp knives dull quickly.

Why Do My Glasses Come Out of the Dishwasher Cloudy?

The most common reasons your glasses come out of the dishwasher cloudy include using the wrong dishwasher detergent and hard water that coats the glasses in mineral deposits.

Should I Rinse My Dishes Before Putting Them in the Dishwasher?

You shouldn’t need to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Most dishwashers have dirt-sensing technology that adjusts the temperature to cope with varying levels of food debris. We never pre-rinse, and our dishes come out clean every time.

How Do You Know If Your Dishwasher Needs Salt?

To know if your dishwasher needs salt, check the salt indicator or the salt reservoir at least once a month. Also, if your dishes come out streaky, it could be another sign of low salt levels.


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Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 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!