The Best Dishwasher Detergent

I’m a workers creator on Wirecutter’s tools employees, the place I cowl big cleaning dwelling tools, along with dishwashers. I carried out our most modern spherical of dishwasher testing, all through which I observed and assessed a dozen dishwashers and higher than 100 dishwasher cycles. I’ve paid shut consideration to dishwasher detergent since my mother started looking for Electrasol tabs in bulk in 1997.

For this data:

  • I researched and examined 24 completely totally different dishwasher detergents.
  • I spoke with numerous consultants, along with dishwasher specialists, authorities on dishwasher detergent, chemists, an environmental scientist, and representatives from Cascade.
  • I study quite a lot of evaluation papers on the utilization of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH) on detergent pods.
Photo: Michael Murtaugh

If you often open your dishwasher to go looking out spattered plates, cloudy glasses, and boring cutlery, first keep in mind a model new detergent. An glorious detergent can significantly improve the cleaning effectivity of a median dishwasher and even improve the ability of an excellent machine.

If you prerinse your dishes, it might be time to stop (really!) so {{that a}} good detergent can do its job appropriately. Dishwasher detergents embody a mixture of enzymes, buffers (to handle pH steadiness), surfactants (to remove grease and totally different soils), and bleach or one other high-sodium base (to remove stains). The enzymes are designed to assault soils: If you rinse your dishes clear, you enable nothing for the enzymes to devour. The enzymes may even slowly eat away on the dishes themselves, inflicting frosting or etching.

You might need to experiment with only a few completely totally different detergents to go looking out the one which works most interesting alongside along with your dishwasher and water present. If you might need arduous water, observe that many pods—considerably these with chambers that separate detergent boosters from the precept detergent—now embody water softeners, too. (If you’re unsure, test your detergent’s label.)

Also take a look at the expiration date of the detergent you might need. Some detergents exhibit discoloration after only a few months and may lose their cleaning power over time. Based on our evaluation, we advocate using your dishwasher detergent inside a 12 months.

Three shelves with various dishwashing powders, detergents, powders and baking sodas sitting on them.
Photo: Connie Park

Dishwasher detergents come as pods, powders, tablets, or liquids. In addition to differing in how useful they’re to utilize, these assorted styles of detergents fluctuate of their cleaning choices and strengths. Here’s an overview:


Dishwasher pods (moreover referred to as packs) are single-dose detergents often product of powder detergent encased in a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH) film. Some pods, harking back to our prime resolve and runner-up resolve, embody additional liquid cleaning brokers in separate chambers that launch when the PVA/PVOH film dissolves. This design retains liquid and powder separate until they’re disbursed, allowing detergent boosters that most interesting perform in liquid sort to combine with powder detergent all through a dishwasher’s cycle, enhancing their effectiveness.

Pods are moreover neat, useful, and easy to utilize. Their PVA/PVOH film prevents direct contact with their detergents, a plus for these with sensitivities. But they’re often costlier than totally different detergent varieties.


Though powder detergents lack some advantages of pods with liquid detergent boosters, the granulated enzymes in powder detergent nonetheless current a great deal of cleaning power. Detergent in powder sort moreover allows you to merely alter how rather a lot detergent you make the most of. This might be helpful in case you’ve an older dishwasher that’s equipped with a prerinse drawer (the place you presumably can add further detergent) or a less-effective machine that is not pretty extremely efficient enough to cope with a stronger detergent (which might go away detergent residue in your dishes). Powders are often primarily essentially the most economical chance. But they often can be found in greater packing containers, which might be heavy and arduous to pour from precisely.

Tablets or tabs

Compared with powders, layered, single-dose tablets of powder detergent dissolve further slowly, which extends how prolonged they’re going to clear. We found that the majority tablets cleaned increased than powders (nevertheless not along with pods with liquid detergent boosters). Some tablets, such as a result of the Finish tablets we like, are individually wrapped, which retains them dry nevertheless isn’t final do you have to’re attempting to chop again waste. Others, similar to the Miele UltraTabs All in 1 (designed to be used with Miele dishwashers harking back to our enhance resolve in that data), have a water-soluble wrapping.


Often referred to as gels, liquid detergents carried out worst in our checks and are sometimes not the proper cleaners. Unlike with pods, powders, and tablets, an enormous portion of liquid detergent washes away early on in a cycle. In addition, the cleaning brokers are diluted by the course of of manufacturing gel detergents, and key stain-removal parts harking back to bleach often can’t be used with totally different elements in a liquid reply. If you like a gel detergent, we found little distinction between producers, so we advise going with the proper price you may discover, irrespective of works most interesting in your machine, or the scent you like.

For the latest substitute of this data, we examined 24 detergents typically current in grocery and big-box retailers, along with these from generic producers and newer boutique companies. I moreover blended up a batch of DIY detergent (certain, it’s an element) using washing soda, citric acid, boric acid, and kosher salt. (Spoiler: It didn’t work.)

Here’s how we evaluated the detergents:

Cleaning effectivity

To assess detergents, we used primarily essentially the most troublesome soils we encountered all through our dishwasher testing, along with baked-on egg, peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate syrup, rice, and tomato sauce.

For each check out load, we coated 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, and two bowls with numerous meals after which microwaved them for five minutes to set the stains. We moreover replicated a burned-on pasta-and-cheese casserole, and we included lipstick-stained stemware, consuming glasses coated with tomato juice, coffee-stained mugs, and dirty utensils.

We painted our check out plates with numerous hard-to-clean meals, harking back to peanut butter, egg, and tomato sauce. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Using the an identical dishwasher (the Miele G5006SCUSS) for consistency, we ran the dishes by a one-hour cycle with each detergent. Shorter dishwasher cycles are designed for brisker stains, not baked-on meals; using such a cycle helped us gauge how rather a lot work the detergent did versus the dishwasher.

We then examined the extreme performers in quite a lot of cycles in three totally different dishwashers: the Maytag MDB8959SKZ (our also-great resolve), the Bosch 100 Series (a Bosch variant we like), and a budget IKEA Essentiell (a weaker performer in our dishwasher testing, which allowed us to primarily see each detergent’s cleaning skills).


We assessed how each detergent smelled, noting if its scent was too sturdy, odd, or outright unpleasant. Some of the stronger-scented detergents left our check out dishes smelling similar to the detergent.

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Our resolve

Cascade Free & Clear ActionPacs

The most interesting dishwasher detergent pods

This useful pod does the proper job of annihilating strong messes, and it neutralizes odors with a lightweight lemon scent. But it doesn’t go away glassware as shiny as one other detergents.

Buying Options

Cascade Free & Clear ActionPacs dishwasher detergent was primarily essentially the most well-rounded detergent we examined, delivering superb cleaning on numerous stains and substances, with a fragile scent and a dye-free formulation.

It’s an excellent cleaner. Cascade Free & Clear ActionPacs obtained right here the closest to cleaning every dish in our check out tons of.

Each pod incorporates liquid detergent boosters designed to cut by grease, which they did efficiently all through our testing. In load after load, this detergent was the one one in our check out group that completely eradicated powerful stains and smears harking back to avocado, tomato sauce, and peanut butter. With Cascade Free & Clear, most dishes emerged spotless, whereas totally different detergents left behind bits and blobs.

Notably, this detergent merely worn out baked-on egg yolk—a stain that the majority dishwashers in our dishwasher testing struggled with. (Morgan Eberhard, a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble, the company that makes Cascade detergents, instructed us that Cascade incorporates a selected enzyme to battle egg protein.) It cleaned glassware and stemware correctly, too, though it didn’t go away this stuff as shiny as one other detergents we like.

The pods are encased in a water-soluble film product of polyvinyl alcohol. Pods with a PVA/PVOH film generally follow the inside of dispenser drawers, the place they don’t completely dissolve. (If this happens steadily, holding the pod dry often helps. We advocate inserting a pod throughout the machine merely sooner than loading your dishes.)

The liquid detergent boosters throughout the prime of each pod don’t embody dyes or chlorine bleach. If you’re concerned about dyes on account of sensitivities or want, this detergent is an environment friendly chance.

The liquid detergent boosters contained throughout the prime of Cascade Free & Clear ActionPacs don’t embody dyes or chlorine bleach. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The pods have a pleasant, odor-neutralizing scent. The attention-grabbing lemon scent—which is product of necessary oils—is milder than that of many various detergents we examined. It did the proper job of neutralizing dishwasher odors with out being overpowering.

Price per load: 32¢ (for a 62-count package deal deal)

Photo: Michael Murtaugh


Cascade Platinum Plus ActionPacs

A sturdy pod with a stronger scent

This pod cleaned nearly along with our prime resolve. But its dyes and stronger scent may be a lot much less attention-grabbing to some of us.

Buying Options

If you presumably can’t uncover our prime resolve and want a pod, Cascade Platinum Plus ActionPacs detergent is an environment friendly second choice.

The pods clear correctly. Like our resolve, each pod incorporates liquid detergent boosters that help to cut grease. In our checks, it even handled peanut butter and baked-on egg correctly—though not pretty as completely as our resolve did. Pyrex casserole dishes, glassware, and stemware dried spot-free.

But the liquid detergent boosters on prime of each pod embody dyes. The dyes don’t impact effectivity, nevertheless do you have to favor to stay away from dyes, our prime resolve is a greater choice.

Cascade Platinum Plus ActionPacs embody liquid detergent boosters on prime which could be designed to cut grease, which they did in our testing. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The scent might be intense. Cascade Platinum Plus ActionPacs have a sturdy “up to date” scent that’s harsher than the lemon fragrance of our resolve and by no means pretty as good. But it neutralized odors correctly in our checks.

Price per load: 37¢ (for a 62-count package deal deal)

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Also good

Finish Powder Advanced

Classic powder, mighty cleaner

This old-school powder carried out correctly in our testing and left stemware streak-free. It costs half as rather a lot as our pod picks nevertheless is far much less useful to dispense.

Buying Options

May be out of stock

Powder detergents often aren’t as sturdy at cleaning or as useful to utilize as pods are. But they’re economical. Of the eight powder detergents we examined, Finish Powder Advanced was the clear standout, delivering the proper combination of cleaning power and value.

It’s an excellent cleaner—and it’s considerably environment friendly on glassware. This detergent was top-of-the-line cleaners among the many many powders. It wiped away baked-on cheese from casseroles and easily cleaned yogurt-coated spoons nevertheless fell wanting totally cleaning away baked-on egg yolk and peanut butter. (Only a far more expensive powder cleaned increased.)

This detergent did a really spectacular job on glassware and stemware, surpassing totally different powder detergents by leaving our gadgets shiny and spot-free in our testing. This consequence’s significantly notable on account of Finish Powder Advanced lacks the glass-cleaning liquid detergent boosters current in our prime resolve and runner-up.

It has a lightweight scent. The lemon scent is not as harsh as that of one other powder detergents we examined. Also, whereas totally different powders struggled to neutralize odors, this detergent counteracted dishwasher smells pretty correctly basic, though it did not pretty attain the extent of our prime resolve and runner-up resolve.

Its packaging might be cumbersome, making it powerful to dispense. The full area of detergent weighs about 5 kilos, and its aluminum spout might make meting out detergent with out spilling an issue. If you might need hand or wrist factors, pods may be less complicated to cope with. Alternatively, you presumably can pour a couple of of this powder proper right into a mason jar or totally different container and use a tablespoon for easier measuring.

It’s essentially the most value efficient of our picks. Using Finish Powder Advanced costs about half as rather a lot per load as using our pod picks.

Price per load: 19¢ (for a 75-ounce package deal deal)

If you want a single-dose detergent with no PVA/PVOH film: You might like Finish Powerball Classic Tabs, the highest-performing PVA/PVOH-free tablet in our testing. This detergent cleaned strong baked-on egg stains pretty correctly—though not completely. It left glassware continuously shiny and spotless, as many Finish detergents do. Because these tabs don’t have a PVA/PVOH film like our pod picks do, you don’t have to worry about them sticking throughout the dispenser. But they’re individually wrapped in plastic, which supplies an extra step and produces waste.

If you want a pod that is significantly environment friendly on glassware: Finish Quantum Powerball detergent might fit your needs. Despite not pretty reaching the cleaning power of our picks, these pods are nonetheless good cleaners basic, and very like totally different Finish detergents we like, they clear glass very correctly. These pods are a good choice do you have to uncover them on sale—significantly do you have to clear quite a lot of glassware and stemware.

If you like an environment friendly powder with a sophisticated scent: Dirty Labs Dish Bio Enzyme Dishwasher Detergent cleaned very properly in our testing, considerably for a powder detergent, and it smells the proper of all the detergents we tried. (The pleasing yuzu, geranium, and lemon balm scent smells desire it was designed by Le Labo.) There is a scent-free system obtainable, as correctly. Its recyclable cardboard packaging is attention-grabbing, and it comes with a picket spoon that makes neatly meting out the powder a breeze. But at 38¢ per load, it’s twice the worth of our powder resolve (however isn’t twice as environment friendly), and it’s obtainable solely by the company’s website, Whole Foods, or Amazon.


Cascade Original ActionPacs and Cascade Platinum ActionPacs cleaned very correctly, nevertheless neither reached the extent of our resolve and runner-up.

Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pods did correctly in our testing nevertheless are costlier than totally different pods and lack the detergent boosters that give our picks an edge.

We examined Costco’s Kirkland Signature Platinum Performance UltraShine Dishwasher Detergent Pacs. The price (12¢ per load) is the underside of the detergents we tried, however it wasn’t a chief performer in our testing.

Although Seventh Generation’s Dishwasher Detergent Packs had been good cleaners, that that they had a troublesome time neutralizing odors.

Of all the pods we examined, Smartly Dishwasher Packs and Method Dishwasher Packs had been the weakest cleaners, battling burned-on cheese and oatmeal particularly.


Though Ecover Dishwasher Powder might be constructive for evenly soiled dishes, it struggled on harder messes.

The bargain-priced Great Value Automatic Dishwasher Powder failed to wash correctly and left a gritty film on glasses.

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder has an enthusiastic following, however it was solely a median cleaner in our testing.

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Powder was a middle-of-the-road cleaner in distinction with the alternative powders we examined.

Cascade Complete Powder did correctly in testing, nevertheless we ultimately chosen Finish powder detergent on account of it carried out increased on glass and left fewer water marks.

The DIY powder detergent that I blended up for this data wasn’t nicely well worth the time. After sourcing the elements (washing soda, citric acid, boric acid, kosher salt) and concocting the finished product, I ended up with a mediocre detergent that made me sneeze whereas I blended it. Ultimately, it’s moreover costlier than our powder detergent resolve.


Blueland Dishwasher Detergent Tablets embody a cultured reusable metallic tin. But the tabs are softer than rivals, and gadgets broke off after we handled them. These tabs had been moreover worse cleaners than others we examined.

Miele UltraTabs All in 1 detergent is a implausible cleaner nevertheless is troublesome to go looking out and costs higher than 50¢ per load.

Liquids and gels

Cascade Complete Gel, Finish Advanced Gel, and Smartly Lemon Scent Dishwasher Gel all carried out equally in our testing, abandoning big streaks and globs of meals—along with on the bottom of the dishwasher.

Rinse help helps dishwashers dry increased, and we added it to each machine initially of our dishwasher testing. Dishwashers are designed to be used with rinse help. (That’s why most machines arrive with a sample bottle of the stuff, and why dishwasher manuals emphasize its use.) Adding rinse help to your dishwashing routine yields drier, sparklier glassware and dishes.

Any rinse help is vulnerable to be passable for the job. During our dishwasher testing, we used rinse help from Cascade, Finish, Miele, and Seventh Generation, and we did not see an enormous distinction in effectivity.

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Most dishwasher pods are coated in a film product of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH), a dissolvable synthetic polymer. While the Environmental Protection Agency consists of PVA/PVOH on its Safer Chemical Ingredients List, some people are cautious of its environmental affect. (And when moist, the film might trigger detergent pods to remain to the inside of a dishwasher and by no means dissolve appropriately.)

PVA/PVOH is technically biodegradable, however it takes time to completely break down, and there hasn’t been intensive evaluation achieved on its long-term biodegradation.

The Cascade Platinum Plus ActionPac (left) encases powder detergent and liquid detergent boosters in a PVA/PVOH film, which dissolves all through a cycle. The Finish Powerball Classic Tab (correct) doesn’t have a PVA/PVOH film. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

We are presently testing numerous new dishwasher detergents, along with Truly Free Dishwasher Soap (a powder detergent that ensures a unhazardous, environmentally nice system), Puracy Free & Clear Dishwasher Detergent Pacs, Cleancult Dishwasher Ultra Power Tablets, and Clorox Triple Action Dishwasher Detergent Pacs.

This article was edited by Ingrid Skjong and Courtney Schley.

  1. Tre Wright, chemical engineer, cellphone interview, May 4, 2023

  2. Morgan Eberhard, senior scientist at Cascade Detergents, Zoom interview, May 12, 2023

  3. Philip Voglewede, affiliate professor of mechanical engineering at Marquette University, Zoom interview, December 6, 2022, and January 23, 2023

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