Best Dishwasher Soap

Ever since phosphates were removed from many of the best dishwasher soaps and detergents on the market, it’s a lot more challenging to find a reliable detergent, even amongst the popular brands. Because of that, we spent over 12 hours researching all the options to narrow down the best dishwasher soaps. The features we prioritized include high quantity or load counts, strong cleaning power for grease and residues and a reasonable price. Also, for some of the options, we chose soaps with all-natural and eco-friendly ingredients, such as the Mrs. Meyers or Lemi Shine detergents. For others, cleaning power was prioritized, like in Bubble Bandit’s Natural detergent.

Our top pick is the Finish All-in-One Dishwasher Detergent and Powerball Tablets which offer a high load count, reasonable price and excellent cleaning support. If you believe in the cleaning power of phosphates, Bubble Bandits has a detergent just for you. If you’re into more natural ingredients, don’t worry, Mrs. Meyers and Lemi Shine are more your style. Of course, there are a lot of detergents that made our list, so keep reading to learn all about our top picks.

Top 6 Reviews

 #1  Finish All-in-One Dishwasher Detergent and Powerball Tablets – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: With the highest load count on the list, and great pricing, the Finish All-in-one Dishwasher Detergent and Powerball Tablets take our top spot. Each one includes a supercharged powerball that cuts through grease and tough stains for an excellent clean.

Pros
  • Best for stains
  • 94 tablets per pack is largest single bag
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • May need an additional drying agent

Hands down, Finish is one of the best brands if you’re looking for a reliable dish detergent, which is also why you’ll find it more than once on the list. The All-in-One Detergent and Powerball Tablets are meant to cut through greasy messes and tough stains. The “Supercharged Powerball” embedded in the middle of the tablet offers a unique deep-clean to eliminate particularly tough residues. It comes in a pre-configured hard tablet, which you can drop into the detergent compartment of your machine. It works well, as advertised, and does an excellent job cleaning dishes, pans and silverware of nasties.

A single pack includes 94 separate tablets, which is quite high compared to the rest of the list. If you use one per load that’s about 94 loads total. In terms of price, the Finish All-in-One tablets are much cheaper, too, all the more reason why it earned our top spot. That’s great news since you don’t have to wear the best rubber gloves and do dishes by hand.

 #2  Cascade Platinum Plus Dishwasher Pods – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: These pods offer a strong and fully-capable cleaning solution that will leave your dishes clean and devoid of residues. A 70-count pack is priced well, too, further boosting the value.

Pros
  • Best at removing residues and grease
  • 70 packs per bucket
  • Good value
Cons
  • The lemon scent may be too strong for some

Cascade is another household brand, renowned for its cleaning products including dishwasher detergent, and they now have an upgraded detergent from their older version Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Detergent. The Platinum Plus dishwasher pods come “formulated” with a strong mix of cleaning chemicals, including a small portion of Dawn dish soap. The latter allows it to eliminate tough stains and grease, fighting through some of the more stubborn contaminants you’ll find on your dishes, which is similar to the Cascade Complete Gel formula. Cascade promises that no pre-wash is necessary to use the pods and we’ve found that to be true. The pods give off a strong lemon scent during cleaning that may be too strong and citrusy for some.

A single pack contains 70 pods or packets, offering about 70 loads total — 1 per load. Considering the price and the quantity, Cascade’s Platinum Plus pods are a bit cheaper than some of the other options on the list. Finish and Cascade are about equal in regards to price and load count. The cleaning power of the detergent makes up for any shortcomings, however. Now that your dishes will be cleaner than ever, you can turn to the best garbage disposal cleaner and get that up to snuff as well.

 #3  Finish Quantum Max Powerball Dishwasher Detergent Tablets – Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Finish Quantum Max Powerball Dishwasher Detergent Tablets are a lot like the ones in our top spot and even have the same Powerball embedded in each tab. They’re priced well with a high load count — at 64 per pack — and do an excellent job cleaning dishes. You may need an additional drying agent in some cases, but it’s not necessarily required.

Pros
  • Great for dried food
  • Priced well with high load count
  • 64 tablets per pack is a decent amount
Cons
  • May need additional drying agent

Back again with another spot on the list, the Finish Quantum Max Powerball tablets include the brand’s unique “Powerball” in the center. It offers a pre-scrub option to remove dried food and residue before the cleaning cycle. Like with any other tablet, you just place this one in the dishwasher detergent dispenser and that’s it. It pre-soaks, washes and then helps dry any dishes inside the washer during a full cycle.

The pack includes 64 detergent tablets, offering up to 64 loads total, at one per load. Considering the price and quantity, you’re getting value beyond most of the other options on the list, the load count is high and the price is relatively low. You can store this product easily with the best white vinegar and other cleaning supplies.

 #4  Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dishwasher Packs – Best Eco-friendly

WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re looking for all-natural ingredients, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Dishwasher Packs are the way to go. There are no animal-derived ingredients, no phosphates and no chlorine, so they’re not toxic.

Pros
  • Most eco-friendly option
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Pleasant basil scent
Cons
  • Expensive with low load count

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dishwasher Packs are soap tablets composed entirely of natural ingredients — meaning there are no animal-derived ingredients, phosphates or chlorine. They also have a pleasant basil scent, that leaves an earthy-like and crisp aroma for your dishes. The tabs load easily into the detergent compartment in your washer and will dispense soap automatically during the cleaning cycle, but that’s true of any pods or tablets on the list.

A single package includes 20 tablets, offering 20 loads total per pack. Considering that quantity and the price, Mrs. Meyer’s tablets are more expensive than anything else. But if you’re big on natural, eco-friendly ingredients, it’s the detergent to go with. This all-natural detergent is similar to the Seventh Generation Auto Dish Powder, and the Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets, although much more efficient. Keeping your dishes clean equals health, much like using the best antibacterial spray.

 #5  Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods – Best Combo Solution

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods offer the best of both worlds. The pods have a dual-chamber design that is released at separate intervals during the wash cycle to boost cleaning power. Plus, the ingredients are eco-friendly and all-natural.

Pros
  • Best of both worlds, powder and gel
  • Eco-friendly and natural citrus ingredients
  • Two pack sizes, at 45 or 65 tablets
Cons
  • Expensive

The Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods include a mixture of both powder and gel-based detergents. This is because they are designed with a “dual chamber” which automatically releases both detergent types during a full cycle. All ingredients are eco-friendly, composed of natural citrus extracts. Because they’re in tablet form, that also means you can just drop them into the detergent compartment in your machine.

A single pack includes 65 tablets, offering up to 65 loads total. You can buy a smaller pack with only 45 tablets, too. The bigger pack is the most expensive on the list, while the smaller pack is more in line with everything else. It’s another excellent option if you prefer eco-friendly and natural ingredients, although, just keep in mind, there are cheaper option. Always use the best product for cleaning dishes, just as you would use the best extension squeegee for windows.

 #6  Bubble Bandit Natural Dishwasher Detergent – Best for Glasses

WHY WE LIKE IT: Bubble Bandit’s no-nonsense, food-service-grade Natural Dishwasher Detergent is the ideal choice for anyone that wants to deep clean their dishes. It does include natural phosphates, so it will clean your washer alongside your dishes.

Pros
  • Cleans the dishwasher
  • Will deep clean dishes and machine
  • Food-service-grade detergent
Cons
  • Detergent not tablets or pods
  • Not meant for high-temperature cycles
  • Pricey but high load count

Bubble Bandit’s Dishwasher Detergent with Natural Phosphates is no joke. It’s designed, like the detergents of old, to truly clean your machine and dishes. That also means it will take a couple of cycles before dishes look clean, because it cleans out built-up deposits inside your washer, too. This detergent is food-service-grade meant for low-temperature under-counter dishwashers. So, it may not be suitable for certain machines, especially if you’re running high-temperature cycles.

Two 60 ounce bags are bundled together, offering up to 120 wash cycles in total — 60 per bag. It comes in powder form, not pods or tablets, so you will have to measure and scoop adequately for each load. Compared to the other detergents on the list, Bubble Bandit’s pack is one of the most expensive but it also has a high load capacity, nearly double anything else. It’s the best option if you want to deep clean your dishes and your washer, and don’t care about phosphates. The detergent is safe for septic and greywater systems.

How We Decided

The first thing we looked at when choosing detergents was the load count and price ratio. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about tablets, pods or powder-based detergent you want to make sure you get a reasonable amount of loads per pack. That’s especially true of the more expensive bundles because you don’t want to have to refill often, at unreasonable costs. Everything on this list offers good value in that regard, and even the more pricey options still have something to offer like a high load count or all-natural ingredients.

Cleaning power is another major concern, especially after the removal of phosphates from most detergents. Everything on this list will suitably clean your dishes and dishwasher loads with little to no problem. You can use an additional drying agent to improve and speed up the entire cleaning cycle, but it’s not a requirement. If you only use the detergents, everything you see here will clean, rinse and dry as expected.

Finally, the ingredients were another consideration during the selection process. Some of the detergents use all-natural ingredients, others do not. We made sure to choose at least one detergent mixture that matches everyone’s needs, including one that has natural phosphates. If you want to go all-natural, you’re good to go. If you want to go for the deep clean instead, that option is there, too.

Product Category Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Load Count
    It may not seem like much, but the load count or load capacity for each detergent is one of the most important things to consider. The lower the number, the fewer loads you get per package or bin. You want to find something that is priced reasonably but also offers an adequate total load count. Similar to laundry detergent, you’ll be regularly using the soap to clean your dishes, so the higher the capacity the better. Bonus points go to the detergents with a lower price. The sweet spot is right around our top pick and honorable mention, with a high load count and lower price.
  2. Ingredients
    Even if you’re looking for something stronger with phosphates — which has been removed from many detergents — the ingredients matter. Those interested in all-natural and eco-friendly ingredients are certainly going to be paying attention, but the point here is that everyone should be. Some of the more common ones include sodium carbonate, nonionic surfactants, and unnamed enzymes. The latter allows the detergent to genuinely clean dishes and remove grease or stains.
  3. Temperature Support
    For the most part, the detergents on the list are interchangeable, meaning they work with nearly any type of dishwasher and can be used for both cold and hot cycles. It’s less a concern here, especially with our picks, but it is something to consider when you’re choosing a detergent to buy. Bubble Bandit’s Natural Dishwasher Detergent, for example, is not meant for high-temperatures so it cannot be used with any hot cycles.

Dishwasher Soap FAQs

What Is the Best Dishwasher Soap for Hard Water?

Personal preference will always dictate what type of dishwasher detergent you believe to be the best, and it’s possible you may not agree with our assessment. However, powdered and granular type detergents tend to work much better than liquid or gels. Our list of the best dishwasher detergents will give you the best results as they have improved formulas with strong cleaning power that remove grease, residue, and prevent water spots, even for homes using hard water. Powder detergents will usually clean better than the best gel, simply because most powder detergents contain either rinse aid, degreaser, bleach or a combination of these. Many of the pods or tablets you will find on the list include powdered detergent within. You can also run a cycle with plain vinegar to eliminate some of the stains and scale that hard water tends to leave behind.

Best Dishwasher Detergent for Samsung?

While Samsung is one of the most popular dishwasher brands today, this answer is going to apply to just about any brand out there including GE, Bosch, Whirlpool and several others. The only major difference between dishwashers is whether they are high efficiency or not. However, there are other factors that will influence the cleaning quality of your washer, such as hard water versus soft water. All of that aside, the best way to find a suitable soap or detergent for the brand of washer you own is to experiment. Most brands will recommend a type of detergent within the official manual, so you can always give that a read if you’re genuinely stumped.

Do Dishwasher Pods Work better?

In most cases, yes, dishwasher pods or pacs — as they are sometimes called — work better than traditional powders or gel. The reason for this is because pods and even tablets include pre-configured solutions designed to clean, rinse and dry adequately. Inside the pod, you’ll find a cleaning solution, degreaser, bleach and sometimes rinse-aid. Because pods contain all of these different cleaning solutions in one, they tend to clean better and they’re also much more convenient to use.

Why Is the First Run Always Dirty?

With most detergents — especially the tablet-based ones — the chemical not only cleans out the dishes and pans stored inside the washer but also the appliance itself. What this means in terms of cleanliness for the first few runs is that they will generally always be worse. You might end up with some residue on your dishes or it may seem like the detergent didn’t work at all, in a worst-case scenario. Most often, this happens when trying out a new detergent even with higher-efficiency dishwashers. It’s always recommended that you run your dishwasher a few times using the new soap before you make a judgment call. It’s not ideal, but it is the reality.

What’s the Deal with Phosphates?

A total of seventeen states have banned the use of phosphates in dishwasher detergents because the chemical poses a threat to the environment. The chemical was heavily polluting many natural lakes, bays, rivers and streams. After entering a water source, the chemical creates algae blooms, which starve fish and other aquatic life of oxygen. Unfortunately, it was also a major contributor to how well dishwashers were able to clean dishes, pans and more. Many proponents of the chemical are, understandably, upset that their dishwasher no longer cleans dishes as well, let alone adequately. It’s a tough issue, particularly because even though phosphates clean dishes well, no one wants to cause severe harm to our planet and natural water streams. On the flip-side, it means that people have to hand-wash dishes a lot of times before putting them into a dishwasher. Undoubtedly, that wastes a lot of water which is also damaging. As of now, however, many detergent companies have removed phosphates because it’s not feasible to create two versions of their product, one for states with laws and one for those without.

How Do I Clean My Dishwasher?

Believe it or not, it’s not always a good idea to use dishwasher detergent or soaps to clean out the inside of a dishwasher. Similar to a fabric washer and dryer, you may need to clean out the appliance with a mixture of additional chemicals. You can use either white vinegar or baking soda to clean out the inside of your dishwasher and remove stains and grease. Put a small dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar at the top of your dishwasher and run it through a hot-water cycle Sprinkle about one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher then run a short, hot-water cycle to rinse out the machine Another maintenance step you might want to complete regularly is to unclog or clean out the main dishwasher drain. At the bottom of the machine, there is a drain where all the water, soap and other nasties empty. Remove the bottom dish rack and you should be able to see the drain. Be sure to clear it of any solids, including food and other gunk, to keep your dishwasher draining properly.

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Briley Kenney

Briley has been a freelance technology writer and entrepreneur for over a decade now. You might know him from his work with Ideaing, Lifewire, or Smartwatches.org. He has a strong background in all things tech and loves to learn the ins and outs of new gadgets and platforms. He loves to share his knowledge with others just as much.

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