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The 10 Best Dishwasher Detergents of 2019

Dishwasher Detergents: The Best of 2019

Are your dishes dazzling... or dingy?

In today’s world, we cherish the things that make our busy, complicated lives a little easier. Anything that saves us time away from toil and lets us spend that time with our families is something critical in our modern, daily lives. Our automatic dishwashers are one of those critical things. Very few of us want to take precious time away from our families by standing over a sink full of dirty dishes after a family dinner. Automatic dishwashers have made that possible for us. But do we just close the door on our dishwashers and walk away, without a thought as to what is happening behind the closed door? Which is most important, dishes that sparkle, or minimizing the damage done to the environment by our chosen detergents? Choosing the right dishwasher detergent is the way to find what works best for you, your family, and your conscience.

If you're on the market for a new dishwasher detergent, take a look at our picks for the best dishwasher detergent, and then enjoy sparkling clean dishes.

Do your dishes come out of the dishwasher with a sparkle? If not, maybe it’s time to rethink the detergent you are using. Several years ago, many of our old favorite brands changed their formulas due to most states no longer allowing use of phosphates in dishwasher detergent products. Phosphates pose significant hazards to aquatic environments. At that time, many of us experienced a notable decline in the shine of our dishes, inspiring many companies to respond with new, innovative formulas. Therefore this is a great time to explore your options and find the dishwasher detergent that works best for you.

Finish Quantum Powerball is a pre-measured dishwasher detergent pod with three separate chambers. Each dissolving chamber has its own formula for powerful cleaning action and is designed to dissolve during appropriate wash cycle. First, a super-scrubbing powder detergent cleans and scrubs, even removing tough baked-on foods. Next is a gel capsule release. Finish gel has grease cutting action to remove grease from dirty dishes and lift it away. Finally, a liquid powerball capsule dissolves to release powerful agents which prevent drying spots on your dishes, for a sparkling clean finish and shine.

Finish Quantum Powerball is formulated to work well even in hard water. Each pod is wrapper free but contains a water-soluble coating that dissolves in water. The Powerball removes grease and tough baked-on foods. Each Powerball pod contains agents to remove tough limescale from both dishes and your dishwasher where limescale tends to build up in interior parts such as heating coils, the filter, and the sprayer. Finish Quantum Powerball leaves your dishwasher itself clean and refreshed. Powerballs contain bleach to remove tough stains such as coffee and tea from your mugs and teacups.

Finish Quantum Powerball is formulated to remove the need for pre-rinsing, saving an average of 15 gallons of rinse water per dish load. Dishes should be scraped, but not rinsed. Finish containers are fully recyclable and made of 30 percent recycled plastic. Finish factories are carbon-neutral and are planting more than 2 million trees through “Trees for Change” project. Finish products are safe for septic systems.

Some potential drawbacks of Finish Quantum Powerball detergent pods are the increased potential for detergent to become stuck in release trap and not fully dissolve. Making sure both pod and detergent cup are dry before beginning wash cycle will help ensure complete release of pod. Hands should be dry before touching Finish Quantum Powerball pods, or skin irritation may occur. Finish contains an enzyme that is a known eye irritant, so it’s important to wash and dry hands after use. It’s important to keep Finish Quantum Powerball Pods out of reach of small children. Detergent pods may attract children with their candy-like colors and appearance.

For an unbeatable sparkle and shine, try Finish Quantum Powerball. As the company says, “You’re not finished, until you Finish.”

Key Features
  • Triple power action multi-chamber technology
  • Scrubbing power powder
  • Grease-cutting gel
  • Power drying action
  • Equal cleaning power of overnight soak
  • Advanced Powder capsule contains bleach
  • Pre-measured pod
Specifications
  • Type: Pod or capsule
  • Package Size: 36.1 ounces/82 tabs
  • Manufacturer: Finish
  • Brand: Finish
Pros
  • Three separate chambers of different cleaning agents
  • Silver protection for silverware
  • Removes hard water stains
  • Removes coffee and tea stains
Cons
  • Pod detergents may get stuck in trap release and not dissolve
  • Strong odor during wash cycles
  • Contains a known eye irritant

If a refreshing scent filling your home while your dishes are washing feels like clean to you, but you don’t like to worry about toxic synthetic fragrances, Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods may be just what you’ve been needing in your kitchen. Red Pear with Magnolia is an unforgettable light and clean fragrance, making washing dishes almost a pleasure.

Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods cut through grease and food debris to lift it away from dishes and leave a clean shine with no chemical residue left behind for spot-free, film-free dishes. The light, refreshing and revitalizing scent of Red Pear and Magnolia is made with essential oil of cedarwood. Other unique scent blends are also available, or if you love the green option, but dislike fragrances, an unscented option is also available.

Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods are made without caustic chemicals, unnatural dyes or artificial perfumes. Instead, ingredients are plant-sourced and mineral based, with all ingredients listed on the package. Pods contain no phosphates and no chlorine bleach. These natural detergent pods are vegan and animal-cruelty free, while also being highly effective.

Another unique quality to enjoy in Grab Green is they are not only sensitive to the environment, but the manufacturer took seriously the fact that young children have been attracted to colorful detergent pods and been poisoned by placing them in their mouths. While it’s crucial to keep all detergent products out of reach of children, as an added safeguard, Grab Green Dishwasher Detergent Pods were designed without using the bright colors and swirling, candy-like designs that might tempt children. The thoughtfulness of design is also extended to include the packaging, which comes with a simple velcro enclosure, and no annoying zip locks to align.

Grab Green states that their organic chemists have invested years of scientific development to find key natural ingredients for a formula that offers as clear, clean, and spot-free a wash as typical detergents, but without the chemicals that can negatively impact the health of your family and the state of the environment.

One potential drawback is the fact that Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods are sometimes damaged or broken during shipping, in which case one heaping tablespoon equals one pod. They also cost more than the popular brand detergent products, and are not always easily available in every grocery store.

Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods may be the perfect choice for you if you want to indulge in an aromatherapy-quality scent in your cleaning product, without the guilt of adding toxic chemicals to your household or environment. The natural cleansers and rinsing agent will offer the sparkling clean results of a big-name brand, without the harsh chemical ingredients, so you can enjoy a guilt-free clean for your favorite dishes!

Key Features
  • Convenient, pre-measured pods
  • Leaves spot-free shine
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Phosphate free
  • Easy velco-closure packaging
Specifications
  • Type: Pod
  • Package Size: 34 ounces/60 pods
  • Manufacturer: Green Grab
Pros
  • Chemical and toxin free
  • Nice, natural fragrance
  • Velcro closure for easy storage
  • Responsibly sourced ingredients
  • Powerful grease removal
Cons
  • Hard-pressed detergents pods may break up during shipping

If you are a consumer who cares about what your dishwasher detergent leaves behind on both the dishes you use, and in the environment, Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus may be the right choice for you.

Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Gel is completely free of phosphates, dyes, chlorine bleach, and artificial fragrances. Up to 3000 separate ingredients can be found in some synthetic scents which may be marked only as “fragrance” in typical detergent products. Instead of chemical fragrances, Seventh Generation Gel is fragranced with essential oils and botanical extracts for a light, pleasant scent that is completely natural and will emit no harsh or irritating fumes during wash cycles. Seventh Generation Ultra Plus Gel is also biodegradable and comes in a recyclable container.

Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Gel uses a blend of advanced, plant-based enzymes to scrub food and grease from dishes, with 50 percent more enzyme action than typical detergent brands. Advanced cleaning comes from powerful plants, rather than harmful chemicals.

Seventh Generation uses sustainable ingredients so you can rest easy knowing you are doing less harm to the environment while you can still enjoy the convenience of having your dishes washed for you by your dishwasher while you spend time with your family. For those who are eco-conscious, Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Dishwasher Detergent gel makes living greener a little easier. Enjoy the ease of a product that you can simply purchase and use from the bottle, while also enjoying a clear conscious, as though you’d made a natural cleaning product from scratch.

Seventh Generation is a Kosher, USDA certified biobased product and completely non-toxic. It’s also biodegradable,plant-based and animal cruelty free. In addition to those benefits, Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Gel is a great cleaning product that leaves your dishes shiny clean with no residue, and only a light pleasant scent left from natural ingredients and not perfume.

Seventh Generation Ultra is a gel, so you don’t have to worry about powders or pods that don’t dissolve completely and leave sticky films. Also, gels don’t irritate your skin which is a potential problem when handling detergent pods. With Seventh Generation, the gel is already dissolved for a complete cleaning experience. It works well naturally even with hard water or heavy minerals.

Seventh Generation Ultra Power plus is an all-around effective dishwasher detergent that offers the best qualities of a traditional gel dishwasher detergent, but with a natural plant-based formula that you can feel good about using. No harmful chemicals are left in the air, on your dishes or in the groundwater and aquatic environments. It’s tough on grease, easy on the environment and your health!

Key Features
  • Dual action formula to blast away food and grease
  • Plant-based technology
  • 50 percent more micro-scrubbing enzymes
  • No synthetic fragrances
  • Gel formula
Specifications
  • Type: Gel
  • Package Size: 62 oz
  • Manufacturer: Seventh Generation
Pros
  • Plant-based technology
  • No synthetic fragrances
  • Gel formula for easy dissolving
  • No pre-rinse necessary
  • No phosphates
  • No chlorine bleach
Cons
  • Scent may be an irritant to sensitive people during wash cycle

Unless you are quick with the mute button, you’ve probably heard of the cleaning power of OxiClean. (Even if you are in another room. It’s a very loud commercial) Due to high demand, OxiClean turned their stain-fighting magic to your dishwasher with great results.

OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent uses the famous power of OxiClean to blast away grease, grime and baked-on food from your dirty dishes. What’s more, OxiClean can remove the cloudy film that other dishwasher detergents have left on your dishes. You’ll be amazed at the sparkling clear results, even on dishes that you didn’t realize had lost their gleam due to years of detergent residue build-up. For a phosphate-free detergent, you’ll be pleasantly reminded of how clean your dishes were back when we were blissfully unaware of what the phosphates were doing to our environment, and they hadn’t yet been removed from detergent brands.

OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent is powerful enough to remove stubborn, baked- or burnt-on food from your pots and pans, yet gentle enough to clean fine dishes without damaging them. OxiClean Dishwasher Pods contain bleach for a clean you can trust. Powerful cleaning enzymes remove the most stubborn foods even from dirty pans. When you use OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent, your silverware will come out impressively gleaming. OxiClean’s oxygen power works especially well on typical silverware and removes spots and dulling film that you might not even be aware is present.

Another happy result of using OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent, is the sparkling cleaning that your dishwasher itself receives when you use it. OxiClean removes built-up mineral deposits from your dishwasher, leaving it gleaming clean and functioning fully without the clogging mineral deposits that can impede proper water flow.

OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent is oxygen powered. It is free of surfactant agents and phosphates that can damage fragile eco-systems. It also comes from the most trusted name in stain-fighting and is made to work with hard, or mineral-laden water better than any other dish detergent brand. So if you have hard water and typically get spots and streaks on your clean dishes, you may be pleasantly surprised at the difference when you wash your dishes with OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent.

Despite the impressive cleaning power of OxiClean, it emits no powerful chemical odor during wash cycle. The light lemon scent is subtle and clean.

OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent comes in convenient pre-measured pods so no worries about measuring, scooping, pouring or messy powder spills.

Some potential drawbacks are the skin-irritating quality of detergent pods. Be certain to dry hands before use and wash and dry hands immediately after use. Avoid contact with eyes and keep out of children’s reach.

As the ads suggest, there really is no clean like OxiClean when it comes to removing residue and filmy mineral build-up from your dishes and your dishwasher.

Key Features
  • Removes film from dishes
  • Power of OxiClean
  • Contains bleach
Specifications
  • Type: Pods
  • Package Size: 756 grams/ 42
  • Manufacturer: OxiClean
Pros
  • Trusted name
  • Known stain-fighter
  • Best detergent to use with hard water
  • Very light lemon scent
Cons
  • Instructions indicate use with OxiClean Rinse agent for optimal results
  • More expensive than typical brands
  • Difficult to find in retail stores
  • Has been known to cake and clog pipes

Dishes that dazzle? That’s what we want to emerge from behind the closed doors of our dishwashers, where the dirty work is done for us.

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs have several mighty cleaning ingredients all wrapped up in an easy-to-use pod. With Cascade Platinum ActionPac pods there’s no pouring, squirting, measuring or messy powders to worry about. Cascade pods are conveniently pre-measured. And after all, isn’t time-saving and convenience the entire reason we have dishwashers? Most people in today’s world simply don’t have time to hand wash and dry dishes, or we’d prefer that after dinner time to be devoted to our families, not our dirty dishes.

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs contain powerful cleaning ingredients to dissolve greasy, burnt or stuck on foods, and lift it away from your dishes. Cascade Platinum uses Cascade’s most powerful detergent to keep dishes, silverware, and even your dishwasher itself, sparkling clean. No pre-wash is needed even for dishes left unrinsed for 24 hours. This saves up to 15 gallons of water per dish load. Cascade Platinum has ingredients to lift away stuck-on foods and prevent them from settling back on your dishes during wash cycles, leaving your dishes and pots and pans spot-free and sparkling. Cascade Platinum ActionPacs are phosphate free.

Pod-form detergent pacs are known to be not only convenient and pre-measured, they also outperform most gel varieties. Cascade Platinum ActionPacs contain not only detergent, but also a pre-treating agent, degreaser, and a rinse aid to boost the level of cleaning in each load without having to add other products.

Cascade products are the number one manufacturer’s recommended brand in North America for use in automatic dishwashers.It also has a certain brand-recognition and appeal as the detergent brand that is most familiar and probably the one our mothers used before us. Cascade Platinum ActionPacs went a step further by adding a second known and trusted brand name by adding the degreasing power of Dawn detergent. Cascade Platinum ActionPacs blend two familiar cleaning brands and then added several new levels of clean, resulting in a lot of clean in a little pack.

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs also wash away stubborn coffee and tea stains to leave mugs sparkling. This product has won the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval.

Some potential drawbacks of Cascade Platinum ActionPacs are a notable tendency to become stuck inside the dispenser boxes of some machines and not fully dissolve. They are also a potential poisoning hazard for small children who may be attracted to the color and design of detergent pods. Cascade Platinum ActionPacs may irritate fingertips if handled while hands are wet. Be certain to dry your hands before touching detergent pods. Cascade products also contain an enzyme that is a known eye irritant, so wash hands carefully after each use and keep away from eyes.

If getting the best possible clean for your family’s dishes in a convenient, easy-to-use pod is on the top of your priority list, Cascade Platinum ActionPacs are a top choice.

Key Features
  • No pre-wash required
  • Cascade is number one recommended brand in North America
  • Quick-dissolving
  • Pre-measured pod form detergent
  • Contains Dawn degreasing power
  • Rinsing action prevents food resettlement
  • Formulated to work in hard water
Specifications
  • Type: Detergent Pods
  • Package Size: 34.5 ounces/62 pacs
  • Manufacturer: Cascade
Pros
  • Pre-measured pod
  • No pre-wash necessary, which saves up to 15 gallons of water per load
  • Contains no phosphates
Cons
  • Pods may become stuck in dispenser and not fully dissolve
  • Must dry hands before use to prevent skin irritation
  • Contains an enzyme which is a known eye irritant
  • Strong scent during washing

Do you want both clean dishes and a clean earth? If so, Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets might be a good choice for your family.

Ecover has been a pioneer company in green sciences for over 30 years. Their specialists have taken those years of experience and put them into creating an automatic dishwasher detergent that is safe for the environment, your family, and your dishes, while still resulting in a powerful and streak-free clean.

Ecover is phosphate-free and made with renewable plant- and mineral-based ingredients. It is biodegradable, vegan, and eco-safe. It contains no chlorine bleach or caustic chemicals. It is never tested on animals and comes packaged in recycled cardboard rather than a plastic pouch. Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwasher Tablets are non-toxic and safe for the aquatic environment, so it is considered a fish-friendly detergent product.

No rinsing or pre-soak is necessary with Ecover, so you can save both time and gallons of rinse water. Just scrape plates and dishes and place directly into the dishwasher. If the tablet doesn’t fit the dispenser, you can place it in the flatware basket. Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets contain enzymes to swiftly remove food debris and grease from dishes and lift it away.

Although a citrus scented option is also available from Ecover, the Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets are completely fragrance free, making them a perfect choice for those who are sensitive to fragrances. It is also free of artificial colors and dyes.

Ecover does an overall good job handling tough grease and baked on foods with no rinsing. It’s been compared to Cascade and other conventional products for results. Good Housekeeping’s tests have resulted in Ecover being one of their dishwasher detergents of choice, with their tests resulting in “virtually” spotless dishes, but with traces of residue remaining in the machine. But with Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwasher Tabs you can rest easy that convenience of clean dishwasher-washed dishes is not doing damage to ground water and aquatic environments.

Ecover also continues their pledge to the earth by being one of the few detergent pods packaged in a recycled cardboard box rather than a plastic pouch. One negative, however, is that the pods are individually wrapped in thin plastic. And while pre-measure pods are convenient, another potential drawback is that extra care should be taken to avoid skin irritation while handling them. Be certain to have dry hands when handling Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets. Wash and dry hands after using, and keep out of the reach of children.

Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets are a great choice for the Eco-conscious, and particularly those who prefer a completely fragrance free alternative dish cleanser.

Key Features
  • Powerful cleaning for stuck-on foods
  • Zero fragrance
  • Biodegradable, phosphate-free formula
  • Package is recycled cardboard rather than plastic
Specifications
  • Type: Tablets
  • Package Size: 17.6 ounces/ 25 tablets
  • Manufacturer: Ecover
Pros
  • Fragrance free for those with allergies and sensitivities
  • Packaged in recycled cardboard container
  • Phosphate free and biodegradable.
  • Mineral- and plant-based ingredients
  • Reasonably priced for a green detergent
  • No chlorine bleach
  • Reported to have good results and less residue when half a tablet is used
Cons
  • Package is plastic free, but tabs are individually wrapped in plastic
  • May leave a film

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent is an all-natural, eco-friendly alternative to traditional dishwasher detergents. Better Life Gel is phosphate free, bleach-free, dye-free, preservative-free and free of both natural and synthetic fragrances, making it a good choice for those who believe less is more. Less chemicals and fragrances, equal cleaner dishes and a cleaner environment for our future. Better Life is featured as a favorable environmentally safe detergent by the Environmental Working Group.

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel detergent is 100 percent non-toxic. Its cleaning power is plant- and mineral-based, using coconut and corn as major ingredients. It contains Potassium cocoate which is natural castile soap. It also contains soda ash and sodium silicate to prevent spots. Also added is a bark extract from the soapbar tree. This provides a slight lather.

Better Life Company uses only plant-based ingredients in all of their products, and their production facility uses solar power, recyclable materials and biodegradable ingredients to protect the earth while doing the best possible job on your dishes. Better Life works great in even hard water.

Known as the Naturally Crumb Crushing gel dishwasher detergent, besides being very eco-friendly, Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel detergent leaves dishes sparkling, with very little film or residue left behind. For a natural product, this is one of the ones with better results. Results include removing tough film residue left behind by other products, to result in glassware that sparkles.

Better Life also states that this dishwashers require only about half the amount of detergent than other gels, while providing the same level of cleaning power with no harsh or caustic chemicals. Use only a tablespoon of gel per dish load. Because it’s completely toxin and fragrance free, this is a good choice for those who suffer with asthma, fragrance sensitivities and lung problems.

One negative aspect of Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel is the fact that package directions indicate best results are achieved through pre-rinsing. Also, because it does contain a sudsing agent, some consumers have experienced leakage of suds from their machines when using a more powerful cycle.

Better Life Natural Gel Dishwasher Detergent is a premium choice for those who want clean and sparkling dishes, without negative impact on the environment. Better Life offers great results with the safest possible formula for the earth and your home and family.

Key Features
  • Eco-friendly
  • Spot-free cleaning power
  • Plant and mineral based
  • Phosphate and preservative free
  • Made of coconut, corn and natural minerals
Specifications
  • Type: Gel
  • Package Size: 30 ounces
  • Manufacturer: Better Life
Pros
  • Eco-friendly cleaning
  • Phosphate free
  • Free of chlorine bleach
Cons
  • Directions indicate pre-rinsing for best results
  • Some sudsing occurs during power cycles

If you are looking for a trusted name in Dishwasher Detergents, chances are Cascade comes immediately to mind. Cascade is the brand that your mother probably used. For handwashing dishes, Dawn dishwashing detergent is another traditional and trusted brand, known worldwide for its phenomenal grease-busting power. Cascade Complete Dishwasher Detergent, Citrus Breeze, combines the power of two easily recognizable brands to result in the cleanest possible dishes, with virtually no spotting, streaking or residue.

Cascade Complete Dishwasher Detergent is formulated to blast away stuck on foods using Cascade’s trusted enzyme formula to lift away even burnt-on foods. Then greasy dishes and pots and pans are treated with the degreasing power of Dawn. Finally, a rinsing agent prevents residue from settling back on dishes, resulting in squeaky clean pots, pans and dishes, and sparkling glassware. Cascade Complete Gel is safe for all dishwasher-safe items.

No pre-wash or soaking is necessary with Cascade Complete, saving gallons of water per load, and giving you more precious time with your family and less time in the kitchen. Just place scraped dishes into the washer and allow Cascade’s enzyme-fighting formula to begin to dissolve food residue and grease from your dishes.

Cascade is the number-one recommended brand dishwasher detergent in North America, and probably the most reached-for brand on every store shelf. Cascade Complete Dishwasher Detergent combines the power of Cascade powder detergent, the grease-fighting power of Dawn, and a “pure-rinse” rinsing agent for a complete wash all in one product.

With Cascade gel, the consumer has the advantage of being able to decide the amount they wish to use per load, vs. the pre-measured pod or pack varieties. This allows you to choose to use more for particularly dirty loads, or less for light loads. Some people have found that using less can sometimes work better than the full amount, depending on the types of minerals present in your water. With Cascade Gel, you get a sparkling clean and a light pleasant citrus scent during the wash cycle, and YOU choose how much to use. However, Cascade Complete is also available in powder and ActionPacs.

Cascade Complete Gel Dishwasher Detergent is a great choice for those who prefer to put their trust in familiar and long-beloved traditional products and are looking for a shortcut in the kitchen. Both Cascade and Dawn have been go-to products in our kitchen for generations. The chemists at Cascade have many years of experience in perfecting the cleaning power of their dish washing products. Cascade Complete is a blend of all the best dish-cleaning agents available in today’s market for a clean you can trust just as much as the name. 

Key Features
  • Gel dishwasher detergent with Dawn
  • More food-cleaning power than regular Cascade Gel
  • No pre-wash necessary
  • Contains rinse agent for spotless shine
  • Contains cleansing enzymes
Specifications
  • Type: Gel
  • Package Size: 75 ounces
  • Manufacturer: Cascade
Pros
  • No pre-wash needed
  • Trusted brand name
  • Gel formula allows user discretion in amount used
Cons
  • Uses ingredients that are not environmentally friendly
  • One of the more expensive of traditional brands

You want sparkling dishes, but also care about the environment and the harmful effects of dishwasher detergents on aquatic environments? Maybe you are someone who cares about the environment, but you aren’t ready to ditch the name brands you trust and try a totally green dishwashing alternative or a recipe from Pinterest?

Then Palmolive Eco Gel Dishwasher Detergent may be a good compromise.

Palmolive Eco Gel contains powerful cleaning actions to leave your dishes dazzling, but without harmful phosphates. Palmolive lifts away dirt, grease and food debris. It contains bleach to remove even the toughest coffee and tea stains, but a fresh lemon fragrance prevents a strong, bleachy odor. Palmolive Eco Gel works well even on dishes that have been left unrinsed for 24 hours.

Because it’s free of harmful phosphates and chemicals, you can sleep a bit easier knowing that using the convenience of a dishwasher is not harmful to the aquatic environment. Palmolive Eco Gel is gentle on lakes and rivers, while tough on grease and grime.

One of the most positive attributes of Palmolive Eco Gel is its price. Palmolive Eco gel is one of the most affordable brand name options on the shelf. Another positive quality is that, though not a food, Palmolive is considered to be a kosher cleaning product. This is a good choice if you wish to avoid a long list of potentially harmful chemical cleaning agents. Palmolive Eco Gel does not contain many of the chemicals found in the popular detergent pods which have multiple cleaning agents such as surfactants, pre-treaters, and rinse-aid solutions for spotless drying. Palmolive Eco gel is a much simpler and less potentially environmentally damaging detergent product.

Another advantage of Palmolive Eco gel is its easy dissolvability. Powders and Pods can get stuck or caked into detergent cups and release traps, causing incomplete dissolvability which may leave a powdery residue on dishes, or wet paste stuck in the trap release. When a detergent doesn’t fully dissolve it can’t do its job. Palmolive Eco Gel is fully dissolved in every use.

One potential drawback is that Palmolive Eco Gel does contain chlorine bleach, though it’s not immediately obvious because the lemon scent covers up most of the bleach odor. However, though Palmolive Eco Gel claims to be free of harmful chemicals, chlorine bleach is known to have negative effects on the aquatic environment.

Another negative is that Palmolive Eco Gel is not specially formulated to work in hard water. When used with hard water, it may leave streaks, spots or residue.

All in all Palmolive Eco Gel may be a good alternative to the more popular brands if it’s a priority for you to do as little damage to the environment as possible, while still getting a clean load of dishes from a name brand that you recognize and trust.

Key Features
  • Powerful cleaning action
  • Phosphate-free gel formula
  • Fresh lemon scent
  • More eco-friendly formula than traditional dishwasher detergents
Specifications
  • Type: Gel
  • Package Size: 75 ounce
  • Manufacturer: Colgate Palmolive
Pros
  • Phosphate free
  • Fresh lemon scent
  • Bottle has integrated handle and clean pouring spout
  • No unnecessary chemicals
  • No enzymes
  • Kosher product
Cons
  • May leave residue
  • Strong lemon scent may be irritating to scent sensitive users
  • While claiming to be free of harmful chemicals, it does contain chlorine bleach

As the name suggests, Puracy is a natural plant-derived, enzyme-based dishwasher detergent that is non-toxic, vegan, and hypoallergenic. It is also biodegradable and animal-cruelty free. It comes in convenient, pre-measured pod (or pack, as the company calls them) forms in a resealable plastic pouch.

Puracy is committed to transparency, and all product ingredients are listed on the label. As stated on the label, “Experience the power of plants, not harsh chemicals.”

Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs have been developed by a chemist with over 20 years of experience with dishwasher detergent formulas.The formulas were then independently tested by customers and later tweaked and recreated based on customer testimonies.The result is a third version of Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent packs that meets our needs for deep, residue-free cleaning, along with convenience and safety for our families and environment.

Puracy uses a mix of two enzymes, Protease and Amylase, to dissolve grease and food debris. They then add cleaning agents, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Metasilicate to clean and scrub. Puracy works best when you scrape, but don’t pre-soak or pre-rinse your dishes. This saves many gallons of rinse water. The plant-based cleaning enzymes in Puracy Natural Dishwasher detergent goes to work immediately upon dissolving in hot water to attack, dissolve and lift away food particles, grease, and stubborn, baked-on foods. 

Puracy is formulated to leave no film or water spots behind, even in hard water. It’s safe for all dishwasher-safe dishes, glasses, ceramics, and pots and pans. Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs are ideal for baby bottles. They deep clean without leaving any toxic residue or chemicals behind to be ingested. There are no added synthetic perfumes or essential oils, just a light naturally pleasant smell from the cleaning agents themselves.

Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs are conveniently pre-measured so no pouring, measuring or messy spills. 

Some potential negatives, are the tendency for pods to be stuck in trap releases or detergent cups and not fully dissolve. The risk of this is lessened if you make sure the pod and the detergent cup are dry before beginning a wash cycle. Hands should also be dry before handling detergent pods, and washed and rinsed afterwards to prevent skin or eye irritation.

Puracy Natural Dishwasher Packs also offer a one hundred percent satisfaction or money back guarantee to customers, stating that if the consumer isn’t satisfied, then the company is not satisfied and will immediately make it right.

Puracy Natural Dishwasher Packs are a great choice if you want the ease and convenience of traditional dishwasher pods or packs, without the harsh and caustic chemicals that can be left behind on your dishes and in our aquatic environments.

Key Features
  • Enzyme-powered cleaning
  • No water spots or residue left behind
  • Removes unpleasant odors
  • 3rd Generation formula was tweaked after input from customers
  • Naturally derived
  • Enzyme-based cleaning
  • Contains mineral-based water softeners
  • Non-toxic, vegan, and gluten-free
Specifications
  • Type: Packs
  • Package Size: 30 ounces/ 50 packs
  • Manufacturer: Puracy
Pros
  • Non-toxic enzyme-powered cleaning
  • Hypoallergenic, vegan, and gluten free
  • No need for pre-soaking
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • Pod form detergents can irritate skin if handled with wet hands

Are you someone who values tradition and long-trusted name brands, possibly some of the same ones your own mother used? Or do you worry too much about long-term damage to aquatic environments to use the chemical cleaners that leave our glasses gleaming, but our fish struggling to live in declining eco-systems? Should you reach for the big name brands on the store shelves, or should you try a homemade, vegan, gluten-free, biodegradable, sustainable, earth-friendly recipe from Pinterest, and settle for dishes that may come out of your machine looking dirtier than when they went in? Or is there perhaps a compromise?

Several years ago, the use of phosphates were banned from detergent production in most states in the US. At that time, many people noticed a sharp decline in the cleanliness of their dishes. The sales of new dishwashers boomed, as people assumed their older models were at fault without realizing the detergents themselves had lost a key ingredient.

Fortunately, the cleaning industry responded in kind to growing consumer dissatisfaction by putting their best and most experienced minds to work on improving the functionality of phosphate-free dishwasher detergents, while also turning focus to the growing consumer interest in protecting the earth’s fragile eco-system. The result has been a wide array of new and improved products on the market, many of which offer much safer dish washing alternatives, while not sacrificing the look of spotless glassware that we’ve come to expect to emerge from our dishwashers.

A little research will show you the now wide range of both effective and earth-friendly products available for your dishwasher. You can find the exact right fit for you and your family. The perfect compromise between ultimately beautiful results and respect for the earth is out there. Or maybe you don’t have to compromise at all. Many of today’s products, which come in all forms, offer the best of both options for the perfect dish washing experience. This means dazzlingly clean glassware and gleaming pots, pans and silverware with zero toxic residue on your dishes, in your dishwasher, and in our groundwater and aquatic environments.

We’ve come a long way toward having it all, and even the familiar brand names we’ve known for years are “not your mama’s dish detergents.”

FAQ

Which dishwasher detergent format works best—powder, liquid, or pods/tablets?

While much of the answer to this question is a matter of personal preference, there is one fact-based answer that may resolve this question for many of us. According to experts, the two most important active ingredients in dishwasher detergents are enzymes and bleach. The enzymes work to dissolve solids and grease on the dishes, while the bleach removes stains. Gel detergents, however, cannot contain both active ingredients because the liquid form of bleach will automatically kill the enzymes. Gels became popular because they never leave a powder residue, however, you aren’t getting as complete a product if you use a gel dishwasher detergent.

Powders do contain both enzymes and bleach, but consumers should be aware that storing powder detergents in a damp place—such as under the sink—can prematurely activate the ingredients, leading to less effective cleaning and dissolving.

Tablets or pods, on the other hand, contain both essential ingredients, and often a rinse agent. They store easily without corrupting, and they are convenient. More than 70 percent of dishwasher detergents sold are in pod or tablet format.

Should I unwrap a dishwasher tablet before using it?

The thin film on dry tablets is designed to both protect the users' fingers from the active ingredients, and to protect the tabs during storage. They quickly dissolve in hot water and it’s never advisable to peel the film off before use. Similarly, dishwasher detergent pods containing concentrated liquids should never be pierced. They are timed for separate ingredients to be released during the right cleaning cycle, and piercing them interferes in the way they are designed to work.

Should I pre-rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?

While it’s okay to pre-rinse really dirty dishes, you shouldn’t over-rinse, or rinse every dish before running them through the dishwasher for two reasons. First, many of the newer model dishwashers have sensors to determine how dirty your dishes are. Over-rinsing may result in a shorter cleaning cycle.

Also, now that dishwasher detergents don’t contain environmentally damaging phosphates, enzymes are the primary active cleaning agents. Enzymes are only activated when they encounter organic material, so over-rinsing your dishes means the essential ingredients in your dishwasher detergent may not be activating properly.

Why isn’t my dishwasher detergent tab dissolving completely?

If your dishwasher isn’t using water that’s hot enough, your dishwasher tab may not completely dissolve. Be sure your dishwasher is running on the longest, hottest cycle. If your hot water takes a few minutes to reach your sink faucet, then it also takes time to reach your dishwasher, which may be resulting in a cycle running on water that isn’t heated enough. Try running your water in the kitchen sink until it’s nice and hot before turning on your dishwasher.

Also be sure nothing is blocking the dispenser cup or clogging the unlocking mechanism. Finally, be sure your fingers aren’t wet when you place the tab into the dispenser cup. This can make the tab stick to the dispenser rather than being released.

How do I get clean dishes with hard water?

Hard water can make it difficult for the sheeting ingredients in dishwasher detergents to function effectively, often leaving filmy, spotted dishes that don’t appear completely clean. You can help resolve this issue by looking for a dishwasher detergent that lists a sodium-based chemical high on the ingredients list. Sodium softens hard water and will give you better results. You can also try adding a rinse aid, or choosing a detergent for hard water that already includes a rinse aid.

Placing a small upright dish of white vinegar into your dishwasher before washing can also be effective.

Resources — NPRBusiness Insider

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