Dishwasher Detergents: Liquids, Tablets, Pods, or Powder?

How to decide whether liquids, tablets, pods, or powder are best for your dishwasher needs

Learn the advantages between the various types of detergents

When it comes to dishwashers, people look for dishwasher detergents that can clean grease and grime off utensils effectively. Whereas detergents before were only available in one form, today's innovations have led to more methods of dishwashing. Homemakers can now choose from liquids, tablets, pods, or powder forms of detergents. Each type has features that can be weighed against each other according to user preferences. Before choosing which detergent form works best for you, it helps to first know what dishwashing products are made of and how they're supposed to work.

What comprises dishwasher detergents

The American Cleaning Institute explains that dishwasher detergents are made of surfactants, builders, corrosion inhibitors, chlorine compounds, and perfumes. The purpose of the surfactants is to ease surface tension, allowing water and impurities to combine so that washing off would come easier. As for the builders, they are there to prevent any spots or film from clinging to the dishes. The corrosion inhibitors protect the materials like metals from getting corroded while washing, while the chlorine compounds help in sanitizing and minimizing stains. Lastly, the perfumes are responsible for the scents of the detergents.

How dishwasher detergents work

The combination of such ingredients is what distinguishes dishwasher detergents from other cleansing agents, like soap. Whereas ordinary soap might not wash grease effectively, dishwashers can. Certain studies put branded detergents under foam and scrub tests, to see if they enable the water to penetrate stains or dirt clinging to the utensils. They also allow the water to easily sheet off of surfaces so that they won't dry in little areas and leave water spots. Ideally, dishwasher detergents are designed to protect materials such as china from corrosion due to heat or the water itself.

Dishwashing liquids

Dishwashing liquids can be deemed the most common among the rest of the detergent forms, especially when you consider its uses throughout history. Such liquids normally appear as viscous, translucent substances that can be applied in dollops onto sponges, since the liquids are concentrated with cleansing ingredients. According to Canstar  Blue, dishwashing liquids can come in eco-friendly bottles, fruity scents, and a range of sizes. When it comes to dishwashing liquids, consumer behavior indicated a preference for established brands, affordability, and gentleness on the skin. These are typically for hand-washing, rather than for use in dishwashers.

Detergents in tablet form

One advantage that dishwashing tablets would have over liquids would be compactness. Consumers can save kitchen storage space with dishwasher tablets with this. Tablet detergents can be more expensive though, but they have been shown to be more effective compared to other forms. Consumer Reports shows that tablets performed better than gels, while other reports show that they performed better than powder.

Dishwasher detergent pods

Detergents packed as pods benefit consumers in terms of size and use. These are small and already come in dosages, leaving you free to store them anywhere and not have to estimate measurements. The ideal detergent pod should dissolve in both cold and hot water, leaving no material that might clog pipes. It's a plus if the product comes in environmentally friendly packaging and ingredients. When it comes to cleaning power, pods perform just as well as tablets for those who don't mind paying for them.

Dishwasher powder

Powdered dishwasher detergents are statistically the most affordable form for consumers. Compared to tablets or pods though, powders need meticulous care to ensure that messy spills won't happen in the kitchen. Still, dishwasher powder is seen as the most effective against hard water or water that leaves spots due to high mineral content. Using dishwasher powder also leaves users with some freedom, because they can adjust the amount used according to the number of dishes or utensils washed.

So which is best?

The answer is not so easy. To conclude, each dishwasher detergent currently on the market has pros and cons that buyers would have to weigh according to their preferences. Those who value affordability can choose powdered forms, while those who prefer compactness and cleaning power can choose tablets and pods. Dishwashing liquids would be the choice if you opt for variety in terms of scent, size, and packaging. Tablets, powders, and pods would work best for those with dishwasher appliances at home, while liquids would suffice for those who do manual dishwashing. As long as they wash off dirt effectively, the chore of choosing should be no problem for you.

Resources— The American Cleaning Institute, Consumer Reports, Choice, The Spruce, Reviewed, Canstar Blue