These were our top criteria when we selected our best dishwasher detergent.
If you are ready to get loaded up and start washing, Cascade Platinum scored high marks in every category and is our top pick for sparkling clean dishes.
Dishwasher Detergent Comparison
Dishwasher Detergent Buying Guide
What is a Dishwasher Detergent?
Dishwasher detergent is cleaning liquid that is specifically for use in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent comes in many different forms so there are several methods you can choose from.
Regardless of the detergent you choose if you scrape of the large leftovers from the dishwashers before loading them into the dishwasher the detergent will work better. You don’t need to pre-rinse the dishes in most cases, thanks to the powerful cleaning agents in the detergents. Not having to do this step will save you time and money.
Not ALL Items can be Washed in a Dishwasher
The chemicals in dishwasher detergent and hot water can be really bad for items like silver, fine glassware, bronze, brass, cast iron, gold colored flatware, hollow handle knives, pewter, tin, anything that is made of wood or utensils with wood handles, and disposable plastics. Avoid washing these items in the dishwasher so they don’t get ruined. Anything that has a lot of value to you should be washed by hand.
What to Consider before Purchasing Dishwasher Detergent
There are many different types and brands of dishwasher detergent on the market. Before you choose one there are some things that you should think about so you make the right decision that will meet your needs.
There are three basic types of dishwasher detergent available to choose from:
- Gel Detergents – Gel dishwasher detergent has a consistency that is similar to regular dish liquid. It is thicker and more gel like and it comes in a bottle that you can squeeze to get the amount you want into the dispenser.
Gel detergents are more concentrated than dish liquid and dissolve fast in water. You won’t have to worry about white residue ending up on the dishes because the detergent dissolves so fast. The drawback to gel detergents is that they dissolve too fast and can end up totally dissolved before the dishes are washed.
- Powder Detergents – Powdered dishwasher detergent is slower to dissolve and sticks around during the washing cycle longer. Powder detergent is not as popular as a choice due to the grit and white residue that can frequently end up on the dishes if the wash and rinse cycles are not long enough.
- Tablets and pods – This form of dishwasher detergent is the most popular. It is convenient and easy to pop one pac into the dispenser and that’s all there is to it. No spills, no mess, and no guessing how much to use. Depending on the tablet, it may contain a rinse-aid as part of the ingredients to help with ensuring that the dishes are super clean. White residue is still possible with these tablets or pods if the cycle is not long enough or the strength of the dishwasher is not that strong.
Additional Ingredients Added to the Detergent
Dishwasher detergents usually contain some kind of additional additives to the main cleaning ingredients. These additives are designed and added to the detergent to increase cleaning power and provide even better results. We’ve listed some of the more common and popular additives that are used.
- Bleach – Detergents that contain bleach additives are very effective in removing baked and burned on foods and are also better at removing tea and coffee stains.
- Enzymes – Enzymes that are added to detergents help break up the food into smaller particles that are easier to remove during the wash cycle.
- Rinse-Aids – This is a very popular additive that is added to many detergents. Rinse-aids help prevent spotting and the white film that ruins the look of washed dishes and makes them look like they need another wash. Rinse-aids are very good when hard water is present.
Popular Ingredients in Detergent
The purpose of dishwasher detergent is to break the bonds between food, grease and your dishes. The different detergents have different formulas and methods to achieve the same result, which is a dishwasher full of sparkling, crystal clear dishes. There are different ingredients that are present in most detergents. Some of the most common ingredients are:
- Plant based materials
There is a difference between phosphate based, chemical detergents and natural, plant based detergents. With the phosphate detergents, you will notice more occurrences of white residue being left due to short washing cycles. The issue with the natural based detergents is that they have been frequently found to be ineffective at getting the dishes cleaned, especially if they have not been pre-rinsed.
What is the White Residue?
While the white residue that shows up often on freshly washed dishes is annoying and unattractive, it is harmless. The culprit causing these white spots and cloudy finishes is hard water. Calcium that is present in the water will get distributed on the dishes during the drying portion of the cycle.
If you’re having a problem with white residue being present on your dishes there are a few things that you can try. The tips below should help you resolve your white residue problem.
- Test for hard water unless you already know you have it
- See if the dishwasher detergent you are using has phosphates. If it does not, the white residue is from the lack of phosphates. They are responsible for bonding to the calcium deposits to help prevent hard water during the dishwashing cycle.
- Increase the length of your dishwashing cycle. This can also resolve the problem of hard water causing issues.
- Wash fewer dishes at a time. A crammed full dishwasher will not get the benefit of the dishwasher detergent as much as a lighter load will.
Other Dishwasher Products
There are a few other products that are used in dishwashers along with the detergent. These are sometimes included in with the dishwasher ingredients; others can be added as additions. There are three basic additional products that people use to help get their dishes as clean as possible.
- Dishwasher Cleaner – even if your dishwasher looks clean at first glance, grease and lime scale can build up in the places you don’t see including the filters, spray arms, pipes, water pump and the drains. Using a dishwasher cleaner on a regular basis according to the bottle instructions and needs of your dishwasher, all of the internal parts will remain clean as well.
- Rinse Aids – Rinse aids are added to the dishwasher and work during the rinse cycle to get rid of detergent and food residues. They can also help prevent that cloudiness that the glasses can get. The result of using rinse aids is t hat your dishes will be crystal clear and shiny.
- Fresheners – With use, you may notice that your dishwasher has developed an unpleasant odor. Fresheners will help get rid of that bad odor. You can also use a squeezed lemon half that you have put in the cutlery tray.
Dishwashers can be a great way to wash dishes when they are combined with the right dishwasher detergent and the cycle is long enough to get the dishes really clean. With all of the choices in dishwasher detergent available, you can find the right one for your preferences.
Choosing a good quality dishwasher detergent ensures that your dishes have that shiny, sparkling clean look that you want without having to wash the dishes multiple times. The information we’ve provided will help you make an informed decision that you will be pleased with and continue to use to get great results.