Dishwasher detergent is essential for your dishwasher. In this guide, we will help you compare tablet, powder and gel types, assess your homemade detergent options and decide what is the right product for your home.
Compare some of the best dishwasher detergents
What is dishwasher detergent?
Dishwasher detergents are water-soluble cleaning products made specifically for washing dishes in a dishwasher. There are three main types: tablet, powder and gel.
What types are available?
Dishwasher detergent comes in three forms: tablet (tab/pack), powder and gel.
- Tablets are small blocks of concentrated dishwashing powder (some may be partially or fully made from dishwashing gel). Tablets are put in the dispenser, or simply placed in the main dishwasher area.
- Powder can be poured or scooped into your dishwasher dispenser. It might be a better choice if your home has smaller washing needs and doesn't require a full tablet.
- Gel is similar to dishwashing liquid used for washing dishes by hand. It can be poured into the dispenser and usually is the middle ground between powder and tablet in terms of pricing. The gel type can also be found in tablet form, which is more expensive but provides a more consistent dosage.
Rinse aid, or rinse agent, is used in the rinse cycle to eliminate food residue and detergent. It can enhance your dishwasher's dry performance, minimises water spotting on plates and glasses, and prevents film from forming on dishes.
It also prevents the finish on crockery from being stripped away and glassware getting cloudy or scratched. It's already included in tablets, but not in powder dishwashing detergent.
How to compare dishwasher detergent
Dishwasher detergents can range from $0.05 per wash for the cheapest home brand powder up to $0.94 per wash for premium tablets.
Here are other essential factors you need to consider:
Is dishwasher detergent safe?
Many popular brands of detergent contain harmful chemicals. Ensure your detergent is stored out of reach of children and pets, in a child-resistant container and close the packaging properly each time. Detergent can be very dangerous if swallowed. Only fill your dishwasher with detergent just before starting a cycle, and afterwards, clean away any residue immediately.
There are many safe and eco-friendly options available, but remember to check the labels before you buy anything.
Several DIY detergent alternatives are also available. They are typically compatible with dishwashers, but may not perform as well as the commercial formulas. Keep in mind, using certain ingredients could void your dishwasher warranty so be sure to check before putting anything new in your dishwasher.
When trying a DIY alternative for the first time, we recommend that you test a small batch first. The effectiveness of the formula can vary depending on your individual dishwasher and the type of water in your house.
Commonly used DIY dishwasher detergent ingredients include:
- Baking soda
- Vinegar (during rinse cycle)
- Citric acid
- Essential oils for fragrance
- Grated soap
- Baking powder
- Lemon juice
3 tips for making dishwasher detergent more effective
- Keep detergent fresh and dry. Store your detergent in a container away from moisture to prevent lumps. Only pour it into a cup when you're ready to run a cycle. When powder detergent gets lumpy, throw it away, as it won't clean well.
- Use the right amount of detergent. Using the correct amount is important if using powdered or liquid detergent that is not pre-packaged.
- Determine how hard your water is. Depending on whether your water is soft or hard, your dishwasher will need a different amount of detergent for best washing performance and to avoid damaging your dishes. As a rule of thumb, harder water needs more detergent. You can find out how hard your water is by checking on your state/council website or asking them how many grains of hardness (impurity) is in the water.
If you're ready to purchase dishwasher detergent, start comparing your options now.
MORE BUYING GUIDES