Even though your dishwasher is a fantastic and extremely convenient appliance, you must be careful how you use it. If your dishes are consistently spotty, don’t immediately blame the appliance. First, ensure you’re loading the dishwasher correctly and cleaning it regularly.
If, after initial troubleshooting, you’re still seeing a lot of hard-water deposits and bits stuck to your dishes, switching to a different dishwasher detergent might do the trick. I’ll give you some of the best dishwasher detergent for old dishwashers in this article.
What to Consider When Buying a Dishwasher Detergent For Old Dishwashers?
The decision can be overwhelming when confronted with a wall of dishwasher detergents in the cleaning aisle. So, what can I consider when buying a dishwasher detergent?
While there are numerous branding and fragrance options, the most important decision is whether to use a pod, gel, or powder dishwasher detergent. The short answer is that pod dishwasher detergents are usually the best-performing (and most popular) of the three options. While they are more expensive than gel or powder cleaners, they are less messy and contain the active bleach and enzyme ingredients required for effective cleaning.
You can only have one or the other with gel detergents (although we know from reading reviews how many die-hard gel loyalists are out there). While powder detergents may appear archaic, they are just as effective as detergent pods, and unlike a single-serving pod, the user can control how much or how little is used.
This guide to the best dishwasher detergents focuses on the best cleaners of each type, saving you from having to scour the internet for them.
What Are the Types of Dishwasher Detergents?
If you’ve ever taken a plate out of your dishwasher and discovered it was still dirty, it’s time to change your detergent.
Dishwasher detergent comes in three types: gels, powders, and single units. Your personal preferences will influence your decision, but you should familiarize yourself with the options.
Gels are the cheapest dishwasher detergent option but have the least cleaning power. Gels are less effective than other dishwashing detergents because they lack the combination of bleach and enzyme agents that effectively remove dried food from dishes. Nonetheless, gels are ideal for glasses and delicate dishes because their water-based formulas are less abrasive.
Powders are either poured or scooped into the dispenser of your dishwasher. They can be messy, but they have a lot of cleaning power. A box of dishwasher powder is typically less expensive than other types of dishwasher detergent and allows you to control the amount used. It is useful if you have a small dishwasher or are washing a small load. Of course, excess powdered detergent can result in foam that leaks onto your floor.
Single-load pods or tablets are concentrated powders or gel packs that dissolve as they work. Depending on your appliance, you place the pod or tablet in the dispenser or main area of the dishwasher.
Best Dishwasher Detergent For Old Dishwashers
1. Platinum ActionPacs Detergent
Cascade is one of the most well-known dishwasher detergent brands on the market. Their Platinum ActionPacs are also reviewer favorites, having been named one of the best in both Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports’ in-house tests.
The Dawn-enhanced Cascade ActionPacs are designed to eliminate the step of prewashing, leaving no food particles or soapy deposits behind. Many Amazon reviewers agree on this dish detergent’s effectiveness, but they mention that the pods have a strong “cleaning chemical” odor.
- A popular and widely available crowd favorite.
- Dishes that have not been prewashed are cleaned.
- Strongly scented.
2. Finish Powder Dishwasher Detergent
Powder detergent is becoming increasingly difficult to find in stores and online! While it’s a little messier than pod or gel dish detergent, it’s still an effective cleaner with a devoted following.
Finish’s Powder Dishwasher Detergent is one of the few options left, and it cleans just as well as the aforementioned pods from the same brand. Its no-frills formula and lemon scent help to ensure that there is no buildup in your machine or filmy residue on your dishes. Reviewers also say that this powder detergent lasts a long time because only a teaspoon is needed to clean a dish load.
- Simple, no-nonsense, and extremely effective cleaner.
- It has a long shelf life.
- It can be messy and must be carefully stored.
3. Cascade Complete Gel Dishwasher Detergent
On a tight budget? Cascade Complete is an excellent choice. This dishwasher gel, made with tried-and-true Dawn soap, effectively removes food that has been stuck on for 24 hours, including baked-on messes and greasy residues. It’s easy to use, dissolves quickly, rinses thoroughly, and leaves your dishes smelling great.
Not only that, but this 75-ounce jug of detergent saves money by doing more with less. When compared to others in its category, it costs less than half the price per load. Anyone who discovers and sticks with a single product they enjoy will be treated in more than one way.
- It dissolves quickly.
- Simple to pour
- Removes baked-on messes
- Citrus odors can cling to plastic dishes.
4. Ecover Dishwasher Powder
If you prefer powder detergent, Ecover Dishwasher Powder is your best bet. The recycled cardboard box holds enough detergent for up to 50 loads of dishes. The phosphate-free formula, which contains a blend of minerals and plant-based ingredients, is also environmentally friendly and biodegradable. 4
In terms of effectiveness, this powder detergent will remove stuck-on food and leave your dishes sparkling. Furthermore, your plates, bowls, and mugs will not have a lingering odor. The only “drawback” to this product is that it costs significantly more per load.
- Environmentally friendly formula
- It does not leave a scent.
- Recycled packaging
- Not as easy to use as detergent packs
How Much Dishwasher Detergent Should You Use?
A dishwasher is now considered an essential home appliance. Even though most homes have a dishwasher, not everyone has sparkling clean dishes. One of the most important factors influencing dishwasher performance is detergent. Too little detergent will leave your dishes dirty, but too much detergent can also cause problems. So, in this section, I’ll discuss how much detergent to use to achieve those sparkling clean results.
According to the luxury home appliance brand KitchenAid, most dishwasher models require between 2 teaspoons and 3 tablespoons of detergent. It is highly dependent on the soil level of your dishes, the hardness of your water, and the type of detergent you use. The instructions are usually included in the owner’s manual. It is usually a table showing how much detergent is needed for different water hardness levels and soil load.
Are Dishwasher Pods Bad For the Environment?
One of the most useful home appliances is the dishwasher. It cleans up after meals and parties with little manual assistance.
According to recent studies, approximately 8000 tons of PVA-coated dishwasher (and laundry) detergent pods pollute the environment each year. They pollute the oceans and clog landfills. As a result, PVA residue contaminates ecosystems.
Furthermore, we must not ignore the contentious issues and incorrect use of these candy-sized dishwasher cleaners. It is why switching from pod to a non-toxic, the environmentally friendly product would be better for your family and the environment.
How Do Dishwasher Pods Work?
Dishwasher pods (or packets/tablets) are shaped like tiny capsules. They have a PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) coating that is ultra-thin and vibrant colors.
Dishwasher pods are shaped into a ball or rectangle and contain highly concentrated cleaning chemicals. The PVA film holds the mixture together until it comes into contact with water. Because the PVA coating contains water-soluble synthetic polymers that allow the lining to dissolve, the pod degrades at this point. The cleaning solution suffers the same fate.
It dissolves in water and reacts with the dirty dishes’ surfaces. During this process, the grease and oil degrade. Although PVA films are non-toxic, disintegration requires a specific environment.
PVA residues will degrade into water and carbon dioxide under the right conditions. It usually occurs in a water treatment plant. However, if your drainage line runs directly into the oceans or sea, you may be dealing with an environmental pollutant.
Can You Use Dishwasher Detergent to Handwash Dishes?
You’re probably aware that you can’t use dish soap in your dishwasher (it’ll create an incredibly sudsy mess that could damage your machine and/or your floors!). So, can you handwash dishes with dishwasher detergent?
Similarly, do not use dishwasher detergent when handwashing dishes. Dishwasher detergent does not suds up like liquid soap, so you may use excessive detergent to achieve the desired bubbles. And what a waste of detergent!
It is not recommended to use dishwasher detergent to handwash dishes. The formulas are typically concentrated and highly alkaline, which can cause skin irritation. In the same way, never use liquid dish soap in a dishwasher. It will not work as well as proper detergent and will likely flood your kitchen floor with water and foam. If you run out of dishwasher detergent, there are other DIY dishwasher detergent alternatives you can use instead.
When used with the proper dishwasher detergent, dishwashers can be an excellent way to clean dishes. There are numerous brands of dishwasher detergents available, and this review of the best dishwasher detergents should help you find the right one for you.
A high-quality dishwasher detergent gives your dishes the shiny, sparkling clean, and refreshing appearance you want without having to wash them multiple times. The information in this review will help you make an informed decision when purchasing the best dishwasher detergent, ensuring excellent results as you enjoy a happy home with sparkling dishes.
I’m a mom of three, a chef, a writer, and food blogger. I live in the suburbs of New Jersey where I love to cook and bake all day long. Cooking is a form of art and a way to preserve the beauty of nature. I create an edible canvas with fresh, seasonal ingredients.