Top 5 Dishwasher Detergents in 2021


In our fast-paced world, hand washing dishes can become a chore.  A dishwasher provides convenience if you're busy or have a big household.  It not only saves time but is more hygienic and cleans dishes more efficiently.  To get the job done, your dishwasher needs a suitable detergent that completely cleans and removes residues that leave a sparkle and spot-free shine to your dishes, glassware, chinaware, and silverware.  Detergents vary in cleaning power and performance.  It is important for new and old users alike to be familiar with the best dishwasher detergents that are suitable for the kind of water in your area, dependable to perform best for the kind of load you put in, give long-lasting life for your appliance, safe for the environment, and give the best value for money for first-rate spotless cleaning.  We take a look first, at the top 5 dishwashing detergents; second, the types of dishwasher detergents that help the budget-conscious user to choose from the wide selection when walking down the house cleaning supplies section of your local supermarket; and third, choosing the right dishwasher appliance for your needs.


Part 1: Top 5 dishwasher detergents

Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs dishwasher detergent has 50% more cleaning power compared to Cascade Complete ActionPacs.  It is known to be the best dishwasher detergent in the market. It is part of the Cascade dishwasher pods line considered the best dishwasher pod with the highest cleaning power. It cleans stubborn food stains, 24-hour burnt-on grime in just one wash, with no pre-wash needed.  The pod dissolves fast to start cleaning right away, releasing the soaking, built-in rinse aid, grease-fighting power of Dawn dishwashing liquid, while food-seeking enzymes dissolve food into tiny particles that can flow safely into the drain. It's so strong it can work in the Quick Wash cycle. Cascade Platinum dishwasher detergent is formulated to help prevent hard-water filming - keeping your machine looking fresh and clean.  It protects your glassware and leaves your dishes immaculately clean.  It comes in a convenient, premeasured ActionPac (pod) in easy to use wrapping.  The product meets the Phosphate ban of California and other states.


Ultra Tabs Multi Dishwasher Detergent

These solid brick type dishwasher tablets come with three layers of construction in a water-soluble wrapper that contains powerful cleaning ingredients that dissolve quickly and completely to clean off sticky food, baked-on messes and will not leave any residue or smell on your dishes or dishwasher. It is therefore safe to use for people who have allergies. It leaves little water spotting and film and is best for clearing cloudy glasses. One great feature of Ultra Tabs Multi Dishwasher Detergent is it can be used in both hard and soft water; it cleans well and gives you sparkling, dishes spotless glassware, and shiny stainless steel cookware and flatware always.  For its price, it is one of the top best value tablets for your dishwasher.


Cascade Complete ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent

The Cascade Complete ActionPac dishwasher detergent comes in individual packs that contain a single dose Cascade dishwasher pod with a built-in rinse and water softener to help remove dried leftover food messes on your dishes.  These dishwasher pods need no unwrapping or pre-measuring and dissolve quickly to start cleaning early in the wash cycle.  Its impressive cleansing power comes from the grease-fighting power of Dawn that completely cleans even 24-hour baked-on hard stains and dried encrusted food on plates and glassware.   There is no need for pre-rinsing the dishes, just load them in the dishwasher and let the pods do the job of scrubbing away tough burnt-on food and difficult stains leaving dishes squeaky clean.  It is phosphate-free and safe for septic tanks.


Cascade Complete Gel Dishwasher Detergent

The Cascade Complete Gel is a dishwasher detergent in the form of a powerful cleaning solution that many people prefer because it is less difficult to put in the dispenser than powders using an easy to pour spout.  With its pre-rinse, Dawn-based grease-fighting quick-dissolving formula the detergent dissolves even the most difficult to scrub 24-hour dry baked-on food stains and residues for a thorough dazzling clean.  That's because Cascade Complete Gel dishwasher detergent has twice the tough food-cleaning ingredients of the Cascade Original Gel dishwasher detergent.  Cascade Complete Gel dishwasher detergent is phosphate-free.


Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Powder

The Seventh Generation's detergent powder can remove the toughest stuck-on food encrusted on your plates and glassware with its powerful formula that prevents water spots and film in glassware and thoroughly cleans dishes sparkling clean, shiny, and streak-free.   This dishwasher detergent works well even in hard water conditions.  The formula is free of fragrances, dyes, chlorine bleach, and phosphates. It is biodegradable, septic safe, and plant-based USDA Certified Biobased Product 87%. For maximum effectiveness in hard water, it is recommended to use it in combination with Seventh Generation Rinse Aid.


Part 2: Types of dishwashing detergents

Innovations in the market for dishwasher detergents have introduced more types than the traditional powder and liquid forms. There are 3 main types of dishwasher detergents: powder, gel, and pods/tablets.  Each type features advantages and disadvantages depending on user preferences.  Consumers must know what product types are available, what they're made of, and how they work before they can choose what is best for their needs.  



This type of dishwasher soap is in powder form that is the cheapest and most affordable for users.  It needs extra care to pour or deliver a scoop into the detergent dispenser in the dishwasher to avoid the inconvenience of cleaning spills on the floor.  Powdered detergents may be preferable for the flexibility it provides homes with a smaller dishwashing load that may not need to use a full dishwasher tablet or pod for washing.   Thus, for smaller washing requirements, based on a less than full load, guesswork of amounts for a dishwashing load may lead to wasteful usage of detergent thereby increasing the cost of detergent per wash.  An excess amount of soap could leave a powdery residue or foam causing leaks that could damage the machine; while an insufficient amount, on the other hand, can lead to dull-looking and unhygienic dishes.  Tests show that powder detergent can perform a good cleaning job such as removing burnt-on stains but have a problem cleaning pots and pans.  However, it may cause some abrasion for delicate china.  Powder detergent is seen as the most effective against hard water that leaves behind white spots due to high calcium content such as a Finish dishwater detergent for hard water.



Dishwasher tablets are convenient to use and generally more compact to store than liquid detergents. Consumer reports show that tablets do a more efficient job cleaning than gels, while other reports show they are more effective than powder. Dishwasher tablets are produced in the form of small bricks consisting of concentrated dishwashing powder that includes rinse aid, pre-wash, and de-greasing additives. Similar to tablets are dishwasher pods that are part solid, part liquid, or even completely made of brightly colored dishwashing gel wrapped in dissolvable material. Since tablets come already in exact dosages, you no longer have to estimate the amounts as in powders or gels.  They can be placed in the detergent dispenser or simply thrown at the bottom of the dishwasher. Both tablets/pods should disintegrate completely in hot or cold water throughout the complete wash cycle leaving no leftover materials that could obstruct the drain. The tablet/pod segment is the most popular type comprising over 67% of total dishwasher detergent sales. Best value tablets are more expensive as they have less flexibility than gels and powder because they come in one size.  Pods are as effective in cleaning power as tablets if you don't mind paying a higher price, especially for those with added chemicals for dishwasher cleaning and fragrance fresheners in the best dishwasher pods category. Since these products are sensitive to water, the handling of tablets/pods must follow instructions on how to use dishwasher pods and tablets printed in the container.  Please note that some dishwasher models cannot use tablets/pods.   



Gels look like a thick liquid detergent similar to dishwashing liquid soap for hand washing dishes.  However, dishwashing liquid for manual dishwashing should not be used in a dishwasher. Gels give you more control than powder as it is poured directly into the dispenser using a built-in spout but inaccuracy in pouring could lead to either excess or insufficient amounts that could lead to waste and/or poor washing results such as water spots, film, or stubborn stains in your dishes. Gels are great for cleaning greasy dishes and utensils. Since it is based on water, gels tend to give a more gentle wash to your fine glassware and china. Gels comprise only a small proportion of the market for dishwasher detergents.  Price-wise it is in between powder and tablet detergents.  It is noteworthy that not all types of dishwashers can use gels, so check your owner's manual first.


Part 3: Tips to Choosing the Right Dishwasher

Household size

An important factor that should guide your choice in buying the right type of dishwasher is the number of people in your household so that you get the optimal size of the dishwasher for your daily dishwashing load.  A full-sized dishwasher may prove uneconomical for a couple unless there are plans for children in the future, or have to entertain frequent guests.   A compact solution for a single person or a couple that washes only a few cups and dishes daily is a DishDrawer that can be fully integrated into your kitchen. On the other hand, if you're alone and a renter and have plans to move, a benchtop dishwasher is a good choice because it can be easily disconnected and moved to a new place.


Kitchen space

Some kitchens have the luxury of space to move around, store things and add appliances while in others such as a studio or single bedroom apartment the available space is much smaller, even cramped.  If you have a kitchen with ample space and live in a bigger household, a full-sized dishwasher would be a fitting choice.  However, if you live in a smaller accommodation, a slimline dishwasher may be a more practical choice.  These narrow, compact dishwashers fit nicely in your kitchen and have adequate capacity to meet the needs of a small household.


Size and types of dishwashers

There are three basic ways to configure the setup of a dishwasher in your kitchen.  These are: 1) freestanding dishwashers similar to a standalone refrigerator or set up in a predesigned cavity - these are the easiest to install;  2) semi-integrated dishwashers built into kitchen cabinets with front panel matching your kitchen's decor concealing the appliance's doors but leave their controls visible, 3) fully integrated dishwashers, built inside cabinets fully covered by a door with matching panel to conceal the appliance.

You must be certain of the measurements of the available space where the appliance will be set up before you buy an expensive dishwasher to avoid frustrations in the installation process.


Other types

Built-in dishwashers. These are designed to be installed under the kitchen counter in a predesigned enclosed kitchen cavity. It does not require front panels to conceal it but must be anchored to prevent it from shifting during operation.

Drawer dishwashers. As mentioned previously, this is the most practical and efficient choice for smaller households with fewer dishes and crockery to wash. They are built into a drawer sized space and come as single or double dish drawers.

Slimline dishwashers. They are about the same height as a full-sized dishwasher but about 35% narrower.

Benchtop dishwashers. These dishwashers by their name can be placed on top of your bench or kitchen countertop without the necessity of modifying your kitchen. This is the ideal solution for renters.



Buying a dishwasher is one of the best time-saving appliances for today's fast-paced modern life. It saves us from the drudgery and effort of manually hand washing our dishes and gets our dishes clean economically, efficiently, and hygienically. However, to get the most out of the cleaning performance of your dishwasher, the user needs information about the detergents available to make informed choices in selecting the best dishwasher detergent to clean dishes effectively and get the best value for your money in today's budget-conscious world. Hence, we need to know the top-rated best dishwasher detergents for 2021 are by type and brand since not all brands are the same.  Here we also reviewed the three main types of dishwasher detergents, namely,  powders, tablet/pod, and gels. We've found that the Cascade dishwater pods are represented in two of the 5 best dishwasher detergents for 2021, namely, the Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent and the Cascade Complete ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent.

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