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Published Sep. 29, 2021

To get your dishware squeaky clean, dishwasher pods are a prime dish detergent choice. Though pods may seem like a more expensive option, compared to powder or liquid dishwasher detergents, the premeasured quantities ensure that you’re not overpouring and wasting detergent, subsequently wasting money. Pods are also easy to use—simply pop one in the detergent dispenser and press the start button on your dishwasher.  Here are the best dishwasher pods to leave your dishes sparkling clean. 

How We Picked the Best Dishwasher Pods

Methodology

Some people seek a powerful wash while others put more stock in eco-friendliness, so we chose some all-around criteria to consider before choosing the best dishwasher pods. Here’s what we looked for:

Cleaning power: Of course we want to know if the product gets dishes clean, and all of our choices proved to remove food, grease, and grime with limited film or residue on dishes. Oftentimes, when consumers experience residue, checking the instructions on the package can help.

Fragrance: Fragrance is a big deal in the kitchen! A strong fragrance on a plate or glass can ruin an entire culinary experience, so we liked pods that were free of strong chemical smells and instead had more natural scents or no scent at all. 

Price: We looked at the price per pod in each package to keep a clear view of how expensive each product really is, and we liked to see products that were available in bulk to bring down that price per unit. 

The Best Dishwasher Pods: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods

Fast-Dissolving Grease Fighter

These powerful and convenient pods offer a no-fuss clean.

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Why It Made the Cut: We chose Cascade Platinum as our best overall dishwasher pods because they offer the most-powerful clean, even on dishes that have been left dirty all day.

Specs:

  • Fast-dissolving formula
  • Convenient ActionPac

Pros:

  • No extra wrapping to fuss with
  • Dissolves without prewash
  • Comes in bulk sizes

Cons:

  • Harsh on copper and aluminum

Cascade Platinum promises that their dishwasher pods have 50 percent more cleaning power than other dishwasher pods do, and their performance backs up those claims. No matter how caked on or crusted over food is, these pods leave dishes spotless. The powerful formula includes food-seeking enzymes that track down food and break it apart, so dishes rinse completely clean. 

These pods dissolve quickly and don’t require a pre-wash cycle, which saves gallons of water per dishwashing cycle, and they don’t have any extra individual packaging, making them an eco-friendly choice.

The powerful wash leads to just one downside—some consumers noticed that the strong detergent was too harsh on certain cookware, like coppers and aluminum. Take notice of which dishes are dishwasher safe before running a cycle with these powerful pods.

Best Nontoxic Pods: Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Plant-Derived Pods

A free and clear dishwasher pod made from plant enzymes.

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Why It Made the Cut: We chose Puracy Platinum as our top pick for nontoxic dishwasher pods because while many other plant-based detergents leave a film residue, these really leave your glasses crystal clear. 

Specs: 

  • Free of harsh chemicals and animal by-products
  • Improved formula

Pros:

  • No need to pre-wash or rinse dishes
  • Free of chemical smells or aftertastes
  • Works great with any dishwasher-safe dishes

Cons:

  • A little pricey
  • Can get sudsy if not used properly

People with chemical and fragrance sensitivities should check out Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Pods, our favorite nontoxic dishwasher pods. Puracy uses a plant-based formula that’s free of the harsh chemicals that often cause strong smells and even aftertastes on dishes. 

Previous versions of this detergent were prone to the filmy residue that is common in other detergents, especially plant-based detergents, but Puracy has perfected its formula in this third-generation version. It works well without a pre-wash or rinse, leaving dishes and glasses shiny and crystal clear.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging, which advise users to load unrinsed dishes in the dishwasher. Without dirty dishes to work against, the pods can become overly sudsy. Don’t be afraid to let these pods do their job!

Best Scented Pods: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Automatic Dishwasher Pods

Clean, Natural Scents

These chlorine-free detergent pods are gentle on the senses.

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Why It Made the Cut: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day pods have a fresh scent that smells natural without soapy or chemical undertones, which is why it’s our choice for best scented dishwasher pods. 

Specs: 

  • Variety of fresh scents
  • Phosphate and chlorine free

Pros:

  • Leaves a fresh smell in the dishwasher
  • Removes all filmy residue from glasses
  • No strong fumes or chemical scent

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Non-recyclable packaging

One of the main features of any kind of soap or detergent is its scent (or lack thereof), a feature that leaves a lot up to personal preference. If you’re looking for a nice-smelling dishwasher pod, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day pods are our top pick.

The pods come in three different scents: basil, lavender, and lemon verbena, which we love for a kitchen-friendly array of scents as opposed to other soapy, chemical-based smells. These pods are phosphate- and chlorine-free, letting the fresher and more natural scents shine through.

As a more environmentally friendly option for a detergent, Clean Day pods are on the pricier side, but they do the job and leave dishes clean and clear of residue. The only thing missing from this eco-conscious brand? Recyclable packaging! Otherwise, we like this cleaner, gentler option for dishwasher pods.

Best Fragrance-Free Pods: Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Unscented Formula

These pods are free of fragrances, dyes, and chlorine bleach.

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Why It Made the Cut: These free and clear dishwasher pods from Seventh Generation contain no phosphates, dyes, or chlorine bleach, making them great for households that want to keep dishes clean and fragrance free.

Specs:

  • Free of chemicals that give off fumes and scents
  • Easy-to-use resealable bag

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Reasonably priced
  • Environmentally friendly formula

Cons:

  • Packaging is not biodegradable

If you have a super-sensitive nose, you might prefer a dishwasher pod that has no scent at all. These Seventh Generation Detergent Packs are your best bet. Their formula is free of the dyes and chemicals that give other detergents their smells, making it virtually fragrance free.

They come in at a great price for an eco-friendly product—generally clean and free products come in a little pricier, but these work out to an affordable price. The formula cuts through food and grease and leaves glasses clear and shiny (check the package for usage instructions for the most efficient wash).

Like our other eco-friendly pick, the only complaint about this green product is that it comes in a plastic package, and eco-conscious consumers would love to see the companies find a way to package products of this nature in biodegradable materials.

Best Value: Finish All in 1 Gelpacs

Budget-Friendly

These orange-scented pods get the job done at a low price.

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Why It Made the Cut: These effective gelpacs from Finish are available in bulk and come in at a fraction of the price of other premium brands, making them our top pick for best budget pods.

Specs:

  • Fresh scent
  • Available to purchase in bulk

Pros:

  • Gel doesn’t need to dissolve
  • Strong casing
  • No powdery residue

Cons:

  • Sometimes pods stick together in packaging

If you like the ease and efficiency of tossing a pod in your dishwasher and pressing start but don’t want to shell out a ton of cash for a premium brand, Finish All in 1 Gelpacs are a fantastic option that clean your dishes at a low price point.

These fresh orange-scented pods come as a gel rather than a concentrated powder, which means you can use them without worrying about the temperature or hardness of your water—they won’t leave any powdery residue. 

Occasionally, some of the gelpacs can get stuck together in the packaging, but we found that the casing is strong enough that you can gently pull them apart without tearing the pac open, and it happens infrequently enough that we still consider these the best budget dishwasher pods.

Things to Consider Before Buying Dishwasher Pods

Before you toss another package of detergent into your cart, think about these elements to see if dishwasher pods are right for you and your kitchen. 

Compatibility

Pods are compatible with most dishwashers, but you might want to double check the size of your detergent dispenser to make sure pods will fit in them. This generally isn’t a problem, but some compact dishwashers have smaller dispensers that standard-sized pods might not squeeze into, especially if you’re using the harder concentrated powder pods that don’t have a lot of give and malleability.

Water Hardness

If you have hard water, look for dishwasher detergent that will soften it. Hard water has a high mineral content, which hinders a detergent’s ability to clean and leaves a film or residue on dishes, making them look cloudy or chalky. It can also prevent a powder detergent from dissolving completely. All of our picks for best dishwasher pods did well in hard water.

Formulation

Detergent ingredients are readily available so it’s easy to find what kind of chemicals and enzymes make up your pod of choice. The most powerful pods tend to contain more chemicals of course, but greener, nontoxic products do a great job as well and are gentler on people with sensitivities.

FAQs

Q: Which dishwasher pods work best?

We found that Cascade Platinum pods did the best job cleaning dishes at a reasonable price point, which made them our top overall pick for best dishwasher pod. The formula was able to cut through grease and caked-on food that had been sitting for hours, and the fast-dissolving detergent left no chalky residue.

Q: What is better, Cascade Platinum or Cascade Complete?

Both Cascade’s Platinum and Complete dishwasher pods offer a powerful clean, but we found the Platinum pods to be a bit more thorough. The main difference is that Platinum gives a full clean on its own, keeping both dishes and dishwashers bright and clean, while the Complete works best with a rinse aid and dishwasher cleaning product.

Q: Are pods bad for dishwashers?

There’s no reason to believe that pods are any worse for dishwashers than other types of detergent, and as long as you’re keeping up with routine cleaning and maintenance, pods are perfectly fine to use in your dishwasher. In fact, they have one benefit over powders and liquids: using too much detergent can be a cause of clogged drains and filters, so pre-measured pods are an excellent way to regulate your usage.

Final Thoughts

Dishwasher pods come in a variety of different formulas that suit a range of households. Pods are a great way to use your detergent efficiently without the risk of over pouring, and we recommend them as a surefire way to clean your dishes and cookware with confidence. We chose Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods as our best overall because there is no need to prewash dishes and they clean with 50 percent more power than other pods—making quick work of cleanup.

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