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8 Best Safe and Effective Dishwasher Detergents

The best safe and effective dishwasher detergents remove stains and food residue without harsh chemical smells and expensive price tags.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

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Best Overall Dishwasher Detergent

Amazon shoppers agree that Cascade’s Complete Action Pacs dishwasher detergent is well-priced and effective — a winning combination. This value pack of 78 pods is Amazon’s bestselling dishwasher detergent, earning 4.8 stars based on more than 70,000 reviews.

“I have a pretty inexpensive dishwasher and Cascade works just great,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “The store brand was a bust and not much cheaper. Definitely a good value in a volume box.”

Say goodbye to the stress of doing dishes. These pods dissolve quickly to eliminate food and stains, even if they’re baked on or have been sitting for 24 hours. At 21 cents per load, these pods are more expensive than standard dishwasher detergent. But they’re also more effective, a trade-off most shoppers agreed was worth it.

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Best Gel Dishwasher Detergent

Gel detergents allow you to customize how much product you use in each load, based on what you’re washing. This saves money and is better for your dishwasher.

This product combines the power of Dawn to fight grease, Oxi to eliminate stains, and Cascade to deep clean your dishes, pots, and pans. The bottle has an easy-to-pour spout, and the detergent dissolves quickly to start cleaning as soon as you start your dishwasher.

Its fresh scent eliminates food odors and makes your kitchen smell clean. The manufacturer claims this detergent cleans up to 99 percent of visible and invisible food residue.

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Best Dishwasher Detergent Value

This dishwasher detergent is praised for its low price, earning a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with more than 15,000 reviews. It comes with 85 detergent packs, so each load costs only 11 cents. The two-in-one packs include grease-fighting soap and a tough rinse aid that removes debris on dishes with ease.

One Amazon reviewer suggests scrubbing baked-on messes before loading them into the dishwasher: “This cleans as well as the expensive brand. Doesn’t look like a jewel, but doesn’t cost like a jewel. Does a good job cleaning dirty dishes and even those that require a bit of scrubbing.”

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Best Fragrance-Free Dishwasher Detergent

If you prefer your detergent’s work to be seen but not smelled, this pack of fragrance-free dishwasher pods is for you. It’s made without fragrances, dyes, phosphates or chlorine bleach, relying instead on essential oils to eliminate odors. A dissolvable film surrounds each pod; just load the dishwasher and let the enzyme-rich formula eliminate food residue and grease.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, “NO irritating scent coming from the dishwasher while running! Other detergents set off my asthma just from the little steam coming from the vents — not this one!”

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Best Plastic-Free Dishwasher Detergent

It can be tricky to find household products that are effective and good for the planet, but these plastic-free detergent pods are up to the task. The pods are encased in polyvinyl alcohol, which dissolves in water and is consumed by microorganisms. The pods also come in a compostable cardboard box rather than plastic.

The pods contain mineral-based ingredients that help rinse away stains and food residue and leave dishes sparkling. Choose from lemon-scented or unscented.

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Best Powder Dishwasher Detergent

Powder detergent has become less popular, simply because of the convenience of dishwasher pods and even some gels. However, powder dishwasher detergent provides the most economical clean.

This free-and-clear powder detergent is so concentrated it doesn’t take much to get a deep clean. Plus, you can easily control how much you add to each load. Unlike many powder detergents, this one is plant-based and fragrance-free, which is better for you, your house and the planet. The manufacturer says this detergent doesn’t harm rivers, streams, plants or wildlife.

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Best Dishwasher Detergent for Really Tough Messes

There are certain meals you just know are going to be tough to clean up after. For those occasions, keep Finish Quantum with a Powerball under their sink.

This may be overkill for everyday clean-ups, but for the really tough messes reach for this three-chemical-chamber pod. It includes a powder detergent that acts as a scrubbing agent, a gel that eliminates grease, and a liquid power ball that helps dry glasses and keep them shiny. You can even run your dishwasher on a shorter cycle without worrying about leftover stains.

On Amazon, this pack earned more than 14,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating.

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Best-Smelling Dishwasher Detergent

Shoppers love the way Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day cleaning products smell, and this dish detergent is no different. These automatic dish packs are pricier that most, but loyal fans say the sweet-smelling clean is worth it. These packs are available in lavender, lemon verbena and basil, packing a punch that never smells like chemicals.

The brand prides itself on being cruelty-free, which means none of its products are tested on animals or made with animal-derived ingredients. Instead, they feature essential oils and soil-removing enzymes. The packaging is made with recycled materials.

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Mackenzie Edwards
In addition to her work with Family Handyman, Mackenzie is a contributing commerce writer for Bustle Digital Group's lifestyle sites. She also owns and operates a copywriting studio in Nashville, TN. Mackenzie is an avid DIYer, sharing her budget-friendly home improvement hacks with her growing social media and blog audience.