The Best Dishwasher Detergent, According to Experts

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Want the ultimate clean? You need the best dishwasher detergent that'll leave dishes shiny and glassware sparkling. We tried 10 brands to find the tops.

After a day in the kitchen prepping tasty apps and mixing all sorts of drinks at your latest cocktail party, the last thing you want to do is wash all those dishes by hand. Skip the fuss and pop all those platters, appetizer plates and glassware right into the dishwasher. With the right dishwasher detergent, that stemware should come out sparkling clean—no residue, no spots and no lipstick stains.

But we’ve all had the misfortune of pulling out not-quite-clean dishes from the dishwasher. So what’s really the best dishwasher detergent for tackling all your dishware messes? Which will really leave all your dishes—even the really sticky, messy ones—sparkling clean?

How We Found the Best Dishwasher Detergent

In order to find the very best in detergents, our Taste of Home team washed dishes with the 10 most popular brands of dishwashing tablets.

  • Cleaning power: How does the detergent clean a dishwasher full of dishes? Does it remove all the food off plates, flatware and casserole dishes? What about challenging stains like lipstick?
  • Water spot-removing power: Are any water spots left after washing? How crystal-clear does glassware look after washing?
  • Price: How much is a package of dishwashing pods? How much do they cost per unit?
  • Extras: How does the detergent smell? Is the packaging easy to open and seal tightly?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Dishwasher Detergents

After months of testing and countless loads of dishes, our testers found the best dishwasher detergent.

Best Overall Dishwasher Detergent: Finish Quantum Dishwashing Tablets

Finish - Quantum - 82ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish TabsVia amazon.com

Need a detergent pod that’ll tackle even the grimiest messes? That’s Finish Quantum Dishwashing Tablets.

These tablets cleaned everything. Dirty lasagna pan? Spotless! Flatware? Sparkling clean. Lipstick-smeared glasses? Not a smudge left. Load after load, these dishwashing pods—a blend of detergent gel and powder—performed. Never once did our testing team have to rewash anything that came out of the dishwasher when they used Finish—and that’s truly the sign of a great dishwasher detergent.

One thing to note with this product: This powerful clean does come with a powerful scent. If you’re sensitive to this, try one of our other picks (they’re also fantastic).

  • Price: $20.49 for a pack of 82 tablets
  • Cost per load: $0.25 per load

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Best for a Spotless Clean: Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Dishwasher Detergent

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent with Dawn, Fresh Scent - 92 CountVia amazon.com

Water spots are no match for Cascade Platinum ActionPacs.

These dishwashing pods are formulated with a rinse aid and film-fighting ingredients that ensure stemware and glassware come out spot-free every single time. This means that you can go from dishwasher to cupboard—no need to polish those wine glasses!

Cascade Platinum also washed up plates, pots, pans and flatware with ease. No stains or stuck-on food was left after a cycle.

  • Price: $29.99 for a container of 92 pods
  • Cost per load: $0.32 per load

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Best Eco-Friendly Clean: Lemi Shine Natural Dishwashing Pods

Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods - All-in-One Powder & Gel Dishwasher Detergent Pods with Powerful Citric Acid Extracts, 65 CountVia amazon.com

Many of us are trying to go green in our kitchens—and that extends to our cleaning products. You can be eco-friendly and get a great clean with Lemi Shine Natural Dishwashing Pods.

These pods combine the power of powdered detergent and cleaning gel for a satisfying clean. Dinner dishes came out spotless after each load. And testers enjoyed the fresh smell that came with Lemi Shine. This brand uses the power of citric acid to cut through grease and give a fresh lemon scent.

And if your disposal needs freshening up, our Test Kitchen also recommends Lemi Shine disposal cleaner.

  • Price: $21.99 for a package of 65 pods
  • Cost per load: $0.34 per load

Best Value: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Fragrance Free, 73 CountVia amazon.com

We don’t always associate all-natural or eco-friendly products with affordability but Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs manage to be all of those things.

Free of fragrances, dyes and chlorine bleach, these pods are perfect for folks who are a bit more sensitive to ingredients. But don’t let the “free-ofs” fool you. These powder-based packs delivered clean dishes and silverware every time.

The only test where Seventh Generation didn’t excel was with highly pigmented lipstick. You might have to wash that stemware by hand to get every speck off.

  • Price: $18.48 for a package of 73 detergent packs
  • Cost per load: $0.25 per load

How to Get the Most Out of Your Dishwasher Detergent

Using the best dishwasher detergent is key to getting sparkling clean dishes, flatware and stemware. However, it’s not the only step you can take to get the ultimate clean.

You can ensure that your dishes come out spotless by loading the dishwasher the right way. While everyone has their preferred method for packing this appliance full, there are some guidelines to follow.

And don’t forget to clean the dishwasher itself. This means cleaning the dishwasher filter and giving the inside a good clean. Cleaning inside doesn’t need to be backbreaking work; try easy-to-use dishwasher cleaning tablets. They do all the hard work for you.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.