We Asked 3 Plumbers to Name the Best Dishwasher Detergent — They All Picked the Same One

updated Nov 3, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

When it comes to dishwasher detergent, I usually just buy whatever is on sale. I haven’t been super loyal to one brand over another. Funny enough, I am brand loyal when shopping for other cleaning supplies. (I know. It makes no sense.) And so I recently decided it was time to settle down and pick a brand that I could stick with. Which brand to choose? I turned to plumbers, who, in this case, certainly know best.

I asked three plumbers which dishwashing detergents they trusted the most — and to my surprise, I learned two things. First, choosing a dishwasher detergent is a more high-stakes decision than I thought, and second, plumbers have a clear favorite choice! Let’s take a look!

The Overall Favorite: Cascade Platinum ActionPacs

James Bedford, a plumbing expert at Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service in Greeneville, Tennessee, says he’s seen plenty of occasions where substandard dishwashing detergents have caused problems for clients (think: poor washing, food poisoning, and causing the dishwasher to actually break). To avoid those issues, he exclusively recommends Cascade Platinum ActionPacs, which he says is the absolute best on the market. “It’s made up of half powder and half gel, and it’s the ideal mix for removing all dirt off dishes,” he says.

Ray Brosnan, a plumber with the Ireland-based Brosnan Property Solutions, agrees. He says the pods are especially helpful if you have hard water. “The ingredients built in actually soften the water during the cleaning process,” he says. “It also has sodium carbonate and nonionic surfactants, which go a long way in protecting the machine against hard water damage.”

Lee Devlin, director at Homecure Plumbers in the United Kingdom, adds that the pods also work well for people with septic tanks, because they’re phosphate-free. “Phosphate products kill the enzymes and friendly bacteria that help decompose your septic tank’s waste,” he says. Detergents with phosphates can cause the tank to fill up faster, which can be costly to empty.

Favorite Runners-Up

Searching for more options? Here are a few other dishwasher detergents plumbers trust.

Finish Hard Water Booster Powder

Finish Hard Water Booster Powder: Devlin says this lemon-scented powder is great for cutting through stains and grease. It’s also a powerhouse at dislodging food leftovers and helps maintain the dishwasher by removing minerals that accumulate in your machine and pipe. “It leaves a fresh scent while removing harder film, so it smells fresher for longer,” he says.

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets Zero

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets Zero: These plant- and mineral-based pods are another one of Devlin’s favorites. For one, they’re chlorine-free, which could help prolong the life of stainless steel dishwashers. The solution also successfully cuts through grease and stubborn food left on your dishes and glassware.

A Smart Tip

If you simply can’t decide on a detergent (or you’re not seeing great results with the one you’re using), a good rule of advice is to check with your dishwasher’s manufacturer. The manual likely suggests a brand or two. “I use Finish because that’s what brand of cleaner the dishwasher manufacturer recommended,” says Loren Bottem, plumbing manager with Genz-Ryan.

Did your dishwashing detergent make the cut? Tell us in the comments below!