5 Things You Should Never Do with Dishwasher Detergent

published Aug 4, 2021
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Someone putting a dish detergent pod into dishwasher.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

There’s no right or wrong type of dishwasher detergent to use. Sure, we’ve done some testing to find some front-runners, but you’ve gotta use what works best for you and your machine. You might have a preference for pods, the powdered stuff, tablets, or gel. And whatever you choose is fine! Again, no wrong answer — as long as you know what not to do with your detergent of choice.

Want a quick reminder? Here are five things you should never do with dishwasher detergent.

1. Don’t just toss a tablet or pod into the dishwasher.

Dishwasher pods offer the ultimate convenience. Many are “all-inclusive,” meaning they contain a bunch of solutions (like a pre-treatment cleaner, degreaser, bleach, and rinse aid) to boost their cleaning power. While the tablets are measure-free and can be used without a second thought, one common mistake is putting them directly into the drum of the dishwasher. Don’t just throw it in there.

Instead, dishwasher tablets or pods must be placed in the detergent dispenser compartment. If the tablet is placed directly in the unit, it’ll dissolve before the wash cycle even begins. Placed in the dispenser, however, it’ll be released at the right time in the dishwashing cycle so you’ll get the cleanest dishes!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Don’t touch pods with wet hands.

Touching pods with wet hands means you might end up with a messy glob of pods or tablets. The moisture can cause them to stick together or even dissolve and leak. Before pulling the pod out of the detergent container, take a few seconds to make sure your hands are completely dry. 

3. Don’t store powdered detergent in a humid environment.

If your powdered detergent gets wet, even if it’s just stored in an environment that’s too moist, it can turn into a brick. And chipping away at that brick to get usable detergent will be frustrating and stressful. Prevent this by storing your detergent in a dry place or transferring it to an airtight container. 

Credit: Kentaroo Tryman/Getty Images

4. Don’t use too much detergent, of any kind.

When it comes to detergent, it seems logical that more product would clean better, but this isn’t the case. Too much detergent can leave a residue on dishes, and dishes with detergent residue are pretty unappealing and could even be unsafe to eat from. In addition, excess detergent can cause problems in your dishwasher. The solution: Use less detergent. Way less.

Note: Depending on your dishwasher, even pods can cause detergent buildup. If you see this happening, try switching to a powder or gel and manually adjust the amount of detergent you use.

5. Don’t use dishwasher detergent as dish soap.

You probably already know that you can’t use dish soap in your dishwasher (it’ll make an incredibly sudsy mess and could ruin your machine and/or damage your floors!). Likewise, you shouldn’t use dishwasher detergent when hand-washing dishes. Dishwasher detergent doesn’t suds up the way your go-to liquid soap does, so you might end up using a ridiculous amount of detergent in order to get the bubbles you’re after. And that’s just a waste of detergent!

Do you have a good tip about using dishwasher detergent? Tell us in the comments below.