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The 5 Best Dishwasher Pods of 2023

We tested dishwasher pods from Cascade, Finish, Amazon Basics, Ecover, and more to find products with the best cleaning prowess
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Best Dishwasher Pods of 2023
Credit: Laura Casner

Our Top Picks

By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 5, 2023

After researching 30+ of the best dishwasher pods available today, our kitchen experts purchased the top 10. We ran loads of nasty and greasy dishes — with caked-on messes — to determine which pods offer the best performance. We noted any streaks left on the glass or if food simply did not come off the dishes. We didn't run just one test but many for each product, which confirmed our findings. After evaluating performance and smell, we offer our recommendations to help you find the best pod for dishwashing in your kitchen.

Need to tackle some dirty dishes by hand? Slap on your cleaning gloves and take a look at the best sponges and top-ranked cleaning brushes to get your dinnerware squeaky clean. Our experts can also point you towards a top-rated dish rack for drying as well as other cleaning supplies to get your house back into tip-top shape.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on January 5, 2023, to note that the Amazon's Solimo Detergent Pacs have been rebranded to Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs.


Best Overall Dishwasher Pod

Cascade Platinum Plus Actionpacs

Formula: Powder + triple liquid | Packaging: Dissolvable pack
Triple liquid cleaners supplement regular detergent
Safe for septic tanks
Strong smell
Looks like candy

The Cascade Platinum Plus Actionpacs excels at removing grease from dirty dishes. In our testing, it not only effectively whisked away food particles but it left dishes spot-free with almost no detergent residue. The three liquids included in the pod complement each other, contributing a degreaser, water softener, and rinse aid, all in addition to the powder detergent. The phosphate-free formula claims to work with both hard and soft water. These pods come in a dissolvable pack, so there is no unwrapping involved.

The primary drawback is that these brand-name pods are significantly more expensive than generic products. They leave dishes cleaner than average, but whether the premium is worth the performance is debatable. We also took note of the strength of the fragrance of the product. For us, it only lingered as long as it took to open the container, remove a pod and insert it into the dishwasher, but if you are sensitive to strong smells, you may want to consider a fragrance-free option. However, if your goal is clean, spot-free, and residue-free dishes, this is the pod for you.

best overall dishwasher pod
The triple-liquid formula included in this pod results in a quality clean for ceramic and glassware.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Best Bang for the Buck

Finish Powerball Deep Clean

Formula: Compressed powder | Packaging: Individually wrapped
Highly effective cleaning
Safe for septic systems
Individually wrapped

The Finish Powerball Deep Clean is a surprisingly effective low-cost pod. It removed almost all dried-on food particles. And though the individual wrappers are a bummer for the environment and a strike against convenience, we appreciate that they keep the smell of the tab in check. The three-stage cleaning powder is some of the best that we tested and left almost no visible residue on glassware.

For better or for worse, these pods are individually wrapped. The benefit is that they aren't susceptible to humidity when stored, and you won't ruin the entire container if you pull one out with slightly damp fingers. On the downside, they come with extra packaging that doesn't need to be there. In any case, this is our top choice for a solid clean at a reasonable price.

dishwasher pod - best bang for the buck
The Powerball powder brick is inexpensive and cleans effectively (though we aren't fans of the individual wrappers).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


A Bargain Dissolvable Powder Packet

Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs

Strong smell
Product Rebranded — January 2023
Amazon previously listed their Detergent Pacs under their Solimo line, but has recently rebranded them to Amazon Basics. We're linking to the Amazon Basics pacs, which are the same product in new packaging.

The Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs is effective and usually inexpensive. This pod cleans food residue off of dishes without leaving behind the opaque film that some of its competitors do. Despite being a powder-only formula, it contains both traditional detergent and a rinse aid, producing clean dishes with no visible streaks.

The worst thing that we can say about these pods is that they just don't clean quite as well as products with liquid. There were a few instances where we found residual dried food bits on plates. We didn't experience this during testing but are aware of several anecdotal reports that the pods sometimes do not dissolve entirely once the dishwasher detergent cup opens. However, if you are willing to forgo a fancy formula with additional gels, this product will serve you right.

dishwasher pod - a bargain dissolvable powder packet
This straightforward, dissolvable-pack product gets the job done at a fraction of the price of brand-name pods.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Best for Fragrance Sensitivities

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets

Low odor
Individually wrapped

The Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets is an excellent option for those with fragrance sensitivities. They have one of the least aggressive smells of any of the products that we tested. These tabs provided a thorough clean with minimal residue. The biodegradable formula is also a nice plus if you prioritize eco-conscious consumption. This product is right around the average cost of dishwasher pods overall, so if the (relatively) straightforward formula is appealing, they can offer decent value as well.

Though the ingredients could conceivably be eco-friendly, the packaging is not. Each tab is individually wrapped, which ultimately produces a bunch of plastic that doesn't seem entirely necessary, given that these are solid tabs rather than liquid pods. Still, we found plenty to like about this product.

dishwasher pod - best for fragrance sensitivities
These plastic-covered pods have a supposedly eco-friendly formula, but decidedly not eco-friendly packaging.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Best Non-Toxic Pod

Dapple Baby Fragrance Free Dishwasher Pacs

Neutral smell

The Dapple Baby Fragrance Free Dishwasher Pacs is a specialty pod specifically designed to clean baby products. The formula claims not to contain any parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, or chlorine. The low-odor tabs are also nice if you are sensitive to fragrances. In addition, it offered above-average cleaning power on our adult dishes. The dissolvable pod wrapper is a plus as well, so there are no small pieces of plastic to contend with.

One drawback is the moderate amount of film left behind on glassware, which of course, is not what we would have expected or hoped for. However, for those who need cleaning power but are concerned with the ingredients found in other top-tier pods, this product is worth the investment.

dishwasher pod - best non-toxic pod
These powder-only pods have a plant-based formula that can provide peace of mind for those concerned with harsh chemicals.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Best Eco-Friendly Option

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Phosphate and chlorine-free
USDA-certified bio-based product
Costs slightly above average
Less effective than those with liquid

The Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dishwasher Detergent Pods offer a USDA-approved plant-based formula that effectively cleans food residue off of dishes. On the whole, this pod works just as well as other all-powder products. We like that the smell when opening the bag is pretty mild as far as dishwasher detergents go (some of these products can be pretty aggressive).

We found this pod did not work quite as effectively, specifically on dried condiments and sauces. It also does not contain any additional rinse aids or degreasers, so heavily soiled dishes need a rinse before loading them into the dishwasher. However, if using a more environmentally friendly detergent is important to you, then this is a great pod to have around.

dishwasher pod - this human and environmentally friendly pack comes at a premium...
This human and environmentally friendly pack comes at a premium price but could be worth it for those with fragrance sensitivities.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Great Cleaning Power

Cascade Complete ActionPacs

Water softener and rinse aid liquid
Leaves spot-free dishes
Strong smell
Looks like candy

The Cascade Complete ActionPacs is a high-quality option for spot-free dishes. The dissolvable pack is easy to use, and we found that it deployed consistently from the dishwasher detergent cup and dissolved completely each time. These pods deliver a high-quality clean, typically at a below-average price per pod. The detergent formula is effective, and the dual-action gels complement the powder with a water softener and rinse aid.

All of this cleaning power comes with the strong smell of chemicals. The odor doesn't linger long if you go straight from the container to the dishwasher, but getting your face too close may make you frown. The odor may be an intentional deterrent because these pods also look like candy, so if you have toddlers in the house, be sure to store them somewhere secure. Nonetheless, if you want a grease-cutting detergent with spotless glassware, this is going to be one of the best options available.

dishwasher pod - the dual-liquid formula of this product is largely effective, but...
The dual-liquid formula of this product is largely effective, but not quite as powerful as its triple-liquid sibling.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Pleasant Fragrance

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Automatic Dish Pacs

No parabens, chlorine, or phosphates
Septic safe
Smells strong but nice
Residue on silverware

The Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Automatic Dish Pacs is a decent all-powder pod. Though there is no auxiliary gel as with some other products in this review, it still delivers satisfactory cleaning on ceramic and glassware. This holds true for a few others in this category, but these claim they are safe for septic systems as well. We found that they have a scent that almost smells good (a rarity in the dishwasher pod world).

The primary drawback to this product is its typical price. It can be one of the most expensive of any in this review. We also observed some residue and spots on silverware, so it is not without its faults. However, if you want a nice-smelling detergent and are willing to pay the price, you can't go wrong here.

dishwasher pod - with an all-powder formula and dissolvable casing, this super pricey...
With an all-powder formula and dissolvable casing, this super pricey product is simple, but may not be worth the cost.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


A Natural Formula

Lemi Shine Dishwashing Detergent

Dual detergent and liquid power
Phosphate and chlorine-free
Strong smell
Leaves some residue

The Lemi Shine Dishwashing Detergent is a powder and gel combo that offers a citric-acid-based formula. These pods are effective if you have hard water that would otherwise leave mineral residue on your glasses and buildup in your dishwasher. It is the only environmentally friendly product in this review that also contains a liquid gel separate from the base powder; this supposedly natural and human-friendly product combines traditional detergent with a degreaser as well.

During testing, we also noted that though the grease-cutting power of these pods is sufficient, they left behind a noticeable residue on glassware. As with a few other products in this category, they have a particularly astringent smell. It's not a dealbreaker, but it could be an issue for someone with a sensitivity to synthetic fragrances. However, for a formula with more recognizable ingredients, this product might be what you're looking for.

dishwasher pod - these pods have decent cleaning power but leave behind some...
These pods have decent cleaning power but leave behind some noticeable residue.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Nice Clean but Leaves a Residue

Finish Quantum Powerball

Effective cleaning
Overwhelming smell

The Finish Quantum Powerball tabs promise big results. The dissolvable packs are easy to use and deliver a decent clean for dirty dishes. The powder and liquid combination formula comes with a traditional detergent, degreaser, and rinse aid. Like its other Finish siblings, these pods are also reasonably priced.

However, we found that these pods leave behind a visible residue on glassware. Though the cleaning power proved to be decent, this product has a very strong, noxious smell. If you or anyone in your house is sensitive to fragrances, we'd steer clear of these pods. They are comparatively inexpensive, though, so if you can find them at an additional discount, they could be worth a try.

dishwasher pod - these packs leave a little to be desired with their very strong smell.
These packs leave a little to be desired with their very strong smell.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Why You Should Trust Us

We research, purchase, and test everything that we review. We buy each model at retail price and never accept manufacturer samples. We ran load after load with these pods using the same type of dishes and grease. Outside of more controlled experiments, we also gave some to friends and family, solicited feedback, and reviewed manufacturer specs, diving deep into the ingredient lists.

Lead tester Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been reviewing products with GearLab for over five years. In that time, he has done hands-on testing of hundreds of products, including other cleaning products like mouthwash and toothbrush heads, as well as kitchen items. Having spent a fair amount of time in commercial kitchens and dish rooms, he is no stranger to powerful detergents and dish cleaners.

Dishes after a run through the machine with one of the contenders
Dishes after a run through the machine with one of the contenders
Most pods will fit in the regular detergent cup. If not, most...
Most pods will fit in the regular detergent cup. If not, most manufacturers recommend just tossing it in the bottom of the machine.
Some pods left our silverware with some discoloration and residue.
Some pods left our silverware with some discoloration and residue.

Analysis and Test Results

We choose a wide range of pods to test, ranging from power to double liquid to triple liquid to a combination of both. With a range of products, it's important to evaluate each across key metrics. Our tests included looking at the cleaning power, ease of use, and smell.


Dishwasher pods are meant to do exactly one thing: make dirty dishes clean. We consider how effectively each model removes grease and food particles and limits water spots and whether or not dishes need to be pre-soaked or rinsed.

dishwasher pod - there are plenty of effective all-powder pods like the one on the...
There are plenty of effective all-powder pods like the one on the left, however, we also found that those with liquid included in the formula tend to reduce residue as well.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Cascade Platinum Plus and the Finish Powerball Deep Clean tabs deliver top cleaning performance. These two pods left behind almost zero residues, and the multi-part formulae left glassware shiny. They also both came through producing clean dishes with minimal pre-washing. In the next tier of pods, we have the Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs, Cascade Complete ActionPacs, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, and Seventh Generation Free & Clear pods. They each removed most of the crud from our ceramic dishes but left a little more residue behind.

dishwasher pod - sometimes residue is visible on glassware, other times, there are...
Sometimes residue is visible on glassware, other times, there are telltale bubbles that form around the perimeter.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Dapple Baby Dishwasher Pacs and the Lemi Shine Dishwashing Detergent are hovering in the perfectly average range. Neither was far behind the rest of the group, but they did appear to occasionally leave behind a heavier white residue that could lead to a frothy first glass of water that made us question what we might actually be drinking.

Ease of Use

These pods, taken as a whole, should be easy to use; this is one of the main reasons you would opt for them over a traditional box of powder or gel. We look at the packaging, biodegradability, and whether a product claims to be septic safe, trying to tease out the subtle differences between these products.

dishwasher pod - pods come in two primary types of packaging: dissolvable cases...
Pods come in two primary types of packaging: dissolvable cases (like the one on the left), and individually wrapped (like the one on the right).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

In testing, we discovered a slight preference for dissolvable packs. These include the Cascade products Platinum and Complete ActionPacs in addition to the Finish Quantum, Seventh Generation Free & Clear, Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, Lemi Shine, and Dapple Baby. They are easier to just grab from the container or bag and put into a dishwasher. The caveat is that your hands need to be fairly dry so that the pack doesn't stick to them. In practice, we found that it won't ruin most pods if they become slightly damp in the process of removing them from the larger package; it is more important to keep the inside of the container dry so that the rest of the pods don't get ruined.

We also have two individually wrapped products in the category, including the Ecover and the Finish Powerball Deep Clean tabs. The benefit of these is that you can't ruin the entire package by grabbing one with a wet hand, but we also don't think the significant amount of added waste is worth it. The Cascade Platinum Plus, Lemi Shine, Seventh Generation Free & Clear, and Finish Powerball Deep Clean make a point of noting that they are safe for septic systems, while the Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tabs and the Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Automatic Dish Pacs are also biodegradable.


Though it accounts for a smaller proportion of our assessment, the type and strength of fragrance can be a deal maker or breaker for some people — especially if you have a sensitive snout.

Some products are hypoallergenic and pretty mild-smelling. We found the Seventh Generation Free & Clear packs, the Dapple Baby Dishwasher Pacs, and the Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets are the most innocuous. Others like the Cascade Platinum Plus and Cascade Complete pods have a robust fragrance — not necessarily bad, just very strong and a middle point between clean and chemical-y. Other pods like the Lemi Shine and Amazon Basics Detergent Pacs were rated as strong and not good smelling, while our testers found the Finish Quantum packs to be incredibly pungent and bad.

dishwasher pod - "fragrance free" generally means that the product does not have any...
"Fragrance Free" generally means that the product does not have any additives that are exclusively meant to give it a certain smell. We found that fragrance free pods do still have an odor, though it typically much less strong than those without the label.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Dishwasher pods are convenient, but cutting through the cluttered market can be time-consuming. There are many options, but we hope this expert review provides you with the information you need to get your next load of dishes spotless.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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