Dishwasher powder vs. pods - Close-up of a person putting a dishwasher pod in a detergent dishwasher box

Dishwasher powder vs. pods: Which cleans better?

Comparing dishwasher powder and pods based on cleaning performance, convenience, eco-friendliness, and more.

Hire a cleaning expert

Last Updated on

Key Facts

  • Dishwasher powder is a granulated detergent containing surfactants to remove oil and grease and softening agents to prevent mineral deposits. 
  • Dishwasher pods are concentrated blocks of detergent encased in a dissolvable film, designed to dissolve gradually throughout different wash cycles. 

Choosing the right detergent is essential as it helps your dishwasher perform at its best. But how would you know if you’ve selected the right one? One way is to understand the difference between two of the most popular dishwasher detergent types, dishwasher powder vs. pods. 

What is dishwasher powder? 

Dishwasher powder vs pods - Powder for the dishwasher on the kitchen table

A dishwasher powder is a granulated dish-cleaning detergent with surfactants. Their role is to break down oil and grease and softening agents to prevent mineral deposits (or the white residue in dishes) from building up in your dirty plates and cups.

The granules of dishwasher powder detergents are formulated to have a free-flowing form, ensuring the powder is distributed evenly into your dishwasher for an effective deep clean. This formulation also helps prevent the powder detergents from clumping or sticking together in the dishwasher after dispensing. 

What are dishwasher pods? 

Dishwasher powder vs pods - Dishwasher detergent in tablet form in a bucket.

Dishwasher pods are concentrated blocks of dishwasher detergent encased in a dissolvable film. Upon dispensing the pod into the dishwasher, it doesn’t dissolve in an instant. Its active ingredients will dissolve one at a time, matching the different wash cycles of your dishwasher

For example, the pod’s surfactants and anti-soil redeposition agents will be the first to dissolve during the early wash cycle, helping remove residues in dishes. By the end of the wash cycle, rinse aids start to work to ensure the dishes are completely dry without spots or streaks. 

Did you know? Aside from cleaning dirty plates, pots and pans, other uses for dishwasher pods include removing coffee and tea stains in clothes, cleaning dishwashers and ovens, and eliminating unpleasant odors in the toilet. 

Dishwashing pods vs. powder: Which delivers the best results?

When it comes to hand washing vs. dishwashers, the latter gains an upper hand as more households in the US use dishwashing machines

That said, knowing what dishwasher soap is best becomes even more relevant. This comparison guide explores the difference between dishwasher powder and pods in terms of different factors, helping homeowners like you buy the right one. 

In terms of cleaning performance

Dishwasher powder vs pods - Dishwasher washing wine glass with either dishwashing powder or pods

Dishwashing pods provide better cleaning performance. As compared to dishwashing powder, pods have more concentrated active ingredients like enzymes and oxygen-based bleach. 

Enzymes break down oil and grease, while oxygen-based bleach lifts wine, tea, and coffee. So, when cleaning wine glasses in the dishwasher, it’s best to use a dishwashing pod. 

Although both ingredients can also be found in some dishwasher powders, not all brands include them in their formulation. Moreover, a dishwasher powder detergent relies more on surfactants and fillers (like dishwasher salt) to keep dishes clean. 

Recommendation: For extremely filthy dishes, use a dishwashing pod, as it contains more active ingredients that can help dissolve grease and stains. 

In terms of convenience

A dishwasher pod is more convenient than a dishwasher powder because a pod is pre-measured and pre-packaged. This helps prevent spills and messes in the kitchen. 

However, the good thing about a dishwasher powder detergent is that it comes with a measuring cup. You can adjust the amount of detergent per wash, tailored to the size of the load. This is more economical compared to pre-measured dishwasher pods. 

Moreover, you may buy dishwasher powder in bulk. If you always love stocking up on dishwashing detergent at home to lessen trips to the supermarket, dishwashing powder is a good choice. 

Recommendation: If you want to prevent messy spills, choose dishwasher pods. However, if you’re the type to buy dishwasher detergent in bulk, it’s more convenient to select powder. 

In terms of residue

Dishwasher powder vs pods - A person loads a dishwasher with dirty dishes.

A dishwasher pod leaves no residue because it contains a built-in rinse aid that helps prevent film or spots, especially in your glassware. 

In contrast, dishwasher powder is highly likely to leave a residue, especially with incorrect dosage. The efficacy of a dishwasher powder also heavily relies on your dishwasher’s efficiency in washing dishes, so if there are performance issues, expect to see slight food residue in dishes. 

Furthermore, dishwasher powder is more sensitive to hard water because, unlike pods, most dishwasher powder brands don’t include water softeners in their formulation. So, if you live in an area with hard water, you should avoid using dishwasher powder. 

Tip: Using dishwasher liquid in a dishwasher (whether built-in or freestanding) is not advisable because it can cause excessive suds and bubbles to form inside, clogging the dishwasher filter. This is why you should use a dishwasher powder or pod instead. 

Recommendation: It’s best to use dishwasher pods to avoid leaving a residue in dishes. 

In terms of eco-friendliness

The eco-friendliness of dishwashing powder and pods depends on their brands and formulations. Luckily, many modern dishwashing powders are now using biodegradable and non-toxic ingredients, such as dishwasher salt and sodium bicarbonate or washing soda.

Plus, like dishwasher gels and liquid detergents, powders often come in bulk packaging, which can be more eco-friendly, especially if the packaging is made from recycled materials.

As for dishwashing pods, although some still contain harmful substances and use plastic packaging, other brands are formulating phosphate-free and chlorine-free options with water-soluble packaging to decrease environmental impact.

Recommendation: If you’re eco-conscious, dishwashing powder is the better choice. It’s more eco-friendly, with non-toxic ingredients and bulk packaging. But nowadays, you can also find dishwasher pod brands with water-soluble packaging and toxic-free ingredients. 

In terms of storage

Dishwasher powder vs pods - Closeup of dishwasher pods in a storage bag

Dishwasher pods are much easier to store than dishwasher powder because their original packaging is designed to protect the pods from moisture and other environmental factors. 

On the other hand, storing dishwashing powder requires more steps because most brands use a cardboard box as packaging. After opening its cardboard box, you have to transfer the powder to an airtight container to prevent it from going stale. 

Tip: Avoid storing dishwasher powder near stoves and heating vents because heat and moisture can cause the powder to clump. It would be best to do the same with dishwasher pods since moisture can cause them to stick together and disintegrate. 

Recommendation: If transferring dishwasher detergent to containers seems like a hassle, it’s best to select dishwasher pods, as you may leave them in their original packaging. 

In terms of cost-effectiveness

Since dishwasher powder comes in large bulk sizes, and you may measure the amount of powder to be dispensed into the dishwasher, it can be a cost-effective choice.

However, remember that dishwasher powder isn’t as effective in washing dishes under hard water. You have to increase its amount to help prevent the minerals in hard water from accumulating and leaving a film-like residue on dishes. 

So, dishwasher pods are a much more cost-effective choice when it comes to addressing problems with hard water. Even though these are more expensive than dishwasher powder, their high cost is justifiable because their formula has additional powerful cleaning agents like a rinse aid, anti-soil redeposition agents, and bleach to provide a more effective clean. 

Recommendation: While both dishwasher detergents are cost-effective, dishwasher pods are still a much better choice if your family lives in a hard water area.

Simplify your dishwashing chores with Airtasker

Having a functional dishwasher and powerful detergent on hand isn’t enough when you already have a mountain of dishes awaiting after a big house party. You need extra help either from your family and friends —or, better yet, from professional cleaners. 

Luckily, you can easily reach out to cleaning experts at Airtasker by simply posting a task! Include details like your budget and the specific cleaning service you need, and you’ll soon receive quotes from Taskers.

Dishwasher powder vs. pods

Dishwasher Powder
Dishwasher Pods
Cleaning Performance
Standard cleaning performance, as it relies more on surfactants and fillers
Provides better cleaning performance due to having more concentrated active ingredients
Less convenient due to potential for messy spills 
More convenient since pods are pre-measured and pre-packaged
More likely to leave residue, especially with incorrect dosage or in hard water areas
Less likely to leave residue, contains a rinsing agent to prevent film or spots
More eco-friendly with some formulations having biodegradable ingredients
Less eco-friendly with most brands including harmful substances in the formulation
More difficult to store, requiring an airtight container to prevent clumping

Easier to store; original packaging protects them from moisture

Can be cost-effective, but less effective in hard water areas
More cost-effective due to its good cleaning performance, even in hard water

FAQs on dishwasher powder and pods

You can use baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar and mix them with water to clean dishes. These are popular natural ingredients that help deodorize and remove food residue. However, remember that these are dishwasher pod alternatives and are not as effective as commercial dishwasher detergent brands.

If a dishwasher pod is not dissolving, check your detergent dispenser to see if the detergent or food residue has clogged. You should call a dishwasher repair service if the clogging issue is severe and has damaged the dishwasher. 

If this happens, excessive suds can form and overflow from the dishwasher. To prevent this, turn off the dishwasher immediately, remove the dirty dishes inside, and run a rinse cycle.

Related articles

Related price pages

Find cleaning services, fast

Post a task