Do you ever stand in the supermarket aisle and wonder what the difference is between dishwasher powder or pods? Maybe you figure no difference exists between the two products, or perhaps you have a brand you’ve been buying for so long you don’t even think about it anymore. These products actually have more differences between them than you might think! Read our handy guide to find out the pros and cons of dishwasher powder and pods.
What’s the function of dish detergent?
Most dishwasher detergents, whether powder or pods, contain the same basic ingredients that aid in the breakdown of food: surfactants and enzymes. The surfactants are what break down grease on your dishes and the enzymes break down protein and starch. Other substances are added that prevent spots and prevent too many suds from forming. But overall, the enzymes and the surfactants are the key ingredients. Thanks to these ingredients, the food that’s stuck to your dishes can be dislodged and easily rinsed away by your dishwasher.
Dishwasher powder is the most well known dish detergent, although pods are becoming more and more widely used. In its favor is its price point; the cost of powder dishwasher soap is usually very low compared to other types. It also rarely leaves spots or streaks on dishes if used correctly. You also have control over how much you use, so if you’re only running a small load, you can just add a tiny amount of powder.
It does have some downsides, however. Powdered dishwasher detergent can be messy and difficult to measure, and it’s easy to use too much. This can mean it leaves a residue in your dishwasher and can even leave your dishes coming out of the dishwasher with that soapy residue.
Because dishwasher powder all dissolves at once, it’s impossible to include rinse aid in the formula, as this needs to be released at a later point in the dishwasher cycle. So if you use dishwasher powder you’ll need to add rinse aid separately.
Dishwasher pods come in two main forms: pressed powder pods and encapsulated liquid pods.
The biggest immediate advantage of dishwasher pods is that they’re pre-measured and very clean and tidy to use—no more spilled powder or using too much or too little detergent for your wash.
Another advantage is that almost all pods come with a rinse aid component, which dissolves at a slower rate than the rest of the pod. Rinse aid is an additive that helps water spread evenly across the surface of your dishes, reducing the likelihood of droplets forming and leaving spots. Rinse aids also hastening drying.
The biggest argument against dishwasher pods for a lot of people is the price.In general, they tend to be close to twice the cost per load as using powdered detergent, which some people don’t think is worth the superior performance and ease of use.
Another thing to consider is that if you have an older dishwasher model, your dishwasher might not be designed with pods in mind. In some models, this means that when the detergent release opens during the wash cycle, if you’ve put a pod into the detergent holder, it may get flung out and lodged in a place where it isn’t going to dissolve properly during the cycle.
If you notice this happening, you can try placing your dishwasher pod in the cutlery basket in your dishwasher instead of the detergent holder as this ensures it’s well placed to dissolve.
Other types of detergent: Liquid dishwasher detergent
It is important to note that liquid dishwasher detergent is different to regular detergent (used for hand-washing dishes), something that anyone who’s tried to use regular detergent in their dishwasher already knows. Regular detergent produces far more suds than specially formulated dishwasher detergent, which can lead to your machine overflowing.
Liquid dishwasher detergent tends to be cheaper than pods, and it has an advantage in that you can choose how much you put in, so if you have a small load, you can just use a small amount.
On the flip side, just like with the powder, liquid detergent can be messy to use and it’s also easy to accidentally use too much or too little for the size of your load, leading to a residue or dishes that aren’t completely clean. Liquid dish detergent is also more likely to leave streaks on your glasses than if you use pods or powder.
Which works best?
So now that we’ve gone through all the options, which works the best? Dishwasher pods, whether pressed powder or gel pods, have the most advantages and perform best overall, largely because of the addition of rinse aid. The ease of measuring is another reason many people prefer pods.
However, you can choose whichever detergent works best for you! If you’ve been using powder or liquid detergent and are finding no issues, it’s fine to continue to use them. If you’ve been noticing streaks or residue on your dishes after the wash cycle finishes, however, you might want to try out pods.