Are You Using Dishwasher Detergent Pods Correctly?

Two pictures of a woman standing in front of a dishwasher, showcasing dishwasher pods.

On social media, the virtual forum where we gather to debate the important issues of our time, a recent debate over dishwasher detergent has caught my attention. This particular debate concerns where to put dishwasher pods to get the best results — is it better to put pods in the detergent compartment, or in the bottom of the dishwasher?

It started with a TikTok user who insisted that it’s better to put detergent pods in the bottom of your dishwasher, rather than in the detergent compartment, claiming that the compartment prevents pods from dissolving correctly.

This claim generated a decent amount of confusion and plenty of lively debate. Lucky for us, it also caught the attention of the folks at Cascade, who weighed in with their expert take on the matter!

Put dishwasher detergent pods into the detergent compartment when you are running a regular or heavy cycle.

The Best Place To Put Dishwasher Detergent Pods

According to Cascade, the best place for any dishwasher detergent, be it powder, pods, or tablets, is the detergent compartment. (If you’re cleaning your dishwasher, however, you usually put the cleaning ingredients in the bottom or in a cup on the rack, separately.)

The reason comes down to the way most dishwashers operate. Most cycles start with a hot water rinse to soften up any hardened food residue that may be clinging to the dishes. The detergent compartment stays closed until after that initial rinse, at which point it will open and release the detergent to begin the wash portion of the cycle.

If you put a dishwasher detergent pod in the bottom of your dishwasher, it will start to dissolve during the initial rinse. If that happens too early, most of the detergent may drain out of your dishwasher before the wash cycle even begins!

Only put dishwasher detergent pods in the bottom of the dishwasher if you are running a fast or express cycle that skips the pre-rinse.

The Exception To The Rule

It’s usually best to put detergent pods in the detergent compartment UNLESS you’re using your dishwasher’s express cycle (or any shortened cycle). Quicker dishwasher cycles often skip the first rinse, so having the detergent pod dissolve quickly in the bottom of your dishwasher may help maximize the effectiveness of a shorter wash cycle.

Dishwasher detergent pods dissolve quickly, so keep them dry.

How To Use Dishwasher Pods: 2 Important Tips

1. Keep Your Dishwasher Detergent Pods Dry

If you use dishwasher pods, you may have had the unfortunate experience of opening the door to your dishwasher to find a gummy mess of partially dissolved detergent clinging to the compartment. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!

This often occurs when the detergent compartment is damp, and the trace amounts of moisture cause the PVA coating to become sticky and gel-like. To prevent this, simply wipe out the compartment with a dry cloth before putting a detergent pod inside.

Additionally, make sure your hands are dry when you handle detergent pods, and store your detergent pods in an airtight container if you live in a humid environment.

2. Check Your Dishwasher’s User Manual

Your dishwasher may have a certain compartment just for pods, or even a certain cycle that is most effective when using pods, but you’ll never know if you don’t read the user manual! It’s the best way to learn your appliances’ quirks and features, so pull out your dishwasher manual and see what it has to say about using detergent pods.

Where have you been putting your dishwasher pods?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

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    • Georgia, thanks for letting me know. We have recently made some changes to our website. I’m sorry the ads are covering the content. My tech team is working on a fix. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for your patience while we are working on this.

  • If your dishwasher has two detergent cups as pictured, the best place to put soap pods is back on the shelf at the store. The dishwasher has a prewash that requires soap to work properly,and that’s why the one cup is covered by the lid with the slots on it. Consequently, if you put the pod in the main wash side that’s sealed off, the prewash is a waste of time and water. If you place the pod in the bottom of the dishwasher, it dissolves in the prewash and the main wash then has no soap.Also, when using pods, any rinse agent (water spot preventer) is splashing around in the wash cycle and goes down the drain instead of being in the rinse cycle where it can do its job properly. I use inexpensive (ok, cheap) Aldi gel dishwasher soap in both cups along with 2 drops of Dawn dish detergent, along with always keeping the Finish dispenser topped up, and our dishes always come out spotlessly clean. And to save p[ower, I open the door as soon as the dishwasjher is done and let the hot dishware air dry instead of running the heater to dry them.

    • Great tips! I had tried Aldi dishwashing pods once and they left a terrible residue in the bottom of my dishwasher and I promptly took them back to the store. Some Aldi cleaning products are great, but these were a disaster. I also leave the dishwasher door open to air dry dishes. I also leave the door open overnight so the inside of the dishwasher dries out completely to prevent any possible odor and mildew that can build up in an air tight closure.

  • I was having trouble with those plastic pods not fully dissolving so I switched to Finish brand pods. they don’t have that same plastic and they seem to be dissolving fine.

    • Back when I used to repair and refurbish used dishwashers I would occasionally come across a plastic tub dishwasher where a pod (or two) had simply been tossed in that way, only to then become a permanent part of the tub as it simply could not be removed in cases where the pod had landed directly beneath the heating element. Also had some cases where a metal utensil had dropped through the rach, came in contact with the heating element, and then melted a hole through the bottom of the tub when it became hot from the element, causing a leak. Sometimes I got lucky and was able to repair them with my plastic welder, other times not.The “not” ones would then become organ donors for other dishwashers.

  • I have a 2 year old dishwasher. I’ve stopped using dishwasher pods and gone back to powders and liquids for several reasons. Pod plastic does not 100% dissolve, it leaves micro-particles that create buildup in dishwashers over time. It began to affect the cleaning of the dishes with increased streaking. I had to take out all the racks, utensil holder and the filter and do a couple of deep cleaning cycles with baking soda and vinegar to get the pod build-up cleaned out. I actually replaced the filter as it became compromised. Now it cleans like it should since I stopped using pods. I also stopped using laundry pods for the same reason. Pods are not convenience, they do more damage than good.

  • My dishwasher never dissolves the pods completely if they are put in the compartment and I wind up with dirty dishes. I put them in the silverware basket. They partially dissolve in the pre-rinse and then fully in the regular wash. ‍♀️

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