Best Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Detergent

There are a lot of dishwasher detergents on the market and it can be hard to find the best eco-friendly laundry detergent. One difference I found between eco-friendly dishwasher detergents is that most eco-friendly laundry detergents do a good job cleaning, but that is not the case for eco-friendly dishwasher detergents.

This might sound basic, but getting clean dishes from a dishwasher requires three components: hot water, a chemical detergent, and a mechanical water dispersal unit. The chemical detergent is the one variable that you have control over, other than buying a new dishwasher.

Before we talk about detergents, I want to touch on a couple of things that can make a huge difference in how well dishwasher works.

  • Load your dishwasher according to how it is shown in the manual. Different dishwashers are designed to clean differently and the orientation of the dishes can impact the results.
  • Make sure that you do not have any dishes sticking up or down that block the mechanical water dispersal mechanism.
  • Check if your dishwasher has a filter and clean it.
  • Making sure the water is already hot before you start your dishwasher can ensure that you are using the hottest water possible.
  • The composition of your water can impact the need for a rinse aid to reduce spots.
  • Most dishwashers sold in the last five years have a sensor that detects how dirty the water is and adjusts the cycle accordingly. This can reduce the amount of water used, reduce the need for pre-washing, and reduce the amount of energy used to heat a smaller volume of water.
  • Read your instruction manual to see if pods should go in the dispenser or the main compartment.

Dishwasher detergent can contain a pre-treatment solution, bleach, degreaser, and rinse-aid. All of these components can have an impact on how clean your dishes get. Pods often contain more of these ingredients than gels and liquids.

There are multiple things we considered when reviewing dishwasher detergents.

  • How clean they get the dishes.
  • The environmental impact of the product according to the Environmental Working Group.
  • The environmental impact of the packaging. This includes what the package is made of and the weight per load.
  • The number of uses per package compared to the advertised number of uses.
  • If the product contains dyes or fragrances. There is not a need for these, but many products still contain them.

We tested multiple products that were advertised as eco-friendly dishwasher detergents and some that were not.

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods
  • Cleaning Ability: B
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: B
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Low to Medium. The container is a plastic bag. Weight per load is ~0.65 ounces per load.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: Number advertised was achieved.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: None.

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods do a pretty good job at cleaning dishes. They do not have a pre-treatment agent and recommend that you pre-rinse your dishes. We did not need to use a rinse aid with these pods and we did not have an issue with a residue or film on the dishes.

One negative that we found with Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods was that they occasionally had issues cleaning baked-on food.

There was not another eco-friendly plant and mineral based detergent that did a better job at cleaning dishes than these pods. They did not have an A Environmental Working Group rating like some of the other products in the test.

Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Dishwasher Detergent Packs
  • Cleaning Ability: B
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: A
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Low to Medium. The container is a plastic bag. Weight per load ~0.65 ounces per load.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: Number advertised was achieved.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: Citrus fragrance and some dye in the packet.

Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Dishwasher Detergent Packs were our second favorite eco-friendly dishwasher detergent. They cleaned almost as well as Grab Green pods, but there were a few more cases of stuck-on food. They have the best Environmental Working Group rating possible but do have a fragrance and dye.

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets
  • Cleaning Ability: C
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: B
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Medium High. The container great as a cardboard box, but each tablet is in a nonrecyclable plastic wrapper. Weight per load ~0.7 ounces per load.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: Number advertised was achieved.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: No dye, but citrus fragrance.

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets look great in the box, but it is very disappointing that each tablet is wrapped in plastic. We were also disappointed that the dishes required a pre-rinse and there were spots on them without additional rinse aid.

A few of the dishes did have a white residue on them that was easy to rinse off. The detergent did not do a great job with baked-on food. I found that I used a decent amount of water doing a pre-rinse/wash with this detergent.

Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Pack

Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Pack
  • Cleaning Ability: C
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: A
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Low to Medium. The container is a plastic bag. Weight per load ~0.65 ounces per load.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: Number advertised was achieved.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: None.

Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Pack did not do as good of a job as the Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Dishwasher Detergent Packs. They are slightly cheaper, but if you want to go with a Seventh Generation product, I would choose the Ultra Power Plus packs.

FINISH Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Detergent

FINISH Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Detergent
  • Cleaning Ability: A.
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: C
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Low to Medium. The container is a plastic bag that is recycling #7. Weight per load is ~0.5 ounce.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: Number advertised was achieved.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: No fragrance, but there is red and blue dye.

I decided to test two detergents that did not advertise that they were plant and mineral-based as controls. FINISH Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Detergent and Cascade Platinum Plus Dishwasher Pods were the two detergents that cleaned the dished the best in the test. They did a great job of cleaning pots and removing baked-on food particles which many detergents did not excel at.

FINISH Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Detergent scored higher than I expected in the Environmental Working Group rating. I did not include Cascade Platinum Plus Dishwasher Pods in the reviews since it received an F. Other positives included the easy dosing of the pod and the relatively low weight per use.

The main negative of FINISH Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Detergent in our eco-friendly dishwasher detergent test is that it is not mineral and plant-based. It had the worst Environmental Working Group ratings in our test. The rating is good for a product that does not claim to be eco-friendly, but poor compared to eco-friendly products. Another negative is the high cost per use. This is the most expensive FINISH product and it is more expensive than some of the other options in the test.

Biokleen Automatic Dishwashing Powder Detergent

Biokleen Automatic Dishwashing Powder Detergent
  • Cleaning Ability: C
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: B
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Medium. The container is a recyclable plastic canister. Weight per load is 0.5 to 1 ounce per load.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: The directions say to use either 0.5 or 1 ounce and I was able to get the number advertised if you used the higher number.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: None.

I had a very hard time figuring out the right amount of Biokleen Automatic Dishwashing Powder Detergent to use. If I used the lower recommended amount, the dishes did not get super clean. If I used the higher amount, the dishes got clean, but there was a film on the dishes. I think that this detergent might be a good option if you have soft water.

One plus is that this was one of cheaper detergent if you were able to use the lower recommended amount.

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent
  • Cleaning Ability: D
  • Environmental Working Group Rating: A
  • Environmental Impact of Packaging: Medium to High. The container was a recyclable plastic bottle. The actual weight per load was ~1 ounce.
  • Actual Number of Uses per Package: About half. The claim was 0.5 ounces per load, we ended up using ~1 ounce per load due to inaccurate measuring.
  • Dyes or Fragrances: None.

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent disappointed me in how well it cleaned dishes. The manufacturer recommends that you pre-rinse your dishes since it does not contain a pre-treatment ingredient. This can use a significant amount of water. It also does not contain a rinse aid and with hard water, it frequently left spots and small food particles on the dishes.

Other negatives include that since it was a gel, I ended up getting a lot fewer uses than advertised. My washing machine detergent container did not have a 0.5 ounce mark and I had to either guess or use a measuring spoon.

Positives included Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent being completely plant and mineral-based and listing where all the ingredients came from. It also does not contain any dyes or fragrances.

Wrapping up the Best Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Detergent

Unfortunately, in our tests for the best eco-friendly dishwasher detergent, we did not find a clear runaway winner or a product that cleaned as well as some of the conventional products. We did find some products that did a good job cleaning and unlike many other dishwashing detergent reviews, we are not afraid to point out when the products did not meet our expectations. What do you think the best eco-friendly dishwasher detergent is?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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