Best Dishwasher Detergents for Hard Water of 2020

Edited by Sensible Digs
Updated
Categories Hard Water
Here’s how to make hard water work for you.

We’ve been there! The dishwasher cycle finishes, and you open the door only to find your dishes don’t look clean. Instead, they’re covered in a cloudy film with white spots and water stains. At this point, you likely run the clean again, but the same results occur. Hard water is the problem!

Living in a hard water area can be tough on your dishwasher and your dishes. Choosing the best dishwasher detergent for hard water could help eliminate these issues.


How Does Hard Water Affect Dishwashers?

As water passes through rocks and soil, it picks up minerals on its way. The main culprits that make your water hard are calcium and magnesium (1).

The effect of these mineral deposits in your dishwasher is limescale buildup. This is typically seen in connecting pies and the appliance. You’ll also notice the filmy white coating left on dishes or spots and marks on glassware (2).

How Do Dishwasher Detergents Help?

Dishwashing detergents are specially formulated to dissolve food remnants and grease from your dishes. They can also prevent calcium and magnesium from leaving marks on your dishes, and stop corrosion in your appliance (3). The result is clean, sanitized dishes.

Finding the Best Dishwasher Detergent for Hard Water

Before you jump into our product reviews, consider these points to make your buying decision easier.

Type of Detergent

Do you know which variant of detergent you want/need?

  • Gel detergents: These resemble dishwashing soap. They dissolve quickly to clean your dishes.
  • Powder detergents: These can be effective in cleaning your dishes, but they do have some downsides. If not measured properly, they could leave some residue. Also, they can absorb moisture during storage, resulting in clumps. As the ingredients are water activated, this could affect the performance of the powder.
  • Tablets or Pods: A conveniently measured dose of ingredients is placed in a pod or tablet. This makes them very easy to use, but they tend to be a more expensive option. Also, make sure your hands are dry when you handle them, or they can start to dissolve.
Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for your machine. Some types of dishwasher detergent might be better suited than others.

Cost

Most dishwasher detergents will indicate how many tablets they contain or the number of washes the powder inside can do. This allows you to work out which would be the most cost-effective.

Tablets are more expensive since an extra process is required to form the tablet. The cost of doing so is passed on to the consumer. You’re paying for convenience, which is something many of us are happy to do.

Environmentally Friendly

Eco-friendly products might be important to many people. Choosing a product that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals can help you and the environment.

Be on the hunt for recycled and recyclable packaging if you want to be extra environmentally friendly.

Scent

Whether or not you choose a scened product is very much a personal decision. Some detergents are scented with lemon or other fruits while others are fragrance-free.

The fragranced detergents can help prevent the dishwasher from smelling musty. Better still, they can leave a nice odor on your sparkling clean crockery.

Effective Cleaning

Many modern dishwashing detergents negate the necessity for pre-washing or adding rinse aids. Look at the packaging and see what the manufacturer claims they can do. This might be a case of trial and error as each dishwasher is different and what works for one might not work for another.


The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Hard Water of 2020

We have scoured customer feedback and industry expert views to find the best dishwasher detergents for hard water. The result is these popular top five products.

1. Cascade Platinum Plus Action Pacs

Best Overall Dishwasher Detergent for Hard Water

Cascade Platinum Plus Dishwasher Pods, ActionPacs Detergent, Lemon, 70 Count
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Cascade Action Pacs are brought to us by the well-known brand, Procter & Gamble. These powder, gel and liquid tabs contain the company’s proprietary grease-cutting product, Dawn.

Impressively, Dawn has been used in saving wildlife affected by oil pollution for over 40 years (4). So, if it’s good enough at cutting through the after-effects of an oil spill, it could be good enough for your dishes.

Another thing we like is that we’re advised you don’t need a pre-wash product or cycle. The convenience of having a dishwasher is that you can load it, pop your dishes in, add your detergent, and turn it on. Not having to set a pre-wash could save on the time your dishwasher cycle takes — and save on energy bills.

PROS:
  • Power booster to remove dried-on food.
  • Suitable for hard or soft water.
  • Powerful grease-cutting.
CONS:
  • Lemon scent might leave an aftertaste and scent on dishes — not a negative for everyone.

Additional Specs

Quantity70 tabs
Size6.8 x 5.5 x 7.2 inches
Weight2.8 pounds
IngredientsSodium Carbonate, Nonionic Surfactants, Enzymes
Type Of DetergentGel and powder tablets

2. Finish Quantum Powerball Detergent

Best Large Pack Option

Finish - Quantum - 68ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs
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Finish is a well-known household name in dishwasher detergents and cleaners. This makes the Quantum Powerball product a natural go-to for many.

This pack of tabs weighs 1.87 pounds and contains enough for 68 dishwasher cycles.

There are three chambers in these tabs which aim to tackle dried-on food, as well as clean tea and coffee stains. It will also degrease your dishes and leave them sparkling with no hard water residue.

The tabs are designed to dissolve quickly in your dishwasher without leaving residue behind. This should mean that all the cleaning power gets where it’s needed. The soap doesn’t stay in the soap dispenser or on your dishes.

PROS:
  • Three-in-one tablets.
  • Quick dissolving.
  • Degreases and shines.
CONS:
  • Some find these tablets have a strong chemical smell.

Additional Specs

Quantity68 tabs
SizeNot specified
Weight1.87 pounds
IngredientsNot specified
Type Of DetergentPowder, gel and liquid

3. Grab Green Natural Powder

Best Animal-Friendly Dishwasher Detergent

Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder, Fragrance Free, Organic Enzymed-Powdered, 80 Loads
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For any who want an eco-friendly, chemical-free dishwashing detergent, Grab Green could be the solution. The brand was founded in 2006 by Patricia Spencer and Michael Eddell — two parents looking for cleaning solutions for their two families’ needs.

This dishwashing detergent is promised to be contained in responsible packaging that’s biodegradable and not tested on animals (5). A full list of the non-toxic, naturally derived ingredients is on every pack.

We particularly like that this bag has a Velcro closure. This helps to prevent moisture congealing the product. It also makes it easier to dispense from the packet and load up your dishwasher.

PROS:
  • Easy to close packaging.
  • Choice of fragrance-free, grapefruit or cranberry scent.
  • Chemical-free.
CONS:
  • Might need to use more than the recommended amount in hard water areas.

Additional Specs

Quantity80 loads
Size9.5 x 4.5 x 10 inches
Weight3.17 pounds
IngredientsSodium derivatives and enzymes
Type Of DetergentPowder

4. Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets

Individually Wrapped Tablets

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets Zero, 25 Count, 17.6 Ounce
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Dishwasher tablets were designed for convenience. However, that doesn’t stop them from binding together when moisture creeps in. The result is having to use more than one or a struggle to pry them apart.

Ecover has eradicated this problem here, wrapping each tablet in recyclable material. No more sticking together or crumbling at the bottom of the box.

Ecover’s market edge is how environmentally friendly it is. The box is also made from recyclable material. Another plus is that the company has used renewable plant-based ingredients instead of chemicals.

PROS:
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Eco-friendly packaging.
  • Natural ingredients.
CONS:
  • Some think the individual packaging counters the ethos of being eco-friendly.

Additional Specs

Quantity25 tabs
Size5.4 x 2.5 x 5.7 inches
Weight1.1 pounds
IngredientsPlant-based, minerals
Type Of DetergentPowder tabs

5. Bubble Bandit Detergent With Natural Phosphates

Best Phosphate Product

Bubble Bandit Dishwasher Detergent with Phosphate. The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Spotless Dishes in Hard Water! ALL-IN-ONE (Soak, Wash & Rinse). One Bag (3.75 lbs.)
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Phosphates in dishwashing detergents have been banned in many US states (6). They’re thought to add to algae blooms after passing through wastewater treatment plants back to the environment (7). Despite this, Bubble Bandit’s dishwasher powder is advertised as meeting the allowable levels of natural phosphates.

The Ziploc style bag contains enough powder for up to 60 washes and is an all-in-one solution. We’re told that you don’t need additional rinse aid when you use this product, which saves you money. It also has no added perfumes or dyes.

PROS:
  • Handcrafted in the USA.
  • All-in-one formulation.
  • Ziploc bag.
CONS:
  • Despite being fragrance-free, some find this powder has a strong smell.

Additional Specs

Quantity60 washes
Size8 x 4 x 10 inches
Weight3.75 pounds
IngredientsNatural phosphates
Type Of DetergentPowder

Dishwasher Detergent For Hard Water Comparison Chart

ProductBestQuantitySizeWeightIngredientsType
Cascade Platinum Plus ActionOverall Pick70 tabs6.8 x 5.5 x 7.2″2.8 lbsSodium Carbonate, Nonionic Surfactants, EnzymesGel & powder tablets
Finish Quantum PowerballLarge Pack68 tabsNot specified1.87 lbsN/APowder, gel & liquid
Grab Green Natural PowderAnimal-Friendly80 loads9.5 x 4.5 x 10″3.17 lbsSodium derivatives & enzymesPowder
Ecover Automatic Dishwasher TabletsIndividual Tablets25 tabs5.4 x 2.5 x 5.7″1.1 lbsPlant-based, mineralsPowder tabs
Bubble Bandit DetergentPhosphate Product60 washes8 x 4 x 10″3.75 lbsNatural phosphatesPowder
Jump to the Full Dishwasher Detergent For Hard Water Reviews

Not So Hard Now, Is It?

With so many choices on the market, choosing the best dishwasher detergent for hard water can be like walking through a minefield. Do you want gel, powder or tablets? Are you concerned about only using environmentally friendly products or not?

From our research, the products we have chosen are favorites with many consumers who live in hard water areas. Such products can help prevent spots or a cloudy film from forming while keeping your dishwasher clean. Additionally, they might also help prevent buildup in your appliance and, ultimately, save you money.

How to Remove Calcium from WaterHow to Remove Calcium from Water (4 Simple Methods)
Do You Have Hard Water? (2 Ways to Tell & How to Fix It)2 Ways to Spot Hard Water (And How to Treat It)
How to Soften Hard Water (6 Effective Methods)6 Ways to Soften Hard Water (Salt and Salt-Free Systems)
How Hard Water Affects Hair & What You Can Do About ItHow Hard Water Affects Hair (Plus 4 Things You Can Do About It)
How to Remove Hard Water Stains From a Bathtub (6 Easy Steps)How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Bathtub
Removing Hard Water Stains from Granite (4 Easy Ways)Keep Granite Glowing: 4 Ways to Remove Hard Water Stains

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