How to use a dishwasher detergent

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If you have a dishwasher you need to use dishwasher detergent to clean your dishes, pots, pans and utensils. I used to think dish soap was just dish soap until I got a dishwasher and started learning more about my new appliance. Getting the best possible dishwasher detergent for our needs is a practical and essential concern.

General Tips on How to Use a Dishwasher Detergent

  1. Make sure the detergent compartment lid is closed. It turns out that it does matter whether or not you close the door on your detergent compartment. The compartment without a lid is for the pre-treatment of your dishes. Most of the detergent that is left in the open dishwasher in this lidless container will go down the drain before the wash cycle actually begins. This means that if you don’t close your detergent latch all the way, your wash cycle is not using detergent. Shut that latch!
  2. Never use dish soap. Liquid dish soap has foaming agents. If you put this in your automatic dishwashing machine the suds will overwhelm the wash compartment and your kitchen will turn into one of those bubble fun runs for your children. If that happens try sprinkling salt over the suds – this should help them settle down so that you can mop them more easily.
  3. Use the right amount of the right product for the job. Just adding more dishwasher detergent does not mean that your dishes will get any cleaner. Be specific about your problems and look for the right product to fix them. If baked on food isn’t coming off you may need a pre-soak. If everything is going wrong you might need to clean your dishwasher (that’s right they need to be cleaned too!)
  4. Use rinse aid. Your dishwasher is built to use rinse aid and it makes a world of difference. Rinse aids use a nontoxic chemical called a surfactant to make water slide off of dishes. It keeps food debris from sticking back to your dishes during the rinse cycle, prevents droplets from forming that dry into “water spots,” prevents streaking, and makes your dishwasher use less energy to dry your dishes.


Some effort is required in order to clean all traces of dirt and food remains from our used utensils and cooking equipment. A good dishwasher detergent can lend a hand in this chore. Based on the kind of dirt that sticks on your plates, forks, spoons, glasses and cooking pans, you can choose what kind of detergent, cleaner, or additive that you should use for the job. If stains or burnt food remnants are a problem on your utensils and cooking equipment, a detergent with stronger ingredients will do the trick.

Detergents for dishwashing come in a few different forms such as cakes, tablets, pods, liquids and powder forms. The three primary active ingredients in quality effective store-bought dishwasher detergents are bleach, soap and enzymes. Bleach gets rid of stains and kills bacteria, enzymes break down proteins and solids, and soap allows oils and grease to be rinsed away by water.

But you can’t just mix these three things together, because bleach kills enzymes.

That’s why detergent packs and pods have two separate colors: they’re different consistencies that break down at different rates in the water so that the enzymes have a chance to break down food debris before bleach comes in and kills the bacteria (and enzymes.)

People who prefer natural dishwasher detergents or don’t care as much about brightening stains can get effective enzymatic action from powders and liquids without any bleach. However, if the product contains both bleach and enzymes you should be looking for the sort of pod or tablet that has multiple parts that dissolve at different rates.

There are a variety of options to suit everyone’s needs and preferences, and here on this blog I hope to review and explain several of them. These products are built to remove stains and food remnants from the surfaces of utensils and cooking equipment and leave them clean and fresh smelling.

The first step in how to use a dishwasher detergent is to purchase a quality product. Products that come from reputable brands are trusted because they work well and have a history of satisfied customers. Once you find some reputable brands you can choose a product that will meet your needs and preferences such as scent-preferences and whether you prefer a tablet, pod, or loose powder.

Here are more tips on how to use dishwasher detergent:

  • Make use of powder, tablets, liquids or pods built especially for the dishwasher. As mentioned earlier, there are products made specifically for the particular appliance, and there are also products that are the best fit for manual cleanups. The wrong product used on a dishwasher might lead to foaming, a weak performance and a big mess of water and bubbles on the floor
  • Make sure to store your detergent in a safe spot. Keep the detergent in a covered container away from water or other elements that can cause clumping of the product. Only pour an amount of detergent in its holder or cup if you are ready to use it in the appliance.
  • Detergent that has lots of clumps or is way past its expiration date should be thrown out because it will not remove stains or grease as effectively as before. Yes, detergent also goes bad!
  • Be certain that you are using a proper amount of the product for the task. If you put too much it may lead to scratches and clouding of glassware. If you live in a hard water area, you need to use more product. If the water quality is in-between, you can use a sufficient amount to tackle the dishes. Just remember not to take more than what is needed for the job.

The right detergent for your dishwasher will manage the cleanup as needed. Just remember the tips mentioned in this article and the maintenance will be easy. You won’t have to deal with problems and messes that will cause the dishwasher to fail its functions.

Keep in mind to buy a product that best fits your needs and the task, and your utensils and cooking equipment will stay clean and good as new. There are numerous detergents for dishwashers on the market right now, but choosing the best kind will not be that much of a problem if you know what you need in a dishwasher detergent.