Person adding a detergent tablet to a dishwasher

What is the Best Dishwasher Detergent Type For You?

The best type of detergent for you depends on your typical dishwasher cycles and the amount of food soil generally on your dishes. Use this guide to learn more about the different types of dishwasher detergent available to find the right fit for your kitchen.

Open Maytag® dishwasher with dishes on the top rack Open Maytag® dishwasher with dishes on the top rack

Which detergent is best for dishwashers?

Dishwasher detergent comes in a pod (pack), powder or liquid form, and the best option varies from person to person. Understanding your dishwashing needs can help you find the right fit, so consider your budget, water type, loading style and your most frequently washed dishes.

Maytag brand recommends using quality detergent tablets or pods in your Maytag® dishwasher over powder or liquid detergents because they have been proven to work better than powder, liquid or gel detergents at reducing filming on dishes.

Person loading soiled dishes into a dishwasher Person loading soiled dishes into a dishwasher

Does it matter which type of dish detergent you use?

Different types of dishwasher detergents are formulated for various cleaning tasks and contain specialized ingredients to help get the job done right. Some detergents are better at cleaning heavily soiled dishes, while others have a more gentle formula.

You should never use dish soap as an alternative for dishwasher detergent because dish soap creates a thick foam that can spill out of your appliance. Always consult the packaging on your dishwasher detergent to understand its proper use.

Do you need to pre-wash dishes before they go into the dishwasher?

No, you don’t need to pre-wash dishes before they go into the dishwasher. However, if your dishes are heavily soiled with food pieces, it may be helpful to scrape them before loading. This can help prevent a clogged dishwasher filter or drain.

Scraping food from your dishes also allows the dishwasher detergent to focus on removing the tougher soils rather than large amounts of loose food.

Select Maytag® dishwashers offer Dual Power Filtration, a combination of 100% microfiltration and a 4-blade stainless steel chopper to chop filtered food pieces down to size so food waste drains from the dishwasher in extra small pieces.

Dishes being run through a dishwasher wash cycle Dishes being run through a dishwasher wash cycle

Comparing the 3 Most Common Dishwasher Detergent Types

Understanding the different types of dishwasher detergent and their benefits can make your purchasing decision easier. Read on below to compare the common types of dish detergent.

Liquid Dishwasher Detergent Icon

1. Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

Liquid dishwasher detergent is tried and true and this traditional type of detergent can often be found in grocery stores at a mid-level price point. Liquid detergent is easy to use and you can customize how much you use for each load of dishes, helping reduce waste. However, it is important to avoid using less than a tablespoon of detergent or overfilling the detergent dispenser. Always consult the instructions on your detergent’s package for proper usage.


Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Icon

2. Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Powder dishwasher detergent is often the lowest priced detergent of the three, making it the budget-friendly option. Powder dishwasher detergents are usually formulated to avoid leaving spots and streaks on your dishes, so it may be the best option if you frequently wash clear glass.


It can be difficult to distribute the powder evenly into the detergent dispenser, so it is important to avoid over or under-filling when using this type of detergent. Only fill to the recommended fill line inside the detergent dispenser.

Dishwasher Detergent Pods Icon

3. Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Dishwasher detergent pods or tablets offer convenience and ease of use. This type of detergent comes in an individually dosed pouch that dissolves during the wash cycle. This takes the guesswork out of how much detergent you need to use per load, so you can simply pop in a pod and move on to the next chore on your list. Some pod manufacturers recommend additional pods for heavily soiled loads. Always consult the detergent’s packaging for proper use instructions.

If you have a Maytag® dishwasher, high quality pre-measured tablets or pods are recommended as they are suitable for most water hardness and soil levels. If your water hardness is higher than 20 grains, you may need a water softener as most detergents are only capable of handling water hardness up to 15–20 grains.

Person adding liquid dish detergent to a dishwasher Person adding liquid dish detergent to a dishwasher

What is the best dishwasher detergent that doesn't leave residue?

The best dishwasher detergent that doesn't leave visible residue is one specifically formulated to dry without spots or streaks. It is important to follow the detergent package instructions and not overfill the dispenser as this can lead to residue buildup. 

You may also want to consider using a rinse aid that helps prevent residue from sticking to your dishes. Always consult the product manual for instructions on using rinse aid with your dishwasher.

Shop All Maytag® Dishwashers

Maytag® dishwashers offer dependability and clean results with stainless steel tubs and features on select models like high-pressure water jets and Dual Power Filtration. Browse the entire line of Maytag® top control and front control dishwashers designed to help you tackle tough messes.

Explore more dishwasher tips and guides from Maytag brand

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