Dishwashers provide us with a helping hand in the kitchen, but they need the right detergents to leave dishes gleaming and residue-free.
Dishwasher tablets remove stubborn stains, baked-on food, and sticky sauces from plates and cutlery to leave your dishes sparkling. These small-yet-mighty tablets tackle a variety of stains and soften water to dissolve food without leaving any residue behind.
It should be noted, though, that a dishwasher is really only as good as the dishwasher tablets you use – not all tabs live up to the hype. Some aren’t powerful enough and result in you having to hand wash your pots and dishes afterwards.
Fortunately, we’ve discovered the best dishwasher tablets for optimal results. These use technology that scrubs away stuck-on residue and food from plates while leaving your glasses with a noticeable gleam.
Plus, our handy buying guide will help you narrow down these top choices. The five dishwasher tablets in our round-up free-up time in your kitchen and give you peace of mind that your dishes will leave the dishwasher gleaming.
1. Best Overall: Finish Quantum Ultimate Dishwasher Tablets
The Finish Quantum Ultra Dishwasher Tablets are a new triple chamber tablet from a well-known and trusted brand in the wonderful world of dishwasher tablets. The Finish Quantum Ultra tabs feature three powerful cleaning agents that can easily remove food that has been left to harden overnight.
The first is a powder that scrubs away dried-on food and grime. The second is a liquid cleanser that helps remove grease for a thorough clean. And lastly, the powerball adds a glossy shine to leave your dishes a sparkling squeaky clean.
Not only do these tables provide optimal cleaning power, they also prevent water spots while protecting your delicate glassware. These tablets also give a detailed clean and shine even in low-temperature settings, meaning you can save money using your eco-wash program and still get the same cleaning efficiency as when you use hot water.
For a powerful dishwasher tablet that does the job right the first time, the new Finish Quantum Ultimate Dishwasher tablets are a premium choice for your kitchen.
2. Best Smelling Dishwasher Tablets: Fairy Platinum Plus
These Platinum Plus dishwasher tablets by Fairy are a lemon-scented stain fighter that helps retain your dishes’ original shine, with a lovely smell. This tiny tablet packs in three powerful cleaning agents along with a powder base to tackle your toughest dried-on food and grease.
The powder base features Fairy’s exclusive enzyme and bleach system while the liquid surfactant cleans your dishes to a high-shine finish.
With such a powerful cleaning agent there is no need to pre-rinse your dishes to get them spotless. As hard-working as this tablet is, it’s still gentle enough to be used on your fine glassware and silver and is every bit as effective in low-temperature programs as well as on short-cycle washes. They also have built-in rinse aid and salt for hard water areas.
Recommended by brands like Whirlpool, Hotpoint, and Indesit, the Fairy Platinum Plus dishwasher tablets are a great choice in tablets that also bring life back to dishes that have become dulled by poor-quality detergents or hard water.
Much like the Quantum Ultimate tablets, these Quantum Max dishwasher tablets come from trusted dishwashing brand, Finish. With a trio of cleaning agents, your dishes are scrubbed clean, degreased, and shined, all without you ever having to lift a finger.
The powerball in the center not only gives your dishes a shiny finish, but it also helps to prevent limescale buildup on the inside of your dishwasher. Built-in rinse aid and salt leave dishes sparkling, even with hard water.
Hard-working enough to remove caked-on grime, but gentle enough to use on your silver. These multi-talented packs also feature Shine & Protect Glass action to clean your glass pieces thoroughly, without damaging them.
Effective enough to provide a thorough clean even on a 50°C eco-cycle, these tablets help save you money on energy usage and time. They are even recommended by dishwasher brands like Bosch, Siemens, and Becko, so you know they’re a great choice.
The Ecover Dishwasher Tablets are completely plant-based and biodegradable. Their ingredients, though made from plants, pack a powerful punch and they scrub your dishes with a smear-free finish while also removing grease and baked-on food debris. An oxygen-based cleaning agent and fresh citrus scent leave your dishwasher smelling clean and your dishes sparkling.
The cleaning agents as well as the scent are all from plant-based, natural materials and these tablets are phosphate-, paraben-, and chlorine-free. Never tested on animals, these tablets are a safe and green way to clean your dishes while still caring for the environment. It is recommended that you also use the Ecover rinse aid and a dishwasher salt for the best clean from these tablets.
5. Best Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Tablets: CLARO Classic XXL
A highly-rated vegan option, the CLARO Classic XXL Dishwasher Tabs are created with biodegradable polymers and contain no plastic, including in the water-soluble outer film. A two-stage cleaning system leaves your dishes spotless.
The green cleaning agent provides enzyme-power and the white base offers active power for an impressive clean. CLARO does recommend that you use a rinse aid and salt for best cleaning performance.
These tablets are chlorine- and phosphate-free and come in eco-friendly packaging and have been awarded both the Austrian Eco-label and the EU Eco-label.
Plus, they were named the test winner by “Stiftung Warentest” in a dishwasher tablet test that uses cleaning performance, dishware protection, prevention of deposits, and environmental protection as their criteria. These hard-working little tabs clean your dishes while being clean in our environment.
Dishwasher Tablet Buying Guide
If you use poor-quality dishwasher tablets, your dishes will come out streaky, smudged, or even with stuck-on food still clinging to them, negating the dishwasher’s purpose. Purchase high-quality dishwasher tablets and your dishwasher will provide you with sparkling, clean dishes every single time.
Now that you’ve seen our top picks for dishwasher tablets, it’s time to decide which are right for your home. Below we’ve outlined what you should look for in a dishwasher tablet to help you make the right choice for your home and kitchen.
Many of the top dishwasher tablets have multiple cleaning agents in one handy packet. You’ll want your dishwasher tablet to perform three main jobs:
Scrub – This cleaning step, sometimes a powder with little beads of texture, removes stains and baked-on food debris. The better your tablet is at this, the less you have to scrub your dishes before loading them into your dishwasher.
Degrease – An important step in getting your dishes clean is the degreaser. Degreasing will remove any film left on your dishes and leave them looking and feeling spotless.
Shine – This factor leaves your dishes and glassware looking shiny and streak-free with no smudges leftover from food or from the cleaning agent itself.
What if your tablet of choice does not have three distinct cleaning agents, likely not a problem at all. Even if you don’t see a trio of colors in your dishwasher tablet, just be sure the brand promises to clean, degrease, and shine and you’ll be happy with the results.
Glass & silver protection
Many high-quality dishwasher tablets boast glass and silver protection, but you might be wondering what that means. Your glassware and silverware are smooth and shiny and very prone to scratches.
Some dishwashing agents are abrasive and your delicate dishes will come out looking like they were attacked by a scouring pad. To keep your favorite dishes looking immaculate and brand new, a tablet with glass and silver protection is highly recommended.
Powder vs Liquid Tabs
You’ll notice that many tablets on our list have both liquid cleaning agents and a powder base. The top cleaning agents in any dishwasher detergent are bleach and enzymes, both of which are found in powder form. The tablets with a trio of cleaning agents, both liquid and powder forms, bring the best of both worlds for an immaculate clean.
It should be noted that a solid tablet, like the CLARO vegan tablet listed above, has both the necessary enzymes and bleaching agents in a single solid tablet, so even without liquid cleansers to do even more dirty work, they are still top performers in cleaning dishes.
Most top-rated dishwashers now have an eco-cycle to save energy (and money!) and run using cold, 50C, water. This is a blessing for your wallet, but you need to be sure that your dishwasher tablet works in cold water cycles. While most will dissolve in any water temperature, some cleaning agents are not strong enough to work in water that isn’t hot. If you rely on your eco-cycle and regularly run your dishwasher at cold temperatures, it’s best to be sure your dishwasher tablet can perform in cold water.
Dishwasher Salt and Hard Water
You may have noticed that some of the tablets have salt included in their formulas. Dishwasher salt, essentially sodium chloride, helps to soften hard water and also prevent limescale in your machine.
If you live in a hard water area and know your dishwasher needs salt, you’ll want to choose a tablet with salt included in the formula, like the Finish Quantum Max in our list, or you’ll need to add it separately for the best results.
A rinse aid protects your dishes from water spots. During the rinse cycle, a rinse aid makes water spread out like a sheet rather than form droplets on your dishes, so when it dries there are no specks of water collected to form spots.
Some tablets, like the Fairy Platinum above, have built-in rinse aids, as well. If your tablet doesn’t, you can purchase it separately, usually in a liquid squeeze bottle, and use it in the designated compartment.
Using high-quality dishwasher tablets will save you valuable after-dinner time every night. Rather than picking off baked food, pre-scrubbing and rinsing, most top-rated dishwasher tablets allow you to toss dishes in after a quick rinse and have clean, shiny dishes without all the elbow grease.
When choosing a dishwasher tablet, base your decision on your water hardness, the cleaning power you need with your everyday cooking routine, and your ingredient preferences.
Plastic Wrappers or Eco-Friendly Wrappers?
The tablets’ wrappers have an important role to place in durability and longevity. Many brands are becoming more eco-friendly, which includes everything from the main ingredients to their packaging.
Many dishwasher tablets are packed in soluble wrappers to reduce any plastic waste, which is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. This also reduces your waste, making them easier to use.
On the other hand, dissolvable wrappers aren’t ideal for all consumers. In particular, if you live in a humid place, the humidity can dissolve the wrappers before you’ve even used them. This will leave your tablets in one unusable mass, which might make you want to resort to individually-wrapped tablets.
However, you can take precautions to stop this from happening by leaving your tablets in a cooler location.
Dishwasher Tab Scent
Most dishwasher tablets have a scent, which leaves your dishwasher with a fresh aroma every time you use your dishwasher. Therefore, it’s important that you opt for a scent that you like, otherwise you’ll get tired of the smell.
The most common option is a citrus-clean scent that fills your kitchen with cleanliness when you open up your integrated dishwasher. This is ideal if you don’t plan on rinsing your plates before placing them in the unit, otherwise you might get a scent of old food.
Alternatively, you can choose non-scented dishwasher tablets if you’d strong smells give you a headache or you live in a household where people have allergies.
Why Your Dishwasher Tablet Might Not be Dissolving
If your dishwasher tablets aren’t dissolving, this will impact the tablet’s performance, potentially leaving your dishes with food still remaining on them.
One of the most common reasons is a blockage in the dishwasher. Make sure that there isn’t a barrier stopping the tablet from washing out of the open tray during a wash cycle. There could be old detergents creating this blockage so make sure to wipe it clean.
Some dishwasher tablets only work in high-performing programs. If your tablet isn’t dissolving, try using a longer program to give the tablet a chance to activate. Otherwise, it won’t dissolve and you’ll end up with a wasted tablet every time.
As we mentioned earlier, some tablets only dissolve and work at a high heat setting. Check the optimum temperature setting on the box, or make sure there isn’t a fault with your machine’s temperature if you’re already using this temperature.