10 Best Hard Water Dishwasher Detergents in 2021


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If you’re tired of dealing with hard water spots on your dishes and looking for a good quality dishwashing detergent to solve the problem, you are not alone.

Actually, 85% of homes in the US have hard water. Due to the widespread problem and demand, detergent manufacturers have come up with better solutions for hard water. Luckily there are now plenty of brands making specially-formulated detergents designed to perform well in hard water. 

There are also rinse aids to prevent water spots on glassware and silverware and “boosters” you can use, together with your existing detergent, to help reduce or eliminate hard water deposits. We’ve covered all of these options below to give you options. 

Quick Recommendations

Best Hard Water Dishwasher Detergents

Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent (Pods)

Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Pods, 50 Count, Natural Enzyme Powder Tablets, Spot & Residue-Free Dish Packs, Free & Clear
Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Pods

One of the most recommended dishwasher detergents that we got on our radar is the Puracy Platinum Pods.

Its main selling point is that the detergent features completely natural plant-based ingredients.

Its unique all-natural formula adds another benefit besides its effectiveness in mitigating the effects of hard water. Puracy Platinum Pods allows homeowners to skip the pre-soaking process entirely, which considerably cuts down the actual dishwashing time.

The pods are also highly concentrated that one would be enough to thoroughly wash a full load dishwasher of up to 16 place settings. Additionally, the plant-based ingredients contained within each pod also eliminate any harsh side effects that detergents may cause on certain materials such as porcelain, glass, and ceramic.

Pros:

  • The unique plant-based formula is harsh on food stains but mild on the dishes, glasses, and silverware.
  • Puracy Platinum Pods offer excellent results at a highly affordable price.
  • This dishwasher detergent does not contain any artificial perfume, bleach, or toxic chemicals.

Cons:

  • Grease heavy dishes might require two runs in the dishwasher.
  • It might not provide the same results for homes that have incredibly high hard water GPG.

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent (Gel)  

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Gel with Powerful Citric Acid, Lemon Scent, 42 oz (6 Pack)
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Gel

If you prefer using dishwashing gel, our top pick is the Seventh Generation Detergent Gel with Citric Acid. This particular dishwasher detergent features an all plant-based solution that smashes any grease and oil spots out of your kitchenware.

Additionally, Seventh Generation Detergent Gel comes with a USDA certificate. This product’s ingredients are 100% free from any bleach and phosphate dye, so you don’t need to worry about it damaging your more expensive dishes. This detergent is also safe for use in children’s milk bottles.

Pros:

  • The formula used in Seventh Generation Detergent Gel is chemical-free and does not contain any perfume, phosphate, chlorine, or dyes.
  • Excellent ability to clean and wash away food stains in one wash.
  • The formula used in this detergent is USDA-approved and uses 65% bio-based ingredients.

Cons:

  • Residue buildup caused by the detergent at the bottom of the dishwasher might be an issue.
  • Figuring out the right amount of detergent to use can be a bit tricky on some occasions.
  • Dishes with a considerable amount of grease needs to be pre-washed first.

Amaze! Premium All-in-One Dishwasher (Tablets)

Amaze! Premium All-in-One Dishwasher Tablets - Powerful Hard Water Performance (32 Count Pack)
Amaze! Premium All-in-One Dishwasher Tablets

The Amaze! Premium All-in-One Detergent Tablets feature an eco-friendly formula that also includes biodegradable packaging that dissolves underwater. If you are looking for an environment-friendly cleaning detergent for your dishwasher, Amaze might amaze you, no pun intended.

The development of this detergent does away with the need to use detergent boosters, it’s all-in-one format makes dishwashing one streamlined and convenient process.

Pros: 

  • The formula includes a built-in rinse aid that should help eliminate any residue afterward.
  • The detergent tablet can also target limescale and prevent buildup in the future.
  • The wrappings used on the detergent tablet are biodegradable.  

Cons: 

  • This product is not as strong as other dishwasher detergents, and a second rinse is often required.
  • Ensure to drop the correct number of detergent tablets as a single tablet can produce a considerable amount of foam/suds.

Finish Hard Water Booster Powder

Finish Powder Dishwasher Booster, Lemon Sparkle 14 oz Bottle, Hard Water Booster (Pack of 6)
Finis Booster

Finish Hard Water Booster Powder is specifically designed for residential areas that have hard water. It features a 4-stage booting process that will provide the cleaning solution you need when combined with your dishwasher detergent.

This detergent booster can remove all sorts of stains, spots, residue, mineral buildup, limescale, and other issues caused by hard water. True to its “All-in-One” label, the Finish Hard Water Booster Powder pretty much handles all the dishwashing for you. It even protects from hard water stains in the future.

Pros:

  • Excellent dishwashing cleaning capabilities and works well against hard water stains.
  • The formula used helps decrease hard water’s mineral content, which should prevent steady limescale buildup over time.

Cons:

  • This product is a tad bit expensive.
  • Recommended to be used with other Finish cleaning products for best results.

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods, ActionPacs Detergent, Lemon Plus, 70 Count
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods

The Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods utilize sodium carbonate in its formula, which is a known water-softening ingredient. Sodium carbonate also has a natural citrus scent which adds to its overall effectiveness as a cleaning substance.

Limescale buildup is also a non-issue with the Cascade dishwasher detergent as it can eliminate these tough to remove stains from any surface. Another significant aspect of the Cascade dishwasher detergent is that you don’t need to go through the usual pre-washup routine. This excellent cleaning capability also translates to saving on your monthly electricity bill.

Pros:

  • The Cascade dishwashing detergent can be used for both soft and hard water.
  • Outstanding ability to remove grease and oil from almost every surface.
  • Features a built-in booster to help clean hard-to-remove food stains.

Cons: 

  • This detergent comes with a citrus scent which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
  • Not the most eco-friendly option on this list.
  • The concentrated chemical formula might irritate you if it comes into contact with your skin.

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods, Tangerine + Lemongrass-With Essential Oils, 60 Count, Organic Enzyme-Powered, Plant & Mineral-Based
Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods

Next up, we have another all-natural dishwasher detergent in the form of the Grab Green Detergent Pods. Besides its environment-friendly solution, the Grab Green Natural Detergent can take on grease and food oil efficiently.

Using the detergent pods is also pretty straightforward. You also don’t need to worry about skin irritations or damage to fabric as Grab Green does not use any chlorine, dyes, perfumes, or phosphate.

Pros:

  • Uses 100% natural ingredients with no harsh chemicals.
  • The package comes with its scooper, which makes measuring the appropriate amount of detergent easier.
  • Grab Green Dishwasher Detergent is quite affordable.
  • You can choose between citrus and fragrance-free versions.

Cons:

  • The citrus version can be a bit overpowering for some with a keen sense of smell.
  • The package is not waterproof or airtight, so be aware of where you store this detergent.
  • Some customers report that the detergent residue tends to stick, which forces them to rinse the dishes twice.

Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Lemi Shine - Shine + Dry Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid Hard Water Stain Remover 8.45 oz - 3 pack Bundle
Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid

If you’re looking for a simple rinse aid, consider a hidden gem is this Rinse Aid by Lemi Shine. Despite being a lesser-known brand compared to brands like Cascade or Finish, Lemi Shine manages to deliver excellent results to its hard water dishwashing detergent capabilities.

The Lemi Shine can handle grease, food stains, crumbs, and stains caused by hard water. Additionally, this dishwashing detergent comes with a natural citrus scent and does not include any artificial chemicals in its formula.

Pros:

  • Utilizing all-natural citrus extracts, Lemi Shine has proven itself to be relatively eco-friendly.
  • Can eliminate stubborn stains with little difficulty.
  • Lemi Shine Dishwasher Detergent is powerful enough that it won’t need any additives or boosters.

Cons:

  • The lemon scent is quite prominent, which might be too overpowering for some who don’t like that citrus smell.
  • The Lemi Shine brand is more expensive than most other dishwasher detergents in the market.

Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Dishwashing Rinse Aid to Lift Tough Grease and Stains, 45 Dishwasher Tabs per Package, Free + Clear - Fragrence Free, 1 Pack, Packaging May Vary
Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs,

We have another entry that features an all-natural formula in the form of Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs.

We’ve recommended Method multiple times on our website because they’ve built a reputation for developing 100% natural detergent products.

Additionally, Method Dishwasher Detergents also has built-in rinse aids, which will help dishes dry better without leaving watermarks. This detergent does not contain any phosphate or chlorine. It is also touted as removing persistent food stains.

Pros:

  • All-natural dishwasher detergent and is scent-free.
  • Can effectively remove persistent stains on porcelain, silverware, and glasses.
  • Can avoid leaving water stains thanks to its built-in rinse aid formula.  

Cons:

  • It sometimes leaves a bit of suds on the dishes, which will force you to rinse again.
  • The pods tend to be a bit too big for some dishwasher model’s compact soap compartments.

Ecover Fragrance-Free Automatic Dishwasher Tablets

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets Zero, 25 Count, 17.6 Ounce
Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets

Ecover Dishwasher Tablets boasts both convenience and an eco-friendly quality with its use of biodegradable tablet wrappers. This feature provides two benefits. First, it eliminates the tablet from melting onto surfaces when it gets soaked for a prolonged period. Secondly, the biodegradable and recyclable wrapper means less trash which is always good for the environment.

Additionally, even the box packaging of the Ecover Dishwasher Detergent is recyclable. Ecover has successfully switched to using natural plant-based ingredients in their detergent formula to push its eco-friendly agenda further forward.

Pros:

  • 100% eco-friendly packaging from the box to the tablet wrapper and the detergent itself.
  • Ecover dishwasher detergents that are entirely fragrance-free.
  • This detergent does not leave any soap or watermarks on porcelain and glass surfaces.

Cons:

  • Considerably more expensive than its competitors in the market.
  • The recyclable plastic wrapper is not exactly 100% recyclable, depending on your area.

Finish Powerball Quantum Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

Finish - Quantum - 82ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs
Finish – Quantum

Finish earns the unique distinction of appearing twice in our list, and a glance at their Quantum detergent tablet’s qualities will cement their second entry. As expected from Finish, the Quantum Dishwasher Tablets offer an excellent ability to clean tough-to-remove stains and can even prevent watermarks from forming afterward.

Finding out the exact ingredients used by Finish is a tad tricky to do. However, their detergents primarily use sodium citrate, which has a stamp of approval from the Environmental Working Group. Based on our personal experience with this product, along with the testimonies of hundreds of customers – we give the Finish Powerball Quantum Dishwasher Detergent two thumbs up.

Pros:

  • It incorporates a three-stage cleaning process for optimum results.
  • The detergent formula is extremely tough on stains and can break down even the most persistent food grime on any surface.
  • Each tablet features an eco-friendly biodegradable film that disintegrates when soaked in water.

Cons: 

  • It does leave some scent on dishes which might be unbearable for some.
  • There are several complaints that the formula used in this detergent can cause copper to rust.

Buying Dishwasher Detergent

Calcium Deposits – Telltale sign of hard water.

What is Hard Water? 

Hard Water has higher mineral content, specifically, calcium, magnesium, and minute traces of several other minerals. Hard water can cause soap scum buildup including rings in the bathtub, spots, and streaks on glassware and dishes. Hard water can also make bathing less pleasant since soaps and shampoos are less likely to create bubbles or foam and harder to rinse off. Hard water can also cause builds mineral deposits to build up and even clog water pipes.

Do I Have Hard Water?

Getting your water tested is the most accurate way to know the level of hard water. Anything above 7 Grains per Gallon (GPG) is considered “hard”, but even without a test, there are several telltale signs that will help you determine whether you have soft or hard water flowing out of your faucet.

These includes:

  • White cloudy residue on the surface of your dishes, glasses, silverware, and the interior of your dishwasher.
  • There is a scale buildup on your faucet and visible dark stains on white porcelain.
  • The fabric feels rough, and the colors start to fade.
  • Gradual lower water pressure from your faucet and shower due to mineral buildup clogging the pipes.
  • Dryer skin and/or coarse or flat hair due to soap residue not rinsing away.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize or cancel the effects of hard water on your dishes and dishwasher in the form of specialized dishwashing detergents. We have compiled a list of the highest-rated and most recommended dishwasher detergents to help you circumvent the headaches that hard water in your home.

Hard Water and Dishwashers

One of the biggest and most obvious signs of hard water is the visible stains and mineral deposits on dishes, silverware, and glassware. It can also cause build-up on the inside of your dishwasher and plumbing that can eventually cause corrosion and potentially reduce the useful life of your dishwasher. 

Liquid, Pods, Rinse Aid, or Separate Product – Which is the Best Option?

The research will go a long way regarding these questions, and while the answer can still be subjective, understanding how stuff works will help point you in the right direction in regards to making a decision.

When it comes to dishwashing detergents, understanding certain vital aspects will help narrow down your options. For example, the two primary ingredients in a dishwashing detergent are enzymes and bleach.

Powder detergent incorporates these two primary ingredients. However, proper storage is crucial for detergents in powdered form as moisture or humidity can adversely affect their cleaning capability over time.

Gel detergents do not have this issue, and this type also won’t leave any residue on your dishes. On the flip-side, gel detergents cannot contain both enzyme and bleach ingredients which means you will need to utilize additives or booster to achieve a complete clean.

Finally, we have the pods or tablets containing both essential detergent ingredients and can even incorporate rinse agents. Tablet and pod detergents are also exceptionally easy to store without the risk of spoiling, and they are also both extremely convenient to use.  

Overall, we certainly recommend you go with tablet or pod dishwasher detergents as these provide the best level of convenience and efficiency when cleaning your dishes.

Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients

There are currently two available options regarding detergent ingredients. One is the traditional chemical-based that incorporates phosphate, dyes, and bleach, while the other newer alternative features all-natural and plant-based ingredients.

The downside of using chemical-based detergents is that it often leaves residue on the surface of the dishes if not rinsed properly. This issue is not the case with natural detergents, but it can also mean less effective cleaning capability.

We highly recommend you find something the threads the line between the two. A detergent that cleans effectively while also not leaving any residue on the dishes. Fortunately for you, we already have ten examples listed above.

Scents

Now, this aspect is entirely subjective. I tend to gravitate towards cleaning detergents with a citrus or lemon smell as my brain always connects that scent to cleanliness. However, some people prefer their dishes without any lingering odor. Fortunately, you can find a bunch of citrus and fragrance-free dishwashing detergents in the market.

Hopefully, this little article has helped you narrow down your search for the best hard water dishwasher detergent. Keep in mind that hard water is pretty standard in most households, so taking the necessary steps to circumvent the negatives attached to this water type is a must.

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