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Liquid vs. Powder vs. Pac Dishwasher Detergents

Liquid, powder and pac detergents are the main soap types you can use with your dishwasher. Most of the time personal preference will dictate which you’ll use, but there are definitely some key differences between these three agents. Having a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of each detergent type will help you to choose which is best depending on how heavily soiled your dishware tends to get.


  Liquid Powder Pac

Must be measured from the bottle for each load

Must be measured from the box for each load Already pre-measured in packet that dissolves in water
Dissolvability Dissolves easily in all water Dissolves best in warm water Dissolves best in soft water
Food removal Best at removing greasier, grimy stains Best at removing lesser-demanding stains like those from acidic foods with low pH Best at removing greasier, grimy stains
Approximate Cost 22 cents per load 20 cents per load 25 cents per load

Advantages of liquid detergent

  • Gentle on dishware – Liquid detergent dissolves easily and therefore isn't abrasive on dishes like some of the alternatives.
  • Added liquid rinse aids – By adding a liquid rinse aid to your dishwashing machine, you can prevent spotting on your dishes.

Limitations of liquid detergent

  • Effects on dishwasher – Liquid dishwashing detergent has been known to clog up dishwasher parts when too much is used per cycle.
  • Unwanted residue – This detergent dissolves easily, but can leave a film on your dishes even after the cycle is complete.


Advantages of powder detergent

  • Environmentally safe – The cardboard packaging for powder detergent is eco-friendly and best for the environment.
  • No extra rinsing – Unlike liquid detergent, powder won't leave a filmy residue on your dishes after the cycle is over.

Limitations of powder detergent

  • Messy cleanup – Because you have to measure out the desired amount with each cycle, pouring the powder into the dispenser can get messy and require extra sweeping around your dishwasher.
  • Not as efficient – Powder doesn't dissolve as quickly in the water, so it may not clean your dishes as well.

Advantages of pac detergent

  • Ease of use – The detergent is conveniently pre-packaged in little pacs, so you don't have to do any measuring before you start the cycle.
  • Spotless dishes –pac detergent also prevents water spots and extra rinsing

Limitations of pac detergent

  • One size fits all – With pac detergents, you can't change the amount of soap that you add to a cycle if you have a lighter or heavier load.
  • Costly – Pacs are definitely the most convenient, but they'll cost a bit more in the long-run.

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