The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergents for Streak-Free Dishes

The best natural dishwasher detergent will provide streak-free cleaning without harming the environment.

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

Eco-friendly products are becoming more popular as consumers realize the damage that harsh chemicals can do to the environment. Choosing products that are created with sustainable, safe ingredients is easier than ever with so many good options on the market. The best natural dishwasher detergent is one that is biodegradable, free of artificial fragrance, uses natural enzymes and surfactants to clean dishes, and even incorporates cleaning agents like vinegar to promote a streak-free shine. Take a look at some of the best natural dishwasher detergents to help you make an informed decision for your home.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Pods, 50 Count
  2. RUNNER-UP: Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods with Citric Acid
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets, 45 Count
  4. BEST LIQUID: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Gel (6 Pack)
  5. BEST POWDER: Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Powder
The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent

When choosing the best natural dishwasher detergent, look for those that clearly state their eco-friendliness on the label. Here are a few other points to ponder:

Type

There are several methods of delivery of the dishwasher detergent. The detergent usually goes in a dedicated space in the dishwasher door, but some detergents can be dropped right onto the floor of the dishwasher. The options include:

  • Gels: These are less messy than the other options, as they allow great control when dispensing them. They might have a pleasant scent.
  • Powders: Often available in a bucket or a pouch with a handy scoop, powders are often concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Powders might be a bit messier than gels, but practice makes perfect.
  • Single-load pods and tablets: These are the most convenient of the options on the market, which is why they often come with a higher price tag. Simply pop a tablet or a pod into the designated area for detergent or drop it into the machine. Some pods and tablets contain not only natural dishwasher detergent but also a rinse aid or a booster for cleaning the machine.

Ingredients

Here are a few key ingredients found in the best natural dishwasher detergents:

  • Enzymes: This is one of the top ingredients in any dishwasher detergent. Enzymes break down the food molecules on the dishes, making it easier for the other ingredients to do their work.
  • Surfactants: These detergents work by “trapping” the grease and grime and pulling it away from the dishes, washing the bits of residue down the drain and leaving clean dishes.
  • Citric acid: This is an all-natural ingredient perfect for homes with hard water. Citric acid works as a water softener and helps prevent spots or streaks on dishes.
  • Vinegar: Another common ingredient, vinegar has long been known for its cleaning properties around the house. Not only does it clean dishes, but it can also keep the dishwasher itself much cleaner and smelling fresher.

When shopping for natural dishwasher detergent, avoid ingredients like phthalates, sulfates, artificial fragrances, dyes, phosphates, and chlorine. Look for those formulated with plant-based or mineral-based biodegradable ingredients, which are better for the environment and the user.

Scent

When looking for a natural dishwasher detergent, avoid those with added artificial fragrances. Some natural dishwasher detergents have a nice scent that is inherent in the natural ingredients used in the detergents. For instance, those with citric acid will tend to smell like citrus fruits, while those with vinegar might offer a hint of clean scent. These are natural scents that simply create a more pleasant experience but don’t harm the environment.

Eco-Friendliness

As you’re choosing the best natural dishwasher detergent, consider what you want to use in your home on a regular basis. Look for those with sustainable, clean ingredients. How many natural ingredients does the product contain versus the number of synthetic ones?

Choose products that are packaged in recycled materials, or at least in packaging that can be recycled when the product is gone. Some shoppers may want to go further and look at the practices of the company; for instance, whether the company uses sustainable practices during the manufacturing process and if their shipping processes are undertaken with ecology in mind. Users may also want to consider whether the product is Leaping Bunny Certified, meaning that it isn’t tested on animals.

Our Top Picks

With so many options available for natural dishwasher detergents, trying to figure out which one is right for you can make your head spin. Now that you know more about what to look for in a natural dishwasher detergent, take a look at some of the top picks.

Best Overall

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Option: Puracy Platinum Dishwasher Detergent Pods, 50 Count
Photo: amazon.com

These all-natural detergent pods from Puracy were developed by a chemist with 20 years of experience with dishwasher formulas. Effective on all dishwasher-safe items and filled with plant-based ingredients, these 99.5 percent natural tablets are a blend of mineral-based cleansers, plant-based cleansers and enzymes, water softeners, and biodegradable, water-soluble film.

For best results, simply scrape away the food from plates—don’t rinse and don’t bother to presoak.

This detergent, sold in an easy-to-seal pouch containing 50 pods, rinses clear and leaves most dishes spotless and streak-free, even in hard water. The company does, however, recommend wiping plastic materials with a towel after the dishwasher cycle to prevent water spots.

Runner-Up

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Option: Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods with Citric Acid
Photo: amazon.com

Made with biodegradable surfactants and natural enzymes, these dishwasher detergent pods from Lemi Shine contain no harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde or ammonia. Instead, they remove tea and coffee stains, lipstick marks, and stuck-on food using the natural power of citric acid.

The dual-chamber pods contain powder and gel and offer a fresh lemon scent. The product is phosphate-free, septic-friendly, and has no artificial fillers. The packaging incorporates recycled materials. Don’t forget to recycle it again when empty.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Option: Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets, 45 Count
Photo: amazon.com

Created by a company that’s made green products for more than 30 years, these Ecover dishwasher soap tablets by Method are crafted with renewable plant-based and mineral-based ingredients. Biodegradable and sulfate-free, these tablets are Leaping Bunny Certified. To use, simply scrape food from dishes—there’s no need to rinse. Expect a powerful cleaning during the dishwashing cycle, which cuts through grease and grime while leaving a sparkling shine behind.

The lemony fragrance of these tablets is inspired by nature. The packaging is made of 94 percent recycled cardboard.

Best Liquid

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Option: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Gel (6 Pack)
Photo: amazon.com

Made with citric acid and other plant-based ingredients for powerful cleaning, this dishwasher gel from Seventh Generation is free of fragrances, chlorine, phosphates, and dyes. This dishwasher soap is USDA Certified Biobased at 65 percent. It’s septic safe, not tested on animals, and uses natural surfactants and enzymes to lift stubborn food from plates.

Enzymes break down starch and protein-based residue, while surfactants hold the molecules in suspension for easy washing away. For hard water, combine the dishwasher gel with dishwasher rinse aid to help create a “sheeting” effect and leave dishes sparkling. Wash stainless steel, aluminum, and silver in separate loads to avoid discoloration.

Best Powder

The Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Option: Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Powder
Photo: amazon.com

This natural dishwasher detergent from Grab Green is a concentrated powder in a pouch with a Velcro closure for easier storage. The included scoop helps ensure using just the right amount of detergent for any size or type of load. For a normal load, use half a scoop; for those with hard water, or a dishwashing cycle with stuck-on food, use a full scoop.

Naturally derived and made in the USA, this product is created without phthalates, phosphates, toxins, masking agents, dyes, chlorine, or animal byproducts. It’s cruelty-free and never tested on animals. This dishwasher detergent is available fragrance free or in grapefruit and cranberry scents.

FAQs About Natural Dishwasher Detergents

Learning more about natural dishwasher detergents can help you choose the one that’s right for your machine and household needs. Here are answers to a few often-asked questions about choosing the best natural dishwasher detergent.

Q. Can a dishwasher be run without a detergent?

While it is possible to run a dishwasher without detergent in it, you run the risk of dishes that are still dirty after the cycle is over. To be sure the dishes are properly cleaned and dried, use a detergent as well as a dishwasher rinse aid.

Q. How can I be sure that I am buying a natural dishwasher detergent?

Look at the ingredients. Many natural dishwasher detergents will have a list of ingredients right on the package. Look for natural ingredients derived from plants and minerals.

Q. Why is natural dishwasher detergent better than some synthetic ones?

Natural dishwasher detergent helps keep toxic chemicals out of the environment, both during the manufacturing process and the use of the detergent in the machine. Synthetic detergents often have harsh chemicals that aren’t eco-friendly.