Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent (That Actually Works)

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I’ve personally tested, compared, and assessed 7 brands of natural dishwasher detergent to find the best. If you’re ready to try out natural dishwasher detergent, keep reading for a methodically researched and tested overview.

By switching to a more natural dishwasher detergent, you’ll reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals in your life and home, and make a small eco friendly step in the right direction to preserve our planet.

But it’s fair to ask, does natural dishwasher detergent actually work?

To find out the answer, I bought 7 popular brands of natural dishwasher detergent, tested them in my own dishwasher, and compared the results to see which natural dishwasher detergents are worth the money, and which are a “don’t bother.”

If you’re simply looking for my recommendation for the best natural dishwasher detergent, I recommend Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder (available in 50 load or 80 load packages), Better Life Dishwasher Gel, Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs, and Ecover Citrus Dishwasher Tablets.

I’ve personally tested all 4 brands and compared them to 3 other popular brands of natural dishwasher detergent. Because I purchased, tested, and compared 7 different types of natural detergent, I feel confident my recommendations really are the best!

You can see the results and comparisons of my performance test for these and 3 other brands below, but first and foremost, here are my recommendations:

7 packages of different brands of natural dishwasher detergent on a table before beginning a performance test to find the best natural dishwasher detergent.

Why Switch to Natural Dishwasher Detergents

About a year ago, my 2-year-old took a sip from her straw bottle and informed me her water was yucky. This was the first indication I needed to up my dishwasher detergent game.

Honestly, I suspected this moment was coming.

For a few weeks in a row, I’d been pulling her water bottle out of the dishwasher each morning, only to discover it stank like fragrance and chemicals.

I’ve since switched her to a mix of stainless steel straw bottles and glass, which helps a lot. But even the stainless steel takes on some of the dishwasher detergent smell and taste when I use mainstream dishwasher soap brands.

And “chemical taste” isn’t exactly what I like to hear in connection with my daughter’s dishes, bottlesspoonssippy cups, or even her laundry, if you know what I mean?

Natural Dishwasher Detergent FTW

It wasn’t until I switched to a more natural dishwasher detergent that I finally solved the problem.

It’s just one of many steps we’ve been taking to green our cleaning routine, including switching to fragrance-free cleaning products, choosing safer options of commonly harsh cleaners, like stain remover, and generally trying to make more sustainable purchases for day to day items.

These days, I pull her stuff from the dishwasher and, lo and behold, there’s no horrible smell to deal with. Her water actually tastes like water. And she no longer tells me it’s gross!

That said, it took me awhile to find a natural dishwasher detergent that keeps my daughter’s water bottle yuck free, and also works great in terms of actually getting our dishes clean.

And as this testing and performance comparison project has revealed, the natural dishwasher detergents we’ve been using for the past year aren’t even the best available.

Ready to Make the Switch?

If you’re ready to try out natural dishwasher detergent, and aren’t sure where to start, I hope this list helps.

I purchased, reviewed, tested, and compared, 7 different dishwasher detergents that might work for you, depending on your needs, preferences for fragrance vs. fragrance-free, as well as how good your dishwasher is.

I’ve recommended my top picks based on objective criteria like performance, as well as somewhat subjective criteria, such as whether I detect a scent.

That said, I understand people have different preferences, dishwashers, habits, and water hardness (the water is super soft where I live, which may affect results, and my dishwasher is fairly new).

My advice is to approach it with an open mind, knowing that you may have to try a few different natural dishwasher soap brands. It doesn’t need to become an epic quest, but it may take you a few tries to find the best for you.

Before this test, I was a dishwasher pod kinda gal myself. However, after seeing how much better Nellie’s Powder and Better Life Gel are, performance wise, I am now open to switching.

I’ve included automatic dishwasher detergent pods, powder, and dishwasher gel in this post, just to cover all the basis!

If you’re looking for non toxic dish soap, I’ve written about that too – just not in this post.

Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent

I tested 7 brands of natural dishwasher detergent. I scored them on product scent, scent of the dishes after being washed, detergent residue left over after washing, whether there was any lingering taste from the detergent, cleaning power, cost, and other factors that came up during my review.

For each factor, I scored each product on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the best, and 5 being the worst. I then added the points together to give an objective comparison of performance between brands, and added my own subjective opinion based on dozens of hours of personally testing each product.

For a detailed overview of my methodology, I’ve outlined it later in this post.

As you read through my tests, comparisons, notes, and reviews, however, remember that a lower numerical score (i.e. 1) is better than a higher score (i.e. 5).

Here are the brands I purchased and tested:

The Winner: Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder (Points Total: 7)

A woman's hand holds a blue plastic scoop full of Nellie's natural dishwasher detergent powder, with the Nellie's package and branding visible behind.
Just 1 scoopful of Nellie’s helps the dishes get clean

Nellie’s is my hands down winner, which surprised me.

We’ve been using a combination of Ecover and Nature Clean for the past year, and have been mostly happy with both. Although we use Nellie’s Laundry Soda for our laundry, for some reason I’d never thought to try the dishwasher powder.

However, when I actually got down to it and ran an objective performance test to compare natural dishwasher detergent brands, Nellie’s blew all the others out of the water.

This stuff is GOOD!

Lets start with performance. Nellie’s dishwasher powder got my dishes completely clean, earning a perfect performance score of 1/5 (Better Life Dishwasher Gel and Ecover Citrus Tablets are the only other brands to get a perfect performance score).

Nellie’s did a great job at cleaning:

  • Crusty, dried on marinara sauce (un-rinsed)
  • Dried on oatmeal flakes left over from breakfast
  • Rinsed and dried cream cheese knife
  • Fresh, un-rinsed cream cheese knife
  • Thickly smeared peanut butter plate (un-rinsed)
  • Spoon covered in thick peanut butter (un-rinsed)
Dirty cutlery and dishes sit on a table in front of a bag of Nellie's dishwasher powder. Image is a before photo testing the efficacy of Nellie's vs other natural dishwasher detergents.
The dirty dishes used to test Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder
Sparkling clean dishes and cutlery sit on a table in front of a bag of Nelly's dishwasher detergent. The dishes have just come from the dishwasher to test the effectiveness of Nellie's powder detergent and show its very effective.
Sparkling clean dishes and cutlery!

Nellie’s also got perfect scores related to detergent scent (none), scent of washed dishes (none), detergent residue (none), and taste residue (none).

So where did Nellie’s fall short?

I gave Nellie’s a score of 2/5 on cost, according to my cost matrix which is outlined below. In practical terms, this means it is very affordable (when I priced it out, I found it for about $0.23 per load).

However, it wasn’t the cheapest detergent on my list (Ecover Citrus was the cheapest, although Ecover Zero is actually more expensive than Nellie’s at the time I checked).

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (1)
  • Cost (2)
  • Other (0) [No other issues]

My overall verdict on Nellie’s is that it’s excellent, and I’ll be purchasing more of this in the future!

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder Ingredients

Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Citric Acid, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Percarbonate, Sodium Metasilicate, Cocamidopropyl, Betaine, Sodium Silicate, Protease

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder Certifications

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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The Runner Up: Better Life Dishwasher Gel (Points Total: 8)

Better Life Dishwasher Gel is one of the top performers from my test, with a lot of pros and not many cons.

First let’s start with the pros.

I couldn’t detect any scent from the dishwasher gel itself, nor was there any scent when I opened the dishwasher. The dishes didn’t have any lingering taste, smell or residue, either.

Additionally, given it is a gel, rather than a dishwasher pod, it will fit in any dishwasher, even if you have a tiny one.

A woman's hand tilts a small dish containing Better Life Naturally Crumb Crushing Dishwasher Gel towards the camera with a bottle of the gel in the background

Most important when it comes to dishwasher detergent, however, is performance. Does it actually get the dishes clean?

Better Life Gel got the dishes sparkling clean, with no food residue left on the cutlery or dishes. In fact, Better Life was one of only three dishwasher detergent brands to earn a perfect score on performance during my testing (1/5).

Dirty dishes and cutlery sit on a table in front of a bottle of Better Life Dishwasher Gel to show a before shot prior to testing the Dishwasher Gel in a comparison test of 7 natural dishwasher detergents
Before
Clean dishes and cutlery sit on a table in front of a bottle of Better Life Dishwasher Gel to show an after shot after testing the Dishwasher Gel in a comparison test of 7 natural dishwasher detergents
After

So where does Better Life Dishwasher Gel fall short?

The main downfall is the fact that it’s slightly more expensive per load than my top performer (Nellie’s), earning a 2/5 for cost, compared to the 1/5 that Nellie’s scored in cost (remember: lower points are better).

It’s still a very affordable choice, and is fairly comparable to big brands I looked at, such as Finish or Cascade, price wise.

Better Life Dishwasher Gel Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Better Life dishwasher gel as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (1)
  • Cost (3)
  • Other (0) [No other issues]

Overall, Better Life Gel performed near the top of the pack, and I have no hesitation recommending the product to friends, family and readers.

Better Life Dishwasher Gel Ingredients

Potassium cocoate (natural castile soap), purified water, sodium citrate (mineral derived), coco-glucoside (plant derived), sodium silicate (mineral derived), decyl glucoside (plant derived), quillaja saponaria bark (soap bark) extract, glycerin (vegetable), sodium carbonate (mineral derived), xanthan gum (vegetable), sorbitan oleate (plant derived), natural enzyme blend (less than 5%), citric acid (for pH adjustment, plant derived).

Better Life Dishwasher Gel Certifications

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

Better Life Dishwasher Gel scores an A according to the Environmental Working Group’s cleaning products database.

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Third Place & Best Natural Dishwasher Pods (Tie): Puracy Dishwasher Pods (Points Total: 9)

A woman's hand holds several Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs in front of an open bag of the packs

Puracy and Ecover tied as the best performing dishwasher pods I tested.

Whereas the top two performing brands overall (Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder* and Better Life Dishwasher Gel) come as dishwasher powder or gel, Puracy is available as a pod.

If you want the convenience and mess-free experience of a pod, Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs are one of the best I tested!

(*Note: Nellie’s also comes as a pod, but I didn’t test them during this round of updates and performance comparisons, because I can’t seem to get them in my area).

What makes these detergent packs so good?

To start with, they had no detectable scent, the dishes had no scent or taste, and they left no detectable residue. All good things!

However, they also performed very well when it came to getting the dishes clean. Whereas Nellie’s and Better Life got my dishes completely clean, Puracy got them almost completely clean, and it may worth worth the very tiny trade off on performance for the convenience of a dishwasher pack.

Dirty dishes and cutlery sit on a table in front of a package of Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs to illustrate a before shot prior to testing Puracy dishwasher detergent in a comparison and performance test of 7 natural dishwasher detergents
Before
Clean dishes and cutlery sit on a table in front of a package of Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs to illustrate an after shot after testing Puracy dishwasher detergent in a comparison and performance test of 7 natural dishwasher detergents
After

While they weren’t 100% clean, there was only a small bit of cream cheese residue on one knife. Like, seriously really a tiny amount:

Clean dishes sit on a table with a red circle superimposed over a small piece of food residue to illustrate the efficacy of Puracy Dishwasher packs in a side-by-side comparison test of 7 natural dishwasher detergents
Puracy dishwasher packs performance results

Another thing I liked about the Puracy pods is that they’re fairly uniform in size. They measure roughly 1.5″ x 1″ (length x width), but have a fairly uniform height, which is important if you have a small dishwasher detergent drawer.

Two Puracy Dishwasher detergent packs on a table with a measuring tape behind them to illustrate the size of the dishwasher packs. A bag of Puracy detergent pods sits behind the demonstration of size.
Puracy detergent packs size

Cost wise, the Puracy packs scored a 3, making them a middle of the road choice among the field of detergents I tested and compared.

Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Puracy detergent packs as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (2)
  • Cost (3)
  • Other (0) [No other issues]

Given they performed almost perfectly, and they come in a convenient detergent pack form and are free from fragrances, I think these are a great choice and would recommend them to a friend.

Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Pack Ingredients

Sodium citrate (plant-based water softener), sodium carbonate (mineral-based cleanser), sodium percarbonate (mineral-based cleanser), alkyl poylglucoside (plant-based cleanser), sodium metasilicate (mineral-based cleanser), protease (plant-based enzyme), carboxymethyl inulin (plant-based softener), amylase (plant-based enzyme), polyvinyl alcohol (biodegradable, water-soluble film)

Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs Certifications

Certified cruelty free and vegan

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Third Place & Best Natural Dishwasher Pods (Tie): Ecover Citrus Dishwasher Pods (Points Total: 10)

A woman's hand holds 2 Ecover Citrus dishwasher tables in front of a box of the tablets.

First, let me say, we’ve been using a combination of Ecover Citrus tablets and Nature Clean dishwasher detergent packs in our house for the better part of the last year. We basically buy whichever one our local supermarket has at the time, and haven’t had any brand loyalty to one or the other.

While I’ve always found the Nature Clean ones to be a bit problematic with getting some things clean (more on this below), I’ve always found the Ecover tablets to do a great job. This bore out in testing and comparison.

Let’s start with what Ecover does well: cleans your dishes!

Ecover is one of only 3 brands to earn a top score for actual cleaning performance (1/5), and outperformed my other top choice for best natural dishwasher pack (Puracy) on this measure.

It’s also affordable, and is the only detergent on my list that I was able to find costing less than $0.20 per load, at the time of writing, at different stores.

Dirty dishes and cutlery on a table in front of a box of Ecover dishwasher tablets. The photo illustrates a before shot prior to testing the performance of Ecover dishwasher detergent against other brands of natural dishwasher detergent.
Before
Clean dishes and cutlery on a table in front of a box of Ecover dishwasher tablets. The photo illustrates an after shot after testing the performance of Ecover dishwasher detergent against other brands of natural dishwasher detergent.
After

That said, Ecover isn’t perfect.

For one, the packaging is a big con. Each of the individual detergent packs is wrapped in non-dissolvable plastic waste. While this is good from a child proofing perspective, it’s bad news for the earth.

Ecover dishwasher tablets in plastic wrappers scattered on a floor next to an Ecover box

Add to that, I don’t love that it’s fragranced. While Ecover also makes an unscented, free and clear version, I unfortunately have been unable to find it where I live to test. Add to that, it’s more expensive than citrus version.

Ecover Citrus Dishwasher Detergent Packs Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored Ecover Citrus dishwasher detergent tablets as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (3)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (2)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (1)
  • Cost (1)
  • Other (1) [Individually wrapped dishwasher tablets creates added waste]

Taking into account performance during testing (they work well!) and affordability, I think these are a great choice, so long as you can deal with the light citrus scent.

Ecover Citrus Dishwasher Detergent Packs Ingredients

Sodium citrate dihydrate, Sodium carbonate, Sodium carbonate peroxide, Fatty alcohol alkoxylate, Sodium polyaspartate, Sodium silicate, TAED, Sodium hrdrogen carbonate, Sorbitol, Bentonite, Subtilisin, Glycerin, Fragrance (Parfum, limonene), Amylase, Sodium gluconate

Ecover Citrus Dishwasher Detergent Pack Certifications

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

Ecover Citrus Tablets score a B according to the Environmental Working Group’s cleaning products database.

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Ecover Vs. Puracy Dishwasher Detergent

In my mind, Ecover and Puracy tied for 3rd place in my testing, and for the best natural dishwasher detergent pod.

Ecover Citrus wins for performance (it got the dishes cleaner in performance testing) and price/value. However, it has a light fragrance, and isn’t suitable for people with fragrance sensitivities. It also comes with extra packaging, which seems wasteful.

Puracy didn’t do quite as good a job at cleaning the dishes, but it still performed pretty well, earning a score of 2/5 compared to Ecover’s 1/5 (remember: lower score is better on this scale).

Where Puracy really shines is in the fact that it’s fragrance free, making it a more hypoallergenic choice, and better for avoiding phthalates.

Nature Clean (Points Total: 12)

A woman's hand holds several pacs of Nature Clean natural dishwasher packs with the branded package behind it

As noted above, we’ve been using Nature Clean (and Ecover) detergent in our house for the better part of the last year, and I’ve always found it to be okay.

However, we have noticed issues with the Nature Clean when we don’t rinse the dishes ahead of time. In particular, we’ve noticed it’s not that great when we don’t rinse knives after spreading peanut butter. For some reason, peanut butter seems to be its Achilles heel.

So I wasn’t totally surprised by the fact that Nature Clean did a pretty good job, but didn’t get everything perfectly clean. It’s performance in this test pretty much lined up with our one year of experience using this detergent in our house, and in particular its performance with peanut butter.

Dirty dishes and cutlery on a table with a package and several packs of Nature Clean Dishwasher Pacs. The photo shows the before of the dirty dishes, before testing Nature Clean in a natural dishwasher detergent performance test.
Before
Clean dishes and cutlery on a table with a package and several packs of Nature Clean Dishwasher Pacs. The photo shows the after state of the dishes, after washing to test Nature Clean in a natural dishwasher detergent performance test.
After

As you can see from the after photo above, Nature Clean did a pretty good job!

Upon closer inspection of the spoon, however, you can see the peanut butter spoon didn’t get completely clean, and there’s a fair amount of residue remaining:

A red circle outline superimposed on a photo of a spoon to point out baked on peanut butter residue after washing dishes with Nature Clean natural dishwasher pacs

Add to the performance issues, Nature Clean is actually the most expensive natural dishwasher detergent among the brands I tested and compared, when calculated on a per load basis.

Nature Clean Dishwasher Detergent Packs Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Nature Clean detergent packs score breakdown as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (3)
  • Cost (5)
  • Other (0) [No other issues]

Adding all of this up, I don’t recommend Nature Clean Dishwasher detergent at this time, based on my tests.

Grab Green (Points Total: 12)

First, the pros of the Grab Green Dishwasher Detergent Pods.

I didn’t notice any sort of scent from the package. This includes sniffing the pods and when I opened the freshly run dishwasher. This is good news in my book, because I really hate that “getting hit in the face with chemical smell” experience of opening a hot, steaming dishwasher.

In my performance test, they also worked pretty well, but not perfectly. You can see the before and after shot of the Grab Green detergent performance test below, which shows they handled the baked on marinara sauce impressively!

2 dirty plates, a dirty bowl, 2 dirty knives, and 1 dirty spoon with various types of baked on food residue sit on a table with a bag of grab green dishwasher detergent in the background. This photo shows a before image of a performance test to find the best natural dishwasher detergent.
Before
2 clean plates, a clean bowl, 2 clean knives, and 1 clean spoon sit on a table with a bag of grab green dishwasher detergent in the background. This photo shows a after image of a performance test to find the best natural dishwasher detergent, and demonstrates the effectiveness of Grab Green detergent.
After

While they did a pretty good job overall, it wasn’t perfect. I scored performance as 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the best). This is because there was a small bit of cream cheese residue left on the knife in different spots.

(It got everything else clean).

A photo of a mostly clean knife after being washed in a dishwasher. There are red circles superimposed on the knife to show where food residue wasn't cleaned off with the dergent.
A close up of the knife, with some remaining cream cheese residue.

Now, the cons. My package had a packaging fail on one of the pods, which had exploded all over the inside of the detergent bag. Thus, when I went to reach into the bag to grab a pod for the dishwasher, my hand came out covered in detergent.

A woman's hand holds Grab Green dishwasher detergent packs with one empty pack below on a table and a bag of Grab Green natural  dishwasher pods in the background
Grab Green detergent pods, including the remains of the pod that exploded in the package.
Two Grab Green Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods sit on a table in front of a measuring tape to show size and measurements. A bag of Grab Green dishwasher pods sits in the background
Size and shape of the Grab Green detergent pods.

The other downside of the Grab Green pods is the shape and size. Whereas most of the other pods seemed to fairly uniform in shape, I found some of the Grab Green pods to be a bit lumpy.

This is fine if you have a standard size dishwasher. However, if you have an apartment sized, compact dishwasher, I’m not sure the pods would always fit in the detergent tray. Overall, the pods are 1 1/2″ by 1″ ( length by width), but the height isn’t uniform within a tablet, but rather is “lumpy.”

My overall verdict on Grab Green?

They’re fine, but not outstanding, and they’re probably good if you rinse dishes methodically.

However, given the performance, size inconsistency, and the exploded pack in the package I bought, coupled with the fact that there are better options, I don’t recommend the Grab Green dishwasher detergent at this time, and based solely on my own experience.

If you’ve had trouble fitting detergent pods into your dishwasher before (such as if you have a small, apartment sized mini dishwasher), these aren’t a great choice.

Grab Green Dish Detergent Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Grab Green pods as follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (3)
  • Cost (3)
  • Other (2) [Detergent pod explosion in the packaging, and the non uniform pod shape/lumpiness]

Learn More

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder (Points Total: 9)

A woman's hand holds and tilts a small bowl with Seventh Generation dishwasher powder towards the camera. A box of the detergent sits in the background

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Powder ticks a lot of boxes. It’s scent-free, leaving no discernible smell or flavor on my dishes, and it’s well priced when calculated via cost per load.

Points wise, it scored the same as Puracy, which based on my personal experience, I recommended!

Unfortunately for Seventh Generation, it just didn’t work that great for me. And that’s a pretty huge consideration when deciding to recommend a product.

(Worth noting, just because a detergent doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. All I can do is test and report personal experiences with a product!)

You can see in the photos it left a fair amount of cream cheese residue getting baked onto a knife, and some of the oatmeal remaining on a bowl as well.

Dirty dishes and cutlery sit on a table with a box of Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent powder in the background. The photo shows the state of the dirty dishes before testing the performance of Seventh Generation dishwasher powder in a washing and comparison test of different natural dishwasher detergents
Clean dishes and cutlery sit on a table with a box of Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent powder in the background. The photo shows the state of the washed dishes after testing the performance of Seventh Generation dishwasher powder in a washing and comparison test of different natural dishwasher detergents. There are 2 red circle outlines superimposed on the photo to show where the detergent failed to get the dishes clean.
A 2 photo collage showing a knife with baked on cream cheese residue and a bowl with oatmeal residue showing performance of Seventh Generation Dishwasher powder detergent in a dishwasher. There is a box of the dishwasher powder in the background.

Seventh Generation Dish Detergent Performance Test Scores and Recommendations

I scored the Seventh Generation dish detergent powder follows. Remember, 1 is the best and 5 is the worst:

  • Detergent Scent (1)
  • Scent of Washed Dishes (1)
  • Tablet Residue (1)
  • Taste Residue (1)
  • Performance (4)
  • Cost (1)
  • Other (0) [No other issues]

As noted above, I can’t currently recommend this detergent based on how it performed in my test.

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Research Methodology

I personally tested, compared, and assessed the 7 dishwasher detergents I reviewed on this list, putting them through the ringer with my own dishwasher to come up with my findings.

I purchased all of the detergents, and wasn’t provided with product from any of the companies on this list.

When testing the different detergents in this list, here are the objective and subjective measures I used to test, compare, and for my research findings.

Keep in mind, I used the normal cycle on my dishwasher, I have a relatively new dishwasher that’s quite good, and my water is fairly soft.

Scent and Fragrance of the Detergent Powder, Gel or Dishwasher Packs

I conducted a smell test right out of the box to see how strong the scent of each detergent is, and rating the scent on a scale of 1 (not strong) to 5 (strong and overpowering).

Given what we know about fragrances and phthalates, I judged minimal fragrance to be a positive.

Scent and Fragrance of the Dishes, After Being Washed

In addition to sniffing out the actual detergent, I compared the smell of the dishes immediately after being washed in my dishwasher with each brand of detergent.

Again, my testing scale was the same: I did a smell test to see how strong the scent of each detergent is on freshly washed dishes, and rating the scent on a scale of 1 (not strong) to 5 (strong and overpowering).

The Plate Lick

In the interest of science, I licked the plate after each round in the dishwasher to see if there is any lingering flavor or residue from the wash cycle.

Dishwashing Tests

For each detergent, I conducted five performance tests (the same 5 tests for each brand of natural dishwasher detergent to allow for an apples to apples comparison).

For each brand, I washed the dishes on the normal cycle, testing performance and how clean the detergent could get:

  • Crusty, dried on marinara sauce (un-rinsed)
  • Dried on oatmeal flakes left over from breakfast
  • Rinsed and dried cream cheese knife
  • Fresh, un-rinsed cream cheese knife
  • Thickly smeared peanut butter plate (un-rinsed)
  • Spoon covered in thick peanut butter (un-rinsed)

Cost Score

This measure is going to depend on where you shop, the manufacturers current pricing strategy, and whether you can get a deal or bargain.

However, I wanted to provide some objective measure of cost, based on my own experience, to provide a benchmark.

To score cost, I looked at how much each detergent costs today, at different retailers in the United States, without taxes, and divided by the number of loads it could handle.

I then gave each detergent a score based on cost range per load as follows:

  • Under $0.20 per load: 1 point
  • $0.21 and $0.25 per load: 2 points
  • $0.26 and $0.30 per load: 3 points
  • $0.31 and $0.35 per load: 4 points
  • $0.36 and above per load: 5 points

Other Score

While testing, I realized some of the detergents had aspects to them that weren’t effectively measured with my research methodology. As such, I added an “other” category, to point these factors out.

Are they Really Natural … or Just Better than the Alternative?

Finally, it’s worth noting that natural dishwasher detergent is a bit of a marketing term. Some of the ingredients in these detergents definitely aren’t 100% natural or non-toxic. That said, not everything that’s “chemical” is bad and not everything that’s “natural” is safe (see, for example: arsenic).

It’s my opinion, however, that these “natural” dishwasher detergents are safer for your family’s health and more eco friendly for the planet than what you’ll find in the big brands.

In the spirit of making small, everyday changes to help my family and the planet, I think it’s worth the switch, even though these are by no means perfect.

Final Thoughts About Finding the Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent

I hope this post has been helpful, and you’re ready to switch to natural dishwasher detergent in your own home.

If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend you choose one of my Top 4s:

But remember, these are based on my own personal tests, with my specific dishwasher (fairly new) and my city’s water (fairly soft). What works for one person won’t work for all, and it may take a few tries to get it right.

If you know someone else who is trying to green their cleaning routine and family life, I hope you’ll share this post with them!

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