11 Best Dishwasher Detergents for Soft Water

The three most important things during the dishwashing process are your dishwasher, detergent, and the chemical nature of water. Water can be described as soft water or hard water.

11 Best Dishwasher Detergents for Soft Water

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

The mineral content in water determines its softness or hardness. The presence of calcium and magnesium in your water source controls its nature.

A water source is defined as soft water if the mineral content is less than 17 parts per million (PPM). Above 17 parts per million, water is termed hard water. The slightly hard water has 18-60 PPM mineral content, moderately hard water has 61-120 PPM, and hard water has 121-180 PPM minerals. Very hard water or extremely hard water has mineral content above 180 parts per million.

You will be surprised to know that 85% of homes in the US suffer from hard water problems. Consider yourself very lucky if you live in an area with soft water. People with hard water have to spend a lot to keep their appliances and plumbing safe from hard water stains and lines. These stains are also visible on dishes, laundry, and anything you wash using hard water.

Soft water is a blessing for dishwashers. The benefits include cleaner and spotless dishes, less detergent use, and durability of your dishwashers. A dishwasher with hard water lasts for 4-6 years. On the contrary, one operating on soft water lasts for 10-12 years on average. You can very well estimate how detrimental hard water is for your appliances and dishes.

11 Best Dishwasher Detergents for Soft Water

You must be thinking, why not use just any dishwasher detergent if you have soft water at your home. Well, many detergents are specifically made for hard water. You need to get one made to work with soft water. We have researched the best detergents available in the market and selected the ones tailored to work with soft water. Our research was based on features, user reviews, and surveys conducted with homeowners. It is pertinent to highlight that if you have very soft water, we suggest using half the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer.

1. Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange, Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange, Dishwasher Detergent Tablets 84 count (packaging may vary )
18,523 Reviews
Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange, Dishwasher Detergent Tablets 84 count (packaging may vary )
  • Easy-to-use, pre-measured dishwasher pacs with a refreshing orange scent
  • Powerful cleaners remove the toughest stains and gently scrub your dishes and glasses sparkling clean
  • To use properly, remove one gelpac and place in the main detergent cup and close completely

If you want exceptional performance at an affordable price, then Finish Gelpacs detergent is the best deal. The detergent is cheaper than most of the top-line brands and performs at par with them.

Users with soft water mention that they use half amount of detergent and get the best results. One reviewer from a rural area states that they have extremely soft water and many detergents make suds, but Finish Gelpacs don’t.

The dishes smell like an orange after coming out from the dishwasher, as explained by many people. However, the smell vanishes after a couple of hours. You may want to stay away from this detergent if you are allergic to smelly dishes.

The detergent comes in a card box, with each gelpac individually wrapped in plastic. Finish states that the plastic is recyclable and eco-friendly. You can say that the detergent and the brand are 50% eco-friendly. Sight improvements would do great.

You cannot beat the price at which the detergent is offered. It is cheap compared to other detergents, and if you consider the performance, it is definitely the best bang for your money.

2. Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Tablets

If you are on a home detox program and want something to aid your efforts in the dishwashing department, then Ecover is here to help you out. The all-natural, bio-based, plant-derived, and fragrance-free detergent tablets are a marvel when washing dishes with soft water. The detergent has 5,000 reviews, with 86% of customers rating it above 4 stars.

People with soft water at their homes have no complaints about the dishwasher. A few of the reviewers noticed suds, but when they used half tablet, suds were gone, and the dishes came out spotless and squeaky clean.

Ecover is one of the very few detergents that have no smell. It is due to the fact that all the ingredients are natural and plant-based. Detergents with dies and artificial fragrances smell, but natural detergents like Ecover don’t. It is also great for washing baby bottles.

Every ingredient, packaging, and wrapping is eco-friendly. The detergent doesn’t harm our environment in any way. People like how the tablets are packed in water dissolvable cover.

It is a costly detergent. All-natural and bio-based detergents are costly. You may not consider buying it because it comes at almost double the price compared to leading brands. However, there are lots of reviews that mention that it is worth every penny.

3. Finish All In 1, Dishwasher Detergent – Powerball – Dishwashing Tablets

Finish - All in 1 - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs - Fresh...
63,942 Reviews
Finish - All in 1 - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Dishwashing Tablets - Dish Tabs - Fresh...
  • Help soften the toughest food residues like baked-on lasagna and dried-on oatmeal for easy removal
  • Powerful cleaners remove even the toughest stains. No need to pre-soak or pre-rinse with Powerball cuts through grease & scrubs away burnt & dried-on...
  • Each individually wrapped Finish Powerball tab provides a premeasured dose of detergent, eliminating guesswork and dissolves completely

Whenever we talk about the best dishwashing detergents for any purpose, let it be soft water, hard water, Finish deserves a spot on the list. It is one of the most sought-after detergents in the world.

The price per count is also amazing and is budget-friendly. Considering you have soft water and will probably use half a tablet to avoid suds, the price per load will be negligible.

When it comes to dealing with soft water or hard water, Powerball tablets deliver the best results. You will need to half the tablet in soft water, but the results will exceed your expectations. It will remove all the stubborn residues on your dishes.

Compared to Finish Gelpacs, the Powerball tablets don’t smell much. Only a handful of customers mention the awful smell from the dishes, which vanishes after an hour at most. Powerball tablets are more eco-friendly compared to Gelpacs.

4. Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Pack

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Free & Clear, 45 count, Pack of 2
7,631 Reviews
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Free & Clear, 45 count, Pack of 2
  • Enzyme rich formula cuts through tough grease and food residue to leave dishes sparkling clean
  • Free of fragrances, dyes, phosphates, and chlorine bleach
  • Convenient single dose dishwasher pods, just toss right into the dishwasher

Seventh Generation is another top-of-the-line bio-based dishwashing detergent. The reviews support the manufacturer’s claim of superior performance in soft and hard water alike.

People with soft water and even with old dishwashers like the way it performs. You don’t need to worry anymore about suds and white films on your dishes. The detergent gets full marks from reviewers in dealing with soft water.

There are mixed reviews about smelly dishes. Some people express 100% satisfaction with the detergent, while some say it leaves behind awful smells that don’t go away even after 3 hours. Sometimes the smell can come due to a dirty dishwasher as well. So, if you experience smell with Seventh Generation, make sure you run a cleaning cycle.

The price is in line with other brands. Moreover, it is less expensive compared to other bio-based detergents such as Ecover. It is best for people on a tight budget but still want a high-quality bio-based and eco-friendly detergent.

5. Finish – Quantum – 82ct – Dishwasher Detergent

Finish - Quantum - 82ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing...
21,039 Reviews
Finish - Quantum - 82ct - Dishwasher Detergent - Powerball - Ultimate Clean & Shine - Dishwashing...
  • Finish Quantum Scrubs, Degreases, and Shines. Because There’s Clean. Then There’s so Clean It Shines
  • 3 Separate Fast Dissolving Chambers, Delivering 3 Different Power Actions
  • Powder: Scrubbing Power to Break Down and Remove Toughest Stuck on Food in One Wash. No need to pre-rinse or soak. Cuts through grease, breaks down...

Finnish Quantum tablets are a fan favorite. The reviews confirm that the detergent performs according to buyer’s expectations and rarely lets people down. The detergent doesn’t create any suds, and all the detergent is washed away even in the shortest washing cycle. You may need to use a half tablet, but don’t worry. It will give great results with a half tablet as well.

Finish detergents have one major drawback; smell. It is mentioned in the majority of the negative reviews for Finish Quantum as well. However, the smell vanishes away after a couple of hours.

The price per pod is affordable. It is not too costly and not too cheap. Buyers are satisfied with the value of money they get after purchasing the detergent.

One of the best features about the tablets is their 3-way cleaning approach. It has powder, gel, and liquid. Powder provides matchless scrubbing power to break down and remove the toughest food stuck on the plates. Gel cuts grease and liquid aids drying and delivers shining and spotless dishes.

Read: 16 Best Dishwasher Detergent for Stainless Steel Interior

6. Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster, Multi-Use Citric Acid Cleaner

Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster, Hard Water Stain Remover, Multi-Use Citric Acid Cleaner (24 oz...
11,880 Reviews
Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster, Hard Water Stain Remover, Multi-Use Citric Acid Cleaner (24 oz...
  • POWERFUL CITRIC ACID FOR THAT EXTRA BOOST: This is a 2-pack of our 24 oz Booster Additive to be used in conjunction with dishwasher detergent to...
  • GUARANTEED TO CLEAN EVEN IN HARD WATER: Our dishwashing booster contains natural ingredients, powerful citric acid that remove stains, hard water...
  • PH BALANCE OPTIMIZATION: Use Dish Detergent Booster for optimizing your dishwasher's cleaning ability by balancing the PH caused by hard water.

Though the brand advertises it as a hard water booster, user review analysis reveals that many people use it for soft water as well. Please note that this is not a detergent but a booster. It aids in the cleaning process. The booster is added along with the detergent in the dishwasher, and it helps in removing tough and stuck food residues from your dishes.

The reviews are great and suggest that it is a quality booster. Most people who use it with soft water have extremely dirty and soiled dishes with food stuck on them. If you are using Lemi Shine, you don’t need to pre-rinse your dishes.

The price department receives mixed reviews. You get to save a lot on your water bill if you don’t have to pre-rinse your dishes. However, some find it to be costly compared to other detergent boosters.

The booster comes in a plastic bottle that you can reuse for various other detergents/powders. Overall, it is a great product for people who can’t get clean dishes with either soft or hard water.

7. Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent, 30 Fl Oz, Pack of 2
2,490 Reviews
Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent, 30 Fl Oz, Pack of 2
  • Plant-Based Cleaning Ingredients: Formulated with powerful natural cleaning agents like soap bark, corn, and coconut.
  • Powerful Clean, Naturally: Our dishwasher gel combines plant-based power and peace of mind, leaving your dishes sparkling clean and smelling fresh,...
  • Shake and Squirt: Into your automatic dishwasher’s detergent cup. Perfect for dishes, glasses, utensils, pots, and pans splattered with anything...

If you are looking for a high-quality gel-based soft water detergent, then Better Life all-natural is a feasible option. Buyers with soft water experience no problems using it in their dishwasher. Moreover, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of using half tablets. You can simply pour half of the recommended volume into the dispenser, and you are good to go.

A majority of the reviewers seem satisfied with the detergent. However, some buyers complain about its inability to remove tough residues like grease, oil, dried oatmeal, and egg yolk.

The detergent doesn’t impart any taste or smell to your dishes. Moreover, it is an ideal detergent if you are undergoing a detox program for your home. The all-natural and bio-based ingredients are safe for baby bottles as well.

8. Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods – All-in-One Powder & Gel Dishwasher Detergent Pods with Powerful Citric Acid

Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods - All-in-One Powder & Gel Dishwasher Detergent Pods with Powerful...
3,021 Reviews
Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Pods - All-in-One Powder & Gel Dishwasher Detergent Pods with Powerful...
  • SPARKLINGLY CLEAN FINISH: Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Detergent Pods are Dual Chamber, Powder and Gel Combo, so you can finally skip the pre-wash...
  • NO MESS, NO POWDERS: Our dishwashing detergent pods clean and remove grease, stains, and stuck on food from dishware, without leaving a soapy residue.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY AND GREEN CLEANING: Powered by natural citric acid, making our dishwashing pods a safer and more eco-friendly choice for cleaning your...

Lemi Shine also manufactures detergent pods for soft water. The detergent may not be as famous as the booster, but buyers like it all right. If we compare the ratings and customer satisfaction, Lemi Shine is in line with the top detergents like Finish and Ecover.

The all-natural detergent performs exceptionally well with soft water. It is a versatile detergent that is fit for hard and soft water. Its ability to clean soiled dishes is also matchless. There is no negative review about its cleaning power. Some people complain about suds, but everything settles down nicely once they use half tablet with soft water.

Many people who tried the detergent were fed up with smelly dishes. Lemi Shine is a natural detergent that doesn’t give any unpleasant smell. You may notice a slight citric smell which will go away in a while. Once the dishes come out after the washing and drying cycle, they will be ready to use again.

A majority of the reviewers don’t complain about the price. They mention that the price is a bit higher, but the detergent is worth it. The tablets are individually wrapped in dissolvable paper. However, the packaging is plastic.

9. Miele Dishwasher Tablets

Miele 10245660 Dishwasher Tabs-20 per box 3X20, 60 Tabs, White, Count
1,566 Reviews
Miele 10245660 Dishwasher Tabs-20 per box 3X20, 60 Tabs, White, Count
  • 20 per box 3X20(60 count)
  • Plastic around tab does not need to be removed it will dissole during the cycle

Miele is another dishwasher for soft water. The detergent is costly compared to other detergents, but its reviews state that it is worth trying. Miele works for people when every detergent fails. It means that it is a reliable detergent. One reviewer states that she tried almost 10 detergents before finally settling on Miele.

The detergent receives mixed reviews from buyers with soft water. Some people are so satisfied with the detergent and mention that even a half tablet works great with soft water. Others are livid about wasting their money.

There are no smell-related complaints because the detergent is bio-based. The price is a big concern for the majority of the people. There are no bad reviews about the packaging and eco-friendliness of the detergent. A minimum amount of plastic has been used in the packing.

10. Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder

Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder 3.17 lbs, 80 Loads, Fragrance Free, Plant and...
1,248 Reviews
Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder 3.17 lbs, 80 Loads, Fragrance Free, Plant and...
  • Contains: 1- 3.17 Pound (80 Loads) Bag of Grab Green Natural Fragrance Free Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder. Our velcro closure bags are...
  • Naturally Effective: Specifically formulated to cut through grease and stuck on food without harsh chemicals, noxious fumes or caustic chemicals,...
  • Fragrance Free: Our powerful dishwasher detergent, easily measured with the included scoop, is hypoallergenic, free and clear of all scents and dyes,...

We know that not everyone can’t afford a costly bio-based dishwashing detergent for soft water. For all the people running on a tight budget, Grab Green is a suitable option. You can expect clean dishes and zero smells at an affordable price. However, the actual performance may vary according to your setting.

When it comes to soft water, the detergent receives mixed reviews. Some buyers are satisfied with the results and wish they could have found the detergent some time ago. However, a few term the detergent as a waste of money.

Most of the reviewers are satisfied with the dishes coming out scent-free. It is interesting that people who don’t like the detergent from a cleaning perspective also mention that the dishes have no smell.

Summing it all up, we can say that it is a mediocre detergent with a combination of good and bad things.

11. Bubble Bandit Dishwasher Detergent with Phosphate

Bubble Bandit Dishwasher Detergent with Phosphate. The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Spotless Dishes...
284 Reviews
Bubble Bandit Dishwasher Detergent with Phosphate. The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Spotless Dishes...
  • Proudly Handcrafted in Small Batches in the USA
  • Now Free of Perfumes, Clear of Dyes
  • Eliminates limescale buildup, white film

Please check your local laws before you plan on buying this detergent. Some states don’t allow using phosphate-based detergents because they harm waterways and marine life. Phosphate has been used as a major ingredient in dishwashing detergent for years, but its use has been reduced by authorities in the past 5-10 years owing to environmental concerns and the increasing trend to use bio-based ingredients in detergents.

Bubble Bandit performs nicely in soft water. It is one of the very few detergents that can be used in hard water and soft water alike. A handful of people with soft water have tried the detergent and there are no complaints.

The detergent imparts a certain smell on your dishes, but it is pleasant. However, you would want to stay clear of this detergent if you are on a detox plan or environment conscious.

Many people find the price economical. However, a lot complain about it being too costly. The biggest concern with this detergent is phosphate. If you decide to buy it, check the local laws and consider its impact on the environment.

Also check: Top 15 dishwasher detergents for cloudy glasses


Which is the best soft water detergent?

Finish Gelpacs, Ecover, and Seventh Generation are the best detergents for soft water. Better Life is the best gel-based detergent for soft water.

Why do I need to put half amount of detergent in the dishwasher?

Though it is not recommended to put less or more detergent in your dishwasher, however, with soft water, you need to add half amount because soft water is more proficient in lathering the detergent. We don’t want you to have detergent residues on your dishes.

How to deal with suds?


Sudsing is the process when soft water forms more bubbles inside the dishwasher by dissolving the detergent quickly. You can avoid this by putting less detergent in the soap dispenser.

Do I need to use a booster with soft water?

If your dishes are too dirty and you don’t plan on pre-rinsing them, you can add a little amount of booster. However, it is not recommended to use a booster with soft water because it can lead to sudsing.

Do I still need a hard water detergent after installing a water softener at my home?

It depends on the hardness of the water in your area. If you live in an area with extremely hard water, you’ll have to rely on a hard water detergent. It is advisable to perform a water hardness test after installing a water softener to know the exact hardness level. It will help you decide which detergent to use for your dishwasher and laundry.

Is soft water good for my dishwasher?

Yes. Soft water helps enhance the performance and age of your appliances. Soft water is free from calcium and magnesium, and it doesn’t form layers on your appliances. Soft water is also beneficial for other water-using appliances such as washing machines, water heaters, and plumbing.

I don’t have a water softener at my home. How can I soften the water for my dishwasher?

You can use water softening salts or detergents specifically made for hard water.



  • Stephen Powers

    Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

theappliancenerd.com is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Leave a Comment