This Reader Uses a Dishwasher Pod Hack That Leaves Dishes Spotless (& Saves Money)

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dish washer and detergent

Struggling with dirty dishes?

Dishwashers are super convenient, but they still have their issues. Running a rinsing cycle that doesn’t entirely clean your dishes can be frustrating! Luckily, this week’s Happy Friday reader, Rebecca, is sharing her hack, and it’s as simple as it is effective!

empty dishwasher

For over 10 years, I have been using only HALF a dishwasher tab to clean full loads, and my dishes have never been cleaner! Previously, I was having trouble where my dishwasher was always gross inside — gunky and slimy on the bottom, and filmy on the inside door and walls. Then I’d have to do a special cleaning cycle, running it empty with the heavy-duty dishwasher cleaner. But then the buildup would start again. Also, our glasses were so filmy/cloudy and etched-looking.

finish powerball

I thought I would test out less soap to try and help cut the residue buildup. First, I would cut off 1/3 of the tab (using 2/3), and that was a little better, then I started cutting the tab in half, and I have never had buildup problems again. I have only tested with Finish tabs, and all different varieties of Finish tabs have worked FANTASTIC.


I only do full loads. I always use rinse-aid. Lastly, I NEVER pre-wash or pre-rinse. (If you have questions about this, google “Should I pre-wash?” or “Why use rinse-aid in the dishwasher?” Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports and Wirecutter, etc. have researched these.)

Detergent can work BETTER by not cleaning the food residue off first. The exception is if I find a plate that sat with hardened food on it overnight. I’ve lived at 4 different houses since trying this, and it works with hard water, soft water, old dishwashers, or new ones. Seems to improve results with any brand dishwasher.

cutting dishwasher tool

Each package of detergent lasts twice as long, and I hope it’s good for the environment, too. I have especially saved money and water by not needing to do ANY dishwasher cleaning with special cleaners and an empty load. I have NOT cleaned out the machine itself since starting this. Any glass items we bought since starting this have not had cloudiness or etching.

dishwasher accessory

If your pod comes in a little foil pack, just snap it in half before opening the package, it breaks easily. I use the ones from Costco that are in clear plastic wrapping, and I just cut them in half with kitchen scissors. I have a tiny dish on my windowsill, and I keep the other half there until I need it next time. It doesn’t seem to matter if the halves are a little lop-sided.

Dishes piled in sink

I can’t wait to try this, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing this Hip Tip because it’s definitely going to save many of us time (and money!) when it comes to cleaning dishes!


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About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.

Join The Discussion

Comments 30

  1. cln29

    I can’t wait to try this. My glasses always have spots

  2. srintra

    Thanks for sharing the idea!

  3. CJ

    Amazing, Rebecca, thanks for sharing. I’m trying this tonight! (I had also read that cutting back to 1/2 the usual detergent gets your clothes cleaner too, (for the same reason, I suppose) so I tried it. They seem fine and my detergent lasts longer!)

    • Lana

      Yes, we only use one tablespoon of detergent and have great results.

      • CJ

        Wow! That’s even less than I use! I’ll try it…thanks!

      • riss

        I spoke with an appliance repairman when our dryer was not heating enough, and our conversation led to the washer. He said do not put more than 2 tbsp of detergent on a full load laundry, and your washer will last longer and works better.

  4. Lori

    I’d cut back on how much laundry detergent I use but never thought to do this with my dishwasher tabs. Thanks for sharing!

    • CJ

      Same! Never crossed my mind!

  5. Marla

    I will definitely try this. As far as our laundry goes… I have been using half of the suggested amount of liquid laundry detergent for a few years now. Our clothes are much cleaner! So I’m anxious to try your method for our dishes.

    • Marla

      Update… We tried the dishwasher hack and are very pleased! Thank you very much!

  6. GPuser05

    Thanks for the idea. Has anyone tried this with cascade tabs?

    • rebecca

      I know Cascade is great quality, you should give it a try for a week and see. Good luck!

  7. Patricia Goff

    I can’t wait to try this when we get a dishwasher again. Ours quit years ago and we just haven’t had time to go look for one yet. LOL

  8. laurie

    Weekly I do a vinegar rinse to clean out any odors and thouroughly clean the system. If I really have an odor I have these amazing bleach tabs that I will drop in 1 and run a cycle. I use Sams dishwasher pakcets that are plastic so I am not able to cut them, but great idea’s.

  9. Alikia29

    I need to try! It totally works with laundry.

  10. Lucinda

    I have that same Bosch dishwasher! I’m giving this a try!!

    • rebecca

      The inside of my dishwasher speaks for itself, it still looks new after about 4 years of VERY full loads!
      I love that third rack!

  11. suzieq-0

    We bought the GE smart dispense washing machine last year. You put the soap in and it decides how much soap to dispense. It wasn’t working right and tons of soap was left over and the repairman that came out said oh no you can’t use this it’s always gonna be wrong you only need a tiny bit of soap in it or you’ll ruin your washing machine. I think it’s interesting that GE made a washer with a feature that even their technicians don’t recommend. Anyhow I’ve never tried it with a dishwasher. I will try it out. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Cb

    Do you know if this works with hard water? I know with soft water you can use less detergent but I want to make sure the dishes are sanitary while still using less detergent with hard water!

    • rebecca

      I lived in Tucson for many years, and we had VERY hard water at our house. That is when i started using this method. I would still get little white crumbs residually from hard water deposits in the sprayer arms, but the machine was still much cleaner overall inside — this method of less soap eliminated the slime and gunk from the machine floor that always built up, and it kept my glassware cleaner with no cloudiness compared to when i used the full amount of soap.
      in other words, it didn’t do anything about the tiny white mineral “crumbs” from the water supply, but the dishes were still squeaky clean and the machine walls and floor were better off from no slimy residue.
      good luck if you want to try it for a couple days!

  13. Varsha darekar

    Cool .. I will try today

  14. Angie

    I tried today. It works. I can’t say the dishes are “cleaner” but certainly not more dirty. I will keep trying it. Thanks!

  15. Sue

    I don’t have residue issue with the Lemishine washer tabs. My tub looks wonderful, but I don’t like the way they smell. I do add the extra booster powder too though because it does help with the hard water for me.

  16. Seema

    You mentioned here not to pre-wash. I keep loading my dish washer as when there are dishes in the sink and run it once at night. Won’t the food on the dishes get dried out by the night time if not pre-washed? That’s the sole reason I feel like pre-washing.

    • Beth McMahon

      I never pre-wash. Just scrape off any chunky stuff. My dishes can stay in the dishwasher for a couple of days not pre washed and always come out perfect. To me, if I am pre-washing, then I might as well put dish soap in the sink and just wash by hand. Pre-washing is like washing them twice.

      • Seema

        Thanks for replying Beth. I’ll try that too. I also feel that pre washing is like washing them twice but was always scared of dishes coming out dirty in the morning when I needed them.

  17. Maggie

    I’ve done this for years too. I cut them with a knife I’m going to wash on a cutting board that’s going into the dishwasher, right before I run a load. I think I started doing this twenty-odd years ago in grad school, and never stopped. Back then, the dish tab brand was called “Electrosol” (before they changed it to “Finish”), in the “glory days” of couponing when a package of tabs never cost more than a buck or two with coupons at some drug store.

  18. Samantha

    Our dishwasher repair guy said the tabs are always too much soap. He recommended a switch to liquid and using half. But this works too!

  19. Nicole S.

    If you ever run short or run out of dishwasher tabs a cup of ammonia works great and cleans the dishwasher at the same time. My mother taught me this trick.

  20. Kara

    My only thing is how can this be done with cascade bc that’s what I got but it’s got the 3 separate liquids on top of the powder section. I would love to do this but I’m just not sure how with these tabs.

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