where to put dishwasher detergent

A Guide on Where to Put Detergent in a Dishwasher

If you just had a dishwasher installed, you probably have the user manual as well. But what happens if you do not? What if it is your first encounter with one?

Just like any other appliance, a dishwasher can be difficult to operate for the first time. This explains the reason as to why manufacturers provide an instructions manual. However, a different possible scenario is moving to a house with a dishwasher, and locating the manual becomes impossible. If you are a first time user, you will be left wondering how to go about the process.

Our focus in this article is where to put the detergent in a dishwasher. However, we will highlight the entire process for cleaning dishes.

Types of Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher detergent comes in four forms that include:

  • Powder
  • Liquid
  • Pod/tablet
  • Rinsing Aid


Powder dishwasher detergent is comparable to powder laundry detergent in appearance. It is effective for cleaning dishes and has been in use for a long time. Essentially, it works by dissolving in water after it is released into the dishwasher. Since it does not form a lot of suds, regular detergent cannot be used as a substitute.

The main advantage of powder detergent is cost. It is cheaper compared liquid or tablet forms of detergent. On the downside, it can spill easily.


Liquid or gel dishwasher detergent is almost similar to regular dish detergent in terms of appearance. However, the two have a different chemical composition. Just like powder dishwasher detergent, gel dishwasher detergent does not lather a lot after dissolving in water. Accordingly, it cannot cause an overflow in the dishwasher.

Gel is relatively pricier compared to powder detergent but it offers better control when using.


Detergent pods or tablets are premeasured dishwasher packets that act as single-dose units. They are the most recent in the market. Further, they are very popular because of user convenience. Unlike the traditional powder and liquid detergents, they do not spill. They remain intact until they are released into the dishwasher.

Some tablets contain both surfactants and a rinsing aid. Accordingly, their cleaning power is regarded as superior.

The main limitation of detergent pods is that some may fail to dissolve properly in water. Secondly, their cost is higher compared to gel and powder detergents.

Rinsing Aid

Rinsing aids are low forming surfactants that are released in the final rinse cycle of a dishwasher. They improve wetting thereby preventing the formation of water spots on dishes.

Rinse aids also comprise of components that improve the bright appearance of dishes especially the ones made of glass.

Despite their benefits, they are optional. You do not have to use them for your dishes to come out clean.

Where to Put Detergent in Dishwasher

where to put dishwasher detergent

Besides a rising aid, all the other types of detergent go to the same place in the dishwasher. The interior of a dishwasher door features two soap dispenser tubs. One tub is for the liquid, powder or pod detergent. The other one on the right is for the rinsing aid.

It is important to be extra careful when adding liquid or powder soap to the tub. It is easy to create a mess through spillage.

Secondly, these kind of detergents should be measured carefully. Using too little can result to poorly cleaned dishes whereas adding too much can cause the dishwasher to leave traces of detergent on the dishes.

A detergent pod should be placed in the soap dispenser tab.  Do not open the pod. Place it as it is. Furthermore, one dose is enough for a complete dishwasher cycle.

If you find that your dishwasher does not dissolve pods properly after placing them in the dispenser, throw one inside the dishwasher before starting a cleaning cycle.

Add detergent to the dispenser every time before cleaning dishes. However, a rinsing aid should be added once in every few dishwasher uses.

How to Clean Dishes in a dishwasher

Step 1: Load dishes in the dishwasher. Place heavily soiled plates and pots in the bottom rack and all the things that need light cleaning in the top rack. See more tips here.

Step 2: Find the soap dispenser in the interior of your dishwasher’s door. Open the lid, add any form of automatic detergent and close the lid. Follow the instruction on the detergent’s container or fill to the designated line in the dispenser.

Step 3: Add a rising aid in the appropriate tub and close the lid. Skip this step if you are using a pod that contains rinsing aid.

Step 4: Select the wash and dry cycles and let your dishwasher do the magic.


  1. Does the dish washing pod have to be in the soap dispenser ? My dispenser will not snap down anymore. What to do? Where should I put the pod in the dish washer since the soap dispenser will not close?

    • Hello Bruce! I am really sorry for the late reply. That’s not a great idea because the pod might dissolve too early. Probably during the pre-rinse cycle. The best idea is to use a different kind of detergent in the dispenser. Maybe a few drops regular dishwashing soap and a bit of baking soda.

  2. Does the dish washing pod have to be in the soap dispenser ? My dispenser will not snap down anymore. What to do? Where should I put the pod in the dish washer since the soap dispenser will not close? THIS IS FIRST TIME I AM EMAILING

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