Are Dishwasher and Laundry Pods Messing with Your Machines? Experts Weigh In

Are Dishwasher and Laundry Pods Messing with Your Machines? Experts Weigh In

When pods for dishwashers and laundry machines first hit the market, you may have breathed a sigh of relief: No more measuring goopy, liquid detergent — what a time to be alive!

…That is, until you found a half-released pod lodged between two spoons in the dishwasher and had to rerun the load. Or maybe you realized that your clothes weren’t coming out quite as fresh-smelling as they used to.

Turns out, there are pitfalls to pod life. The question becomes: Are self-dosing dishwasher and laundry pods actually worth all the hype? If you want to keep using pods for the convenience factor, here’s what experts say about making sure those pods work for you.

Know that all pods aren’t created equal

Are you picking your pods based on the pretty flowers on the front of the container, hoping they’re the best smelling option? Same. But there are better ways.

Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop, recommends laundry pods that say “3 in 1,” which typically mean they get rid of odors, remove stains, and protect color in your laundry machine. For the dishwasher, she suggests checking the reviews on potential pods to find a brand that people love, looking for recommendations for types that “leave dishes sparkling clean, without any leftover residue or water spots.”

Paul Berry, owner of Mr. Appliance of San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, prefers Finish tablets for dishwashers. “[They] are my absolute favorite brand for dishwashers,” he says. “In my opinion, they do the best job to remove residue from the surface and prevent any type of particles from resettling during the cleaning cycle.” He also likes Cascade. For laundry, he prefers Tide Pods and Persil.

Avoid the quick wash cycle

For both machines, one reason you may find a half-used pod at the end of the cycle is that you chose the quick wash or equivalent cycle. The issue is that this cycle doesn’t allow the water time to get warm enough for the pod to fully dissolve, as pods generally dissolve in 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more. “Thus, clothes or dishes are not entirely clean, and more than likely, you’ll find the clear membrane of the pod partially intact,” Berry explains.

So instead, skip the quick wash cycle. Another way to help prevent this issue in your dishwasher if you do want to use quick wash is to run the sink faucet with hot water for 30 seconds before starting the machine to give the water heating process a head start.

For the same reason, a too-short cycle is also likely the culprit when a laundry pod “melts” on your clothes. Although it looks like a stain, it’s really just concentrated detergent meant to wash your clothes anyway. So don’t worry: Your white T-shirt won’t be blue forever. “All you need to do is rewash the ‘stained’ clothing and it will come out,” Bowen says.

Make sure you insert pods correctly

One laundry pod mistake people commonly make, according to Bowen, is placing the pod on top of a large load. “It may not dissolve properly. This can cause issues like streaks and spotting due to the small deposits of detergent,” she says. Instead, throw that pod in first, and then put the clothes on top. 

When in doubt, think about switching methods

If you’re unsuccessfully trying to troubleshoot a potential pod problem, Bowen says you should first rule out other concerns with your appliances, such as maintaining the machine properly and, in the case of a dishwasher, keeping the drain clear of food debris

If pods still aren’t working out for your laundry routine, though, consider swapping with a powder, as Berry says liquid detergents seem to have the hardest time dissolving during the cleaning cycle. For dishwashers, Bowen says gels from a bottle can be the quicker and easier option.

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Shifrah Combiths

Contributor

With five children, Shifrah is learning a thing or two about how to keep a fairly organized and pretty clean house with a grateful heart in a way that leaves plenty of time for the people who matter most. Shifrah grew up in San Francisco, but has come to appreciate smaller town life in Tallahassee, Florida, which she now calls home. She’s been writing professionally for twenty years and she loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

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Maxwell Ryan

CEO

Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver. Since then he has grown ApartmentTherapy.com, added TheKitchn.com, our home cooking site, and has authored four books on design. He now lives with his daughter in a lovely apartment in Brooklyn.