Dishwasher tabs or powder: Which variant works better?

Anyone who buys a new dishwasher because they are tired of washing dishes by hand can look forward to much more convenience in everyday life. However, buying a new appliance is not the end of the story. Before the dishes can be cleaned as conveniently as possible, you have to decide whether to buy compact dishwasher tabs or powder in bulk. This is where opinions differ, as both variants bring both advantages and disadvantages. We would like to take a closer look at these in this article.

What are the advantages of dishwasher tabs?

dishwasher tabs
dishwasher tabs

Tabs are particularly easy and practical to use. Since they are usually individually packaged, you do not have to think long at this point, what the correct dosage for a full dishwasher looks like. Of course, there are diverse variants of tabs for the dishwasher on the market. The most common are multifunctional products, which can do more than just remove food residues and the like. Most variants even include the rinse aid. A practical side effect is that these no longer have to be bought separately or refilled.

By the way, it is a misconception that multi-tabs also contain regenerating salt, which regenerates the ion exchanger of the dishwasher. If you want to prevent limescale stains in the long term, you will have to additionally refill the salt yourself. According to Stiftung Warentest, an exception applies to a water hardness of less than 21°. Then you don’t need salt, as the water softeners contained in the Multi-Tabs are sufficient.

Many people are annoyed by the fact that not every powder dissolves completely. If you don’t want to see the problem with clumped powder in the dishwashing chamber any longer, you should also reach for the dishwasher tabs; these dissolve completely and without leaving any residue.

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What are the disadvantages of dishwasher tabs?

Tabs can only be placed in the dishwasher compartment as a whole unit. Accordingly, the detergent cannot be dosed individually here. If the machine is only half-filled, for example, this is bad for the wallet and the environment. Tabs are also generally much more expensive to purchase than the classic powder.

Another negative aspect of the tabs relates to the environment: Much more packaging waste is produced here, since the tabs are individually packaged in plastic.

Advantages over powder
  • Easy handling
  • Detergent and rinse aid in one tab
  • No clumping
Disadvantages compared to powder
  • No flexible dosage possible
  • More expensive than dishwasher powder
  • Environmental impact due to individual plastic packaging

What are the advantages of powder?

dishwasher powder
dishwasher powder

Of course, classic powder also has advantages. For example, you can individually determine how you want to dose the cleaner. If you only want to fill half a dishwasher, or if the dishes are only lightly soiled, simply add less powder to the detergent compartment according to the instructions on the packaging.

In addition, powders for the dishwasher are altogether more productive and therefore also cheaper. If you want to take the trouble to calculate the efficiency of the dishwashing cycle, you will quickly notice: Dishwashing is significantly cheaper with powder.

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What are the disadvantages of powder?

You will have a little more effort in dosing when using loose powder. For one thing, additional products are necessary, such as rinse aid. For another, you will have to get used to the correct dosage, especially in the initial phase. Powder can also clump if dosed too high or too low, or if the dishwasher is too full.

Overall, handling is also a bit complicated, because powder can spill or cause soiling on the work surface if you don’t pay close enough attention.

Advantages over dishwasher tabs
  • Can be dosed individually
  • More economical
  • Lower price compared to tabs
Disadvantages compared to dishwasher tabs
  • More time-consuming dosing
  • Rinse aid is additionally required
  • Powder may clump

The price – which is cheaper?

When it comes to the question of whether dishwasher tabs or powder is cheaper, the tendency is clearly toward powder. In the dishwasher detergent test of Stiftung Warentest (issue 8/2016), it was pointed out that discounter dishwasher powder costs just 3 to 7 cents per rinse cycle (depending on the dosage), while you have to pay up to 22 cents per rinse cycle for dishwasher tabs. A big difference, especially if you opt for the branded products.

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Dishwasher tabs or powder – what do the experts recommend?

Experts also know that both tabs and powder each have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, in terms of protecting the environment, it is more recommended to go for classic powders. This is especially true if you want to effectively save money. As far as the performance in terms of cleanliness of the dishes is concerned, the decision for the tabs or for the powder is yours in any case – both variants ensure clean dishes and thus save you a lot of work.

In the past, Stiftung Warentest has pointed out that dishwashing detergents containing phosphate should generally be avoided. Phosphates unnecessarily pollute water and are therefore bad for people and the environment. In the meantime, various tests have even shown that dishwashing detergents without phosphates do not perform worse than products with phosphates, but actually perform better, depending on the product.

David Shaw

David Shaw

Dishwashers expert with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and shares his knowledge on many sites. Helps you choose the best (portable, countertop, built-in) dishwashers on this site.

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