Should You Unwrap Dishwasher Tablets?

At some point in life, we have all dreaded the nightmare that is dirty dishes. Let us collectively thank Joel Houghton for saving our life with the invention of a dishwasher! Yet, the consumer market continues innovating the idea and introducing new dishwasher-related products. One such phenomenon is detergent tablets, whose design and packaging confuse everyone about how to use them properly. So, to reduce the confusion, let's go find out if we should unwrap dishwasher tablets.

Unwrapping dishwasher tablets isn't necessary unless the manufacturer's instructions explicitly say so. In most cases, this covering is a synthetic polymer that automatically dissolves when met with water. Since the polymer is FDA-approved for food packaging, it poses no threat to your health and simply washes away in the system. 

But that is not where it ends. This curious plastic covering, using the tablets, how they work, and possible problems all bring about a lot of questions. So, if you'd like to learn this and more, keep reading ahead!

Putting a dishwasher tablet into the dishwasher machine, Should You Unwrap Dishwasher Tablets?


The Curious Case of Dishwasher Tablets

Dishwasher tablets are tiny capsules capable of performing huge tasks. They substitute for traditional detergent gel or powder and do an exceptional job at cleaning the dishes. 

A woman holding a dishwasher tablet and putting it into the dishwasher

How Do Dishwasher Tablets Work?

Essentially, each of the capsules contains a sufficient amount of concentrated detergent to last one wash cycle. Compounds inside the tablet undergo lots of chemical reactions to give out spotless dishes. 

The powerhouse of a dishwasher tablet are compounds called surfactants. This surface-active agent is a primary part of all cleaning devices and dissolves in the grease on the dishes to clean them. Additionally, alkaline compounds together with some enzymes help break fats and proteins to wash them away. Bleach also plays a significant role in clearing stains. 

How to Use the Tablets

Dishwasher tablets and scrubbing spongers on the side on a yellow background

Not only are dishwashing tablets increasingly accessible to buy today, but they are also easy to use. All it takes is a few basic steps to use dishwasher tablets effectively on your very first try. 

  1. Remove one tablet from the package. It is important to understand that any more than one tablet will be counterproductive to the cleaning process. Too much soap not only damages the glassware but will also produce residue and cause stains. 
  2. If your tablets of choice are packaged in water-soluble covering, do not unwrap them. Let the covering dissolve itself in the water. Thus, check the manufacturer's instructions before using the tablets to know what material is used for the covering. 
  3. Place the tablet in the main detergent dispenser of the machine. If you’d like to add a rinse aid to your dishwasher, add it in the rinse aid dispenser at this step. Rinse aid ensures the softness of the water during the cycle for easy washing. 
  4. Run the dishwasher cycle as you normally would.

Ensuring Tablets Work

While you’re at it, keep the following tips in mind. These would help you avoid common problems like inefficient cleaning and tablets that do not dissolve, among others.

  • Ensure that your hands are dry and the tablets do not come in contact with any substance beforehand. This may cause them to dissolve prematurely.
  • Double-check that the detergent cup is dry before the cycle. 
  • Make sure that all your dishes are dishwasher-friendly. Never put non-sticks, china, or copper items in the dishwasher. The tablets will undergo a series of chemical reactions, and any unsafe cutlery would cause damage to the machine. 
  • Keep in mind that the tablets are highly concentrated. Thus, do not overload or underload the washer wanting to get better results. 
  • Ensure that the water is hot enough (130-140℉) and the pressure is balanced. Otherwise, the tablet may not dissolve properly. 

Why Are Dishwasher Tablets Wrapped in Plastic?

Most dishwasher tablets come wrapped in a polyvinyl alcohol coating. PVA is a polymer that is not only water-soluble but also lasts a long time when exposed to air. For this shelf-stable property, PVA is an ideal choice for wrapping up dishwasher tablets. 

Dishwasher tablets dissolve when met with water. Vapor from the air, thus, poses a threat to them. Such a polymer coating allows convenient usage and storage of pods over a long period.

What Happens to the Plastic?

During the wash cycle, water causes the PVA coating to break down and dissolve. As a result, the contents inside are released into the system that helps clean the dishes. 

Can I Put Dishwasher Tablets in the Bottom of the Dishwasher?

You can put dishwasher tablets in the bottom of the dishwasher, but you shouldn’t do so if you want to reap any good results. A dishwasher has a separate compartment for detergents. This way, they are involved in the washing process precisely when needed. To understand this idea, let us first look into how the machine works.

The first step of a dishwashing cycle is rinsing and not washing. At this stage, the dishwasher takes in water to rinse away any previous residue, empties itself, and then refills to begin the washing. 

Should you put your tablet in the bottom, it will begin dissolving during this pre-wash cycle. Thus, when it is time to do the actual washing, little or no detergent would be left behind to continue. 

What if That Is the Only Option? 

Putting detergent into the dishwasher machine

There can be situations when you can't utilize the detergent compartment due to mechanical faults. You may then run the washer by putting the tablet in the bottom but keep in mind the following procedure:

  • Put your tablet in the bottom before starting the machine. Let it run its first water cycle and wait until the water is released.
  • Unlock the lid before the washing and notice how much of the tablet has been dissolved.
  • If you notice most of it gone, then make a habit of adding the tablet after the rinsing is done. 
  • Some machines have shorter rinse cycles. If most of the tablet is intact, you may skip the extra hassle.

Regardless, we recommend you get the compartment fixed as soon as possible. You cannot substitute it forever as it releases detergent not only at a precise time but also slowly and as per need.

Are Dishwasher Tablets Eco-Friendly?

If one begins questioning the eco-friendliness of dishwasher tablets, the first instinct is to declare the PVA coating as a culprit. Interestingly, PVA is a synthetic polymer that biodegrades when met with the right conditions. In fact, PVA is even approved by the FDA for use as a food packaging and cleaning agent. 

However, the chemically rich product inside most tables is neither the best for us nor the environment. Containing a range of chemicals, most of them release toxic substances and fragrances into the environment. 

Of course, we are not suggesting you stop doing dishes to save the environment. However, with a few considerations, you can play your part domestically as well as socially. 

One way is to make your own detergent at home. But if that’s too much of a hassle, how about carefully choosing eco-friendly dishwasher tablets? Let us see where that takes us. 

Which Dishwasher Tablets Are the Most Eco-Friendly?

The latest collections of dishwasher tablets come with a lot of environment-friendly claims. The key is to incorporate biodegradable and plant-based compounds. This way, there is little product going back into the environment. 

Ecocleaf Dishwasher Tablets

These dishwasher tablets not only use non-toxic ingredients but also incorporate a plant-based covering instead of plastic. They are also verified cruelty-free.

Click here to see Ecoleaf tablets on Amazon.

Beyond Natural Auto Dishwasher Tablet

This eco-friendly and plastic-free detergent is a USDA-certified cleaner for washing dishes. It is a close bet to Ecoleaf and takes little time to produce amazing results. 

Click here to see Beyond Natural tablets on Amazon.

Ecozone Dishwasher Tablets

Ecozone products genuinely deliver to their name. These tablets are a true all-rounder. They use a plant-based, vegan-friendly formula and are certified allergy-free, cruelty-free dishwasher tablets. 

Click here to see the Ecozone tablets on Amazon.

Do You Need Salt With All-in-One Dishwasher Tablets?

When cleaning manufacturers claim multi-benefit tabs include the functions of salt and rinse-aid, they do not lie. Thus, in normal circumstances, you do not need salt in all-in-one dishwasher tablets. However, in areas with hard water, this predetermined dosage may be insufficient. In that case, it is recommended you add salt on your own before the cycle. 

Final Takeaway

Now that you've uncovered the mystery of these dishwasher tablets, what's the plan? Are you making the switch from power detergent to tablets because of their efficiency? Or did you find your desired answers regarding how a dishwasher tablet works? Either way, best of luck with the dishes. 

Before you go, do you have other dishwasher concerns? Do you need more information on how it works? Check out our post here to learn if a dishwasher only drains when it is on

What about water usage? Are you concerned about how much a dishwasher can use? If you'd like to learn more, check out our post here. Until next time!

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