Can You Use Dishwasher Pods for Laundry?

Doing laundry can be a tedious chore. We all want to find ways to make it easier and more efficient. One idea that has become popular is using dishwasher pods to clean clothes in the washing machine. But is this actually a good idea? Here is a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of using dishwasher pods for laundry.

How Dishwasher Pods Work

Dishwasher pods, also known as detergent pods or tablet detergents, are designed specifically for use in automatic dishwashers. They contain detergent, rinse aid, and water softener all in one pre-measured dose.

The pods are formulated to dissolve slowly during the dishwasher cycle. As they dissolve, the ingredients are released at the right time during washing and rinsing to clean dishes thoroughly. The detergent in the pods cuts through grease and food residue, while the rinse aid helps prevent spots and streaks.

Key Differences Between Dishwasher and Laundry Detergents

While it may seem convenient to use dishwasher pods for laundry, there are several key differences between detergents formulated for dishwashers versus washing machines:


  • Dishwasher detergent contains strong degreasers to cut through food grease and oils. The formulas often include bleaches to help remove stains.
  • Laundry detergent has cleaning agents that are designed to be effective yet gentle on fabric fibers. Bleaches can damage clothes over time.

pH Level

  • Dishwasher detergent has a higher pH around 8 to 12 for powerful grease cutting action.
  • Laundry detergent has a lower pH around 7 to give a gentle clean for fabrics.


  • Dishwasher detergent is low-sudsing since dishwashers don’t need bubbles for agitation.
  • Laundry detergent has added sudsing agents that let clothes get thoroughly cleaned by sloshing in the water.

Water Temperature

  • Dishwashers use very hot water around 140-150°F to help dissolve grease.
  • Washing machines use cooler water around 60-120°F to avoid damaging fabrics.

Rinse Aid

  • Dishwasher pods contain a rinse aid to prevent spotting.
  • Laundry detergent doesn’t need a rinse aid. The lower pH and fabric softener prevent spots.

Can You Use Dishwasher Pods for Laundry?

With all these formulation differences, using dishwasher pods in the washing machine is risky. Here’s what could happen:

May Not Clean Clothes Effectively

Dishwasher detergent is not designed to dissolve dirt, oils, and debris from fabric. Laundry detergent contains specific enzymes and cleaning agents tailored for clothing fibers and stains that typically accumulate on fabrics. Dishwasher pods simply may not get clothes as clean.

Could Damage Clothes

The higher pH and harsher cleaning agents like bleaches could prematurely break down fabric fibers, leading to fading, thinning, and the growth of holes in clothes over time. The rinse aid may also leave residue.

Might Cause Skin Irritation

Dishwasher detergents often contain perfumes and dyes not meant for prolonged skin contact. These additives could lead to rashes and irritation, especially in people with sensitive skin.

Can Produce Too Many Suds

With no suds control, dishwasher pods may create an overflow of bubbles and suds in a washing machine. This can result in a mess requiring additional rinses to remove all the residue.

May Clog Washing Machine

The filmy residue left behind by rinse aid can build up inside hoses and pumps. Chunks of undissolved detergent could also clog the machine.

Voids Warranties

Using the wrong detergent often voids the warranty on washing machines. Manufacturers won’t cover damage caused by improper use.

Pros of Using Dishwasher Pods for Laundry

While dishwasher pods are not recommended, some people do choose to use them with mixed results. Here are some possible advantages:

Convenience – No measuring or pouring liquid. Pods are portable for laundry on the go.

Stronger Cleaning – May help remove stubborn stains like grease, oil, or ground-in dirt.

Time Saver – Combination detergent/softener may shorten wash cycles.

Versatility – Pods can be used for hand washing delicate items.

Easy Storage – Compact packaging takes up less room under the sink.

Lower Cost – Potentially cheaper than laundry detergent per load depending on brand.

Tips for Using Dishwasher Pods as Laundry Detergent

If you do decide to experiment with dishwasher pods for laundry, here are some tips to get the best results and protect your clothes:

  • Use extra rinse cycles – This will help flush away any residue.
  • Set washer to a gentle, delicate cycle – Lower agitation will reduce damage to fabrics.
  • Wash in cold water – Hot water can activate harsh cleaning agents.
  • Don’t use pods with bleach – Bleach and dishwasher detergent together are too harsh.
  • Avoid washing delicates – Dishwasher ingredients may harm silks, satin, lace, wool.
  • Clean washing machine regularly – Remove built-up residue to prevent clogs.
  • Don’t use for every load – Rotate dishwasher and laundry detergent to limit damage.
  • Shake out clothes thoroughly – Prevent spots and suds transfer to dryer.
  • Rinse by hand if needed – Get rid of any lingering slippery residue.
  • Air dry when possible – Heat from dryer can set in residue.

What About Using Laundry Detergent in the Dishwasher?

What if you tried the reverse, using laundry detergent in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher detergent? There are a few potential issues with this:

  • May not effectively remove grease and oils due to weaker cleaning agents. Dishes may come out still dirty.
  • Lack of rinse aid could lead to spots and streaks on dishes.
  • Excess suds may clog dishwasher pipes and mechanisms.
  • Fragrance and dyes could leave residue behind on dishes.
  • Lower pH won’t provide enough sanitizing for germ-laden dishware.

So laundry detergent is also not well suited for dishwashers. For best results, it’s better to use laundry detergent only for its intended purpose in the washing machine.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

If you’re interested in a more natural, non-toxic laundry solution, consider making your own homemade detergent. DIY laundry soap can be customized with cleansing ingredients that are safe on both skin and fabrics. Basic recipes combine washing soda, Borax, soap, and essential oils. With some trial and error, you can fine tune a homemade laundry detergent that works well for your needs.

When to Use Professional Help

If you’ve tried using dishwasher pods for laundry and your clothes or washing machine still aren’t coming clean, it may be time to call for reinforcements. Professional laundry services specialize in tough stains and can safely sanitize heavily soiled items with industrial-strength equipment. They have experience tackling all sorts of laundry challenges from grimy kids clothes to heavily soiled linens. For laundering needs that require heavy duty cleaning, trust the experts.

Key Takeaways: Can You Use Dishwasher Pods for Laundry?

Dishwasher detergent pods are formulated for maximum grease-cutting power to work specifically in dishwashers. Using them for laundry has risks:

  • May not effectively clean clothes due to different ingredients.
  • Can potentially damage fabric fibers over time.
  • Could lead to skin irritation or rashes.
  • Excess suds, clogs, and residue issues likely.
  • Voids washing machine warranties.

While some people choose to experiment with dishwasher pods for select laundry loads like greasy clothes, it’s generally not recommended, especially for delicate fabrics. For best results, use laundry detergent made specifically for washing machines. Or try your hand at formulating homemade detergent instead. When in doubt, call the laundry experts for extra tough cleaning jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dishwasher pods bad for washing machines?

Yes, using dishwasher pods in washing machines is generally not recommended. The ingredients like bleach, high pH, and rinse aid residue can damage the machine over time. Clogs, leaks, and premature breakdowns are potential issues. Always refer to your owner’s manual for proper detergent use.

Why are there so many suds when using dishwasher pods in the washing machine?

Dishwasher detergents are designed to be low-sudsing since dishwashers don’t require suds for cleaning action. Laundry detergents have added sudsing agents. So dishwasher pods will oversuds in a washing machine, potentially causing leaks and mess.

Can I use dishwasher pods in an HE washer?

No, you should never use dishwasher pods in a high-efficiency washing machine. HE washers require detergents made specifically for their low-water use. Dishwasher pods will likely cause excessive sudsing issues. Residue buildup can also damage the machine.

What’s the white powder residue from using dishwasher pods in the washer?

Dishwasher pods contain rinse aid that leaves a chalky white residue when used in a washing machine. This filmy buildup comes from the non-ionic surfactants in rinse aid. Over time the residue can clog hoses, pumps and other components.

Is it cheaper to use dishwasher pods for laundry?

Not necessarily. While the upfront cost per pod may seem lower than liquid detergent per load, consider the tradeoffs. If pods lead to damage to your clothes that shortens their life, you lose in the long run. And costly washing machine repairs caused by misuse will far outweigh any detergent savings.

Are all laundry pods also dishwasher safe?

No, you should only use laundry detergent pods formulated for the washing machine in your dishwasher. While convenient, laundry pods likely won’t remove greasy residue on dishes effectively due to weaker cleaning ingredients. Stick to automatic dish detergent for best dishwashing results.

The Bottom Line

When faced with dirty clothes and dishes, be sure to use the right tool for the job. Laundry detergent is made for washing machines, and dishwasher detergent is made for dishwashers. While there may be some overlap in cleaning effectiveness in a pinch, for optimal results and machine safety, go with detergents designed for purpose. Or explore natural, homemade options tailored to your needs. With the wide range of excellent laundry and dish products available today, you don’t need to compromise.