The 3 Best Dishwasher Detergents For Hard Water

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Hard water can leave your dishes looking dirty even after running through a dishwasher cycle. But, you're not alone with this issue. In fact the Chicago Tribune reported that a U.S. Geological Survey found that nearly 85 percent of the United States has hard water. Luckily, the best dishwasher detergents for hard water contain water softeners that help counteract this issue. This results in less white film and fewer spots left behind on dinnerware and glass after they've been washed.

When shopping for a dishwasher detergent for hard water, look for one that contains a sodium-based chemical as one of its principal ingredients. Why? Water softeners work by creating a reaction where calcium and magnesium ions in hard water swap with sodium ions to reduce the buildup that lingers on your dishes. So, choosing a sodium-based detergent will ensure your dishes come out spotless every time, even without the use of an additional rinse aid.

While the most effective dishwasher detergents for hard water are typically chock full of chemicals, if using a more eco-friendly product is important to you, you should know that you don't have to sacrifice performance to find a non-toxic dishwasher detergent for hard water. A more naturally-derived detergent can work just as well, even without harsh chemicals like phosphates, phthalates, and chlorine.

For a detailed look at the best dishwasher detergents for hard water, keep scrolling.

1. The Overall Best, All Things Considered

You don't have to look further than this Finish Quantum dishwasher detergent to find one that can deep clean dishes and leave them sparkling, even in really hard water. In fact, among its hundred of rave reviews, there are dozens of reviews from people who attest that this detergent works well to clean their dishes in hard water. (Note: If you're sensitive to scents, be aware that some reviewers have mentioned that this detergent is heavily fragranced.)

Although Finish doesn't make their ingredient list easy to find, the Environmental Working Group lists sodium citrate as one of the detergent's water-softening ingredients. This is one dishwashing detergent that lives up to every bit of its hype.

What fans say: “Great for extremely hard well water! I’ve been searching forever and finally found a dishwasher detergent that works, I used to have to make sure plates were completely rinsed, now a little food doesn’t make a difference and they come out spotless!"

2. The Runner Up

Although this Cascade dishwasher detergent is slightly more expensive per load than the overall best pick, it's still a very popular detergent that people with hard water love. It contains sodium carbonate as its main water-softening ingredient and has a light, citrus-y scent. Even reviewers with older model dishwashers have raved about its ability to spotlessly clean both dishes as well as limescale buildup from dishwashers themselves.

What fans say: “We have hard water and have tried just about every soap we could think of and still ended up with spots on the dishes and scale in the dishwasher... After the first load we ran with this soap, not only were the dishes spotless, the inside of the dishwasher was like brand new."

3. The Best Non-Toxic

If keeping a green home is a priority, you'll be happy to know that this natural dishwashing detergent is free of chemicals like parabens, phosphate, chlorine, dyes, and fragrance-free as well. Best yet, it's actually super effective at cleaning dishes with hard water, thanks to its various sodium-based ingredients. (For hard water, the manufacturer recommends that you use an entire scoop of the detergent, as opposed to the standard half-cup scoop.)

There is enough powder detergent in one bag for 80 cycles, making this product a budget-friendly choice, as well as an eco-friendly one.

What fans say: "I have the hardest water ever out here in rural New Mexico. This stuff does a phenomenal job on the dishes — I don’t even need a rinse aid!"

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