TikTok Was Wrong: This Is Where You're Actually Supposed to Put Dishwasher Pods

The company behind our preferred pods just disproved a popular theory circulating on how to get the most out of your dishwasher.

Dishwasher detergent pods on a green background.
Photo: Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

A few months back, we published an article about a controversial TikTok in which an appliance repair tech claimed we'd all been putting dishwasher detergent pods in the wrong place. Well, that same repair tech and creator — Renae (@renduh on TikTok) — returned with an update that she was wrong. In the video, she states that she stands corrected, and by a source that frankly shocked us. Here's the latest in the dishwasher drama.

The 101 on Dishwasher Detergent Pods

The reason Renae retracted her earlier statement? She states that she received a thoughtful, informative letter from the team at Cascade. Yes, that Cascade. The manufacturer and scientists behind our preferred dishwasher pods. (Don't trust us? Our sister brand, Real Simple, did the tests.) Cascade even went so far as to invite Renae to the company's headquarters for a tour of the factory and to see just how those handy little pods get made. Here's what we learned from Cascade's letter, plus Renae's overall takeaways from the tour.

As we wrote in the last article, the debate over where pods should go really circles around their coating, a type of PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) gel casing. PVA is a polymer that dissolves upon contact with water, or even the slightest moisture. That's why, in her original video, Renae claimed that coating is what prematurely starts dissolving and gunks up people's dishwashers. Her solution? Place them in the dishwasher's silverware caddy. Here's why Cascade says that's the wrong solution to a valid problem.

The majority of dishwashers these days have a pre-rinse cycle that is intended to knock off food particles, not clean dishes. That's the reason why the door to the detergent compartment doesn't open until that pre-rinse cycle is done.

The problem with leaving the detergent pods exposed during that cycle is that they will start dissolving. In the letter, Cascade's representatives claim that the pods will be upwards of 80% dissolved in the pre-rinse cycle before the actual wash cycle even begins. So, while your dishes might still come out clean, they've only received about 20% of the pods' potential effectiveness.

Renae admits her personal dishwasher does not have a pre-rinse cycle, which could have skewed her judgment with anecdotal, subjective evidence.

Where to Put Those Dishwasher Pods

So, where should they go? Cascade's representatives did concede to the fact that the coating can cause clogs if moistened before the cycle starts. However, the pods have been specifically designed to go into the detergent compartment, and that is indeed where they should go.

On a tour of Cascade's HQ, Renae saw that not only have they been designed that way, but that the parent company, Procter & Gamble, actually invented them in the first place. Yes, that's right. They invented pods. Procter & Gamble also owns Tide and invented the first detergent pods after years of designing and testing. So, simply put, they were quite literally invented to go in that part of the dishwasher to be used to their full effectiveness.

Now, how do we account for that gunky PVA? Cascade's advice is to keep them as dry as possible before the cycle starts. That means a few things: Always handle pods with dry hands or gloves, ensure that your machine's dishwasher detergent compartment is completely dry, and that the pods are stored in a cool, dry place. If you live in a very humid climate, it's worth decanting them into another air-tight container.

If you follow these steps, your dishes will get the best possible cleaning out of every cycle, and you'll keep your dishwasher running more effectively for longer.

The (Actual) Bottom Line

As we wrote before, always check your machine's manual for the most accurate information for your specific dishwasher. The manual will also tell you if your machine's cycle includes a pre-rinse during the wash. If that's the case, then you should certainly place the pods in their designated compartment.

Even if that's not the case, you should really be putting them in there either way. Just be sure your hands are dry, the compartment is dry, and basically, everything is dry when handling any kind of detergent pod — whether dishwasher or laundry detergent. And if you need any more convincing and you're lucky, Cascade might just invite you to tour the factory.

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