TikTok Taught Me: You're Supposed to Put Dishwasher Pods Where?

We get to the bottom of a TikTok tip that has people pulling out their dishwasher manuals.

Clean dishes and cutlery in a dishwasher.
Photo: Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

If you're like me, #CleanTok (the cleaning section of TikTok) has taught you more about what, how, and how often to clean pretty much everything in your home than your parents ever did. From getting oil stains out of clothes to scratch marks off walls to cleaning your dishwasher filter (did we even know those existed before #CleanTok?!) my apartment and closet are pristine thanks to all these tips. That's why, when this TikTok came up on my feed, I was shook. The video, posted by creator @renduh, claims that dishwasher pods are not meant to go in the dispenser compartment, but in the body of the dishwasher for the most effective cleaning. Scrolling through the comments and related videos, the feedback was divided. We decided to get to the bottom of this cleaning conundrum.

Do Dishwasher Pods Go in the Detergent Dispenser?

According to her TikTok, @renduh aka Renae (a TikTok creator and appliance repair tech), says most of us have been using dishwasher detergent pods wrong. She insists that unless your dishwasher has a spot specifically labeled for detergent pods, they should not be going in the detergent dispensing compartment.

Instead, she suggests placing them in the body of the machine, either at the bottom of the dishwasher or in her preferred spot — the silverware caddy. The reasoning? According to Renae, the gel coating on the outside of pods gets very sticky and can easily gunk up the dishwasher dispenser over time, resulting in the need to replace it entirely.

With over 1 million views on TikTok, the video opened up a can of worms in the comments section. Many people rightfully wondered if the pre-rinse cycle standard on most dishwashers would dissolve the pod before the cleaning process had even begun. I did a little research into this claim, and even found another popular #CleanTok TikTok creator (from an appliance store up in Canada) who cited this as the exact reason you should be putting pods in the protected detergent compartment. All of these videos just left me more confused than ever.

Where Should You Put Dishwasher Pods?

The short answer: it depends on your machine, and the pods. Most mainstream detergent brands use PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) as the gel casing, a polymer that dissolves upon contact with water. So simply put, pods will start to dissolve in the pre-rinse cycle, which is intended to knock off food particles, not clean dishes. They will likely still be partially intact during the cleaning cycle(s), but certainly not enough to perform at their fullest effectiveness. This is notably why the detergent compartment door does not open until the rinse cycle is finished.

Still, I do find Renae's point about the gel coating to have some validity; they do tend to get very sticky. That's why I prefer dishwasher tablets made partially or entirely of powdered detergent to totally liquid pods. (You can read more on our preferred pods here.) I find that they dissolve fully in my machine — and with less gel casing, they run a lower risk of gunking up the dispensers or gaskets.

Additionally, you can take several steps to prevent this sticky situation. Always handle dishwasher pods with dry hands and double-check that the detergent dispensing compartment is also dry when they go in. If there is any remaining residue in the compartment after you run your dishwasher, gently wipe it out with a damp cloth or sponge and wipe dry after. Finally, clean your dishwasher regularly to ensure any clogs won't accumulate over time.

The Bottom Line

My biggest takeaway from this — and most #CleanTok trends — is to read your appliance's manual. While it's not the most exciting weekend activity, it's probably the single best way to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your appliances. Chances are, the manual details exactly where you should put detergent, and likely even recommends which detergents will perform best in your specific machine.

I rent my apartment, and while I'm elated to have a dishwasher at all, it's certainly not the newest or the most powerful on the market. That being said, it took me almost a year of living here to realize our dishwasher actually does have a specific setting for pods, and does, unsurprisingly, clean better when employing it. So read up, and poke around on the settings — happy cleaning!

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