It is hard for me to imagine my life before my dishwasher.

As someone who hates washing dishes, I jumped on the dishwasher bandwagon as soon as I got my own place. And while I started with dishwasher powders, I soon switched to dishwasher tablets since they were more effective for the task. One of the first queries I had about the tablets was about the plastic.

If you are astonished, keep reading as I delve into this ‘plastic’ mystery below.

Yes or No: Do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablets?

certain dishwasher tablets feature protective layers that need to be removed before being placed

Let’s delve deeper into the question. Most dishwasher tablets are equipped with a synthetic polymer layer that serves as protection for the tablets. It ensures that the tablet remains structurally intact and effective.

This layer has the property of dissolving in water when it is placed in a working dishwasher. This means there is no chance of the tablet’s layer blocking the dishwasher – a concern due to which may homeowners try removing the layer in the first place.

However, certain dishwasher tablets feature protective layers that need to be removed before being placed in the dishwasher. But, all such instructions are always written on the tablet pack.

So, do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablets? Only if the instructions clearly tell you to do so. If not, let it be!

Comparing the Forms: Dishwasher Tablets vs. Pods

Back when I first started using dishwashers, I didn’t quite consider how much deliberation can go into selecting the type of dishwasher detergent, let alone the brand! It turns out dishwasher detergent is available in the form of gel, powder, tablets, and pods.

I find dishwasher tablets and pods to be the most effective among them. Here are the major characteristics of the two.

Dishwasher tablets

  • Much more compact compared to liquids and gels.
  • Performs better than gels and pods.
  • All-in-one product, comprising of rinsing agent, detergent, and salt.
  • Excessive usage can cause foam to develop that can damage the dishwasher.

Detergent Pods

  • Prepackaged dosage for convenience.
  • Compact and hence easy to store.
  • Comparable performance to tablets.

Which is better?

It is quite challenging for me to pick a winner among dishwasher pods and tablets. This is because both have comparable performance and offer similar benefits. I usually stock both and use them interchangeably.

The Purpose of the Plastic: Why are dishwasher tablets wrapped in plastic?

Alongside wondering whether or not do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablets, you might also wonder why the tablets come in plastic, anyway.

As I mentioned before, the sole purpose of the plastic wrapped around dishwasher tablets is adequate protection of the product.

The individual ingredients that make up the dishwasher tablets tend to absorb moisture present in the air. So, if left without an additional protective layer, the tablets will lose their effectiveness, reducing their shelf-life. An intact wrap ensures that the tablets last for months.

What goes down: What happens to the plastic around the dishwasher pods?

When you place dishwasher tablets or pods into the machine, the first thing that happens is that the plastic layer dissolves in the water. Then, the contents of the pod get flushed into the drain, along with the water. This water is then used for cleaning the dishes.

I place my dishwasher tablets into the detergent dispenser. This way, when the water gets heated up for the washing cycle, enough pressure is created to dissolve the plastic and release the tablet for cleaning.

As far as the mechanics of the detergent is concerned, do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablets? No, because the product does that itself when it is given the right environment!

Goodbye Plastic: Does the plastic dissolve on dishwasher tablets?

Whether it be a pod or a tablet, the protective layer for both undergoes the same process. When you dissolve your dishwasher tablets in water, the plastic, which is, in fact, a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) coating, also dissolves.

The breakdown of the outer layer allows the contents of the dishwasher pod or tablet to get released into the dishwasher, which in turn activates the cleaning mechanism.

The reason that dishwasher pods and tablets come wrapped in PVA coating isn’t just because the layer is water soluble. It is also because PVA is quite durable when up against air. Hence, it is said to be the ideal choice for wrapping dishwasher pods and tablets.

Remember that if your dishwasher tablet instructs you to take the outer layer of plastic off, then the layer is probably not water-soluble. This is because if the plastic doesn’t dissolve, it can get stuck within the dishwasher. You should comply with the instructions in this case.

So, before springing into action, always read the instructions.

Let’s Be Specific: Do you unwrap Cascade dishwasher tablets?

Do you use cascade dishwasher tablets? If so, then you should not take off their plastic. It doesn’t matter what type of cascade dishwasher tablet you use – while their value propositions may differ from one another, none of them need to be unwrapped.

I use cascade dishwasher pods as well. And I find their ability to dissolve in the dishwasher to be quite satisfactory. So while the answer to “do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablet” might be yes for some brands, it is definitely a big no for cascade.

The heat and the high-pressure water circulating in the dishwasher are enough for the plastic coating of the cascade tablets to dissolve completely. Unlike a few other pods, I never found a partially dissolved cascade tablet in my dishwasher.

The Science of Pods: How do you use Cascade pods in the dishwasher?

The PVA coating, or plastic wrapper, around the dishwasher tablet protects the ingredients of the tablet from getting soiled.

When using cascade pods and tablets, you need to follow the right method to avoid clogs and leaks. This also ensures that the dishwashing process is smooth and as time-effective as possible.

Here is some prerequisite you need to meet when using cascade pods.

Dry Hands

Always dry your hands completely before picking up a cascade pod or tablet. A wet hand can activate the outer layer dissolving process. This will undermine the effectiveness of the tablet since it will stick persistently to the detergent compartment.

Dry Compartment

Just like your hands, the detergent compartment should also be dry. Use a dry towel to remove any dampness that may exist. Again, a wet compartment will cause the tablet to stick within the space and not release into the dishwasher.

Hot water

The temperature of the water is crucial for the dissolving process. Only add the cascade pods once the water inside the dishwasher is very hot. This will help the plastic in dissolving properly.

Why Are Dishwasher Tablets Wrapped in Plastic?

To reiterate again, in case you are confused, you are not supposed to remove the plastic layer from the tablets unless clearly specified. There are various reasons why this layer is present in the dishwasher tablet, and you removing it will render these reasons useless!

Here are the top two reasons why dishwasher tablets come wrapped in a plastic layer:

For safe storage

The PVA coating, or plastic wrapper, around the dishwasher tablet protects the ingredients of the tablet from getting soiled.

The first time I used dishwasher tablets, I made the mistake of unwrapping a few too many for my washing cycle. I quickly discovered that I didn’t need that many tablets for one dishwasher cycle. So, I decided to put the unused ones back.

When I went back to the tablets a few days later, I found them to be completely disintegrated! A quick internet search was enough for me to identify my mistake – I had removed the protective layer that prevented the tablets from getting soiled. So, from personal experience, you need that coating.

For your protection

One of the major reasons why I never risk removing the plastic from the tablets, unless stated, is because they can be toxic if ingested. I found this out during my research about detergent pods and tablets.

It turns out that dishwasher products contain a high concentration of potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate – a much higher concentration than that present in detergents or soaps!

If the plastic is not present on the tablets and the raw material gets on a spoon or dish without proper washing, it can be detrimental to health.

Considering that they do look like something that can be eaten, it is understandable why children may find tablets to be appetizing. The outer layer protects you and your family from consuming toxins.

Even with the outer layer, I would recommend keeping your dishwashing supplies well beyond the reach of your children. 

Up or Down: Can you put dishwasher tablets in the bottom of the dishwasher?

Technically, you can put dishwasher tablets in the bottom of the dishwasher. But, you shouldn’t do so!

As I have mentioned repeatedly throughout this guide, the reason the answer to “do you take the plastic off dishwasher tablets” is a no is that the plastic dissolves on its own when in water.

If you put the tablets in the dishwasher’s bottom compartment, then the tablets will be the first thing that will likely come into contact with water, that too during the pre-wash phase! In other words, the tablets will dissolve before the dishwashing even begins.

This, in turn, will cause only a little soapiness to remain for the actual washing part. Hence, the actual benefit of using the pods or the tablets will not be realized. There is a reason there is a detergent compartment in the dishwasher and why it is placed near the door.

Remember, the dishwasher is better versed in the best ways to clean your dishes. So, trust the machine and do the process as per its design.

The only time when you can consider putting dishwasher tablets in the bottom of the dishwasher is when your dispenser compartment is faulty and requires repair. Here too, it should be a temporary arrangement, and you should work towards fixing the problem for optimum results.

Do Dishwasher Tablets Contain Plastic?

While the dishwasher tablets are wrapped in a type of plastic – PVA to be exact, there is no plastic inside the tablet.

Therefore, if you are worried about the presence of impurities in the tablet that may affect its productivity, know that this is not the case. The protective layer is a necessity for both the longevity of the tablet as well as for safeguarding your health.

For those of you who are deeply worried about the impact of your purchase on the environment, given that plastic is quite detrimental to Earth, you can choose eco-friendly dishwasher tablets as well. These tablets don’t have an outer layer. But, their durability might be compromised because of it.

As long as you invest in tablets that have PVA layers that completely dissolve in water, you will be minimizing their impact on the environment!

Do You Take The Plastic Off Dishwasher Tablets?

Wrapping Up: Do You Take The Plastic Off Dishwasher Tablets? The Confusion Ends Today!

Using a new product for the first time can be daunting. And it is natural to feel lost about the right way or using an item.

Do You Take The Plastic Off Dishwasher Tablets? When it comes to dishwasher tablets, I hope your confusion has cleared.

Let’s summarize. You don’t need to unwrap the plastic from the dishwasher tablet unless it is clearly stated on the packet. This is because the plastic is water-soluble and is actually protecting the contents of the product.

Use the tablets the right way by perusing the instructions given by the manufacturers. Make sure that the water in the dishwasher is hot enough. And then, let the tablets do their work!

If you have any other dishwashing-related queries, you can try seeking guidance from some of my other written pieces.

Happy cleaning!

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