In January 2023, a popular Facebook Reel making the rounds claimed that dishwasher pods (that is to say, detergent) were being universally, incorrectly applied; the video in question was “stitched” with a viral September 2022 TikTok post:
@reetregina Dishwasher tip #1 ???? #lifehack #fyp #dishwasherpods #foryou #lg #dishwasher #kitchenhack #foryoupage #momlife #lifehacks #cascade #dishwashertablets ♬ Super Freaky Girl – Nicki Minaj
In both videos, a user gestures toward an empty dishwasher, pod in hand. Text on the screen read:
“We just had a dishwasher repair guy over and he said not to put dish washer pods in the door.
“These little openings here [in the detergent tray] are so that liquid detergent can seep out during pre wash …”
“Instead just throw pods in the bottom of the washer for a more effective dishwashing cycle.”
A search for “dishwasher pods” on TikTok returned a number of videos making the same assertion, that placing dishwasher pods in the door dispenser amounted to “using them wrong” for one’s “whole life.”
Google Trends data evidenced a level of confusion over the correct way to use dishwasher pods. In the 30-day period ending January 26 2023, “where do you put dishwasher pods” maintained “Breakout” levels of search interest.
Given the level of uncertainty over the correct manner of usage for dishwasher pods, you would perhaps expect manufacturer ambiguity on the product’s packaging. That was not the case, as instructions on a product page on the website for Finish brand dishwasher pods explicitly directed people to place the product in the door dispenser:
For best results, place one tablet in the dry dispenser and close. Do not unwrap the tablet. Use one tablet per wash load.
Load the Actionpac. Place one pac in the main dispenser & close dispenser door.
In 2014, a Good Housekeeping home care product analyst’s list of “dishwasher mistakes” included the following directive at number three:
3. Tossing your detergent pack into the machine
Single dose detergent packs should be placed in the dispenser. Tossing one into the bottom of the dishwasher will cause it to dissolve too quickly during the prewash, leaving no detergent for the main wash portion of the cycle.
Well before the late 2022 and early 2023 dishwasher pod videos began circulating, an appliance repair-focused TikTok account (@mcmullanappliance) answered a follower question about the pod debate. The man in the video acknowledged he’d “heard” that claim before, and explained why it didn’t “make sense”:
@mcmullanappliance Reply to @lisa.rich #appliancetok #appliances #dishwasher #cleaning #cleantok #advice #truth #facts #trend #trending ♬ For funny, stupid, stupid, stupid scenes(1106331) – hiro
In November 2022, popular TikTok appliance technician @renduh published a video that should have resolved much of the TikTok debate. In the clip, @renduh said she was exposed to the claim early on in her career, and that her experience repairing appliances led her to believe it was correct.
However, she then explained that she had received an email from Cascade (“yes, that Cascade”) and they “very kindly and graciously” told her that her information was incorrect. She was then invited to Procter & Gamble’s headquarters, and shared a video about her visit and what she had learned.
In the clip, she explained that best practices to avoid a “gunked up” dishwasher pod tray involved ensuring your hands and the compartment were both dry. She added that she had asked “the ladies at Cascade” about comments claiming a dishwasher’s pre-wash cycle would prematurely “dissolve” a pod placed outside the tray, and said that they had confirmed that at least 80 percent of the detergent would be “rinsed away,” leaving only 20 percent for the actual cleaning cycle:
@renduh FYI, THIS VIDEO IS NOT SPONSORED! I was not paid or required to say any of this. I’m always willing to admit I was wrong, so long as the information being presented to me is done so in a respectful and constructive manner. @proctergambleUS and MBooth did it right! ❤️ #dishwasher #DishwasherPods #DishwasherHack #PodsHack #DishwasherHacks #DishwasherDetergent #DetergentHack #CascadePods #Cascade #Clean #CleanTok #Cleaning #CleaningHack #CleaningHacks #IWasWrong #accountability #Cincinnati #ProcterAndGamble #trip #travel #airplane #flying #dishwasherClean ♬ Powerful Succesful 5 Minutes (Inspiring Corporate Upbeat Background Ambient) – MPmedia
Ultimately, evaluating the claim was fairly straightforward — product packaging specifically instructs consumers to place dishwasher pods in the door, so that the pod is released at the appropriate time during the cleaning cycle. A high-profile appliance repair TikTok account was invited to Procter & Gamble’s headquarter’s to settle the purported debate (and ostensibly to discourage users from using product incorrectly), so why do the videos persist?
No date was visible on the Facebook Reel linked above, but it accumulated more than 10 million views and thousands of comments. Comment activity pushes view counts higher, even when the bulk of comments are “correcting” the clip’s claims:
“The dishwasher goes on a rinse cycle before washing. So if you just throw it in, it dissolves during the rinse and your dishes don’t get washed. If you put it in the pod holder, the dishes get rinse and then it releases the pod for washing.”
“Tried this and the dishes weren’t getting clean. Started using the door again and they’re back to coming out clean!”
“I googled it. Every single answer says DO NOT do this. The pod will be completely dissolved in the prewash and they’ll be no detergent in your main wash cycle. Makes perfect sense.”
“Facebook Watch” has long tacitly encouraged misleading (and sometimes outright dangerous videos) created solely to profit from negative engagement. An extremely viral and misleading “popcorn hack” video contained a nearly invisible “satire” disclaimer, but generated externally measurable engagement for the poster:
Motivation for producing hoax cooking videos was clear, as so-called “hand in pan” videos attract billions of views. According to Google Trends for the seven day period ending February 19 2021, the search terms “muffin tin,” “popcorn in muffin tin hack,” and “popcorn hacks” were “Breakout” searches — indication Facebook users were seeking out additional information on what looked from several angles to be a sincerely-presented recipe.
A similar hoax about coloring hair with crayons was virally popular and also heavily promoted by Facebook Watch at around the same time….
A “Meta for Creators” page about the Facebook Reels Play “bonus program” perhaps did a better job of explaining why disinformation thrived on its platform than we did:
Facebook Reels Play
The Facebook Reels Play bonus program gives creators the opportunity to earn bonuses by creating and sharing eligible public reels on Facebook. US-based creators who meet the following eligibility requirements are able to apply:
- Over the age of 18
- 5+ original reels created in the last 30 days
- 100,000+ reels plays in the last 30 days
- Meet our Partner Monetization Policies and Content Monetization Policies.
Another resource from “Meta for Creators” was simply titled “Earn money with Reels” explained that a bonus for widely viewed Facebook Reels was $1200 per month:
Reels is the fastest-growing content format on our platforms, and we want to help creators maximize their monetization opportunities … Facebook Stars on Reels is now rolling out to all eligible creators. Creators who onboard to Stars will now be able to earn money using Facebook Reels, in addition to Facebook Live and on-demand video. Check if you are eligible for Stars.
Let your creativity take center stage with Stars. Stars is a fun way for fans to show their love for you and help you earn money. Engage your fans with versatile formats and build deeper connections with your fans.
Reels Play Bonus
Get paid for plays of your original reels. Earn more when you complete challenges. Maximum bonus per earning period is $1,200. Reels must be in public mode.
A third page, “Content Monetization Policies,” stated that the sole criterion for prohibited “misinformation” was as follows:
Content that has been rated false by a third-party fact checker.
In January 2023, a popular Facebook Reel video promoted the claim that dishwasher pods go in the bottom of the dishwasher, not the dispenser on the door (which just so happens to be pod-shaped). Product packaging for major dishwasher tab brands explicitly instructed its users to use the pod dispenser. In November 2022, appliance repair tech @renduh published a TikTok post about her visit to Procter & Gamble headquarters, where brand representatives explained that dishwasher pods definitively go in the door. The persistence of videos spreading blatantly wrong information (and the number of comments on those posts correcting them) offer insight into the incentives that Facebook offers for its users to spread bad information in exchange for “engagement.”