A dishwasher detergent has a big job to do. It has to cut through and remove all types of baked-on, dried-on foods from dishes, flatware, and cookware, yet leave delicate glasses spot and film-free. It also has to work in different water hardnesses and be safe for your dishwasher and everything you put in there. Finding a great one can mean the difference between getting spotless results the first time and having to run it again — or worse, rewashing items by hand.
Which form you choose pretty much depends on your personal preference and how much money you want to spend. Powders are usually the most economical, single-dose packs or tablets are the most convenient and, therefore, usually the most expensive, and liquids or gels fall somewhere in between. In our tests, we see the biggest differences between brands, not forms of the same brand, so if you find a brand that cleans well in your machine and water hardness, any form should work for you!
The glasses get coated with milk, beaten egg yolk is brushed on bowls and plates, and coffee cup rims are “kissed” with lipstick. bake mac and cheese and baked beans on to casserole dishes, fry a hamburger in a skillet and make a serving of oatmeal in a saucepan. Everything gets dried or baked-on for two hours before we load up the two identical dishwashers we use for all our detergent testing.
Post-cleaning, check every item for un-removed food bits and greasy residue and the glasses are closely examined for spots and leftover film in a special light box. Every detergent is tested exactly the same way for more reliable results.
Cascade is synonymous with great dishwasher detergent performance and these Actionpacs are as good as it gets. Part powder, part gel, they have the optimal combination of grease cutters and grime fighters to remove the stuck-on stuff, but also have ingredients to minimize spotting and protect glassware from harmful etching that can leave it looking dull and cloudy.
If price is a primary concern, Walmart’s store brand, Great Value, is just what its name says, a great value. At just 13 cents per load, this is an updated version of the formula that was the overall best powder in our last test of dishwasher detergents.It cut through our baked-on grime with ease and left glassware and flatware sparkling, even in the cycles we ran with hard water.
These tablets pack powerful cleaning into just 20 cents a wash. Each Finish Quantum is a three chamber tablet that cleans away stuck-on foods, bleaches out stains, and rinses away residue to leave everything shiny.
The solid brick of powder detergent is easy to use and neat to store and dissolves completely — including its water-soluble wrapper — once it’s dispensed. Each tablet has three layers of powerful cleaning ingredients that in our tests erase stuck-on grime and leave stainless steel cookware and flatware shiny and glassware squeaky clean.
Cascade’s Gel contains hard-working ingredients, like enzymes, to dissolve starchy oatmeal, dried egg and melted cheese. Plus, with the addition of Oxi bleach in this new formula, tea and coffee stains are a thing of the past.
Who says washing dishes can’t be a pleasant chore, even for the dishwasher? Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day pacs were a top performer in our cleaning tests, handling hard water with ease and leaving our glassware with hardly a spot to be found. What’s unique with Mrs. Meyer’s though are the amazing essential oil scents of lemon verbena, lavender, and basil. And the same garden-inspired scents can be found in liquid dish soap, hand soap, and all-purpose cleaner for a complete kitchen aromatherapy experience.