Consumer Reports tests different dishwasher detergents to find best buy

You want your dishes to come out of the dishwasher clean and shiny, but Consumer Reports found not all of them do the job
October 14, 2013 3:25:52 PM PDT
No one wants to do the dishes, but it's necessary. And if you have a dishwasher, it's even better -- unless your dishwasher detergent doesn't do the job.

Who wants dishes coming out of the dishwasher with caked-on food or a cloudy film? Well, Consumer Reports just finished testing dozens of detergents to find the ones that deliver dazzling results.

Whether you use powders, pods or liquids and gel in your dishwasher, you want your dishes to come out clean and shiny. Consumer Reports tested 35 dishwasher detergents to find the best.

Awilda Cruz challenged the detergents to some very tough tests. First, she made a sticky batter of 17 ingredients, including egg yolks, cheese whiz, peanut butter and rice. It's all blended together and then spread onto glass plates in measured amounts. The plates are baked in the microwave and left to sit for an hour before going into the dishwasher.

Pots are brushed with macaroni and cheese. Once it's cooked on, those go into the dishwasher next to the dirty plates.

Not all the detergents could get the dishware sparkling clean. Testers also checked for white film buildup.

"When companies switched to phosphate-free detergents that are better for the environment, a filmy white buildup was a real problem. Our latest tests show detergents have gotten much better at preventing that," Consumer Reports' Bob Markovich said.

But the problem hasn't totally evaporated. This clear plate turned white after 20 cycles when washed with BabyGanics dishwasher detergent.

In the end, only one detergent rated excellent for cleaning pots was Cascade Complete ActionPacs.

But if cleaning pots isn't a priority, you can save some money with Finish Gelpacs, a Consumer Reports Best Buy at 21 cents a load. It did a terrific job on dishes.

Consumer Reports also tested several green cleaners. None scored high enough in all the tests to be recommended. But Seventh Generation powder detergent did do an excellent job cleaning dishes.

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