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What's behind our dishwasher detergent Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 37 models in dishwasher detergents to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based mainly on cleaning tests and redeposits. Models are listed by precise overall score.
  • Size of package
    The package size in ounces for liquids or powders or count for tablets, tabs and packs.
  • Cleans dishes
    Gauges how well a detergent removed a caked-on puree of foods from glass dishes.
  • Cleans pots
    Indicates how well a detergent cleaned pots that were covered with baked-on macaroni and cheese.
  • Resists water spots
    Shows the ability to prevent water spots on glass plates.
  • Resists food deposits
    Indicates the ability to prevent washed-off food from resettling on dishes and glasses.
  • Resists film/discoloration
    Ability of the detergent to prevent deposit of minerals.


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Recommended dishwasher detergents

Recommended dishwasher detergents are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Ratings
Manufacturers have reformulated their dishwasher detergents in response to state laws banning phosphates. But we found several that clean very well. If you're looking for information about dishwasher detergents, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ dishwasher detergent reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our dishwasher detergent buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and dishwasher detergent reviews to help you choose the best dishwasher detergent for your needs.

Dishwasher detergent buying guide

Imagine your toughest pile of dishes--maybe a few hours after a big family meal, plates covered in sticky cranberry sauce, pots coated in grease and stuck-on mashed potatoes. That's nothing compared to the torture test we create for dishwasher detergents. First there's the gnarly mix of peanut butter, egg yolk, and other sticky foods that we smear on dishware. Pans get a coating of baked-on mac and cheese. It ain't pretty, but it is effective at figuring out which detergents are truly up to the challenge. And our latest tests had a few surprises.For starters, the market continues to move toward single-dose detergents, those familiar pods and pacs that you conveniently pop into the dishwasher detergent. Most of our top-performing detergents now comes in this formulation. Another new development: some store brands are starting to rival the name-brand competition. That's good news since store brands typically sell for much less, which means the cost of doing dishes could go way down­ without compromising on cleaning power--though only if use the detergents and your dishwasher properly.

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