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Cascade and Finish top dishwasher detergent tests

More and more brands are putting an end to white film buildup

Published: August 2013

 

Dishes that sparkle and metal pans that shine: Dishwasher detergents have come a long way in reliably producing clean loads. In fact, two-thirds of the 35 tablets, packs, powders, and gels in our latest dishwasher detergent tests were excellent at resisting the buildup of white film that consumers have complained about since phosphates were banned from dishwasher detergents for environmental reasons.

Most of the detergents we tested aced our hard-water performance test, which uses water with a hardness level well above that of most American homes. What separated the best from the rest was the ability to vanquish a baked-on mash of pudding, peanut butter, and a dozen other ingredients from dishes, flatware, and glassware. Our pot-­washing test uses 1-quart pots encrusted with cooked-on macaroni and cheese. Only one detergent excelled at removing that mess. Here are some details.

Packs and tablets clean up. Single-­dose detergents dominate the market and hold most of the top spots in our Ratings as well. But they usually cost more to use—up to an additional $17 a year. Our top-performing powder cleaned almost as well as our top-scoring tablets and packs and cost just 21 cents per load.

Washouts in our tests. BabyGanics was the worst performer in our tests for resisting white film (a residue of minerals). The Laundress, which the company claims can be used in a dishwasher or as a dishwashing liquid, was mediocre overall and, at $1.37 per load, by far the most expensive. Green Mission from Whole Foods scored poorly at cleaning dishes and pots and at preventing food deposits. But it was excellent at resisting film buildup.

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