Release date 08/03/2010
YONKERS, NY — There are several low-phosphate dishwasher detergents that performed very well in Consumer Reports’ latest tests, which is good news for the traditionally low-scoring eco-friendly products.
Consumer Reports tested 24 low- or no-phosphate dish detergents and found four Recommended products. Although none equaled the excellent (but now discontinued) product that topped CR’s Ratings in August 2009, seven were Very Good.
Consumer Reports testers smeared dishware with a mix of 17 foods (pots got a mac-and-cheese blend) and then baked on the foods and cleaned the items in identical dishwashers to assess how each detergent performed.
Finish Quantum (30 cents per load) topped the Ratings, followed by CR Best Buy, Finish Powerball Tabs (22 cents per load), which scored Excellent for dishes and pots, and bested some detergents that cost more.
Cascade Complete All In 1 (28 cents per load) and Cascade with Dawn ActionPacs (23 cents per load) earned a score of Very Good in CR’s tests, but all Cascades, like all Finish products, aren’t equal. Other Cascade and Finish products were scattered throughout the Ratings.
What’s up with Phosphates?
On July 1, 16 states limit phosphorus in dishwasher detergents to 0.5 percent. Previous products could contain up to 8.7 percent, which has driven major manufacturers to reformulate their products for the whole U.S.
Phosphorus in the form of phosphates help dishwasher detergents clean but also boost algae growth in freshwater, threatening other plants and fish. Soaps for washing dishes by hand are phosphate-free, and phosphates have been limited in laundry detergents since 1994.
Past tests found that some low-phosphate products performed the worst overall, but the newest formulations are worth a try. Here are the details on Consumer Reports other findings:
Consumer Reports also tested Martha Stewart Clean liquid detergent which would have been lowest-rated of all, but the company said it has since changed its formula. More information on phosphate-free detergents can be found in the September issue of Consumer Reports, available on newsstands August 3 and online at www.consumerreports.org.