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Dishwasher detergent


JAZ
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I lived a lot of years with no dishwasher. I never wish to go back to that state. Now that I have a dishwasher, I run it pretty much everyday. I rent, so I'm not in the market for a new dishwasher, and in fact the one I have works fine.

But I have a question about dishwasher detergent. I started out using the old Electrasol, mostly because it was inexpensive and was one of the few detergents that wasn't lemon or orange or "mountain fresh" scented. It worked fine, but then Electrasol became Finish, and also became a lot less effective.

So I tried a couple other brands, but didn't find much difference among them. Then I tried Cascade Complete, which was on sale. Cascade Complete is by far the best detergent I've ever tried -- the dishes are spotless and sparkling even after minimal rinsing and prolonged sitting around before going into the dishwasher. But not on sale, it's really expensive. Part of that cost is offset because I no longer have to fill the "prewash" cup, but I'm wondering if there's anything else out there that will do as good a job for less money.

What's your experience?

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Cascade Complete is certainly the best, and at full retail is probably a quarter a load more than if you go to Costco and get a gigantic thing of their generic stuff. That adds up, so it may be worth exploring alternatives. I imagine it would be possible to reverse engineer something that would be as effective as Cascade Complete. I wonder if you just added a little bleach to Kirkland's stuff if it would work -- I'm pretty sure it's the bleach that makes the difference with Cascade Complete. Maybe someone knows for sure.

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Hi,

The equation for dishwasher detergents is changing; new laws limit the amount of phosphorus. All the manufacturers have reformulated their products.

Cascade has dominated Consumer Reports' ratings for a long time. In the current issue, Finish Quantum and Powerball Tabs now are rated higher than Cascade Complete.

There are no bargains among the top ten products.

Tim

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I wonder if you are noting that Finish is less effective than Electrasol because it doesn't have phosphates? Here in Oregon dishwasher detergents could no longer contain phosphates as of July 1, 2010. Washington state changed to no phosphates over a year ago, so people would come to Oregon to buy dishwashing soap. Laundry detergent hasn't had it since 1993, dishwashing soap was the big holdout (because non-phosphate dishwashing detergents work so poorly). Maybe your state has switched and that was the difference you were noticing?

Here is a list of states that have banned it so far:

Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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I buy Cascade Complete in the large bottle at Costco. I won't use anything else. I do use Jet Dry in the built-in rinsing agent dispenser as well.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Trader Joe's house-brand dishwasher detergent is excellent, but I'm not sure I'd say it was *better* than Cascade of any ilk, nor am I sure I'd say it was cheaper than Cascade of any ilk. The price, IIRC, is lower, but I'm sure the box is smaller....

As a result of that, I think it may even be pricier than the Cascade. I've not done an ounce to ounce comparison, however.

I CAN say it did an excellent job of getting about 30 years of crud and corrosion off the copper bottoms of a couple of 1950's Revere Ware pans of my mother's I still have. No amount of elbow grease ever touched the stuff. The TJ's detergent made a dent after a couple of cycles.

I got hooked on it when the SoCal major grocery chains had a labor strike about 6 years back, and I switched to doing MOST of my shopping at TJ's and the one "super" that hadn't been struck. Since the end of the strike, I've gone back to Cascade, because I think it's actually a better buy. I can usually find it on special at one or another of the 4 mega-marts I have around me.

ElectraSol, IMHO, doesn't even enter into the equation, even in its former iteration. It's cheap for a reason.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

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I use just plain Cascade but not the complete. We also quit using Jet Dry as filling the compartment with white vinegar does just as well and is a lot cheaper.

We also fiddled with the amount needed and discovered that not only did our dishes get just as clean with about 1/2 the recommended amount, our glasses no longer etched.

Robert

Seattle

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I've always used Cascade. For a while, I was using Cascade Complete. But now, I either can't find it in the standard powder form, or it's sold in a size that makes it less economical than the normal stuff. Really, I can't recall exactly why I switched back to standard Cascade.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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We live in a hard water area and noticed a negative change in dishwasher performance in the last few months. We now use wal-mart brand powder, half the quantity and a 1/3 cup of white vinager when loading the machine. Getting very good results.

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I wish I knew what I was using right now, because I like it, but it's one of those product testing deals where they don't give you the brand. Before that I used the Cascade Complete and was very happy with it. I never had good luck with the Electrasol anyway, so I can't say I'm mourning their loss.

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Here in England it seems to me that dishwasher detergent is always in tablet form.

Recently on a food programme the suggestion was that cutting a tablet in half made things more ec0nomical and the

dishes came out just as clean.

I have been cutting in half 'Finish' tablets for about a month now and the results are good.

Finish.jpg

Edited by naguere (log)

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

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  • 5 years later...

 

 

I have found that especially since phosphates were reduced in dishwasher detergent, a severe reduction in the amount you use will extend the life of you dishes, reducing etching and that white film you sometimes get. I'm serious. If you rinse and scrub your dishes as I do before placing in the dishwasher to sterilize, you can reduce the automatic dish detergent to as little as a heaping teaspoon placed in the second cup that springs open on the timer. Your dishes come out sparkling and last years longer.

 

My sister told me this, as well.  What kind of water do you have?  When we lived in NJ the water was very hard and it took extra mounds of detergent to get the dishes clean, but I can't figure Toronto water out.  Maybe I'll try this and see.  Right now, I'm using one of the all-in-one pods plus 2 Tbsp powder in the cup -- liquid or pods alone just don't do it.  

 

 

 

Note: this post was moved from, and responded to a post in, the Who else has tableware lust? topic.

Edited by Mjx
Note added to moved post. (log)
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  • 2 months later...

We "upgraded" from a 1993 dishwasher last year and we were finally forced to switch to Cascade Platinum pods.  Now everything is clean and pretty but the silicone spatulas smell of the detergent fragrance and I swear that it leaches from the spatulas into the food.  If I lick the food residue that has been sitting on a spatula for some minutes I can really taste it.  We have never used rinse agent because we didn't see the need; our water is soft and we got good results with quite small doses of powder or gel in the old machine; there's no visible residue on anything else.  Does anyone know about the chemistry involved?  Is rinse agent the answer?  It peeves me to have to add more products but I definitely don't want Cascade-flavored bisque or buttercream.  

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I have a Miele dishwasher and they advise against using the fancy powerball type products. I use the cheapest generic dishwasher detergent powde in quite low doses and have never had an issue. Another thing about the Miele is that it has an inbuilt water softener that tunes up the water for best results.

Simon

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Miele here. Always have used the Cascade "regular" powder, literally a coffee measure (2 T?) per load.  White vinegar in the rinse compartment. Perfectly clean dishes 99.9% of the time (I have to rinse off stuff like peanut butter and cream cheese from knives, or they won't get totally clean).

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... the silicone spatulas smell of the detergent fragrance and I swear that it leaches from the spatulas into the food.  If I lick the food residue that has been sitting on a spatula for some minutes I can really taste it....

 

I find this to be true no matter what detergent I buy, especially the awful "orange" scents. Fortunately, I only taste it when I lick the spatula (sorry, I do that!), it doesn't leach into the full pot of food/sauce.

 

I'm still looking for a good detergent without a strong scent.


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Miele here. Always have used the Cascade "regular" powder, literally a coffee measure (2 T?) per load.  White vinegar in the rinse compartment. Perfectly clean dishes 99.9% of the time (I have to rinse off stuff like peanut butter and cream cheese from knives, or they won't get totally clean).

Curious about the vinegar - in the compartment designed for the commercial rinse agent? I've been tempted to do that but was discouraged my quite a few posts somewhere in googleland saying it damaged the dishwasher. I was shocked by the amount of scale build-up in the innards of my dishwasher when I took it apart to retrieve a piece that came off of my French Press lid. I have been thinking of putting a little glass of vinegar, upright on the top rack to overflow as the dishwasher runs. 

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 I have been thinking of putting a little glass of vinegar, upright on the top rack to overflow as the dishwasher runs. 

This is what my mom does with her dishwasher. She was tired of "milky" looking and/or spotted glasses. She now places a Tupperware-type container (it looks to be slightly larger than one-cup) upright on the top rack and fills it with white vinegar (she buys the cheapy jugs o' white vinegar at Costco). She hasn't had any issues with her glassware since she started doing that.

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Curious about the vinegar - in the compartment designed for the commercial rinse agent? I've been tempted to do that but was discouraged my quite a few posts somewhere in googleland saying it damaged the dishwasher. I was shocked by the amount of scale build-up in the innards of my dishwasher when I took it apart to retrieve a piece that came off of my French Press lid. I have been thinking of putting a little glass of vinegar, upright on the top rack to overflow as the dishwasher runs. 

Yes - I just fill that compartment with pain old vinegar.  I just read that the acid in the vinegar "can"damage the rubber components in the rinse aid compartment. Interesting - I just checked and don't see any visible damage but I guess you never know.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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Well Ive been buying Illegal detergents and their efficacy has been declining and I think my dishwasher (3 yrs old) is being destroyed with this horribly hard water.

I think Im gonna wash it in a whole bottle of CLR

Hard water is certainly a major problem when trying to get your dishes cleaned using an automatic dishwasher.  That's the reason that Bosch and Miele have built in water softeners in the dishwashers, though the only 2 manufacturers I'm aware with this feature but there may be others.  They automatically soften the water as the dishwasher runs and your dishes come out sparkling clean.  We have one in our Bosch and it makes a major difference.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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How do they (supposedly) soften the water? Do they have on-board ion exchange systems, or is there another mechanism? AFAIK a filter by itself won't do the job.

 

Water hardness and pH are definite factors in dish detergent requirements. I've been interested (and surprised) over the years at how much the water's essential properties influenced my needs for cleaning agents.

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How do they (supposedly) soften the water? Do they have on-board ion exchange systems, or is there another mechanism? AFAIK a filter by itself won't do the job.

 

Water hardness and pH are definite factors in dish detergent requirements. I've been interested (and surprised) over the years at how much the water's essential properties influenced my needs for cleaning agents.

They actually have a small tank internally that you fill with salt.  The use of salt much like a water softener does to soften the water.  They tell you when they need the salt chamber to be refilled.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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