The 5 Best Dishwashing Detergents

By Gina Ippolito on 14 November 2013 (Updated 8 July 2014) 0 comments

Doing the dishes is enough of a chore without having to worry about water spots or stubborn, stuck on food. Dishwashing detergents are not all created equal, and with everyone from organic grocers to dollar stores selling different brands and types of detergents, there are a lot of options to choose from. Recent state laws banning phosphates in detergents have forced companies to change their ingredients, sometimes creating less than optimal results. We here at Wise Bread have taken the guesswork out of doing the dishes, by picking the top five best dishwashing detergents out there.

What Is Dishwashing Detergent?

Dishwashing detergent is a cleaning agent that is used to wash and clean dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, and any other kitchenware used for cooking and eating. It also has a number of other possible uses including killing weeds, repelling bugs, and shampooing hair, but its primary function is for scrubbing kitchenware. Dishwashing detergents typically contain a combination of chemicals, water, and scents.

Best 5 Dishwashing Detergents

Cascade Complete

This dishwashing detergent is consistently ranked best among websites in the know. Both Consumer Reports and Real Simple ranked Cascade Complete as their number one. This detergent seemingly makes pre-washing dishes totally unnecessary, with one reviewer claiming that it managed to totally clean dishes caked in old lasagna and dried-on oatmeal.

According to Consumer Reports, Cascade Complete will not leave a film or residue on dishes, and it also resists water spots, even when dishes are washed in hard water. It comes in powder form as well as gel packs, with both options offering optimum cleaning power. The gel packs are extremely convenient to use and have the added bonus of there being no messy spills to clean up.

Cascade Complete is phosphate free, but does contain bleach and enzymes. Available scents include Fresh, Citrus Breeze, and Lemon Burst.

Currently $10.97 for 48-count pack on Amazon.

Finish Quantum

Finish Quantum dishwashing detergent uses a special three-chamber technology to get dishes extremely clean. First, the microbeads activate to soften caked-on or burnt-on food. This makes pre-washing unnecessary. Next, bleach particles help to get rid of stains like coffee or tea. Finally, there is a rinse agent, which leaves dishes sparkling and shiny and helps resist film and water spots. Reviewers claim that Finish Quantum gets rid of even baked on cheese and dried oatmeal.

One advantage of this detergent is that there is no extra packaging and individual wrappers for each packet. This makes it easy to simply pop the packets out of the box and into the dishwasher. A possible downside to Finish Quantum seems to be that reviewers feel it doesn't work as well in hard water as the Cascade Complete.

Finish Quantum contains bleach and enzymes, and available varieties include Original, Lemon Sparkle and Baking Soda.

Currently $9.97 for 45-count pack on Amazon.

Method Smarty Dish Tablets

Method Smarty Dish Tablets are one of the best eco-friendly, green detergents on the market. The tablets contain no phosphates, bleach, or chlorine. Every ingredient is listed on Method's website. Additionally, the minimal packaging helps reduce waste and trash, making it even better for the environment.

A downside to this green detergent seems to be that, when used in hard water, it leaves a filmy residue. One reviewer suggested using a rinse agent with to solve that problem, with another reviewer claiming that simply leaving a bowl of white vinegar in the dishwasher leaves dishes sparkling and residue free. Another issue with this detergent is that, as with many eco-friendly products, these are slightly more expensive than the other detergent varieties.

Method Smarty Dish Tablets come in scented Pink Grapefruit, or the unscented, perfume- and dye-free option, Go Naked.

Currently $8.58 for 20-count pack on Amazon.

Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs

Another eco-friendly detergent option is Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs. Seventh Generation produces a slew of all natural household and personal care products, and they clearly know what they're doing. This detergent is dye free and contains no phosphates, chlorine, or synthetic fragrances. The outer pouch that the tabs come in is also biodegradable, showing this company's dedication to being green.

As far as cleaning capability goes, most reviewers are extremely positive. It apparently cleans with little to no pre-washing, and leaves no film or water spots, even in hard water. One reviewer claimed that there was no smell on the dishes after washing like there is with other detergents. The only downside seems to be that it is slightly harder to find than other brands, especially at local grocery stores.

Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs come in Free & Clear or lemon scent.

Currently $8.99 for 45-count pack on Amazon.

Mrs. Meyer's Automatic Dish Packs

The biggest selling point to this environmentally friendly detergent seems to be the variety of great smelling options. Mrs. Meyer's Automatic Dish Packs contain no phosphates or chlorine, and are infused with essential oils that offer scents many other detergents do not.

Reviewers claim that Mrs. Meyer's leaves dishes clean and sparkling and is great at getting off food particles with no pre-rinsing. It is less harsh than many of the other options on the market, and it uses an oxygen bleach formula to get dishes clean. Like Seventh Generation, this detergent may be more difficult to find, especially in smaller stores with fewer options.

Mrs. Meyer's Automatic Dish Packs come in Basil, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, and Geranium scents.

Currently $7.14 for 20-count pack on Amazon.

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