Updated: November 2017

Dishwasher Detergent Reviews:

We recently bought a new Kenmore Pro dishwasher from Sears and at the same time switched our dishwashing detergent to a new brand based on the salespersons advice at the store. We love the dishwasher as it is very quiet and gets dishes very clean, but we were wondering how much the new dishwasher detergent plays a part in the clean dishes. My feeling is that most dishwashing detergents are like shampoo, they will clean just fine and it's hard to tell if one is better than the other. Throw in the fact that new dishwashers are better at washing dirty, greasy dishes with jet powered features and how is one to know if their dishwashing soap is really worth it. The price difference between a load of dishes done with the most expensive detergents versus the cheapest can be almost $.20 per cycle. That adds up over time - 1 cycle per day equates to almost $72 per year in savings.
dishwasher detergent

We decided to research dishwasher detergents online and in magazines to see just which ones rated the highest for clean dishes and which ones are the best value. One of the biggest complaints from consumers over the years has been that liquids and cleaning crystals leave a residue on plates, glasses, and bowls even after the dishwasher has completed its cycle. I found in reading many reviews online that people with older dishwashers have this problem more often than those with newer dishwashers. Something about the rinse cycles and washing levels on newer dishwashers that seem to make a difference. Consumer Reports did an excellent study on dishwasher detergents recently as they tested liquids, powders, gel pacs, and tablets from brands like Cascade, Target, Kirkland, Seventh Generation, Palmolive, and Electrasol. They based their scores on cleaning dishes, cleaning pots, preventing redeposits, preventing water spots, ability to not damage silver, and cost per load. Factors that influence the cleanliness of dishes have to do with what the levels of enzymes and phosphates are in the actual detergent. CR found that lower scoring detergents lacked enzymes. Eco friendly products like Seventh Generation don't use environmentally harming agents like phosphates and are still good cleaners with the help of enyzmes. Another excellent source for feedback on dishwasher detergents are the Thriftyfun.com website and About.com in their housekeeping section. Gardenweb.com also has customer opinions and reviews on kitchen cleaning products like detergents. Liquids seem to perform better than powders per all the studies but the gel pacs are gaining in popularity. The powders are the cheapest of the lot with Target, Great Value (Wal-Mart), and Kirkland (Costco) all costing about $.05 a load. BioKleen powder priced out the highest at $.25/load which could get expensive each year. If you are someone who likes to pre-rinse your dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher you probably have more options in detergents. The more grease and food you get off the plates before putting them into the dishwasher the less your detergent has to work. Cascade brand came out on top of almost all the surveys we found online and in magazines with Cascade Complete winning out. We have tried to include the top dishwashing soaps and detergents down below per customer satisfaction surveys and tests done by Consumer Reports. You can view the most popular dishwashing detergents online here.

Best Dishwasher Detergent:

Cascade Complete liquid was the ultimate "top pick" by consumers and their product with Bleach Hydroclean Action also scored well. Both are priced near $.17/load which makes them affordable, but certainly not cheap compared to the $.05/load detergents. Cascade Complete eliminates the need to prewash your dishes and dishes come out clean of food and spots. The product with Bleach Hydroclean Action has enzymes that remove and clean all residue left on plates, glassware, and baking dishes. The liquid will rinse clean leaving no hint of detergent left on your dishes. Cascadeclean.com is the website where you can find out all the details on the Cascade line of products with dishwasher tips. The gel pacs are slightly more expensive at $.19/load and the powder is cheaper at about $.12/load. Many of the reviews we read online point out that consumers tried several different detergents and types of soaps until they came up with their preferred choice.

Best Value Dishwashing Soap:

With a little extra work when rinsing your dishes, you can go with the cheaper powders that run you only a nickel per wash. Great Value, Target brand, and Kirkland are rated mid-pack on cleaning power, but they perform just fine with a solid rinsing before throwing the dishes into the dishwasher. If you are lazy and just throw dirty dishes into your dishwasher, these powders may not be for you as they are not as likely to clean dirty pots as other brands like Cascade Complete does. Nevertheless, for the price, it's hard to beat these discounted powders. You can find them in Wal-Mart, Costco stores, and Target. There is definitely no secret in creating a dishwasher detergent that is good at cleaning dirty dishes and these store brands can be sold at much cheaper prices than the heavily marketed brands you see on shelves.

Dishwashing Detergent Coupons/Promotions:

One way to cut down on your per load cost when using your dishwasher is to find coupons and discounts online or in your Sunday paper for dishwashing detergents. We have listed the top brands and their website down below so you can visit them and try to find the latest coupons available online.
  • Palmolive dishwashing soap coupons online at Colgate.com
  • Target coupons (Target.com)
  • Cascade detergent offers - Cascadeclean.com
  • Seventh Generation coupons at Seventhgeneration.com