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The dishwasher is supposed to get rid of all the yucky stuff that clings to our plates and silverware. It is meant to, well, wash dishes. But when the cycle is complete, do baked-on food particles and sticky sauces still cling to those dinner plates?
If so, your detergent — not your dishwasher — may be to blame. So, what secret product will FINALLY get rid of sticky maple syrup residue and leave glasses spot-free?
That's where the experts come in.
We talked to a restaurant owner, a chef, a dishwasher expert, a tableware designer and a professional cleaning business owner to figure out which are truly the best dishwasher detergents. And while single-dose pacs (like tablets) are considered the most powerful, our experts promise some inexpensive powders and gels are also up to the task.
So, the next time you fill up the dishwasher with messy plates, bowls, and cups, consider one of these brands and products.
The best dishwasher detergent, according to experts
- Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, $17, Amazon
Abbas Naqvi is the dish product line lead for dishwasher manufacturer Electrolux and must regularly try different detergents. He's partial to Cascade Platinum pods that include grease-fighting Dawn along with a rinse aid, to reduce residue and promote shine. No pre-wash needed, either.
"It easily dissolves, which — along with our dishwasher's cleaning technology — helps us get the best performance," said Naqvi.
Another Cascade product with a solid performance record is Complete ActionPacs with Dawn. The detergent is the best-selling dishwasher detergent on Amazon right now. However, the budget-friendly gel version didn't fare well with Consumer Reports.
- 2. Finish Max-in-1 Powerball Wrapper Free Dishwasher Detergent Tablets, $21, Amazon
Also available at Walmart.
Alberto Navarrete, the General Manager of Frisco Maids in Dallas, said his staff primarily uses Finish Powerball detergent while dishwashing for clients. "It’s good and cheap. You are spending pennies per load. We always carry one box wherever we go," said Navarrete.
Finish also won the 2019 Product Of The Year Award for "best automatic dish product".
- 3. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Automatic Dish Packs, $11, Amazon
Adam Biderman, chef and partner of The Company Burger in New Orleans prefers environmentally friendly Mrs. Myers. He said the soap packs are chlorine and phosphate-free, yet promise to remove tough stains. One bag should last roughly 20 loads.
Biderman also noted that he prefers handwashing fragile ceramic dinnerware with Mrs. Meyers Honeysuckle Dish Soap. "It makes the kitchen smell amazing. And has a light, refreshing scent, while still being tough enough to cut through grease."
- 4. Miele Dishwasher Tabs (60 count), $25, Amazon
Germany-based Miele can be hard to find in the supermarket but is a favorite of Isabelle Von Boch, spokesperson for ceramic and tableware company Villeroy and Boch. "“It helps my glasses sparkle and keeps my dinnerware gleaming bright,” said Boch.
These detergent tablets feature a powerful enzyme formula that helps leave dishes mess-free. They can be used with any brand of dishwasher.
- 5. Dawn Ultra Liquid Soap (4-pack), $15, Amazon
Claudia Sidoti, head chef for meal kit company HelloFresh noted that while Dawn is NOT a dishwasher detergent, she loves the liquid soap for washing plates in the sink. "I am definitely a Dawn girl for dishes because it does exactly as the commercial says, cuts grease the best," said Sidoti. The four pack of Dawn Ultra also comes with a scrubber.
- BONUS: Bar Keepers Friend (2 cans), $10, Amazon
Sidoti also recommends Bar Keepers Friend for handwashing heavy duty pots and pans, "it really does the trick on roasting pans and any items that have really tough grease or stains."
Looking for other lists of the best home basics? Check these out: