Ric Romero Reports: Battle Of The Dishwashing Detergents

Consumer Reports cut through the greasy claims of competing dishwasher detergents to find out which one is best suited for Ric Romero’s “dirty dish-duty.” The winner? Much like the Special Olympics, everyone won. Each detergent works fine if you scrub long enough. Efficiency comes with a price, and Dawn direct foam was the costliest and speediest of the twelve brands tested, followed closely by Ajax Lemon Dish Liquid.

To test, Consumer Reports takes glasses coated with a mixture of flour, egg yolk, sugar, and evaporated milk then puts it in an oven for ten minutes in order to simulate baked-on food. After the glass cools, testers place it in a scrubbing machine with warm water and one teaspoon of detergent. A counter then tallies the number of scrubs it takes to remove the food. Steel panels are dipped in beef fat and left to dry to test for grease removal.


Which dishwashing detergent works best? [ABC 7]
PREVIOUSLY: Inside The Consumer Reports Testing Facility


Edit Your Comment

  1. BarryT says:

    Did you really make a Special Olympics joke? That was the best you could do? Comparing a study on washing up liquid to the Special Olympics? Are there lower standards on the weekend for the Consumerist?

  2. skategreen says:

    “by BarryT at 10:23 AM Reply * Did you really make a Special Olympics joke? That was the best you could do? Comparing a study on washing up liquid to the Special Olympics? Are there lower standards on the weekend for the Consumerist?”

    Cackles with laughter.

    Thanks for pointing this out. I sorta missed it.

  3. getjustin says:

    @BarryT: I was waiting for it in the story, only to find out it’s on the blog. Weak, Consumerist.

  4. azntg says:

    I really love the flashy design of KABC. Can’t help but get distracted with all the flashing and whatnot.

    I’m glad WABC doesn’t follow suit with that crap!

    BTw, I’ve never noticed too much of a difference as of soap efficiency. Obviously, some are thicker liquids compared to others, but I scrub everything long enough until there’s no visible sign of anything on the plates/bowls/etc.

  5. nequam says:

    Re the Special Olympics joke: I laughed out loud and then felt a little disgusted with myself. Did you have a similar experience when you wrote it, Carey? Why are the things that are so wrong always the funniest?

    I went to college along the route of the Boston Marathon. Every year, my friends and I would set up position to watch the runners as they completed the Heartbreak Hill section of the race (it’s a grueling ascent at about the 20-mile mark). Not surprisingly, the runners tend to be pissed off at the end of that stretch. Well, my friend would stand along the road and yell: “You’re all winners!” to the runners (many of whom are just trying to finish before nightfall). I’m surprised none of those exhausted runners ever found the strength to strangle him.

    Okay, now back to dish detergents…

  6. whats better than winning the gold medal at the special olympics ???

    —=Not being retarded=—

  7. HungryGrrl says:

    What a good opportunity to remind you all that “Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you’re still retarded.”

    And hey, my Mom (who is the pinnicle of thrift/cleanliness/efficiancy) uses Ajax!

    Peronally I like the Sun & Earth Natural Orange dish soap. It lasts a long time, at least compared to my roommate’s ‘ulta concentrated’ Joy, which she goes through about a bottle a week of. Of course Sun & Earth is a much bigger bottle, but that’s because it’s not ‘ultra concentrated’- but it lasts me about a month.

  8. Ciao_Bambina says:

    Love, love, love the Dawn Direct Foam (DDF.) I use it on the only cooking utensil in my kitchen that I can’t put in the dishwasher – my George Foreman grill.

    George can get pretty nasty and greasy, and he doesn’t always get the prompt attention he deserves. Before DDF, I would have to put wet paper towels inside him to soften the gunk for a while and then scrub with all my might just to bring him to a barely suitable state to place raw food on again. It was getting to the point where I just couldn’t face him anymore.

    Now I just put one squirt of DDF on a wet sponge and wipe down the grill surfaces a couple of times, rinse and it’s done. Seriously. It’s that good. Now George and I are lovin’ each other again.

    So yeah, DDF is expensive, but so worth it. Plus totally cute little bottle that sits by the sink and is refillable!

  9. Amelie says:

    Dawn will also eat away at your hands. It’s another price for effectives.

    An editor making “in-poor-taste” Special Olympics comments, simply encourages even more scummy replies on this site.

  10. KJones says:

    Am I the only person in the world who soaks dishes and pans in soapy boiling water?

    If you do that, the cheapest soap works as well as the best.

  11. cronick says:

    Having been born and raised in Hollywood, I can say unequivocally that every TV station in Los Angeles is about Flash and Style with no substance whatsoever.

    At least 60% of the time, the lead story on every TV channel in L.A. is the weather: If it drizzles then Dallas Raines (get it?) leads with STORM WATCH and the Live Mega Doppler 7000 Radar. If it’s over 85 degrees then Fritz Coleman leads with a story about our massive HEAT WAVE and the massive traffic jam at the beach.

    Instead of substantive features on Health Care, Politics or Insurance Coverage, we get a doofus comparing Dishwasher Detergents.

    Is it any wonder that instead of discussing politics or philosophy, people in L.A. stand around the water-cooler each morning discussing which weather-person has the largest breasts: Johnny Mountain or the girl on channel 9.

    When you refer to the Special Olympics in the context of a story on journalism in Los Angeles, it’s not very funny.

    @Ciao_Bambina: Ha, ha. Yours was the funniest comment….

  12. JamesEnsor says:

    Not to rain on everybody’s scorful parade about the SO comment, but technically there are winners at Special Olympics events.

    My little brother’s mentally handicapped and when he was little he’d go the SO stuff through school and I go to support him, natch. But yeah, there are actually technical “winners” and “losers” at SO events.

    Just thought I’d clear that up.

  13. morganlh85 says:

    I’m a Palmolive fan myself.

  14. wring says:

    I’m blindly loyal to Dawn but I guess I’ll have to take your word for it and try Ajax.

  15. SOhp101 says:

    @cronick: What you say is true, but the cable network news shows aren’t much better. From what I see, a lot of people waste the soap by pouring it all over the dishes and then scrubbing–usually just putting it on the sponge works better.

  16. strangeffect says:

    @Ciao_Bambina: Fleshbot is down the hall on the left.

  17. Ciao_Bambina says:

    @Amelie: Which is why I always wear those big yellow Playtex rubber gloves when I use any kind of detergent or household cleaner. I even wear a disposable surgical mask when using aerosols because of a history of asthma.

    @cronick: Thanks, I like to think that George and I have something special going on. When I see those beefy juices oozing from him into his special drip tray, well, this girl just melts…

  18. formergr says:

    Dawn regular is my favorite, so now I’m thinking I might have to get some Dawn Direct Foam to keep on hand for tougher jobs. Palmolive isn’t so bad either, and I’m kind of a sucker for some of their scented line.

    So overall I agree that they pretty much all work equally well. The dishsoap I’ve tried in Europe, on the other had, is all crap (at least in my experience). My family lives over there and I hate doing dishes because you have to add more the sponge with every damn dish– it just disappears and does jack.

  19. I’m with Phil. Do the cooking so you don’t have to do the dishes.

  20. bluewyvern says:

    It’s always nice to see the source, so here are the actual results from Consumer Reports: [www.consumerreports.org]

    It’s all major brands, but what I really want to know about is my brand, Method. I suspect that it’s pretty effective, and I’m not just misled by how pleasant it is to the senses. I miss it — my penniless roommate opts for “Better Valu” which is ugly, smells foul (“sickly sweet” is probably apt), takes half a bottle to work despite being “ultra concentrated” (at least it should go quickly), and is antibacterial so is contributing to the extinction of the human race…

  21. Captain Sassypants says:

    @bluewyvern: I adore Method products! I’m a sucker for their graphic design work and each product is just as effective as you need it to be (not to mention deliciously scented). I swear by their dish soap, hand soap, and laundry detergent.

    I would likewise be very interested in an investigation as to their comparative efficacy, though I’d be totally heartbroken if it turned out they’re awful.

  22. Orv says:

    @formergr: Europe has some stricter environmental rules about what you can put in detergents, I think.

  23. trujunglist says:

    I just get the cheapest one. Nice to know that Ajax is the best, because that’s actually usually one of the cheapest, and the pink grapefruit flavor is apparently hated by all because I always see it on sale for like $1/2 bottles.

  24. tcolberg says:

    Sounds like Ajax is a great buy if you shop at a normal supermarket, but no one has mentioned that the Kirkland Signature bulk soap did very well and was the least expensive on a per unit basis. Go Costco!

  25. LUV2CattleCall says:


    Re: Dawn Direct Foam being the most expensive: True…but it also mixes a shittonne of air into each pump, so it lasts for ever… Last I checked, it was only $2.50ish, they make it seem like a $9 luxury item!

    You know what’s even better though? Those Cascade pacs for the Dishwasher. Don’t have to prewash anymore and can’t remember the last time we washed anything manually. It saves $$ too people, an entire load, on potscrubber mode, only uses ~11 gallons of water, which is like 2 minutes of your faucet running. (Plus you don’t have to heat all that extra water, have all the kitchen lights running while you’re there scrubbing, etc etc.