The best store-brand dishwasher detergents

The best store-brand dishwasher detergents

Buying store-brand dishwasher detergents could save you a couple bucks each week, which over the course of the year adds up nicely. But even at their cut-rate prices, some store brands are a waste of money, given their woeful cleaning performance. That’s what we found when we tested dishwasher detergents from Costco, Kmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and other retailers. But there were a few respectable choices in the mix,  provided you know where to shop. Here are the details.

We put store brands through the same worst-case conditions concocted for Cascade, Finish, and other national-brand detergents. That includes dishes smeared with peanut butter, pudding, and other gooey ingredients and pots and pans that are left out overnight with a layer of baked-on mac-n-cheese. These torture tests are too much for many store brands and name brands alike. For example, Green Mission Organic Dishwasher Gel, a Whole Foods Market exclusive, flunked our dishes and cookware tests and also left behind water spots and food deposits. It ended up with the lowest overall score of 36 tested detergents.

For a store-brand dishwasher detergent that delivers, try visiting Walmart. That retailer’s Great Value Powder Pacs, 17 cents per load, was very good on dishes and excellent at resisting water spots and the white filmy residue that can be an issue if your home has hard water. The pacs were good, if not great, on pots and pans, but if you wash those items by hand, you won’t notice the small drop-off in performance.

Another worthy store brand is Costco’s Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs, which cost just 10 cents per load and were very good or better in every test category. And if you’re partial to powder, head over to Walgreens for its Nice! Powder, also 10 cents per load. But this detergent really struggled with pots and pans, so it’s not ideal if you do often load these items into the dishwasher.  

Target’s Up & Up and Kmart’s Smart Sense detergents offer incredible value, costing 6 and 7 cents per load respectively, but they’re farther down in our Ratings, as is Trader Joe’s Powder, 11 cents per load. Curious which brand is tops overall? See the complete results of our dishwasher detergent tests.

—Daniel DiClerico

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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