When a new law went into effect in 16 states limiting the amount of phosphorus allowed in dishwasher detergents, most major manufacturers changed their formulas nationwide.
Unfortunately, many consumers feel that low- and no-phosphate detergents don't perform very well, as highlighted in the recent discussion about When The Eco Alternatives Just Don't Work.
Well, in 2010 Consumer Reports put several detergents to the test, and here's what they found…
As reported in the September 2010 issue, Consumer Reports tested 24 low- or no-phosphate dishwasher detergents. Although none of these equaled the product that topped CR's detergent ratings in 2009, there was "good news for the traditionally low-scoring eco-friendly products." In the new test, seven products earned a rating of Very Good and four were Recommended. According to CR:
Finish Quantum (30 cents per load) topped the Ratings, followed by CR Best Buy, Finish Powerball Tabs (22 cents per load), which scored Excellent for dishes and pots, and bested some detergents that cost more. Cascade Complete All In 1 (28 cents per load) and Cascade with Dawn ActionPacs (23 cents per load) earned a score of Very Good in CR's tests, but all Cascades, like all Finish products, aren't equal. Other Cascade and Finish products were scattered throughout the Ratings.
CR also found that enzymes may help, while bleach made little difference. In addition, tablets and pacs tended to score high, while gels scored low.
We must admit we were disappointed that none of the "green" brands like Seventh Generation or Ecover made it to the top four, but if you're committed to using those brands, check out The Best Green Dishwasher Detergent from Grist or Re-Nest's Product Review: 3 Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Detergents.
• Read more: Low Phosphorous Dishwasher Detergents (Consumer Reports)