Dishwasher Detergents

I have tried a few dishwasher detergents in the past year and decided to write a post covering all of them to make it easier to compare and contrast. The TL;DR version: liquid detergents don’t work as well for me, and the Safeway store brand “green” packets worked best. In the interest of full disclosure, (1) I have an old dishwasher that probably doesn’t clean like it used to and (2) my husband often doesn’t even rinse the dishes before putting them through the wash.

Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel


Grade: B

I used about half of the bottle of this gel before basically giving up on it. That was maybe 15 dishwasher cycles. The main issue was that dishes came out of the washer with food stuck on them. As I noted, my husband loves to test the detergents with challenges like cookie sheets we used to cook turkey sausage, Pyrex dishes that we used to make lasagna, and turkey meatloaf pans–all with barely a rinse under hot water. So it doesn’t surprise me that the liquid detergent would not work as well. I would be willing to bet that if you scrubbed off most of the food before loading your dishes in the washer, this detergent would work fine. I will absolutely be trying Honest’s detergent packs next.

Method Smarty Dish Dishwasher Tabs


Grade: B+

These tabs work pretty well. Maybe once every 3 washes I’ll find some stuck-on food, but overall I’m happy with the results. The bonus (IMO) of these tabs is that they’re not encapsulated in a gummy clear film–they are packed powder detergent (kinda like a Flintstone’s vitamin). I have no idea if that makes a difference in terms of residue, but my suspicion is that it does. Method also makes a “plus” version of the smarty dish tab that has “triple action cleaning power,” so maybe those of us too lazy to pre-rinse our dishes should try those.

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Gel


Grade: C

I was given about half a container of this dishwasher detergent by a friend who wasn’t going to use the rest of it. She didn’t think it worked very well, and I have to agree. Again, it would probably be fine if we scrubbed our dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. But as it is at my house, I was finding at least 2 or 3 dishes in every load that needed to be washed again. The dishwasher packs may be more effective.

Bright Green Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Packets


Grade: A

Bright Green is Safeway’s green cleaning product line. This detergent product is the only one of the line that I’ve tried, and I’ve got to say that I’m impressed. These packets work really well and don’t seem to leave behind any residue. I’ve used almost an entire container of these (so maybe 25 loads), and have only once found a dish with caked on food. And best of all, I found it right on my grocer’s shelf next to the other dish detergents. Also, I remember that it was very reasonably priced (of course I couldn’t find a link to purchase it, so I can’t say exactly how much it was).