Skip to content
Media releases
15 March 2022

Dud detergents: some powder dishwasher detergents clean only marginally better than water

A Consumer NZ test of 23 dishwasher detergents has found that some dishwasher powders don’t clean your dishes significantly better than a cycle with plain water.

The test looked at 16 tablet options and seven powder products, testing against washing with just water. The detergents were tested with four washes on six commonly stuck on food grimes which included egg yolk, rice starch, baked-on cheese, red wine, coffee, and minced meat.

“Our testing has consistently found tablets and capsules perform better than powders. While powders are cheaper per wash and there’s some level of control over the dose, they still don’t clean dishes well. The powder is messy to add to the dispenser and people can get the dosage wrong”, said Consumer NZ test content team leader James le Page.

Powders also often don’t contain rinse aid, an additive that helps water spread evenly over the surface of dishes to reduce spots and hasten drying.

Consumer NZ test results

In the dishwasher detergent test, tablet options came out sparkling. Two Finish products took out the top spot. Finish Quantum Ultimate Pro Lemon Sparkle ($20 for 32 tablets) and Finish Quantum Ultimate Pro Fresh Burst ($15.99 for 32 tablets) were both recommended and scored 80 – the highest in the test. However, performance comes with a higher price, and both products average at 63 cents a tablet.

Active Ultimate Citrus Zest ($10 for 30 tablets) was a close runner up scoring 79 and Active Rapid Lemon ($10 for 30 tablets) scored 77. They also are Consumer NZ recommended products. Performing well, Active provides good value for money at 33 cents a tablet.

Two of the powders received a ‘Don’t Buy’ warning in our tests. These were Green Goddess Citrus Dish Wash Powder ($17.95 for 1kg) which scored 15 and Will&Able ecoDish Powder ($11.99 for 1.5kg) which scored 36. They both performed poorly at removing most food stains. The water only cycle scored 9 overall for all stains.

Consumer NZ also assessed safety information provided on the packaging. Almost all products provided critical safety information on the packaging regarding general product safety, first aid advice and poisons centre contact details. Green Goddess Citrus Dish Wash powder’s first aid advice and poisons centre information was notably absent.

Consumer NZ encourages businesses to print the contact number of the National Poisons Centre (0800) POISON on its packaging. The helpline provides medical advice 24/7 in the case detergent is ingested, gets into eyes or has contact with skin.

Find all results here.