Product overview

Welcome to New Zealand’s trusted, independent source of practical consumer information. Join us now to access all our information and Consumer advisers when you need them.  

Dishwasher detergents

16nov dishwasherdetergents hero default

Tablet, powder or sachet? See which type tops our test.

Don't waste your money on a dud detergent. We put them to the test on six stains, including egg yolk and baked on cheese.

From our test

Join us now for instant access

Join more than 100,000 members today and you’ll get:

  • Independent info
  • Thousands of test results and research you can trust
  • Everything in one easy place
  • Expert support a phone call away if things go wrong

About our test

Plates are treated with egg yolk, starch, baked-on cheese, red wine, coffee and minced meat. We measure the amount of light reflected using a spectrophotometer. We then wash them using the manufacturer’s recommended dosage, putting each detergent through 4 test loads. We then measure the reflectance again to assess how much food residue/stains remains and compare it to the initial readings. We average the results for each type of stain across the 4 loads.

Detergent manufacturers often reformulate their products and these changes aren’t always for the better. For example, Finish Powerball Quantum tablets are normally one of the highest scorers in our test but this year, after reformulation, their performance dropped significantly.


Some products claim to contain rinse-aid or to be septic tank-safe. We’ve included these claims but haven’t tested them.

Almost all tablets claim to contain rinse-aid. Powders don’t have rinse-aid as it needs to be released at a certain point of the wash, which is impossible with powders. If you’re using powder and your dishwasher has a rinse aid compartment, we suggest using rinse aid to avoid water spots on your dishes.

You should always consult your septic tank manual or manufacturer before using a new dishwasher detergent.

Safety advice

The National Poisons Centre provides the following first aid advice for dishwasher powders and tablets.

  • If swallowed: immediately rinse the mouth and remove any remaining powder, then give a small amount of water (a quarter to half a cup for a child, 1 to 2 cups for an adult) and seek medical advice. If the person is having difficulty breathing, keep them calm and help them into a position so that breathing is as easy as possible. Call an ambulance.
  • If on skin: immediately flush the exposed area with lots of water and seek medical advice. Don’t leave the powder on the skin, even for a few minutes: it is corrosive and causes burns.
  • If in eyes: immediately flush the eye with room-temperature water for at least 30 minutes and seek medical advice.

Use with care

  • Replace the cap or close the box immediately after use.
  • Keep dishwasher detergents well out of the reach of children – especially tablets, which a child could confuse with sweets.
  • If there’s any residue left in the dispenser after the wash, clean it out.
  • Wash your hands after handling dishwasher detergents.

Medical advice can be obtained from the National Poisons Centre, freephone 0800 764 766, or from your doctor.

Too many bubbles?

If your dishwasher is producing too many bubbles or the tablet isn’t dissolving completely by the end of the wash, then you may have a water issue.

Often this is because there isn’t enough water in the wash or the water isn’t hot enough. If you are using an “eco” or water-saving mode, then try using the detergent on a normal cycle. If you are using a powder, you can also try reducing the dosage amount. In some cases it may also be due to the hardness of the water, in which case check with the detergent manufacturer as to what to do.

Not all dish drawers are recommended for use with tablets. A dish drawer is smaller than a standard dishwasher and they use less water, so there may be too much detergent in a tablet. Check your manual or with your dishwasher manufacturer to see if you can use tablets in your dish drawer.