Money Wise--The Dish on Detergents

You go to put the the cups, plates and silverware away from the dishwasher and you end up scraping off the leftovers. Pretty nasty, and frustrating. Choosing the right detergent can help. Not only is there liquid and powder, but you've got tabs, gel packs and other additives that claim to make dishwasher detergents work even better. Which ones do local consumers say work best?

Metter shopper Evelyn Sutton told us, "I use Cascade. It's the best I've ever used."

"Pamolive. I like the smell and it works," said Winnie Pacheco of Savannah.

We all have our favorites, but which one actually works best? Consumer Reports magazine recently put a dozen detergents through their tests. The ones that performed only fair were Electrasol Advanced Cleaning Power gel, at 20 cents per load, and Sunlight Gel with Rinse Aid, at 18 cents per load. Performing excellent were Electrasol's Duel Action Tabs with baking soda, at 14 cents per load, and Cascade's Pure Rinse formula, for 20 cents per load. But the dishwasher detergent that beat all the rest was also the least expensive. At just nine cents per load, the generic Wal-Mart brand called "Great Value" was at the top of the Consumer Reports list and earned the title of a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

It's a bit surprising a generic did better than all the fancy competition, but now consumers can save a little more cash in the kitchen.

Here's something else the Consumer Reports test revealed. All the top cleaning dishwasher detergents contained something that the others didn't have: enzymes. They dissolve starches and proteins to help remove grime from the dishes. If present in the detergent you're using, enzymes are almost always listed among the ingredients.

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Reported by: Dmitra Denmark,