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Eco dishwasher detergent review

Eco product lovers, we’ve got some good news for you: ‘eco’ products took out three of the five top spots in our latest dishwasher detergent test. We tested brands Finish, Koh, Earth Choice, EcoStore and Fairy - do you use any of these products? How would you rate their performance?

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We’ve been using the ‘Earth Choice’ tablets for more 5 years. The product has changed over that time.
The DW a basic model Miele has never needed much attention other than the filter tray emptying. No smells no residues no rinse aid. Admittedly we are on high quality tank water, pH naturally balanced in a large concrete tank. Incidentally we only wipe or scrape off heavy fats left from meals, relying on the DW rinse cycle, as this saves on precious tank water.

The only criticism with the product relates to our local retailer Woolies, who now seem to not have it on special that often. Success, and successive price rises in part be due to the slippery AU$?
While the product is imported (Denmark) it is surprising the majority of the competition is not Australian made.

We’ve also used the EcoStore DW tablets as an alternative, when nil stock of Earth Choice.
For the other (weekender) with a F&P drawer DW a tablet is a waste. We use powder (EcoStore) at half the recommended Finish dosage plus rinse aid. It seems not to work as well with the water in BrisVegas, unless you choose the hotter wash temp options. Noted it is much less expensive than some lesser options and produced in NZ.

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Our dishwasher is currently out of action, it is quite old, but we might get around to dismantling and fixing it when we get sick of washing up by hand!

We have used Earth Choice tabs (we use half rather than a full tablet) for many years and find they work very well.

I’m not sure the CHOICE tip of putting the tablet loose in the bottom of the dishwasher would be a good idea- it would be washed away with the first rinse, before the washing cycle starts!

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I’ve been using the Finish liquid in the dishwasher as I was told that it’s kinder to the environment. It does a good job, and is easy to pour into the dispenser. I also use their rinse-aid.

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Not an expert but we know one :wink: I believe newer ones filter and recirculate water until the end ‘game’. To wit, there is a finish dishwasher cleaner product where the instructions are to put the tab in the bottom with a regular wash, and the tab/powder in the dispenser as normal. How to tell newer from older for this? Perhaps whether it has a cleanable filter in the bottom of the compartment?

@airedale, comments please.

Finish now has two product lines, the ‘classics’ (black or blue) and ‘0%’ (green). The latter is advertised as being more environmentally friendly.

If you mean the Finish gel I do not see anything advertised about environmental attributes.

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A wild dishwasher specialist appears…
The reason we suggest throwing tablets into the bottom of the tub not put them in the dispenser is because some people have reported problems where their dishwasher tablet hasn’t dissolved fully (or at all), particularly on very short cycles. These tablets are designed to break down slowly, not all at once, so the idea is that by throwing it in the bottom of the tub the first rinse cycle can start the process of dissolving the tablet (even if it’s just the cellulose wrapper), giving you maximum time with detergents in your wash water.
We did shoot a video not too long ago of a dishwasher tablet dissolving inside a running dishwasher, which sadly never saw the light of day (it was oscar-worthy stuff let me tell you), and it we can confirm that dishwasher tablets dissolve slowly over time, not all in a rush.
You will no doubt have noticed that many dishwasher tablets have several different layers to them (and for some of them a cute red ball thingy in the middle). This is in no small part to make them look more exciting for the marketing department, but the stratification serves two practical purposes - firstly, it keeps the active ingredients separate - ie, the bleaching agents and the enzymes - which helps extend shelf life (these ingredients don’t exactly get on, as it were), and secondly, they’re calibrated to dissolve at different parts of the cycle - the enzymes first to tackle the starches and proteins, and the bleaches last to take advantage of the hottest parts of the wash cycle. Enzymes don’t like heat, so they go first and do their job before the hottest part of the cycle comes along and neutralises them. Ideally you also want your rinse aid (the red ball thingy, supposedly) to hang about until the final rinse to aid with drying, but from what we saw in our video, it just dissolved along with the other ingredients.
All that said, you should do whichever works best for you - if you get a great wash and your tablet fully dissolves when placed in the dispenser then we’re not going to tell you not to - if it works, it works.

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Magic! Although I missed the puff of smoke while watching another topic. And thank you for appearing so quickly :slight_smile:

Any comment about my belief of water being recirculated being Fact or fiction?

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Hi @PhilT I always come when summoned… well almost… but I’m afraid you’ll have to do the puff of smoke and demonic cackle yourself.
Regarding re-circulation of water, you’re half right - your dishwasher will pump out several times during it’s cycle - typically after each stage - rinse, wash, rinse and final rinse (which is the hottest part, to build up a heat load in your crockery to aid in drying) - despite the general detergency of your detergent keeping soils suspended in the wash liquor not redistributed onto your plates, you want to get rid of it. What some of the newer dishwashers are doing, however, is retaining the final rinse water (which should be pretty clean) to re-use in the first rinse cycle of the next time you run it (if you don’t run the dishwasher for a while it’ll pump itself out). This is a good balance between water efficiency and hygienic washing, and helps reduce the water consumption of your dishwasher.
Throwing a bit of colour into the mix, some of the new LG dishwashers have what they refer to as condenser drying. They incorporate a water jacket around the wash tub. After they’ve built up a heat load in your dishwasher contents in the final rinse, flood this jacket with cold water, cooling the tub and causing steam to condense on it and drain away. That water is also saved for the first rinse of the next cycle.
Not to sound like an ad for LG, but this dishwasher is pretty fancy and can be connected to either cold or hot water (most dishwashers are cold only). This can save you money if you have solar hot water, but the condenser drying function will only work if you connect it to the cold tap.
Regardless of whether or not your fancy new dishwasher has these water saving features, a dishwasher is very water efficient compared to hand washing.

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Perhaps with the newer ones, but ours probably falls into the vintage or veteran category, and we are certain we use less with hand washing.
We also have it connected to the hot water only (with a water pressure surge arrestor to be nice to the pipe joints and solar HWS, since the solenoids controlling water flow cause significant rapid pressure changes) - the initial rinse will (most of the time, if no hot taps have been running) be mostly the cold water from the pipes, as the solar HW system is ground mounted behind the house. Once the hot water, which I don’t run through the tempering valve, makes it there for washes, it saves significant amounts of energy, useful since we are not connected to the electricity grid.

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That’s exactly the best way to use your dishwasher / solar hot water system. Can’t believe we’re now investing in gas powered electricity instead of solar but I digress. Studies have shown an average of 100 litres to hand wash the equivalent of a full dishwasher (144 items), compared to around 15 for a dishwasher, but I’d like to think Australians are more water conscious than the average european, where the study was carried out. Plus, if you’re running the dishwasher anything less than full then your efficiency gains will drop. Though not even a museum piece dishwasher will use 100 litres in a cycle…
Back in the day I used to gamify the dishwasher - the rules were, if the dishwasher was full you had to run it, but if you ran the dishwasher you lost the game - OCD would kick in and far too much time was whittled away playing dishwasher tetris, trying to get that last bowl in somewhere…

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That often results in having to hand wash anyway! :wink:

We generally are hand washing once we run out of knives, forks, plates or some other necessary item, and use <20 litres. The DW uses significantly more than that, something like 40+ litres from memory when we measured with a bucket on the drain on our usual cycle.

Do the Europeans have the taps running continuously to get through 100litres?!

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Maybe they rinse after washing to remove any soap residues…like many old timers used to do.

100L sound excessive and a heavy water user.

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Possibly they follow the Palmolive hand dish washing guide, ‘As Seen on TV’.

Start with a sponge ended wand thing. Fill it full of liquid detergent concentrate.

Turn the tap on full with no plug in the sink, and with gloves on gracefully wipe all the plate surface while massaging generously with the detergent wand.

1,000% hygienic as you watch the generous suds disappearing down the plug hole.

No hands on or yucky stuff or sharing your plate with that oh so yuck dirty sink water.

Not only does the wonderful add, show how to over consume water, but it is a great way to use ten times the detergent. Fortunately the add is not that useful when ever water restrictions apply.

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Another reason is if you leave the tablet/gel in the little dispenser container sometimes the packaging (dissolvable) doesn’t dissolve properly and leaves the tablet stuck in the dispenser either completely intact or only partially dissolved.

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I’ve always removed the gel packages, as I didn’t want them congealing in my greywater system as some sort of giant berg! :wink:

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Some do. This figure was an average result from the University of Bonn study. The lowest figure on test was 33 litres, but the highest was over 400 litres. I’d like to think Australians are far more water-conscious than this, but unfortunately there’s been no research done locally.

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Counterpoint is their pipes may be grease free :rofl:

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One would hope so…but most friends who have dishwashers rinse plates and other dirty items while stacking the dishwasher. I have asked them why they do this and they say to reduce smell in the dishwasher (as the food residues tend to smell after a short time in warm weather) and also to reduce the amount of food that collects in the filters and could enter water reused in the dishwasher.

One one friend I know of stacks everything straight from the table and kitchen straight into the dishwasher…but he has said that sometimes some things don’t come out clean (baked on foods, egg based foods etc) and either need a second wash or a quick hand wash after dishwashing).

Like ourselves, they also tend to do an additional and separate handwash to that in the dishwasher for some meals (especially when using pots and pans, delicate china or items which shouldn’t be dishwashed - wooden items etc). We also find our selves retrieving some items from the dishwasher before it is full to allow us to have a meal…these items are handwashed as well while waiting for the dishwasher to be filled.

I always wonder if the numbers used by the dishwasher industry for savings has a lot of (unrealistic) assumptions about the users of the dishwasher.

Agree that research should be done locally with both an average family hand washing and dishwashing. I believe that the savings may not be as great as the industry may believe.

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We scrape but don’t rinse, works well as large food waste goes to bin and only leaves a little residue to be washed off. Biggest issue we have noticed when using our’s or friend’s when we help out, is that even with rinse aid is the number of dishwashers that leave moisture on the items after the drying cycle.

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This is a interesting article which may explain the high water use when handwashing in other countries…

https://www.notaballerina.com/2014/10/unexpected-cultural-differences-how-do-you-wash-your-dishes-your-country.html#:~:text=Australians%20wash%20the%20dishes%20in,habit%20of%20rinsing%20after%20soaping.

It is for new arrivals to Australia…

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