Good news with phosphate-free DW detergent

weissmanFebruary 21, 2011

So before I run out of the last of my DW detergent with phosphates, I decided to try one of the new phosphate-free detergents. I got a box of Finish Quantum capsules, supposedly one of the top-rated detergents. I ran a load of moderately dirty dishes and the good news is that they came out nicely clean without any of the white residue on them that some people have been experiencing.

The only issue is that the box says to use them only with full wash cycles. I don't often run the short wash cycle but do occasionally. Do I need to use a different detergent for those occasions? I'm assuming their concern is that the pre-measured capsule has too much detergent for a short wash cycle?!?

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The one time I tried Finish Quantum (a free sample) in my KA KUDE70 dishwasher, it didn't fully dissolve -- parts of its heavy clear plastic wrapper remained. This was with a lighter load setting (light/crystal, I think).

Since then, I've been happy with the Cascade "All-in-1" plastic capsules (the blue/green ones). Their clear plastic wrapper is thinner and more flexible, and dissolves fully regardless of my load size or wash setting. I think Walmart carries them (Costco doesn't); you might try a bag with as few as 16 or so.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Weissman - also try the Method Smarty Dish tablets. They work as well as Finish Powerball tablets, but the Method tablets break in half easier, and are easier to unwrap. The Finish Powerball tablets were too much soap for my dishwasher; I think they work better if you have a very full dishwasher. I found the Method Smarty tablets at Target, though strangely, they were not in the dishwasher detergent section. The Target near me had a section of just Method products; there were, like, 20 different Method products there (I gotta try some of those), and that's where I found the Smarty Dish tablets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Method Smarty Dish Detergent Tablets

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Not one of these allows the user to regulate dosage depending load size/type or water quality. Plus they're expensive. Not for me.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 10:44PM
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I understand what you're saying asolo - I've been using Cascade Complete powder for years but my concern now is clean dishes and at least I've found something that will work without having to resort to STPP. The cost is really a minor issue for me.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 11:13PM
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We have been successfully using the Finish tabs for years. Never have put them in the dispenser without tearing open the plastic pouch. Never knew you could do that. Maybe you can't. Stands to reason that if you have a problem getting the pouch to dissolve you would rip it open and just use the tab.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:18AM
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I haven't used the Quantrum but I do break the Finish Powerballs in half. I don't worry about breaking the little red ball, I just use that on dirtier loads. Haven't been able to tell any difference between using the red ball or not.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 7:13AM
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I mentioned this on another thread, but for small dishwasher loads I've had good luck with using a small amount of plain old Cascade powder (phosphate free) with about a teaspoon of Lemi Shine, my new favorite product. No more white gunk on glassware etc.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:50PM
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maire_cate, according to Finish, (I called the 800 number) the red ball is your enzymes. They don't recommend breaking the tab for smaller loads because one of your two loads will not get the enzymes.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 7:28PM
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I've had excellent results with the new Miele Tabs that are phosphate free in my Diamante dishwasher. Only have to use half a tab and everything comes out clean.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 7:09AM
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jakvis - thanks for the information. I haven't noticed a difference between the loads with the red ball and those without. But that just might have been luck.

When I finish this box I think I'll just go back to my Cascade Complete powder or try the Method recommended above.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 7:44AM
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I have been having AWFUL results with the new Cascade Complete (also called Advanced Power) powdered detergent. I have used Cascade Complete in my Miele La Perla diswasher since about 2002 or 2003!

I just recently sold my La Perla I (G2830) and got a La Perla II (G2832). Glasses have been murky, stainless is not shiny and I have even found specks of food on dishes and flatware!

I called Cascade, and they said that they have been SLOWLY removing Phosphates from their products, to follow new gov't. guidelines for many states. So, even though my box said Phosphate Free, it might of had 1-5% and now Cascade has 0%. My previous boxes did NOT say Phosphate Free. Cascade told me to try the Cascade Power pacs. While usually Cascade Complete Powder was the gold standard, many people are finding the new Power Pacs to work better.

I am also trying the new Miele tabs!

LEMI SHINE IS AMAZING though!! I have been adding it to every load along with my stash of Cascade Complete Powder...and it makes a HUGE, HUGE difference. Glasses are clear and dishes are much shinier!!!

I do use Miele salt and Miele rinse aid in my La Perla. Water hardness is set to 7 and Rinse Aid is set to Level 2.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 10:37AM
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As an experiment tonight I did a short wash with a Finish Quantum capsule and it worked fine. Everything nice and clean and the capsule dissolved completely.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 9:14PM
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I have used Finish tabs for years. I actually cut them in 1/2 and use 1/2 tab only for all of my cycles. I have soft water and I find that I only need 1/2 tab for my cycles.

It really does not matter if you have the red enzyme or not in my DW. Finish tabs do not have phophates but they do use bleech in their formula.

I tried using Cascade powder (not sure what type) once trying to save money and the dishes came out terrible. I went back to Finish.

I have had real good luck with Method tabs. When I am out of Finish, I am going to switch to Method so I don't end up using bleech. I have gone environmentally friendly products and organic in almost everthing else in my household. Finish is one of the last things I am holding onto.....

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 5:47PM
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Just did a "test" on Finish Powerball Tabs vs. Method Smarty Tablets. OK, this was not scientific at all, it's just my impressions on two different loads of dishes on 2 nights. So, please, no challenging about methodology, exact number of dishes, exact same amount of food on the dishes, and the like. The DW is KA KUDS40. Both loads had my family's typical home-cooked meals' remains, some of it dried-on. We scrape, but don't rinse. Both loads had the usual glasses, coffee mugs, bowls, silverware, etc. Both loads were full.

As to cleanability, both detergents cleaned identically well. Everything came out spotless, except a glass with dried-on milk in both loads. So, the differences between the two detergents come down to ease-of-use and packaging. Method Smarty Tablets wins in that respect because its packaging is a resealable bag that takes up no room under the sink, each Smarty Tablet comes without wrapping, and each Smarty Tablet is easy to break if you'd need to do a half-load. The Finish Powerball is in a bulky (by comparison) box, and each tab is a PITA to unwrap, and don't even try if you have wet hands. As already mentioned in this thread, there are issues with the Powerball if you just want to use a half tab. I also liked, as Kaismom mentioned, that Smarty Tablets are free of bleach, dyes and perfumes.

Price-wise though, Finish Powerball Tabs wins. If you want to buy in bulk, I saw a box of 100 in Costco for about $20. Walmart has Finish Powerball box of 32 for $5.97. I have only seen Method Smarty Tablets in the 20-count bag, which is an inconveniently small number, and seems to cost $5.99 everywhere.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 7:30PM
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Well I most definitely will not use Finish again...shortly after switching away from the old Miele tabs to the Finish powerball tabs my Miele DW starting leaking rinse aid. After much help from this forum I diagnosed the problem as the seal on the rinse aid dispenser cover going bad. I strongly suspect it was the Finish tabs that ruined it. I replaced the seal and it fixed the problem. I switched back to the Miele tabs - now it is the new ones. I find that half a tab with the "normal plus" setting works just great (my DW is ca 6 years old so that is the older cycle type I guess). I do remember the Finish tabs smelt of bleach and I think it caused some kind of deterioration of the seal on the rinse aid compartment. YMMV....:)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 10:06PM
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