liquid dishwashing detergent - where are the suds?

teresa_nc7January 24, 2006

Lately I have found that I keep having to add more detergent when washing dishes by hand. And I'm not using a cheap brand - usually Dawn or Ivory.

I have city water that is not noticeably hard. Still, I can't get enough suds in the sink to wash the dishes.

Anyone else see this trend? Do you have recommendations for a better brand of liquid detergent?

Thank you.


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Please clarify. Is there not as much suds as before & the dishes are clean. OR no suds & not clean. I haven't notice much of a difference with Dawn but we have soften water.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 9:24AM
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Are suds necessary to get dishes clean?

Although most of us like lots of suds, they're really not necessary to get your dishes clean. It's the surfactants in the dishwashing Liquid that really do the cleaning.

Why do detergents make suds, then?

The main reason we make sudsing detergents is that people prefer sudsy dish water. Suds also help keep the water temperature warm. (And, they do a great job of hiding the dirty dish water!)

Do low suds mean the detergent is weak?

No. If you like a lot of suds, try adding your dishwashing Liquid to the sink before running your tap water at high pressure. Then, swish the solution with your hands until you have the suds level you like. If you have hard water, are cleaning very greasy dishes, or use a scouring pad with soap, you may want to use more dishwashing Liquid.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 1:59PM
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I haven't noticed but then after I pour the detergent into the water I take the sprayer and really suds it up.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 12:33AM
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I guess what I was trying to say is that I keep having to add liquid detergent as I continue to wash the dishes. It seems years ago I just squirted some in as the sink was filling with hot water and had enough suds to clean all the dishes, glasses, and silverware.

It seems to me that the detergent is weaker if I'm having to add more after washing just a few items. Is this just me or do you think there is something to this.

And, what liquid dish detergents do you recommend as lasting through a medium-sized sink of dishes - 2 or 3 plates, a couple of mugs, a couple of glasses, and 8-10 pieces of silverware?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 11:14PM
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What is your water supply? We have well water in our subdivision and not every house has the same water. They drill until they hit water (duh) and some wells are deeper than others. So the water is different. Also the water seems to have changed somehow as new homes have been built.

A lot of the towns around Chicago have changed from local wells and are now using Lake Michigan water - which is different.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 3:49PM
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I have regular city water, FWIW.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:03PM
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Suds do not clean!!...In fact they impede cleaning. It seems that the consumer ( as you seem to be doing) equate suds with ability to clean, so manufacturers added sudsing ingredients. In years past Ivory was the sudsiest but also the most difficult to rinse off.
Ignore the amount of suds....judge by if it's washing the food off your dishes.
Plain washing soda does a fine job of cleaning things.....and all without suds.
I repeat, suds have nothing to do with cleaning!
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 11:39AM
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We noticed that a few years ago and called the 800 phone # on the Dawn bottle. She said the same as replies here. Don't need suds to clean. Something about long ago when soap was actually soap. So I stopped trying to renew suds and the dishes really are getting clean. But I agree, I like suds too. Sandy

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 5:15PM
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By the way, she sent me 2 coupons for free dish detergent!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 5:19PM
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I've been using Palmolive (any of the ultra) and there always seems to be enough suds. I switched from Dawn a while ago because it was drying out my hands too much. I have Lake Michigan water.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 9:12PM
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I wash dishes by hand piece by piece and rinse as each is done. Palmolive original and Dawn ... A squirt of Palmolive lasts way longer than an equal squirt of Dawn when I have a sink full of dirties.

Dawn smells nicer and rinses quicker is the only reason I waste money on it,, I'd rather be doing darn near anything rather than washing the same old dishes over and over.
To me the Palmolive is way more economical because it last so long. MOre soapier and takes more effort and time to rinse, which maybe a good thing for killing those invisable wigglies. Wash hands for 20 seconds I read to kill those things,,, same with dishes I would imagine.

I put some dawn in a little restaraunt style tomato juice glass to see if it would radiate that lemon odor,,, it evaporated so quick. I was wondering if maybe the maid tasted it to see what it was.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 7:55AM
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I definitely have noticed the same thing. I have used Dawn for years and feel like no matter how much more I pour in, I don't get the type of sudsing that I used to get and that soaks gunk off as quickly. I have public water, on the hard side--but I've been in the same home for 18 years--so either the water supply is changing, or the soap has changed, or . . . .

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 9:12PM
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I have also notices this...especially on my kids' plastic dinnerware, not enough soap to get them un-greasy, but they often have a "soapy" smell and taste when dry. Grrrrr. (and yes, I do rinse them...sometimes twice)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 2:40PM
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I suggest testing your water hardness, Sears and others sell test strips. Easy to do, you test your self. Any number over 10 and you have "hard" water and it is going to take more soap to make suds - not saying whether you need them or not.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 3:10PM
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The detergent companies realize that you add more product when there are less suds, therefore causing you to use more product. We have become a society of "more is better" and the big companies make their money off of consumers who fall for this.

Linda C is absolutely correct: suds do not clean!

This goes for laundry detergent as well: one tablespoon actually cleans your clothes better than a full scoop, and is better for your washer. This has been confirmed by a washer repairman who told me that most of his repairs are because people use the recommended (by the detergent company) amount of soap which clogs the washing machine and wears it out much quicker. He told me that less is more!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 2:37PM
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A few weeks ago I bought a bottle of Sunlight dish detergent (which is a cheaper brand, btw) and I can definitely say that I have more suds and better cleaning of the dishes than I experienced with Dawn when I first posted this thread.

I agree completely that "less is more" in many cases, but one of the main reasons for using soap, liquid dish detergent, or powdered laundry detergent is to break up fats, grease, skin oils, etc. and lift them off our bodies, the plates, and the clothing. If we didn't need suds to help do this, then we could all just bathe in plain water and scrub really hard, right?

I will give the Palmolive a try in the future, but I won't be buying anymore Dawn.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 9:11AM
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Teresa.....suds do NOT clean. Fats and oils can be broken up without suds. Detergents contain "foaming agents" because we expect them. What cleans is surfactants. A strong alkaline solution will break up grease and not create suds.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 11:42AM
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Dawn has changed. Dawn 'Ultra' is less 'soapy' than the original. I remember using a sungle drop to wash my hands, or a single dish and still having too much suds left over.

The 'surficants' argument sounds like a cop out. Dawn Ultra bottle claims I can use less detergent than before. When washing, I suppose I'm supposed to squirt an even smaller amount of Dawn Ultra in there, and just know that I'm getting the same performance, even though I feel nothing but water. True, suds are not needed to cut Grease (like with Fast Orange, with no suds at all) but that product is intended to be used without water. If you use it with water, it very quickly washes away (no surface tension? no suds??) Dawn Ultra is also easily washed away. The orig Dawn was not. It stuck around, and thus did more cleaning. I find myself replenishing my sponge over and over again with Dawn Ultra, and feeling nothing. Dawn knows this. They are not stupid.

If 90% of the consumers use more Dawn Ultra than they did the original Dawn for whatever reason, then the makers of Dawn have pulled on over on them. But alas, people use Dawn Ultra becuase Dawn orig. was such a great product. But it is no longer special, and people (like myself) will eventually switch. But there was only one Dawn, it WAS the best. It is no more!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 12:41AM
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