Dishwasher Tabs--am I missing something?

cj47_gwDecember 2, 2012

First, I'd like to state that I'm not out to offend or make fun of anyone who likes to use dishwasher tabs. People like what they like, and that's fine. But I've been curious about this for some time, and a recent thread prompted me to just ask the question--are these things really that much better than the old powders or liquids that you dosed manually?

Over time, I've read a number of different posts about these things, including the recent one about a Miele dishwasher being dosed with too much soap. People went on to discuss snipping them in half to get the right doseage, doing a few dozen at a time to make it more convenient. Or having to crush them up, which sort of blew my mind there for a minute.

Do these tablets do a significantly better job than, say, like the Cascade I buy at Sam's Club in bulk? I dose that out with a tablespoon, using a little more or less depending on the soil level I'm dealing with. I get good results, no etching or etc. If the tabs are just a matter of convenience, I don't see it. These things seem to be expensive and fussy...or am I missing something?

I have included a pic of my high tech dosing system for those who might be interested.

This post was edited by cj47 on Sun, Dec 2, 12 at 13:08

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A year or so ago the Federal government required the removal of phosphates from DW detergent and many people noticed the new phosphate-free formulations were not cleaning their dishes adequately - Cascade powder (which I used prior to the phosphate removal) became one of the worst detergents. Various reviews listed Finish Quantum tablets as the best, which is why I switched to it and why others have as well. I use the whole capsule and my dishes come out spotless. I believe Cascade and other brands have since reformulated their powders. Some of this also depends on how hard your water is.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 1:37PM
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I'm one of the original tab proponents who recently had a suds issue in her 8 y.o. otherwise excellent Incognito. I am guilty of initial cutting -- scored Miele tabs which I bought in bulk a few years back.

Switched to the tabs because I could not stand the smell of the powder when I measured it. The gel is even worse for me. My DH has impaired vision and he couldn't see well enough to do the measuring accurately. He can see a tab (or half) to put in the hatch and and help out with the dishes that way.

My old Miele tabs ran out. The new ones, even more expensive, created a lot of suds for Fauguy and I had excellent results with the Quantum Finish and Method smarty tabs which I can get at the grocery store and Target. The rose-grapefruit smartys smell better than any other and do a fine job.

My current soap issue is likely a function of our whole-house water softener, which I forgot, and using Quantum several days in a row. The load I ran without any new soap had some suds in the bottom when I checked.

So I am back to cutting up. Since we just replaced our septic system a month ago and last night the hot water heater went out, I'm hoping to avoid a service call on the dishwasher too. Enough with the water already.

Nothing wrong with measuring -- a high-tech approach right up there with scissors. Water quality and interaction with these detergents seems to vary so much around the country some of us check to see what what works. Appliance geeky, admittedly.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 2:26PM
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@cj47 - love that high tech equipment ya got there. Looks like my house. LOL

I got used to the tabs because the soap door on our Kenmore Elite had a very bad habit of randomly opening within the first 5 seconds of starting a cycle. It was much easier to listen for the "thunk" of that tablet, put it back in the dispenser, than pour more powder into the soap cup and have the dispenser open again, etc. etc. etc.

Now with our new Bosch, it's just as easy to keep using the tabs. No powder to spill, although I might give CR's #2 Cascade all-in-one powder a try when I need to restock. Oh! Wait! Costco 'pacs' got a decent CR rating and are even cheaper. My horizons are going to expand very soon. After I use up the Finish coupons that came with my new Bosch DW. Well, and after I ask all my friends what they use in their DWs. We all have the same city water ...

CR currently rates two versions of Cascade version highest on their charts, then a WallyWorld pac of some sort.

I say whatever works best in your dishwasher with your water quality, yadda yadda yadda, the chaper, the better.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:03PM
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A couple of years ago I got fed up because the Cascade liquid that I'd always used didn't seem to be working anymore. I didn't realize there was a change in formulation, I just thought our older dishwasher was starting to crap out.

Anyway I tried the tabs at that point and the difference in cleaning power was unbelievable. I like the convenience and the fact that it's all in one so I don't have to worry about the jetdry.

If you watch for sales you can stock up at pretty good prices. For example our local grocery store just had the 15-pack Finish Powerballs on for $2.88 a few weeks ago so I stocked up on 10 packs of them. I think 20 cents for a load of dishes is decent.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:22PM
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There is a review of dishwasher detergents in Consumer Reports this month. I think Cascade Tabs rates the highest for cleaning and removing cloudy stains.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:28PM
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There are very few DW detergents that don't smell like bleach and/or fragrance. Method Smarty tabs are one of the few. That's my number-1 requirement. That they're tabs is not important to me; if the same no-bleach no-fragrance detergent were offered in a powder form, I'd buy that too. I do find that just the 1/2 tab works great in my Miele unless dinner has been unusually greasy or stuck-on. There are so many reports of dishes/glasses etching, and I believe it's cause people use too much detergent in their DWs (and that people rinse before DWing). The Method Smarty tabs are easy to break in half (which halves the price overall too), and I don't have to mess with a powder or gel, just plop in the 1/2 tab in the dispenser.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:43PM
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Interesting--I see that there are a lot of good reasons for going to tabs, depending on your water quality, machine, and what you can tolerate in terms of smell. My Miele works well with the Cascade and our water, but perhaps I'll experiment with them some day. Thanks for the info!


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 12:02AM
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I have a run-of-the-mill Kenmore DW that was here when we moved in 7 years ago (so, it's probably 10 or 11 yrs old). I use either Cascade Complete tabs or Quantum Finish tabs. Sometimes, I fill the rinse aid dispenser, but not sure it makes much of a difference. I have some cheap Ajax tabs I bought, but they don't work well at all, so I don't recommend those. I put nasty, encrusted casserole dishes in mine all the time, and they come out spotless (of course, I use the longer, high heat pots/pans or heavy wash cycles for them). I never notice any kind of smell with either of these tabs, despite having a 'bloodhound' nose. =)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 11:10PM
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A couple years ago my dishes just weren't getting clean any longer with the power or liquid dishwasher detergent I's always used. I gave the Finish tabs a try, and dishes were much cleaner. I too used to laugh at the people who used these, thinking they were a waste of money. Now I too am convert.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:24PM
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A couple years ago my dishes just weren't getting clean any longer with the power or liquid dishwasher detergent I's always used. I gave the Finish tabs a try, and dishes were much cleaner. I too used to laugh at the people who used these, thinking they were a waste of money. Now I too am convert.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:25PM
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I've never used all-in-one tablets or gelpacs ... but I'm doubtful that rinse aid included in a detergent formula has an appreciable effect. Detergent is dispensed into the wash period ... main wash and/or a prewash period as the case may be ... and the wash detergent solution is drained away before rinse(s) begin. Some machines may run one rinse but two rinses is more common. My unit runs three after-rinses (after- as in following the main wash) on the heaviest cycle. I don't see that they can be effective as a rinse aid unless there's something particular about the chemical composition of tabs and gelpacs that gives the rinse aid component ability to linger through two or three rinses.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 11:36AM
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I agree with you dadoes. In addition to the Finish Quantum tabs, I also fill my rinse aid dispenser with Jet Dry.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Ditto with needs info response.
Miele rep turned off our rinse aid to use with the Miele tabs. I would be concerned with too much softener with the rinse aid.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 7:50PM
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