How well do dishwasher tablets work?

So, I’m not sure if I mentioned that I wasn’t really a dishwasher user when I lived alone.  With only 6 bowls etc, I’d never have enough dirty at once to run it.  I was always running out of  utensils and crockery before it the dishwasher was full and deserved being run.  And I always end up with things that need hand washing, like pots and pans.  And my special knives.

98% of the time, my dishwasher was  a dish drainer.  I loved using it to put all the things that needed to dry/drain.  It was so simple to ‘hide’ the drying dishes and make the house neat quickly!

However, when we moved, the BF ‘asked’ that the dishwasher be revived in it’s true purpose… Cheeky isn’t he?

I think he thought I would be opposed to the dishwasher.  I’m not – I’m from a family of dishwasher users.  And now that we have twice as many dishes, and cutlery – but also use them up twice as fast, it makes sense.

The 2% of the time I did use my dishwasher, I used tablets that John West my mother rejected.  They were the cheap homebrand ones, and they didn’t really do the job for her.  Then, moving in with the BF, I had a handful of his equally budget tablets.  So I have some experience with different dishwasher tablets.

Now, I’m trying something fancy… I’m trying Finish Powerball tablets.

A gift from a blog reader (thanks!) and from a sponsor (let's see how they perform!)

A gift from a blog reader (thanks!) and from a sponsor (let’s see how they perform!)

Yay for no waste with each tablet.

Yay for no waste with each tablet.

So here’s my ‘before’ photos:

Dirty plastic lunch box - how do you handle this Finish?

Dirty plastic lunch box – how do you handle this Finish?

Dirty plates before

Dirty plates before

Dirty utensils and jug

Dirty utensils and jug

The dirty Pyrex dishes

The dirty Pyrex dishes

And after? How’d the Finish detergent go?

Clean plastic container

Clean plastic container

Clean pyrex dishes

Clean pyrex dishes

Squeaky clean plates

Squeaky clean plates

More clean stuff!

More clean stuff!

There really is nothing to complain about! The Finish tablets definitely run rings around the ‘budget’ tablets.

Now if only the dishwasher would dry plastic better! Is that my dishwasher’s fault – do your plastic containers dry (those who still use them).

Let’s compare the choices in store:

The packaging looks promising, no idea about their washing properties though

The packaging looks promising, no idea about their washing properties though

This is the one that doesn't work :I (BF, Mother, take note!)

This is the one that doesn’t work :I (BF, Mother, take note!)

An option I haven't tried, but I like the look of the packaging

An option I haven’t tried, but I like the look of the packaging. But, I always wonder if I might be ‘greenwashed’

These are an international brand - very common in France.  I've never tried them though

These are an international brand – very common in France. I’ve never tried them though

The good stuff - worth every penny, from my tests!

The good stuff – worth every penny, from my tests!

Here’s how they compare on cost in a table:

Total cost Number of tablets Cost per tab
Coles Smart Buy $4.99 30 $0.17
Coles Ultra Max $9.99 26 $0.38
Earth Choice all in one $16.00 42 $0.38
Fairy all in one $20.99 38 $0.55
Quantum Finish Power Ball $21.00 40 $0.53
Quantum Finish Power Ball $27.99 40 $0.70


How do you choose things like dishwasher tablets, when the quality of the wash isn’t there at the lower end of the cost spectrum? Surely, you don’t resort to 100% handwashing like I did when I lived alone? (I’m thinking of bigger households!)  Do you go as far to think about the cost per weight of tablet (yes, the cheap tablets ARE heavier, so you’re getting more for your money, but not the same cleaning ability – it’s only a few grams though!)

This entry was posted in House, Reviews

17 Responses

  • I use the Compliments Green Care ones (Sobey's brand in Canada) which are 27 cents each (24 for $6.49). I know a lot of people love the Finish brand but I have been 100% happy with the green store brand so far. I do worry about the plastic that the tab is wrapped in – presumably it degrades and gets washed down the drain – so I am considering going back to a powder.

  • I don't have a dishwasher, but my mom uses the Cascade tablets. They are pricier, though. A 26 count of them costs $6 at Wal-Mart. My boyfriend will probably insist we get an apartment with a dishwasher next time around – neither of us are fond of washing dishes!

    • Wow all these brands I've never heard of!! Your mum's not doing too badly at 23c (I love how you knew the price off the top of your head it seems!). I can imagine a dishwasher would solve the mess of cooking a little better! Interestingly, I don't mind washing up that much – it's a mindfulness game.

  • I've used the Finish ones before, and I liked how well they cleaned my dishes. I tried cheaping out a little last go around and bought some powder instead of the tablets. What a mistake, my dishes never came clean, no matter how I loaded it. I finally caved and bought more tabs, and now my dishes come out clean again. I'm going to use that powder as "emergency" dish soap. Day to day – not a chance. I'm currently using Cascade packs that have Dawn gel in them.

    As for how the level of priciness in Canada, it varies by what part of the country you're in, as well as your choice of store. Even shopping at the same store chain, you can find variation in price depending on what part of town you're in.

    • Ah ha! That's exactly it isn't it? The cheap ones are cheaper but they are no where near as good at getting things clean!

      I think it's the same in Australia – prices are variable on the size of the store, and it's location. Even different suburbs in the same city! But then there's other products that weirdly seem to always cost exactly the same price, no matter what?!

  • I've used the Earth Choice brand and it's really good for everyday things, but I have to hand-wash all my pots and heavy use items. I prefer to use the low phosphorus brand if possible. But I have to admit that Finish really works, pots and all, so we've started using it more and more.

    • I've not tried Finish on my pots (yet) as I've never known a tablet to work on them with my parents. But now that you have found it works, I'll give it a try! What's the worst than can happen – I just go back to washing them up like usual hahahah!

  • I've never really used a dishwasher in any of the places I've lived either – like you said, it's not really worth it for just one person. The tablets seem very expensive compared to dishwashing liquid – I use Earth Choice and it's $1.99 for a bottle and lasts months. I also worry about the chemicals in all detergents since you put things like cutlery into your mouth. At my old place (where there was a dishwasher) I was planning on making my own powder, but never got around to it.

    • The tablets are definitely in a different ball park to liquid, and I think I use Earth Choice in the liquid. Though, with both liquid and powders/tablets, I have no idea what their chemical make up is – even the detergent, I'm yet to see (many/any) recipes to DIY other than liquify soap, and then soap is made with icky stuff (like lye). It's all much harder than it needs to be sometimes! To think – we could wash up with ash just strikes me as counter intuitive, but probably closer to the traditional, eco friendly way

  • I use ecostore (NZ brand, find it at Woolworths) dishwasher powder. No nasties. Horror story about dishwasher tablets – friend's dishwasher died recently, about a year past warranty date. Dishwasher mechanic said tablets had killed it, because they use too much soap which wrecks the motor, or some internal working (have to admit go 'la, la, la' in head when conversation goes technical). He doesn't recommend them, or recommends chopping them in thirds. I use a tiny amount of dishwasher powder, less than half what is recommended on bottle, because the salesperson who sold us our dishwasher recommended no tablets. The tablets may be OK where water is harder, but we have 'soft' water in Tassie, so need much less soap. Maybe do a little research on that? Happy dishwashing!

    • OH yeah those Finish tablets have special guidelines for Fisher and Paykel dishwashers, and you DON'T put them in the tablet/powder tray for those – talk about strange! I'd be weird about chopping them up – I mean, I'm comfortable with them cleaning my dishes, but having the powder on my knife and chopping board (isn't that funny – it's much the same thing!) I think with many commercial cleaning products, you probably can do with a lot less – but they'd hate to recommend a lesser dose and then get complaints that things don't get clean – so they stay on the super clean side of the line! I'll definitely experiment a little…

  • We use 7th Generation (not sure if it's available outside of the US). I was tempted to switch to a non-green cleaner tab until my husband turned the packet over and it stated something to the effect of "call poison control if ingested". Uhhm, yea. I know washing my dishes isn't exactly the same as if I popped one of those tabs in my mouth, but I do worry about the residue left on the dishes & that it could add up over time…

    For drying plastic, I believe adding Jet Dry to your drying agent dispenser is supposed to help. I've also just added vinegar, but the husband complains about the smell.

    • Yeah I know what you mean – it's a scary label that says 'don't ingest' and then lets you wash your dishes with it!! Vinegar smell should disperse pretty quickly though shouldn't it? I'll have to see if I can get it to work, before I try another product.

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