Testers challenged the detergents to some very tough tests! First, testers make a sticky batter of 17 ingredients, including egg yolks, cheese whiz, peanut butter, and rice. It's all blended together and then spread onto glass plates in measured amounts. The plates are baked in the microwave and left to sit for an hour before going into the dishwasher.
Pots are brushed with macaroni and cheese. Once it's cooked on, those go into the dishwasher next to the dirty plates. Not all of the detergents could get the dishware sparkling clean.
And some detergents can coat clear dishware with a white film. When companies switched to phosphate-free detergents that are better for the environment, that filmy white buildup was a real problem. Consumer Reports' latest tests show detergents have gotten much better at preventing that. But the problem hasn't totally evaporated. A clear plate turned white after 20 cycles when washed with BabyGanics Dishwasher Detergent.
In the end, only one detergent rated excellent for cleaning pots, the Cascade Complete ActionPacs. But if cleaning pots isn't a priority, you can save money with Finish Gelpacs, a Consumer Reports Best Buy at 21 cents a load. It did a terrific job on dishes.
Consumer Reports also tested several green cleaners. None scored high enough in all the tests to be recommended. But Seventh Generation powder detergent did do an excellent job cleaning dishes.