Phosphate Free Detergents

Phosphate Free Detergents have recently become a very popular type of detergent for a number of reasons. To start, they are less harsh on the environment, and frankly a bit less toxic for us as well.

The biggest complaint of most Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Detergents is that they leave a white film on your glassware that can be rather unappetizing to say the least. Additionally, there have been complaints that these detergents can discolor aluminum cookware as well.

That said, the government recently mandated that Phosphates be removed from ALL detergents (laundry, dishwasher, et al), so this version is here to stay.

So, which of these detergents cleaned the best? We ran a few different loads with a wide variety of different brands. Some definitely cleaned better then others. Some major brands didn't fare as well as others. Here are our results


Top Phosphate Free Detergent Brands to Consider

Our tests were done in our kitchen with typically heavy loads. Keep in mind, we are NOT Consumer Reports, so these were not done in a lab and the results are based solely on our own observations of what occurred after we ran each load.

We've listed the results of each brand below going from BEST PERFORMER to WORST PERFORMER:

CASCADE COMPLETE -- This was the best overall performer. Not only was it so much easier than typical liquids and powders (totally mess free and in very environmentally friendly packaging), the Cascade Complete was the ONLY phosphate free detergent that we used in our tests that left NO FILM on our glassware, cleaned cookware to perfection and didn't require the addition of a rinse agent. It's a bit more expensive than other brands, but well worth the additional cost.


FINISH POWER BALLS -- These were a close second to the Cascade Complete (listed above). They're environmentally friendly, easy to use, and gave a perfect cleaning to all of our dishware. A couple of the pots and pans had water spots as did some of the glassware. But overall, a very impressive clean. And, it's a bit CHEAPER than Cascade (typically).


Method Smarty Dish - This was one of the more surprising performers in our test. We love the Method products (especially their handsoaps), and their philosophy behind what they do. The Method phosphate free detergent was excellent with the glassware and dishes. The cookware wasn't perfect, but still manageable. On our second test however, there were a few small remnants of the tablet on some of the dishes.


Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder -- I'll tell you, this product was at a disadvantage from the beginning as neither of us are fans of powders. However, it did a manageable job cleaning dishes and glassware. The cookware didn't fare as well. There were large bits of food left on some of the pots. Additionally, there were water spots on about half of the glasses. There was a slight film present on the glassware upon drying, but nothing that was too noticeable. When we added a rinsing agent on the second test this wasn't an issue.


365 Dishwasher Gel was one the one phosphate free detergent where the film on the glassware was CLEARLY evident. Also, it didn't seem to clean cookware at all. Anything that was baked on, or caked on was left. Additionally, there were water spots over much of the glassware. The dishes were clean but the silverware had to be facing the middle of the machine to get an effective cleaning when we used this product.


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