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Dishwashing is probably subject to more variables than any other household clean-up job. In theory at least, any detergent or soap can be used for hand dishwashing, except an automatic dishwasher detergent. However, soap has become almost extinct as a dishwashing product and many laundry detergents are not very acceptable. Laundry detergents may leave spots and streaks, the powders may not completely dissolve, or may discolor certain metals with soaking. A light-duty liquid hand dishwashing detergent is the best choice for hand washing.

Automatic dishwasher detergents provide the chemical energy to help remove food soil from all types of cooking and serving items. Unlike hand dishwashing products, these must be very low to nonsudsing. Suds cushion the mechanical cleaning action of the water and result in suds overflow from the machine. In addition, automatic dishwasher detergents should inhibit foam that certain protein-containing foods, such as egg and milk, create. They must also soften water to prevent insoluble deposits, loosen and hold soil in suspension, leave items clean and grease-free so they rinse and dry without spots, and be safe for a wide variety of dishes, glassware, utensils, etc.

NEW! Do I need to clean my dishwasher?

FAQs: Phosphate and Dishwasher Detergent

Dish Care Fact Sheet Whether it’s time to wash a sink full of dishes or just a few items, you will want to use a dishwashing detergent with effective cleaning performance regardless of the brand that you choose. Get advice from the experts about which items should be washed by hand instead of the dishwasher. Also learn about satey and ingredient information, directions for use and disposal.

Hand Dishwashing Problems, Causes and Solutions View a chart of problems you may encounter when washing dishes by hand, what causes these and their solutions.

The Case of the Sparkling Dishes! When it comes to household chores, there is perhaps no greater "grime" stopper than your automatic dishwasher. Talk about getting a huge payback for very little elbow grease! Before you can solve The Case of the Sparkling Dishes, you must first wage The Battle of the Stuck-on, Dried-up Food! And that means you need a bit of insider knowledge up your sleeve.

Understanding Automatic Dishwashing Automatic dishwashers represent a tremendous saving in time and effort; they minimize breakage through reduced handling of dishes; they help keep the kitchen neater and more clutter-free; and cleanup after entertaining is simplified. These are benefits that have much appeal to consumers.

Automatic Dishwashing Problems, Causes and Solutions View a chart of problems you may encounter when using a dishwasher, what causes these and their solutions.

Changes in Automatic Dishwasher Detergents  Update on Reduced Phosphate Products (Nov/Dec 2010 Cleaning Matters)

Ask Nancy: Detergent amounts and hard water (May/June 2011 Cleaning Matters)