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Washed-up dishwashing liquids

These dishwashing liquids are scarcely better than plain water.

worst performing dishwasher liquid
Last updated: 10 March 2021

Did anyone else think the advent of the dishwasher was going to spell the end of hand-washing dishes forever? 

Sadly, our days of scrubbing still aren't behind us. So to make the job easier, you need a dishwashing liquid that's going to do the job.

But our recent dishwashing liquid review revealed three products that are only very, very slightly better than washing with just plain water – bringing a whole new meaning to the term "elbow grease".

"While you can still get your dishes clean with a poor scoring dishwashing liquid, the top performers will get the job done much quicker and easier," says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale. "So if you value your time, choosing a good dishwashing liquid is very important."

The worst dishwashing liquids

We pitted 41 dishwashing liquids against good old-fashioned water to see which ones delivered the ultimate clean.

We use 45°C water to wash plates soiled with spaghetti bolognese, egg yolk and rice starch – read more in How we test dishwashing liquids.

The results?

Plain water achieved a score of 25%, but these three products performed better only by a whisker.

trix antibacterial dishwashing liquid

Trix Antibacterial Dishwashing Liquid

  • CHOICE expert rating: 28%
  • Cost: $0.27/100mL

Costing just 27 cents per 100mL, this Trix product scored a measly 28% in our test – in this case, you get what you (don't) pay for.

Read the full Trix Antibacterial Dishwashing Liquid review

uniquely natural dishwashing liquid

Uniquely Natural Dishwashing Liquid

  • CHOICE expert rating: 29%
  • Cost: $0.96/100mL

The Uniquely Natural product scored just one percentage point more than the Trix product, but costs a whopping 96 cents per 100mL.

Read the full Uniquely Natural Dishwashing Liquid review

earth choice dishwash liquid

Earth Choice Dishwash Liquid

  • CHOICE expert rating: 29%
  • Cost: $0.20/100mL

Costing just 20 cents per 100mL, this dishwashing liquid might seem like a bargain, but you'll have to scrub extra hard to get your dishes clean. It scored a dismal 27% in our scrub test. 

Read the full Earth Choice Dishwash Liquid review

Greenwashing… literally

We tested products with "green" or "eco" claims, but none of them scored particularly well. The top scoring eco product received a score of just 45%.

If you're concerned about the environment, you're better off just using hot water and elbow grease

Some of the products with "green" credentials are expensive and generally perform quite poorly, so if you're concerned about the environment, you're better off just using hot water and elbow grease and saving your money.

Manufacturers are cleaning up their act

In our 2018 test, a disappointing seven products performed worse than plain water. This year, every product beat plain water – but only just, in the case of the Trix, Uniquely Natural and Earth Choice products.

"The good news is that manufacturers are lifting their game," says Ashley. "We didn't find any products that performed worse than water in this year's test."

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.