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The Dish on Dish Detergent

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | April 3, 2012

In the billion-dollar dish detergent category, new launches tackle concerns that stem from phosphate-free formulations, care for the appliance and make it easier for those who are still going about it the old fashioned way.

GE Appliances recently issued a press release subtly reminding homeowners that the murky residue on their glasses, plates and utensils might come from their detergent—not their dishwasher.
“Many people still blame their dishwasher when a film covers their dinnerware. Most consumers aren’t aware of the ban on phosphates in their detergents,” stated Lee Lagomarcino, marketing specialist for GE Appliances, in the release.
GE’s reminder refers to US state bans on phosphates—followed by the industry’s adoption of a voluntary ban—in dish detergents (ADDs) that occurred back in 2010.
The dishwashing chemists at GE suggest homeowners either dump two cups of vinegar in the bottom of their dishwasher and run it on the coolest, shortest heat setting, or use a detergent booster—a much more welcome strategy in the eyes of household product manufacturers.
Church & Dwight Co., Inc. is taking on the “cloudy” situation. In March it rolled out “a first-of-its-kind dishwashing booster,” designed to amp up the cleaning performance of popular detergents by removing cloudy film, food particles, spots, and streaks that detergent alone can leave behind.

New regulations make it more difficult to make dishes sparkle.
The Church & Dwight SKU has a “unique multi-action phosphate free stain fighters that dissolve the cloudy film that builds up during the rinse cycle, due to removal of phosphates from automatic dishwashing detergent formulations. It is specifically formulated to work with dishwashing detergent, and to target cloudy film, hard water stains and spots and food particles,” said Diego Hoic, product manager of the OxiClean brand at Church & Dwight.
“Since the removal of phosphates in dishwashing detergent, consumers have noticed their dishes are just not as clean as they used to be,” said Hoic. “OxiClean Dishwashing Booster offers the solution they’re looking for. The product is easy to use and will free time in their daily routine, as they don’t have to re-wash dishes, run the dishwasher twice or worry about embarrassing spots when entertaining,” he said.
Dish detergent gets a lift OxiClean Dishwashing Booster.
Homeowners are told by Reckitt to add two squirts of OxiClean Dishwashing Booster to the bottom of the dishwasher. After dispensing the product, consumers should add their detergent in the main wash cup and run the dishwasher as usual. For ongoing use, they should fill the rinse agent dispenser with the Dishwashing Booster about once a month.
Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, which makes its own dishwasher care products sold under the Afrresh banner, has products that can help consumers too.
Recently, it tweaked its Affresh dishwasher cleaner, which is now recognized by the EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) program. The reformulated Affresh dishwasher cleaner uses “environmentally safer ingredients and offers improved cleaning performance to help remove mineral residue in dishwashers,” according to the company.
Whirlpool says it's the only dishwasher cleaner with a unique, performance-enhancing puck design to clean the dishwasher while cleaning dishes throughout the normal dish-cycle routine.
Another change: the new formula lacks the lemon scent of the original cleaner.
According to Wendeline Ortiz, product manager, Affresh, the brand listened to “consumer feedback on the old dishwasher formulation, we invested in development and reformulation to ensure the Affresh Dishwasher cleaner helps protect the environment without compromising its cleaning performance."

Affresh Dishwasher cleaner formulation can be found at national home improvement stores like The Home Depot and select local grocery stores.

Give ‘Em A Hand

While dishwashers are considered to be a rather common luxury, many consumers still go about it the old fashioned way—washing dishes by hand either because they don’t have a machine or there are just things that don’t fit (those awkwardly long beer glasses) or they don’t want to leave to chance (like Grandma’s prized serving platter).
In fact, hand dish detergents make for a larger category than ADDs. According to SymphonyIRI Group, the Chicago-based market research firm, sales of dish detergents for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 19 were $653.9 million in FDMs outlets compared to $632.5 million for dishwasher detergent/additive.
While it is more old-school, hand dish detergent technology continues to evolve.

Dawn Power Clean, for example, is a line of dishwashing liquid that is said to deliver the power of an overnight soak in just five minutes. Rolled out last Fall, the Power Clean formulation has Dawn’s highest level of surfactants, plus amylase, an enzyme that tackles tough food starches such as pasta and rice because it breaks down long chain polysaccharides into monosaccharides. Power Clean is available in Refreshing Rain and Vibrant Fresh scents.

Also new to the Dawn stable are Dawn Bleach Alternative Dishwashing Liquid in Fresh Rapids and Morning Mist scents as well as Dawn OXI Dishwashing Liquid in Citrus Zest and Invigorating Berry. The latter features active oxides that release micro-bubbles to target and dissolve the toughest food messes, according to the company.
P&G’s Dawn is a clear leader in the dish detergent category. According to SymphonyIRI Group, sales of Dawn dish detergent in at FDMx outlets were $192.4 million. Its nearest competitor, Ajax, tallied sales of $97.0 million, followed by Palmolive ($82.1 million), private label ($40.7 million) and Gain ($29.8 million).

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