Business Lifestyle Opinion

Consumer Diary: Top Dishwasher Detergents, Prize Win Scam

The dishwasher detergent I’ve been using before the Wirecutter report. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

Wirecutter’s top dishwasher detergents. Courtesy of Harlan Levy

By Harlan Levy

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

All this week through Jan. 1 I have a certain job that I’ve always had forever – especially when our children, spouses, grandchildren, cat, and dog swell our house (like now): After every meal I must get all dirty dishes, bowls, glasses, and silverware into the sink and then, after a brief rinse, into the high-tech dishwasher.

So, in my capacity as dishwasher manager, I must make sure we don’t run out of those spongy – even cute – little pods of detergent that I use, Finish Powerball Quantum “tabs.” I had checked our supply Friday night before activating our Bosch. Then, coincidentally, on Saturday I looked at the latest email from Wirecutter – the New York Times’ consumer product and recommendation site – which featured results of a test of 24 DISHWASHER DETERGENTS(!!) including pods, powders, tablets, and liquids – [Now, that’s my bailiwick!!] … with the TOP PICKS! So cool, yeah?

Anyway, to you men out there who must do what I do – and to any women saddled with the same chore – here are Wirecutter’s top choices with its commentary, edited down to prevent boredom:

Wirecutter’s top dishwasher detergents. Courtesy of Harlan Levy

  1. Cascade Free & Clear ActionPacs: Rating: 62 pacs, lemon essence. $20 from Amazon and Target. “The best dishwasher detergent pods … does the best job of annihilating tough messes, neutralizes odors with a mild lemon scent but doesn’t leave glassware as shiny as some other detergents. Of all the detergents we tried, this one came closest to cleaning every dish in our test loads. Wiped away baked-on egg and peanut butter, cleaned glassware and stemware well. Combines powder detergent with a top layer of liquid detergent boosters that release as their coating dissolves, giving an edge in cleaning power over powder – or liquid-only formulas. The extra detergent boosters help cut grease and enhance shine better than the others we tried. They forgo dyes and chlorine bleach and did best neutralizing dishwasher odors.”
  2. Runner-up: Cascade Platinum ActionPacs: 62 pacs, $18 from Amazon. “Cleaned nearly as well as our top pick. But its dyes and stronger intense scent may be less appealing. Easily cleaned toughest stains – peanut butter and baked-on egg and cheese. Worked great on greasy dishes but didn’t match the power of our top pick, missing pieces of egg yolk here and there, sometimes leaving tomato juice residue. Liquid detergent boosters in each pod’s top cut grease and enhance shine.”
  3. Also great: Finish Powder Advanced: $7 from Walmart. “This old-school powder performed well, left stemware streak-free. Costs half what our top pods cost but unwieldy to dispense precisely, easily wiped away messes though not as handily as our detergent-pod picks. Its ability to leave glassware and stemware smooth, shiny, and spot-free – the best of the powder detergents we tested – impressed us the most.”

So now I’ll switch to Cascade.

Wirecutter’s top dishwasher detergents. Courtesy of Harlan Levy

The prize scam

Earlier this month the Federal Trade Commission warned consumers about prize contests they never entered – calls saying you’ve won a boatload of money from Publishers Clearing House (PCH) through a multi-state lottery. They tell you to call a number and press 1 to learn more. If you don’t, you supposedly won’t get the money. If you press 1, they’ll tell you some version of this: You won several million dollars (you didn’t), the winnings are at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (they’re not), and you need to pay a fee to get your money (you really don’t). No matter what version of the story you hear: It’s a scam.

Here’s how to avoid this and other prize scams:

  • If there’s a charge, whether it’s for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees,” it’s a scam.
  • Scammers tell you to act NOW, ’cause it’s a limited offer.
  • Scammer use names that appear to be real, but no real sweepstakes company will demand money for a prize.
  • To double-check, contact the real company, not using contact information the caller gave you.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year. It may be better than 2023. Maybe.

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1 Comment

  • Those pods don’t biodegrade but fracture/deteriorate into tiny pieces of plastic that stick around for who knows how long (since they’re relatively new). Baking soda is an effective option.

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