After going through twenty different brands of dish soap and closely comparing them to home made solutions, we’re able to confidently recommend Dawn Platinum Power Clean as the best dish soap around.
Dawn Platinum Power Clean was the best of the various soaps which we tested out. It broke through grease, soap-scum, and left even crystal clear dishes with a surprisingly great finish. To be fair, we’re not all that surprised given Dawn’s reputation.Click For Pricing
Table of Contents
How We Selected the Products
We know from past experience that cleaning products are as varied as the people who use them.
In this case, our focus was naturally on residential use. Online reviews and questioning relatives were the key to finding the products that people wanted.
Food debris on dishes can vary wildly from household to household, but there were some common problems we wanted to address:
- Stuck on food
- Greasy dishes
- Environmental impact
This left us with a surprising amount of products. We ended up comparing the ingredients in each, seeking to eliminate the task of comparing two soaps with only minor differences in their chemical makeup.
How We Tested the Products
Recipes using Castile soap for DIY dish liquid were our baseline comparison. If the soap didn’t perform better than something which can be readily made for much cheaper, we threw it right out of testing.
We’ll mention that DIY recipe was more powerful than we expected and we’ll show you the exact method we used to adapt it farther down. It’s good stuff… but, you’ll probably have to buy the ingredients and do the work yourself.
Comparing them side-by-side took more doing than we expected. Thing is, with enough elbow grease almost anything will work. We came down to three main categories of dishes that can be found in the kitchen:
- Immediate Washing-If you’re the type to immediately rinse your dishes when you’re finished with them, then you’re in luck: pretty much anything will work. Here we focused on checking for water spotting, remaining soap scum, and the ease of removing sticky foods like sugar-based sauces that tend to stick around despite direct application of water.
- The “Dish From the Sink”-We went with relatively encrusted foods for this portion of the test. Pretty simple: leave the dish out for a few days and then see what could happen. For this portion we also made a distinction between “crusty” foods like old sauces or melted cheese and “greasy” foods, such as a plate which held freshly-cooked bacon and wasn’t rinsed.
- Pots’n’Pans- Pots and pans make-up the majority of elbow grease when it comes time to clean things up. For testing we used pans that had bacon fried in them, a pot of rice with some left to crust on the bottom, and a sauce pan with a bit of leftover sauce. We then re-did all of the pots and pans with roughly the same foods and left them out for three days to check.
Making the dishes was the fun part, getting to work on them wasn’t so much. We quickly found that the type of scrubber used to clean the dishes mattered quite a bit and had to find something standardized to work with. The difference between even a week-old sponge and a brand new one of the same type was pretty big.
In the end we went with some discount scrubbers which are available in bulk and used one for each dish. Our reason for using scouring pads, rather than the traditional sponges was simple: cheap, bulk sponges were going to rapidly fall apart on some of the dishes we’d created.
Trust us on this one: the real test of a soap comes when the food is hardened, the fats are congealed, and that last little bit of sauce has turned into a multi-layer abyss of rock-hard mess.
Immediate cleaning was done twice for each soap. Since we had access to hard water we also attempted using RO water from a filter to assess if they helped with water-spotting. Every soap tested left a great finish with the reverse-osmosis filtered water but with the hard water there was a big difference.
For the aged dishes and pots and pans we put the dishes through a 10 minute soak in a hot sink before attacking them.
The crusted dishes had some variance. The soaps which worked best on encrusted foods, like fragments of pasta, and those which handled grease the best ended up being different.
Finally, the pots and pans ended up being the real measure of the strongest soap out there.
Congealed fats were the harshest to remove, while the top layer was easy to remove it was those last little bits which we had serious trouble with.
Lastly, we realized early on in testing that the person mattered nearly as much as the soap. Some people are just wizards when it comes to clearing nooks and crannies. To standardize for this we ended up choosing two of our reviewers to do the bulk of the testing.
We had them clean in the following way:
- Any dish over three hours old was soaked in a hot water bath in the sink for ten minutes.
- Scrubbing was applied in the other half of the sink with no running water.
- The scouring pad went down when the dish was rinsed with clean water from the sink.
- The dish was towel-dried and then allowed to finish air-drying even if we noticed problematic spots on the dish.
- If anything remained, the dish had to go through the process again.
None of our finalists took more than two washings on any dish to complete the testing.
In the end, our conclusions were the following:
- The upgraded of an old favorite, Dawn Platinum Power Clean did the best overall. Whatever changes were made to the formula ended up being pretty impressive.
- The harder to find Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap was another good option. It actually cleaned better than Dawn Platinum but we bumped it down since it’s not as readily available.
- For a green option we went with Biokleen Dish Liquid Soap although it wasn’t as effective as our other favorites, performing about as well as Dawn Ultra but easier on the hands by a long shot.
- Grease fled easily before Palmolive Ultra Liquid Dish Soap, making it ideal for pots and pans but it’s expensive and didn’t do much about water spotting.
- Finally, for those on a tight budget regular ol’ Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid will save a few bucks per bottle and performed well in testing. It’s been around for a long time for a reason it would seem.
Top 5 Dish Soaps
|1||Dawn Platinum Power Clean||Overall||Check Price|
|2||Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap||Everything||Check Price|
|3||Biokleen Dish Liquid Soap||Environmental Friendliness||Check Price|
|4||Palmolive Ultra Liquid Dish Soap||Greasy pots and pans||Check Price|
|5||Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid||Saving a few bucks||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Dish Soap
Dawn Platinum Power Clean
We were a little bit skeptical about this one. While Dawn has long released different lines of soaps, there’s usually not enough difference to really tell them apart at the end of the day.
We were wrong. We can admit that. Platinum Power Clean cut through pretty much everything we threw at it during testing. That said, it did have a bit of trouble during the no-soak portion of the test on the crusty, older dishes.
It smells pleasant, it’s easy on the hands, and you can pick some up from pretty much any retail place around. We’re not saying it’s perfect, but for most people the ready availability, relatively low cost, and grease cutting power added on top of the old Dawn reliability is pretty awesome.
We also found that a little of this one goes much further than most of those on our list. It’s not a concentrate, but if you’re careful you’ll be surprised at how little soap it takes to eradicate that pile of dishes.
That said, it cost significantly more than the classic Dawn Ultra that can be found in kitchens around the country. Which was about the only problem we could find with it.
If you want the type of dish soap which will power through anything without having to get industrial, Dawn Platinum Power Clean is where it’s at.
- Doesn’t need much to clean
- Handles grease easily
- Readily available
- Easy on hands
- The price
2. Super Powerful, Hard to Find
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap
If you’ll only settle for the best of the best, we recommend Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. We actually didn’t even realize it was a green product until after we had it in our hands, we’d just seen the online reviews and were impressed.
It performed better across the board than every other soap which we tested out. It rinsed easier. It cut through grease easier. Even the price didn’t seem to be too much.
So why didn’t it top our list?
Because we really couldn’t find it in any local shops and sometimes you just need dish soap. The availability was the only mark against it, however, as this soap smelled great and was even easy on the hands despite cutting through basically everything we put in front of it.
Did we mention the rinse? Dawn has some problems with rinsing but it’s also most people’s benchmark. This stuff is a dream, sliding right off the dish and leaving virtually no detectable scum behind.
If you’re looking for the best of the best and are the type to keep stocked, we strongly recommend this great soap. For others the minor advantage may not be enough to go through the hassle.
- Rinses super clean
- Great cutting power
- Smells great
- Easy on the hands
- Can be hard to find in stores
- Tends to leave scent on hands
3. Best Green Dish Soap
Biokleen Dish Liquid Soap
Biokleen is a little bit different than most soaps. It’s specifically marketed as being green and as far as we can tell the company itself has taken that to heart. A company founded on great cleaning products without harsh chemicals can’t be that bad.
That said, Biokleen worked very well in testing but it wasn’t quite up to par with the others on our list. For those with sensitive hands it’s apparently a godsend, however, as one of our reviewers became an immediate convert.
The plant based chemicals leave it sudsing like you’d expect and the bottle we got seemed exactly as described in glowing reviews. It appears that there may have been a minor change in the formula at some point that left some customers unhappy.
It’s also a bit expensive, but not prohibitively so.
That said, the company did a great job at bringing a relatively powerful solution to market while keeping it green.
If you’re doing your best to stay green this is an excellent option. The company has a great track record and the soap is no slouch in the cleaning department.
- Cleans well
- Company is devoted to green cleaning products
- Smells great
- Super soft on hands
- Past errors in distribution or formula
4. Great for Grease
Palmolive Ultra Liquid Dish Soap
We loved Palmolive Ultra Liquid Dish Soap when it came to handling grease in pots and pans. It made short work of even the crustiest sauces, melted cheese, hamburger grease, and anything else we threw in front of it.
It was undoubtedly the best at the task, but we noticed it was also quite a bit harder to rinse than the other soaps tested. You’re already putting in a ton of work when it’s time to break out the good stuff for grease, the extra rinsing wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t really welcome either.
It still worked great on regular dishes as well. It’s a bit pricier than Dawn products but not by enough we think it should be a make or break decision.
Basically, the reason it cuts so well is that it has the same stuff as Oxyclean in it. It causes bubbles that rupture in the grease, on a microscopic level, breaking it up rather than leaving it as a heavily congealed mass.
It’s not a gimmick either. It busts grease like no other, we just weren’t 100% pleased with the rinse and it seemed a bit rough on the hands, so folks with sensitive skin might want to skip it.
Still, if you’re looking at dealing with serious pots and pans on the regular then you should take a closer look at this soap from Palmolive.
- Cuts readily through grease
- Available in most stores
- Cleans well overall
- Harder to rinse
- Not great for sensitive skin
5. The Budget Standby
Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid
Here it is: the old, classic standby. Blue Dawn has probably made an appearance in your life at some point and we’re pleased to report that it’s still good stuff. The kind of dish soap which others will inevitably get measured by.
It can handle most kitchen tasks, although we think it’s a bit soft on grease for the most part. If you get to your dishes within a few hours you shouldn’t have any trouble however.
It also left more residue than any of the others which made the top of our list. Soap scum sucks, but Dawn still beats out most of the big brand competition on that front.
It’s a classic. You can even find it in most convenience stores. The ready availability, brand familiarity, and impressive power in action left it as our “budget” pick for this round of products.
It’s cheap, easily found, and does the trick. You might want to try buying bulk online to save more money, but all-around we can still recommend this American classic.
- Can be found almost everywhere
- Performed well in testing
- Not perfect for grease
- Leaves some residue behind
More Than Meets the Pan
Not all dishes are created equally. Some are just plain nastier than others.
We were doing our best to simulate natural conditions in our testing. Most dishes will end up getting attention within a couple of days at the most, so we didn’t feel the need to break out the stainless steel pads and let dishes age for a few weeks before trying industrial cleaners.
The vast majority of foods fall into the following categories once finished:
- Debris-Food remnants stuck to the plate, condiments left after a meal, and other debris that’s only held on by one of the other types of stain.
- Sauces-Sauces tend to be water or milk based and are easier to remove than many of the others. For our testing we relied on heavy, sticky sauces like those found in takeout Chinese food. Spaghetti sauce and the like are only a problem if they’re crusted on. Old drinks that got forgotten would fall into this category as well.
- Oils and Greases-Most foods will naturally release oil and grease while being cooked, in addition to what you’re cooking them in. Congealed bacon grease was our standard, since it’s a solid at room temperature and burnt bits often end up in the mix.
We neglected to do too much testing with burnt-on foods apart from what happens naturally during the cooking process. Asking around during the process led us to believe that if this is a common problem for you then you want a stainless steel scrubber around.
Some Additional Considerations
All of our testing used cheap scouring pads. They’re not the most common way to clean dishes but they’re pretty homogenous in construction and it allowed for some control during the testing process.
Sponges are more common, but if you’re using them properly you should be primarily using the scouring side anyways so we don’t feel that there’s much of a difference.
Hard water stains are a huge concern in some areas, turning crystal clear dishes into cloudy messes. Unfortunately, most of the soaps we found were great at removing grease… weren’t exactly awesome at keeping calcium stains at bay.
The problem is that most degreasing agents which are used in soaps are basic, while the best hard water removing compounds are acidic. You really can’t mix them together or they’ll neutralize each other.
Dish soap additives are a complicated mess and directly sussing out how the individual components worked, when a full formula was available, proved to be an exercise in futility. In the end it’s real world results that matter.
We didn’t really have the facilities to test the antibacterial claims of the products, although we made an attempt with a black light. Soap scum is also UV-reflective, but we’ll note that we were able to get all of the dishes clean under a UV light using the dish soaps we selected as our favorites.
One Word of Warning
During our reviews we saw that many people claimed changes in mixtures that rendered products thinner and less effective. Others had tracked the source: some third party distributors have been watering down products.
It’s unfortunate that people would cut corners in that way but we avoided it in our testing since all of ours were ordered directly from the manufacturer.
We’d recommend, for both dish soap and any other cleaning product, that you go through the manufacturer, even if a cheaper price is found. Especially if a cheaper price was found. The manufacturer has a direct stake in their product, while third party pop-up distributors can try to make a quick buck and not have it hurt their reputation.
Our DIY Comparison Mixture
Our baseline mixture was a simple recipe that we compiled after looking around online for a bit.
And really, everyone would benefit from having some Castile soap around. It can be turned into a solution to clean pretty much anything although it’s not always as good as the commercially available options.
We had a bit of a time finding the solid form which was recommended by many recipes. Instead, we found a lot of the recipes employed vinegar in addition to the soap. Not a wise move, since it causes congealing of the soap by separating out the oils that make it… soapy.
That’s one way to find out how much you hate soap scum we guess, but we really can’t recommend it. Just because both substances clean well doesn’t mean they should be mixed, but it’s less disastrous than many other potential under-the-sink combinations.
In the end we settled on ½ teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s per quart of distilled water. It worked great, and if you’re willing to put in a little bit more work it’s an ideal solution for many homes.
For pots and pans, the internet recommends using a
Dish Soap FAQ
Q: What do you recommend for cleaning dishes?
A: Sponges are common, but they’re also major bacterial infections waiting to happen. Instead, we found that stainless steel scouring pads and brushes leave behind far less debris and allow you to get into the nooks and crannies on stylized dishes. Just be sure it’s not going to scratch anything.
Q: Should I soak my dishes?
A: If you’ve got any kind of crusted on food, you should definitely give it some thought. There’s a lot to be said for softening things up, just add a squirt of your favorite dish soap to a sink full of hot water and let it soak for fifteen minutes or so.
Q: Should I air dry dishes?
A: Technically, it’s much cleaner to allow your dishes to air dry. Rags will quickly begin to harbor bacteria and that will spread them all over your food. In theory, it’s pretty sound, in practice we found there was a pretty even split among our reviewers and it didn’t seem to be affecting anyone’s health.
Q: How can I make sure my dishes don’t have bacteria on them?
A: Since it’s hard to trust the ol’ “check the bottle and grab a black light” method, we decided to find a way to sterilize dishes that’ll work for both the squeamish and those who are immunocompromised. After some research we found that using ½ cup of bleach in a gallon of cool water as a final rinse should reasonably kill pretty much anything on your dishes.
Q: Does hand washing dishes save water over using a dishwasher?
A: Unfortunately, no. Even in the best case scenarios filling a sink and rinsing will use more water than most modern dishwashers by a pretty wide margin. If saving water is a big concern, try using a smaller bucket than your sink in order to minimize the soapy water and carefully rinse in another bucket.
Dish soap seems like a simple choice, but having the right one for your household in your kitchen makes all the difference. Making a simple chore quicker and easier?
We’re still convinced that Dawn Platinum Power Clean is the best around for most people. It cuts grease like no other and it’s just an all around great dish soap.
The choice is yours though, keep struggling or try something new and make your whole life easier?