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unscented dishwasher detergent?

  • h

I am having trouble finding a detergent for my dishwasher that really gets things clean yet does not impart a scent to my dishes. Consumer Reports steered me toward Trader Joe's powder (ineffective), Cascade (scented) and Electrasol (scented). The natural brands at my local store haven't worked well. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

(OTOH, how long are dishwashers supposed to last? Should I be blaming Kenmore rather than what's in these boxes?)

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  1. Dishwashers last about 10-12 years if you are lucky. I use Cascade and the heated wash and rinse options and rarely has anything failed to come clean. I don't bother with the heated dry option, the dishes etc.are hot enough to dry quickly from the wash and rinse.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      But I'm finding that the Cascade scent is lingering on my dishes and especially in my plastics. It's really gross to pour a glass of water, or fill my kid's sippy cup, and get a whiff of detergent.

      1. re: heidipie

        Your rinse cycle may not be working well. That used to happen with my old dishwasher, but I get no odor of scents, or anything, with my new one.

        Or your problem may be you may be using too much detergent. New dishwashing detergents are much stronger and efficient than they used to be. You only need to fill the detergent cups 1/2 way with detergent nowadays. Also by using less you will stop detergent etching and clouding of glass.

        1. re: JMF

          I don't think it is the dishwasher. I hate those scented dishwasher detergents too. When we replaced our old washer with the new washer, we still had the scent.

          That is a good idea about using half the detergent.

          1. re: Mary Hopkins

            We used to used an unscented powder that also claimed to contain no dyes, I believe it was ALL. They stopped making it about three or four years ago. We tried other name brand detergents but as one other chowhound said here we could smell them on "clean glasses." We've been using Trader Joes since then.

            1. re: Mary Hopkins

              Yes, half the detergent is plenty. I find that when the dishes aren't clean, it isn't that they are still greasy, as if there wasn't enough detergent or it was poor quality. It is that there are bits of crud or film where the water spray could not get, which is a matter of how the dishes are facing, whether a large item is blocking the spray, or if the machine is overloaded. I notice an overwhelming scent when hubby does the dishes cuz' he thinks more is better, and no scent whatsoever when I do.

            2. re: JMF

              Yes and has anybody noticed that detergents are also more scented than they used to be. Heidipie is looking for an UNSCENTED DETERGENT. So am I.

            3. re: heidipie
              Eldon Kreider

              Note that Cascade powder comes in three scents: original, lemon and orchard fresh. The orchard fresh smells to me more like a pile of rotting windfall apples, pears, peaches etc. and is really revolting. I bought a box once by accident and have been meticulous in checking ever since. The original rinses off quite well provided we fill the cup a little less than half full and use a rinse agent. As noted elsewhere in this thread, the smaller amount of detergent is quite adequate for washing, is less likely to leave an odor and is much less likely to etch glassware. Chicago's water is borderline hard, so the rinse agent is important in avoiding spotting on glassware.

          2. Make sure you buy the original lemon Cascade in the green bottle. I will not use the more premium Cascades because of this very issue.

            The original is scented, but it isn't overpowering when it is running. Most importantly it does not cling to your dishs the way the other does.

            It drives me crazy. Who wants to smell that and taste it on your dishes.

            1. I seldom notice a "scent," as in soapy or perfumey, but find that glasses in particular (probably because they end up much closer to one's nose) have a bleach or Comet-like odor. This has been true of every dishwasher I've had in various kitchens. Quite a few years ago, I started adding white vinegar to the dishwasher and find that it helps to neutralize the odor.

              1. I despise scented dish detergent. I like Trader Joe's "auto liquid soap". It's a thick liquid in a plastic bottle. It has a natural lemon oil scent, and I don't notice any scent on the clean dishes.

                1. how about ecover?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: hobokeg

                    I was going to mention this. It comes in individually-wrapped cubes and, when I looked into enviro-friendly detergents, seemed to get a very high rating. Works well for me.

                    1. re: hobokeg

                      It has quite a strong scent right out of the wrapping. If you are scent-sensitive, it is not a good choice. But, it does do a nice job on the dishes.

                    2. I know it has been a long time since this post was made - but I have your answer - I use PBW - Powdered Brewery Wash, It is used by breweries to clean brewing equipment, but can be purchased from homebrewing supply places. PBW is exactly what you need - breweries use it because it doesn't leave a scent or flavor on the equipment. IT is stonger than regular dishwasher powder so you don't need to use as much. you can buy it here:

                      1. Does Method make dishwasher detergent? I AM my own dishwasher, so I don't really know about what brands are out there. I have been using Method cleaning products for a few months now and I am very happy with the results.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: MrsT

                          MrsT, Method makes those little gelpac/cube things but they suck. I use Seventh Generation Fragrance Free and it works really well. You should be able to get it at Whole Foods.

                          1. re: StrawbrryF

                            Thanks for the tip about Seventh Generation StrawbrryF. It's nice to know it works before shelling out the extra money...the "green" products seem to be hit or miss. I just picked up the book 'Organic Housekeeping' in order to cut back on all the scented cleaners in the house.

                            1. re: maplesugar

                              Most of the 7th Gen stuff is good. I like the Citrus spray cleaners (even though they're technically "scented", it's with natural citrus oils so I don't think you should be wary). I even gave a bottle to my mother who called and told me this cleans better than the conventional stuff. :)

                            2. re: StrawbrryF

                              In my next home when I have a dishwasher, which will be soon, I will definitely keep that in mind. Thanks for the info. I won't waste my money on Method (for dishwashers) then.

                              1. re: StrawbrryF

                                Thanks for this tip! When you have kids you tend to have a lot of plastic and I often wonder if my little ones mind that their milk or water has a funky lemony smell to it from the dishwasher detergent?! I'm going to give this a try and hopefully it will get rid of the smell that seems to have permeated itself into all my current plastics!

                            3. I was surprised when I checked with my dishwasher tech support(Miele) about this problem and was informed not to use the packet type dishwasher detergent since it was too concentrated. Out of the grocery store brands they voted for was Cascade orginal green bottle and not to fill compartment. Another tip is to use a drying rinse agent in some areas with hard water-Jet Dry e.g.- helps rid scent and residue.

                              1. Try Seventh Generation dishwasher powder. That's what I use, and it really is unscented. Seems to clean fine, too. I don't wash much plastic (I try not to use the stuff), but I haven't noticed any lingering odors when I do.

                                Here's a related thread from when I was searching for a detergent:


                                1. If you pull out your bottom rack/sliding dish holder you can check the little screen/trap in the bottom of your machine. You can also check the piece that sprays the water to make sure neither of these are clogged. Most times the bottom screen/trap is clogged with debris, glass (from those broken glasses) and once cleaned out you will find the dishwasher washes/rinses much better. I have never experienced the scent of dishwasher soap on my cleaned dishes. That tells me something may not be rinsing properly for you.