Finish Quantum (*Est. 23 cents per load) is the only dishwasher detergent that all three of our top sources recommend: ConsumerReports.org, Good Housekeeping and Real Simple. In Good Housekeeping's test, Finish Quantum tackled cooked-on food better than any other detergent, editors say, and they name it the "crusty cookware champ." Real Simple's reviewers say Finish Quantum "got dishes shockingly clean," and it is named the best detergent pellet in their test.
At ConsumerReports.org, the review is positive overall, though when hard water performance was factored in, Finish Quantum fell from first place to third. User reviews seem to dispute this, however. At Amazon.com, more than a few reviewers specifically mention how well Finish Quantum works in their hard water. About.com's housekeeping guide Sarah Aguirre rates it highly as well. Aguirre names Finish the best tablet detergent, although her review criteria are unclear, as is how she tested these detergents. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
With more than 100 reviews and an average score of 4.7 stars, Finish Quantum is the top-rated dishwasher detergent on Amazon.com, but a couple consumers do note drawbacks in their reviews. Like many dishwasher tablets, Finish Quantum doesn't always dissolve completely in short-wash cycles, and a couple users complain of a very strong and unpleasant chemical smell when first opened. We found a handful of similar complaints at Viewpoints.com, too. But in general, the vast majority of consumers at both sites say Finish Quantum works very well.
If Finish Quantum does, in fact, fail to work in your hard water (leaving a filmy white deposit), Cascade Complete Pacs (*Est. 23 cents per load) are almost as highly reviewed, and some users say they're better for hard water. It's hard to predict how either will perform in a given user's water, though.
In a blog post, Farrell lists some of the results of the latest ConsumerReports.org testing of dishwasher detergents. Although Finish Quantum does best in tests under normal conditions, it does not perform quite as well in hard water. Consumers who have hard water may see better results with Cascade Complete Pacs, editors say.
Review: Can Dishwasher Detergent Improve Its Tarnished Reputation?, Mary H.J. Farrell , May 17, 2012
2. Good Housekeeping
The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests products and awards them the Good Housekeeping Seal. In its test of dishwasher detergents, Finish Quantum is named the "crusty cookware champ." Editors say it removes grease and caked-on messes better than any other detergent tested.
Review: Best Automatic Dishwasher Detergents, Editors at Good Housekeeping, Not dated
3. Real Simple
In this roundup of the best dishwashing detergents, Finish Quantum is named the best pellet detergent. Parker says Finish Quantum "got dishes shockingly clean" and removed stuck-on foods better than other detergents.
Review: The Best Dishwashing Detergents, Kate Parker, Not dated
About.com's housekeeping guide lists the six best dishwasher detergents founding her opinion. Finish Quantum is listed as the best powder tab. She points out that while these tabs are expensive, they eliminate the need for a rinse agent, as the rinse agent is included in the tab. She does not specifically list why the tab is named the best option. Cascade Complete Pacs are listed as the best gel pack. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: 6 Best Dishwasher Detergents, Sarah Aguirre, Not dated
With more than 100 reviews and an average score of 4.7 stars, Finish Quantum is one of the top-reviewed dishwasher detergents on Amazon.com, and more than 80 percent of reviewers give the detergent a perfect score. Some specifically say that Finish Quantum works well in their hard water. Reviewers also say that these tabs are clean and easy to use. We found a few complaints of strong odors and tabs not dissolving completely.
Review: Finish Quantum Base , Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2012
Viewpoints.com users rate dishwashing detergents alongside liquid dish soaps, so it's difficult to determine which are the best-performing detergents. However, Finish Quantum certainly does get more reviews than many others with over 50. The reviews average 84 out of 100 points, which is respectable for the category, though it's not the best. Although some users have issues with the tablet not dissolving fully, most reviews are glowing. Some say it's the best detergent they've ever used.
Review: Electrasol Finish Quantum Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of June 2012