September Test Product: Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel and The Great Liquid Dishwashing Soap Theory

by moderndomestic on September 25, 2008

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel

Can it really stand up to my crappy dishwasher?

Usually I try to choose my test products after consulting with friends, family, and perusing product reviews. But I chose this month’s test product in a fit of selfishness, after a bout of extreme frustration with a recalcitrant appliance.

Namely, I had had enough of our absolutely awful dishwasher and I felt that there just had to be a better solution out there.

Our kitchen is an older one, and the dishwasher we have is challenging, to say the least. Small and noisy, it’s really good at baking food onto dishes, but absolutely horrible at washing the food off. In fact, lately I feel that whenever I empty the dishwasher, I have to hand wash about half the dishes because there’s layers of grime, baked-on crap, and food particles left over them (that a certain someone does not believe in rinsing dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher only adds to my ire).

I can’t really say what all is wrong with the dishwasher (poor water pressure and inadequate washing mechanism comes to mind). But the biggest problem that I could identify (without an in-depth knowledge of product design) is the soap dispenser. Contrary to its name, it doesn’t actually “dispense” the soap on a regular basis. Instead, after doing a load of dishes, I’d find a big chunk of calcified powdered dishwashing soap sitting in the little dispenser. It looked like the dispenser was opening most of the time, but the soap powder stubbornly refused to, well, dispense.

So last week, fed up with yet another load of washed-but-not-actually-washed dishes, I decided to try a new tactic. I wondered if I could ameliorate the problem with a new product: liquid automatic dishwasher soap. Theoretically, the liquid soap could just ooze out of the little compartment, bypassing the inadequate dispenser. It was so simple, and yet, so brilliant.

Now you may ask—why had I never tried this before? It’s such an obvious solution, after all. And I think the answer lies deep in the psyche of dishwashing. Washing the dishes is an intensely personal affair, one that people are taught at a young age at the hand of their parents. It is a skill that sticks with you throughout your life, and it’s difficult to unlearn or change your ingrained dishwashing habits. To this day, I cannot put an unrinsed dish in the dishwasher, as that was a mortal sin in my childhood home. And in my house “dishwashing soap” was always the powdered stuff, leaving me to overlook the potential of other soap options.

I chose Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel because I was intrigued by its “non-toxic’ claims, lemon scent and Seventh Generation’s commitment to disclosing ingredients on their labels.

So how did it stack up?

Well, for the past week, we’ve been using the liquid soap for all our automatic dishwashing needs—and so far, it’s been a great success!

It appears that the soap is indeed easier to dispense, as there are no hardened lumps of soap sitting in the dispenser. And while the liquid soap doesn’t still have the same scouring power as the powdered soap, the fact that it actually dispenses more than makes up for this deficiency. Now we still get two to three dishes in a load that need to be rewashed, but it’s a far cry from what we were putting up with before.

Of course, I’d like to acknowledge that this is a rather poor test product review, since I can’t talk about the advantages of liquid dishwashing soap for normal, average appliances. I can only talk about how they work in my poor, barely functional little unit. But sometimes, when faced with our own great domestic obstacles, we must be selfish.

Now if only I could get a certain someone to rinse those dishes before putting them in the dishwasher . . . I could die and go to domestic heaven.

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