The Cascade Vs. Electrasol War

Ivy says:

Recently I was sent both Cascade Complete liquid dishwasher detergent and Electrasol liquid dishwashing detergent to test side by side to see which one was a winner. For full disclosure, let me tell y’all a few things:

1. I haven’t used Electrasol in years because I thought it did a crappy job of cleaning my dishes.

2. I have a dishwasher that is a total piece of junk and should probably be thrown to the side of the road. Seriously, if you leave one speck of food on your dishes, you can rest assured that it will still be there when you go to empty the dishwasher, no matter what kind of dishwasher detergent you use.

3. It was Cascade who sent me this dishwasher detergent. They told me to be completely honest, so I will. If Electrasol had sent me this detergent, my review would be the same. No other compensation was given for this trial- just a full sized bottle of Cascade and a full sized bottle of Electrasol.

All that said, let’s forge on with how Cascade and Electrasol did with my dishes.

I decided to play with it, doing first one load with Cascade and one load with Electrasol. Because my dishwasher is such a piece of junk, I did the dishes as I normally do them and rinsed the heck out of each dish beforehand. Cascade did its normal fabulous job, and surprisingly, Electrasol did a good job as well.

“Hmm,” I thought. “I might start using Electrasol again. This isn’t so bad.”

Then I put it to the real test. I let the kids do the dishes. This changed things immensely. When my kids (14 year old son and 7 year old daughter) do dishes, I hear a whole lot of water running, but they are pretty haphazard about how well the dishes are rinsed. Sometimes all the food residue is rinsed off, but more often than not, they leave food on at least some of the dishes.

Cascade, again, did a fine job. A few specks of food were left on the dishes, causing me to have to rewash them, but nothing major.

I figured Electrasol would do the same job. Not so. The kids were “kind” enough to put the dishes away for me this morning, resulting in a big surprise when I went to get a bowl so I could eat some cereal. I pulled a bowl out of the cabinet and -bang!- it was still dirty. Not the usual speck or two that’s left, but that ugly nearly baked on, deep down funk. I set the bowl aside and pulled out another one. It was really funky as well. I ended up pulling out nearly every dish I own and hand washed them.

This leads me to a few conclusions. First, I really need to save up and buy a new dishwasher. The whole point of having a dishwasher, theoretically, is to save time. How much time, really, does it save when you have to completely rinse each dish beforehand, then load and unload the dishwasher?

Second, I believe I’ll be hand washing my dishes until I can get a new dishwasher. I think it’ll save water and it will definitely save a lot of time. Total time spent washing dishes by hand with my daughter after dinner tonight: 15 minutes. And it was a fun 15 minutes, at that.

Finally, in the case of Cascade vs. Electrasol, Cascade wins. At least it does in my household, with my crappy dishwasher. I gave the rest of the bottle of Electrasol to my mom, who has a good dishwasher and says she notices very little difference between Cascade and Electrasol. So, if you have a good dishwasher or you like to spend a lot of time rinsing dishes, either might be fine. But for me and my dishwasher, it has to be Cascade.

Or, I’ll just hand wash the dishes. Ha.


  1. Margaret on April 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Electrosol does it for me. My glasses are so much clearer as are my dishes. With Cascade they become cloudy and often leave lipstick residue on the glass so I'll definitely use Electrosol instead of Cascade.

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  3. Real Men Do Dishes » Electrosol on September 23, 2009 at 1:23 am
  4. Janice on July 31, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Bosch Buy a Bosch~no rinsing, no heat drying CLEAN dishes, and QUIET!

  5. AA on August 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Love Cascade! I too am a little scared about what it may be doing to the environment and my house’s pipes, but it sure does work!

    Electrosol worked great for a month or so, then I noticed how cloudy my glasses looked. Next time, I bought cascade and the cloudy glasses were sparklie again.

  6. Heidi @ Carolina Dreamz on July 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    In my process of making home made dishwasher soap.. I mix equal amounts of Super Washing Soda and Borax together. Then I mix that mix 50/50 with Cascade.

    I had the same love/hate relationship with the big brand names. I do love Cascade. I find the dilution works just as well and is cheaper.

    I also tried to find links to where I read about liquid dishwasher soap being really bad for your pipes. It talked about gunk build-up with the liquid sludge stuff. I’ll keep looking and report back if I find it.

  7. Mom of three on July 24, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Singlet Mom,

    I think the difference is Ivy tried just the liquid or powder, and you and I are using the tablets or gel tabs which have additional cleaners in them.

    Ivy, even with the electrosol, I occasionally get a bad load too. It’s the nature of the beast. It has to do with blocking the spray and flow of the water. (which happens when kids load the dishwasher) It also has to do with how much food got left behind. Even if you hand washed dishes with a lot of food, if you just dunked and rinsed there’d still be residue. You have to scrub them to get it all, and that’s what the water does, so no water flow, no clean.
    I always find that if I load, they come out cleaner than if hubby does (who thinks bowls stacked inside each other are going to get clean) or if the kids do (who think dishes facing upwards are going to get clean). And it matters how you load. I always put pans on the bottom, but my mom had a washer where the head on the top put out the most water and she had to put pans on top. And finally, it’s the luck of the draw. Did your water pressure go down mid cycle due to a shower, or washer running. Did the kids remember to put the detergent in at all? (Mine forget more than they remember.) Did they use too much, which can cause as much problems as too many.

    We tested laundry detergents for school a few years back as a school project and we had to run three identical tests on each product and then give our assessments. We found Tide cleaned the best. But other families found other detergents worked better. Sometimes I think it’s as much a matter of taste as it is trial and error.

    But all you can do is report your findings and let each person test for themselves. And in dishwasher world, those finding change with each load around here. 🙂
    And believe me, we do a lot of dishes.

  8. Badbadivy on July 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

    So it’s probably not fair to diss a detergent just based on your one assessment.

    1. They asked for MY opinion. That’s my opinion.

    2. I feel that I tested it thoroughly, and I did give my mother’s opinion of Electrasol- it works fine for her.

    I think my review was plenty fair.

  9. Singlet mom on July 23, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I agree with Mom of three. We use the Electrosol gel tabs and we have cheap, low-end dishwasher from Sears that we bought in 2002. And it sometimes does two-three loads a day depending on how much cooking I’ve been doing. And I prefer the Electrosol to the Cascade because Cascade constantly left a film/residue behind (not the one to get cleaned with Jet-Dry but like little sand granules-even when we use the liquid) I think it is probably a combo of your water, your dishwasher and the detergent. So it’s probably not fair to diss a detergent just based on your one assessment.

  10. rapunzel on July 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I’m having the same trouble with my dishwasher, so frustrating! I have a full box of Electrasol here but after that I’ll be switching to Cascade. I do bunches of handwashing as well..sigh..

  11. Heather on July 23, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    There are six of us now and we go through some serious dishes. My stepdaughter has been going crazy baking and even washing the bigger bowls out by hand, we still ran the dishwasher three times since yesterday afternoon. (She had wanted to make several things for my birthday, so I’d let her do so unfettered. ) I had quite the backlog to deal with yesterday. We still have today’s lunch and dinner to go.
    It doesn’t help that Mr. Heather takes his lunch and seems to enjoy curing my plasticware at work until it is quite ripe. I wonder if he believes there are bonus points for the ick factor.

  12. La Rêveuse on July 23, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I recently tried ECOVER tabs because I was looking for something a bit less nasty for the environment. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they work–much better than Electrosol 3 in 1’s. I can’t compare to Cascade, but as long as I rinse the large chunks, it seems to get everything else off, as long as it doesn’t sit for a few days (we’re only 3, so only run it once a day max.) Our dishwasher is new, though, so that does help. I like that it’s not putting so many toxic chemicals on our dishes–at least, that’s what I choose to believe. 🙂

  13. Kristin on July 22, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I have a dishwasher – I’ve used it four times in 2 years. I fill it up a few times a year, just to make sure it stays working. I love to wash dishes by hand. I love the soapy water, the few minutes of alone time, & using my great dishtowels. I know it uses more water, but I make up for it by taking quick showers LOL

  14. fortune cookies on July 22, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Electrasol should be called Electrasuck! Personally, I like to use the store brand, when I shop Kroger or Publix, but not Foodlion. Theirs is like Electrasol…gotta rewash everything.
    Oh, and Ivy, please, hand wash until Santa brings you a new dishwasher…the planet will thank you! 😉

  15. LoriW on July 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Very interesting post! I’m loyal to Kroger brand dishwashing determent, and I have to admit it gets everything clean. I have an old 70s dishwasher, but it’s fantastic! No funk left in the white coffee mugs, no funk on the white plates, everything is funkless!

  16. Heather on July 22, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Momofthree – Ivy has very hard water; I have very soft water. It’s probably safe to assume that some of the commenters’ water falls closer to the middle.
    I’m a good scraper, but don’t rinse much.
    When we used Electrasol it would leave funk in the bottom of my coffee cups and milk glasses. If it couldn’t handle liquid, I don’t want to think about how poorly it performs on food particles.

    With six of us in the house, we go through a lot of dishes every day. I had to take my dishwasher apart the other day and found the screws that hold the handle in place have stripped where they fasten. It’s a pain in the rear, I need to epoxy the holes, but it’s going to have to wait until we have a few hours between loads.

  17. connie on July 22, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Yes, in my experience both Cascade and the Walmart brand both do a much better job than the Electrosol. I have used all three, and the difference is noticeable.

  18. silver on July 22, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    A full dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Plug up your sink and wash a meals worth of dishes. Then measure the amount of water you used. I bet you’ll be surprised.

    If cascade allows you to not prerinse (or only prerinse the really heavily messed stuff), you’ll come out with far less water usage for the dishwasher.

  19. Mom of three on July 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I think it’s also more than just the dishwasher. What kind of water do you have? How long do the dishes wait between washing? How much food is on them?

    I use the electro sol tabs and really like them. Cascade didn’t do much for me. But it did clean the white porcelain on my sink.

    The biggest issue I have is the kids opening the door mid cycle and then the dishes dry (half clean) and we assume the dishwasher didn’t do a good job. If only the door wouldn’t open until the cycle was finished. Not like there aren’t dishes to be hand washed while they are waiting. 🙁

  20. Milehimama on July 22, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Our dishwasher putzed out on us too, and we did dishes by hand for 6 months. If it’s not entirely dead, it makes a fabulous dish drainer. You can fit a ton of dishes to dry, and close it up if you don’t want to see it! Occasionally you will have to run it for a minute or two to drain out the bottom- don’t want funk to grow in standing water.

    That said, each dishwasher has a basket to trap food particles (usually under the thing that spins). If that is junked up with food or mineral deposits, your dishwasher won’t clean. You might try pulling it out and seeing if it needs to be emptied.

  21. Diana on July 22, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Did y’all read the Consumer Reports issue a couple of years ago when they tested powder detergents side-by-side? The generic Wal-Mart brand fared as well as Cascade! I have a terrible dishwasher, too, but the Wal-Mart stuff seems to do pretty well.

  22. kickstand on July 22, 2008 at 8:19 am

    What you didn’t test, is that Electrasol’s performance degrades if you use it over time. Each time it leaves a little bit more food behind on the plate or glass, until the glasses and dishes are filthy disgusting.

    Makes me wonder, however, how damaging the Cascade product might be to the environment (I don’t know).

  23. Kacie on July 22, 2008 at 7:48 am

    I’ve been using the Electrasol 3-in-1 tabs and have had good results with them. The regular Electrasol gel, not so much. And I agree with a previous poster, the 2-in-1s aren’t as good.

    I haven’t given much thought to Cascade, but if I find some good coupons, maybe I will!

  24. chele on July 22, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Yep, I’m a Cascade girl and I use the little action packs with bleach and Dawn detergent in them (because apparently I’m also “use a lot of chemicals” girl… heh..) and things come out of the dishwasher sparkling clean.

    But sometimes just for the heck of it I’ll handwash the dishes, because I love the smell of Ivory dishsoap.

  25. kristen on July 22, 2008 at 6:30 am

    I have seen this comparison on a few blogs now. How did you get involved in this? I belong to Bzz and a few other trial programs, but am not familiar with this particular one.

    I’ve been using Electrasol, due to the great coupons for over a year. Never bought the Cascade. Hmmm…. Maybe I’ll have to be on the lookout for it. One thing I have found is the Electrasol gelpacks do not work half as well as the tablets.

  26. Heather on July 22, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Our dishwasher is middle of the roadish and no one sent me a free box, but it’s Cascade here, too. Tim picked up a couple boxes of those gel pack things from Big Lots not too long ago as an experiment and they failed miserably. I’m not sure what brand they were, but I said never again.

  27. charmingdriver on July 22, 2008 at 2:53 am

    I have ran the gamut from super-good-but-used-high-end(ish) dishwashers to pieces of absolute crap and Cascade has always worked out, time and effort wise, the best.

  28. The Chatty Housewife on July 22, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Cascade Advanced/Ultra or whatever they are calling it now PLUS Kenmore Ultra Wash dishwasher EQUALS never ever again hand washing or rinsing ANYTHING.

    Seriously. I can’t stress this more. My dishwasher and Cascade get even my dried cheesy burnt on casserole dishes sparkling clean. I have noticed that the regular Cascade is not as good though. You have to get the Advanced.

  29. Org junkie on July 21, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Yep I’m a Cascade girl too!

  30. Cara Mirabella on July 21, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I don’t buy anything other than Cascade Complete. As much as I want to do the eco-friendly thing, nothing else works as well in my circa 1970s dishwasher.

  31. Christie on July 21, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    My thought exactly, after reading your post. I would say, forget it and wash my dishes by hand. It might be frustrating to do at first, but you will soon get used to it if you aren’t already. At least you wont have to worry about dirty dishes again. You will know exactly who to blame if you do.


  32. Bramble on July 21, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    cascade is my favorite over most brands. in fact i have a free 3 year supply of 7th geneation that i pay to buy cascade anyway because the 7th generation leaves tihs white layer of crud on everything. cascade also makes this stuff that gets the tomato sauce stain off of tupperware. faboo.

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