The most-read post on my blog in this site’s nearly 12-year history continues to be “The Clean Dishes Challenge: Battle of the Dishwasher Detergents.” I originally wrote this in 2012 after detergent manufacturers removed phosphates from consumer dishwasher detergents. After switching to phosphate-free formulas, my dishwasher suddenly wasn’t getting dishes clean at all.
I wasn’t alone — many, many people wrote in to say the same and share similar experiences. I began seeking out and testing phosphate-based dishwasher detergents that were still available to see what would make my dishwasher continue to get things clean the way it used to.
Fortunately, commercial-grade dishwasher detergents are still available with phosphate formations, and since 2012, I’ve been happily using Professional Line Cascade. It’s about $11 for a 53-load box, and of course, there are no coupons for it, but it’s a product that I feel is worth paying for because it works so incredibly well.
(Note: I am not here for a debate on whether phosphates are harmful to the environment. Unless your drain runoff is going to a septic field near a pond, the “dangers” of phosphate algae bloom have been shown to be largely overblown, particularly by a 2011 University of Washington study. If your home’s sewer system drains to a municipal water treatment plant, there is no issue at all. If Trisodium Phosphate, the same ingredient in Professional Cascade, was truly “harmful,” would it be an ingredient in Cheerios? Restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and many other businesses continue to use phosphate-based detergents, and there’s no reason consumers can’t as well.)
Anyway, I’m down to my last box of Professional Cascade, and I was getting ready to order more soon. Then, earlier this week, I spotted something really interesting at Menards:
These boxes of Finish Powerball Classic caught my eye because the text on the front is in multiple languages – English, French, and Italian, with Dutch and German on the sides of the box too. The box features a European website (uk.cleanright.eu), an Ireland company address, and “Made in Poland.” What’s this doing at my local Menards?
A peek at the ingredients label revealed that this Finish Powerball Classic is a phosphonate-based detergent. Phosphonates are closely related to phosphates, and phosphonates have been used in Europe to achieve the same level of cleaning power as phosphates.
Menards is selling 10-count boxes of European Finish Powerball for $1.79 and 110-count boxes for $12.99. I bought a 10-count box earlier this week and took it home to try.
I’m pleased to report that this European Finish is cleaning with the same strength as my beloved Pro Cascade – shiny dishes, no detergent residue, and no food or haze on my dishes. So, I went back to the store yesterday to buy some more in the 110-count boxes, as these work out to about .11 per load versus the .20/load that the Pro Cascade works out to. Plus, Menards has an extra 11% of at the time of this writing, which further sweetens the deal. UPDATE: For the week of 1/12/20 – 1/18/20, Menards is having a 15% off Bag Sale. Bring the bag from this Sunday’s paper, and this Finish will drop to $1.51 and $11.04, respectively. (For what it’s worth, current Finish coupons are not valid for this particular variety of Finish.)
I’m not sure how long this product will be available at Menards. The Carpentersville store that I shopped has these red-tagged as clearance items, and a frequent part of Menards’ promotional strategy is selling diverted product*, so it’s probably something that will only be in-store while it lasts. I’m welcoming the chance to spend a little bit less on dishwasher detergent though and still gain the same strong cleaning power.
For people who enjoy reading labels, as I do, here are some close-up photos. If you’ve got a Menards in your area, and you’re a fan of phosphate or phosphonate-based dishwasher detergents, you just might want to pick some of this up while it’s available.
Diverted product refers to items sold to stores via channels other than those authorized by the manufacturer. For example, if your store wanted to stock brand-name paper towels, they’d likely go directly to the brand’s authorized supplier to order them. However, there is another way stores procure products to sell – via diverters.
These third parties broker in buying overstock, unwanted, or discontinued items from one retailer and selling them to another. These products are still new, but the store’s acquiring them through another channel. If you’re a regular Menards shopper, you may already have noticed that they often have interesting things on the shelves — like Walmart-brand towels, or those occasional free-after-coupon deals on Oral-B Shiny Clean toothbrushes. Shiny Clean is a variety created for the Asian market, and while our USA Oral-B coupons typically exclude their entry-level toothbrushes, they never exclude Shiny Clean, because that’s a variety that (in theory) shouldn’t even be available in the USA.
In this case, Menards is also currently selling European Finish dishwasher detergent. They’re likely buying in lots from a diverter to sell to their own customers. This dishwasher detergent traveled halfway around the world to hit Midwest Menards shelves, but it works really well, and I’m happy to have discovered it!