By October 12, 2012

Kirkland Dishwasher Pac Review

Sometimes the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is more like a challenge than good advice. Such is my experience with liquid dishwasher soap, of all things. I had used the Cascade Complete liquid detergent for years. It worked fine, I liked the scent, and I could buy big ass bottles of it at Costco.

Then one day, my curiosity got the better of me.

There I was, with a bottle of Cascade Complete in my hand, and I saw the Cascade Complete ActionPacs. ActionPacs are little bags of detergent. You put the ActionPac in your dishwasher detergent cup, shut the door, and off you go. Even better: next to the stack of ActionPacs was the Kirkland (Costco house brand) product of similar design. For cheapers.

This type of cleaning agent delivery system appealed to me for three reasons:

  1. I never get all of the liquid detergent out of the bottle. These little pillows of cleanliness would maximize the amount of detergent I could use.
  2. Sometimes I’d get a little overzealous with the liquid detergent and I’d make a mess.
  3. It could make for an interesting Gibberish article.

So about a hundred dishwasher detergent pacs later, here’s my review. It’s about as small as the dishwasher pac, and it might save you some money.

Objective #1: waste less detergent

I felt like I was always throwing away some of the liquid detergent trapped in the bottle. I figured the pac would be a great way to cut down on waste.

That part turned out to be true, but something else happened — not all of the detergent gets used during a wash cycle. Sometimes big globs were left behind, probably a third of the pac. Other times we’d luck out and it would use all the detergent.

No matter how much got used, we still wound up with this:

The pacs stained the inside of the dishwasher, and it won’t scrub off. Sedagive? is going to try a bleach solution, but if the pacs do such a number on the inside of the washing machine, what’s getting left on our dishes?

Objective #2: don’t make a mess

A dishwasher pac is about the size of a cotton ball. There is some sort of transparent membrane-ish wrapper that holds all the powdered detergent inside. In theory, this is a no-mess affair; you just grab a pac, throw it in the cup, close door, push buttan, boom clean dishes.

Except this happens:

A few of the pacs were damaged somehow; as time went on others got damp and the membrane slowly dissolved, unleashing even more powder into the container and all over the rest of the pacs.

Out of my three objectives, number two (not making a mess) was out the window.

Objective #3: a story for Gibberish

At least we hit this one. Overall, I’m not impressed with the pacs. They are a little more expensive than liquid detergents, even accounting for waste. Even when they work perfectly, the perceived benefits of cleanliness and convenience are outweighed by when the pacs don’t work perfectly. They break apart, don’t do a particularly good job, and have coated the washer in a blue residue that resists removal. Every once in awhile our glasses or coffee mugs taste a little funky, and rinsing them does the trick. Maybe it’s residue from the dishwasher pacs, or perhaps someone has been spitting in my drinks again.

Either way, once we’re done with the remaining pacs we’ll be going back to liquid detergent.

Not recommended

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6 Comments on "Kirkland Dishwasher Pac Review"

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  1. ConFigures says:

    I use pacs. I think mine are usually Cascade, smaller packages (maybe 30 pacs?) than it looks like you’re using. I never see powder on the outside of the pacs, but I do sometimes see leftover globs of detergent after it’s done. I’d attributed that to my old dishwasher. I’d never thought about whether it was leaving residue on the dishes! Hmm.

  2. Ali Lyddall says:

    This was interesting. Our dishwasher looks the same as yours if we put the pac into the little spring open soap compartment. We solved it by throwing the pacs into the bottom of the dishwasher instead of putting them in the compartment. Then they seem to work OK. I was hoping, when I saw your title, that you would compare these Kirkland ones to the name brand ones. Any data on that? I just bought a box of these, but haven’t opened them yet. Perhaps should return them! (Don’t seem to have the broken pac problem with the “Cascade” ones, but it is a bit grim if you grab it with your hand wet!)

  3. DrFaulken says:

    Hihi, maybe we’ll grab a bucket of the official Cascade pacs next and see if they make a difference.

  4. fiteboss says:

    I think it really depends on the dishwasher. My Kenmore devours everything. The girlfriends Bosch… not so much. the Bosch is very sensitive to detergent.

  5. Kelly says:

    These gel pacs did turn the inside of our brand new dishwasher in our brand new home blue. I hate them. We have used brand name gel pacs and they do not do this. Also, Kirkland gel pacs DO leave a residue on your dishes. Destroyed my favorite coffee cup by leaving blue residue in it. We will probably all get cancer now from the mysterious blue dye.

  6. Matt says:

    I picked up a box of these kirkland dishwasher “pacs” and about 30% of them don’t dissovle at all and are left in the soap dispenser fully in tact.

    I still use them, now I just squish them so the membrane is broken before putting them in the soap tray. I haven’t had any bad experiences with blue residue or film on dishes but this is the first kirkland product I’ve been genuinely disappointed with.