Dawn is one of the most popular dishwashing liquids on the market.
It is widely used by homemade-cleaner enthusiasts as an ingredient in DIY cleaner recipes.
When I first started using Dawn in my homemade cleaners, I was confused about the different varieties and colors.
- What variety works best?
- Is the blue better than the yellow?
- Has the formula changed?
- Is the new formula as good as the old?
I will try and answer these questions for myself and my readers.
This article will be an ongoing effort and will be updated as new information is discovered. We will probably not be able to learn everything we want to learn about Dawn. The main reason for this is because the exact formula for the product is a trade secret.
There is no way we are going to know the exact ratio of ingredients in Dawn and how those ingredients have changed over time as old formulas were retired and new ones were introduced. We will have to rely on random tidbits of information and anecdotal evidence to try and piece together a better understanding of this product.
Proctor & Gamble introduced Dawn in 1972, but only to a small test area.
In 1976, Dawn was released across the entire United States. This was the original blue Dawn with original scent.
In 1978, the International Bird Rescue Research Center received a grant from Chevron to test the effectiveness of dish soaps to clean oil-soaked birds.
This study determined that Dawn was the best product for cutting through the oil.
In 1989, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Dawn was used to clean up the oil-soaked birds that were victims of the spill.
The original Dawn is believed by many to be a superior product to the modern Dawn.
I do know that the Original formula was updated around 1987.
Then in 1996, the original Dawn was taken off the market altogether.
It was replaced by……..
Dawn Ultra replaced the original Dawn around 1996.
The Dawn Ultra product page states that it “contains double the everyday grease cleaning ingredients in every drop versus the leading non-concentrated dish soap.”In my opinion, the Ultra formula increased the amount of surfactants, which are substances that lower the surface tension of water. This decrease in surface tension allows the water to be able to interact more readily with substances we would like to remove, like oil and grease.
I suspect that other ingredients, such as enzymes, were reduced or removed.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing for us.
We don’t always want or need enzymes in our homemade cleaners.
In the Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe, the high levels of borax and washing soda might destroy the enzymes.
We would possibly be wasting money if we made this homemade detergent using a more-expensive Dawn with enzymes.
A very acidic homemade shower cleaner would be the same way. The acid levels in the shower cleaner would destroy the enzymes.
For this reason, I prefer to use Dawn Ultra in such cleaners. Why pay for enzymes when they would be wasted?
The Dawn Ultra formula has changed over time as well. I have found evidence online that the formula was updated in May 2005.
Is the Blue Dawn Ultra Better?
Regular Dawn Ultra comes in the blue original scent and yellow lemon scent.
My opinion is that these two products are basically identical. I can’t think of any reason why the blue would work better than the yellow or vice versa.
The coloring and fragrance should have no bearing on the cleaning power of the liquid.
This also applies to the new Dawn Ultra Destinations which come in Mediterranean Lavender, New Zealand Springs and Thai Dragon Fruit scents.
I would think that you can use any fragrance of Dawn Ultra that you like and the cleaning performance will be the same.
I prefer the blue version mainly because I like the color blue and also because scent is just not that important to me when it comes to dishwashing liquid.
Your dishes shouldn’t have a scent. If you can still smell perfume on your dishes after washing, then that means you didn’t rinse them enough!
Not long after Dawn Ultra was introduced in 1996, Procter & Gamble released Non-Ultra Dawn. I believe the Non-Ultra formula was updated in 2004.
In 2006, it was renamed to “Classic Dawn”. These versions are no longer available.
Around 2009, Procter & Gamble introduced Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn.
This was later changed to just Non-Concentrated Dawn. Some bottles also say “Simply Clean”.
To the right you can see two different bottles of Non-Concentrated Dawn that I picked up at the same store in November 2013. I believe these two are identical liquids. Only the label is different.
I do not know the exact difference between Non-Concentrated Dawn and Dawn Ultra, but I can tell you that Dawn Ultra is much stronger. I did a quick test in the sink and the difference was obvious.
Even though the Non-Concentrated version is cheaper, I believe Dawn Ultra is the better buy.
Dawn Ultra Antibacterial
This version of Dawn contains the chemical chloroxylenol. This chemical is used to kill bacteria and viruses. The substance has been used in hospitals since the 1950’s.
Dawn Ultra Antibacterial previously contained the chemical triclosan but that has been removed in favor of chloroxylenol. Triclosan, although used for many years in consumer products, is coming under increased scrutiny by government, health, and environmental organizations. It has already been banned in the EU and the state of Minnesota.
In my opinion, chemically-enhanced antibacterial soaps are better used in medical environments such as a doctor’s office or hospitals. Although the bottles have the words “Hand Soap” on the front, I do not recommend using these anti-bacterial soaps for routine hand washing unless directed to do so by your doctor.
I would not use products containing chloroxylenol to clean your fish aquarium or equipment. The EPA has stated that chloroxylenol is extremely toxic to fish. If you clean your fish tank with chloroxylenol soap, your fish might not be too happy.
As of late 2016, I am aware of 5 varieties of Dawn Platinum. These are the Platinum Power Clean, Platinum Power Oxi, Platinum Bleach Alternative, Platinum Stainfighter, and Platinum Erasing Dishwashing Foam.
How is Dawn Platinum different than Dawn Ultra?
Remember the enzymes that I mentioned earlier?
Well, these Dawn Platinum dishwashing liquids contain enzymes. These enzymes help to break down tough, cooked-on foods.
What exactly is the difference between the Dawn Platinum liquids and which one should I use?
I had the same questions and I think I have found a few hints that may help.
According to information I gleaned from a Proctor and Gamble website, it appears that Power Clean and Bleach Alternative contain amylase enzymes.
The Power Oxi, on the other hand, contains protease enzymes.
Amylase enzymes break down starches and protease enzymes break down protein.
This means I will be using the Power Clean for such things as pasta sauce and gravies. For cooked on cheese sauce or meats, I would go with the Power Oxi.
At this time I do not have enzyme information on the Platinum Stainfighter. I don’t believe the Platinum Erasing Foam contains enzymes as it is not a product used for soaking.
Procter & Gamble has a product comparison of the various Platinum Varieties. From this product comparison I gather that:
- Platinum Power Clean is best for dried, stuck-on foods.
- Platinum Bleach Alternative is best for removing invisible residue from your dishes.
- Platinum Power Oxi has great soaking power
- Platinum Stainfighter is for tough food stains
- Platinum Erasing Dish Foam is for washing without filling the sink with water.
I sometimes wonder if enzyme content or lack thereof is related to why some people feel the old Dawn worked better. If you think the Original Dawn performance was better, you may want to try these new Ultra Platinum Dawns.
Dawn Platinum Advanced Power
Dawn Platinum Advanced Power is another premium formula of Dawn. The only place I know where you can buy it locally is at Costco. This product also contains enzymes. Interestingly, the stated ingredients show that this product contains both amylase and protease enzymes. This would make it a good soaking detergent as the enzymes would attack all types of foods.
If we look at the label, it appears that this is in fact the intent of the manufacturer. It states “overnight soaking power in 5 minutes”.
Dawn Professional, also known as Manual Pot and Pan Detergent, is the crème de la crème of the Dawn dishwashing liquid family.
I have read that a lot of people like this version and that the formula is not changed around as often as the other versions.
I have not been able to find the ingredient list of Dawn Professional, but when I do, I’ll let you know. Some people have said that it is similar to the Original Dawn that so many people love.
You can save a lot of money if you buy a 5 gallon bucket of Dawn Professional.
What Countries is Dawn Sold In?
Can you buy dawn in your country? I get quite a few questions from people around the world asking where they can buy Dawn. Here is what I know so far:
- Proctor & Gamble sells Fairy brand instead of Dawn in Australia, France, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
- Proctor & Gamble sells Dreft brand instead of Dawn in the Netherlands
Whew! This was a long post. I didn’t realize there was so much to say about Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. If you have any information that we could add to this post, feel free to let me know. I would love to hear from you!