America’s second most-hated chore is washing the dishes, according to Procter & Gamble. It makes perfect sense to P&G senior vice president North America of home care, Marchoe Northern.
“People hate the dishes because it feels like a task that's never done,” Northern said. “We're always eating. We're always using the kitchen in our homes.”
To alleviate the stress of scrubbing, P&G invented Cascade Platinum Plus. The new pod is claimed to allow people to scrape, load, run the dishwasher and get clean plates – all without prewashing or soaking. The company issued the “Cascade Platinum Plus Load This, Get This” challenge to guarantee customers would get their money back if they felt the dishes weren’t done.
“We hydrate and actually remove stuck-on foods off of any type of surface,” Northern said. “And then, we also have these enzymes that are geared at removing starches and proteins. What that does is provide you with the best possible option to get plates that you can literally not pre-rinse or pre-wash and don't require rewashing at the end so really driving towards zero failures coming out of your dishwasher.”
But does it really work? Cascade invited Cheddar News into its laboratory in Cincinnati to test it out ourselves. The Cascade Lab has 72 dishwashers, representing about 80 percent of what’s currently installed in people’s homes.
“We're constantly working with the dishwasher manufacturers to understand what's changing about their machines, what do they have new on the market, and understanding when people have upgraded their machines so that we're representing within consumers homes as well here in the lab when we do all of our technical testing,” said Cascade senior scientist Morgan Eberhard.
When the company says it's a lab, it’s really a place for scientific testing. The team often holds potlucks based on common foods eaten around the country, in order to have dishes to wash. They’ll purposely burn items to recreate tough pans and casserole dishes, including teriyaki and lasagna. For our experiment, Eberhard baked her mom’s tater tot casserole, burned cheese on the sides and all. Then for the sake of science, we chowed down in order to have dishes to wash -- and eat a delicious breakfast of course.
The company designed a brand new starch-fighting enzyme that they believe works 50 percent better, in addition to filling the pod with more ingredients while still ensuring it fits in a standard dishwasher. But while 60 percent of Cascade Platinum Plus was formulated at P&G’s European centers, Eberhard’s team finalizes the product.
To get the right formulation, Eberhard spends thousands of hours a year with customers, having them fill out surveys to actually going into their homes and watching what they eat and how they clean it. P&G gleaned that eight out 10 people handwashed their dishes still. If they trusted their dishwasher, 86 percent pre-washed and 68 percent still had to dry the dishes after.
“We call them soil studies,” she explained. “We get an understanding of what are the foods that are being cooked most frequently in the home and which ones are they the most frustrated with trying to get it cleaned today. Where are they? Where are those tensions? Where they are not able to get it clean as quickly or easily as they would like to?”
So was the three years, 10 prototypes and 13,000 pods to get the final version of Cascade Platinum Plus worth it? Cheddar News can confirm the dishes were done, with no pre-washing or drying.
“Our goal is to make sure that you're not having to pre wash or more importantly, rewash, any dishes and that we're addressing spots, drying all of those things with the product themselves so it makes cabinet-ready dishes,” Eberhard said.