Skip to main content
ATK Reviews

Dawn Powerwash is the Magic Eraser of Cleaners

If you’re only using this sprayable dish soap for dishes, you’re missing out.
By Published June 27, 2022

My kitchen has open shelves, which means that anything infrequently used gets an invisible, sticky film of grease and dust that’s nearly impossible to remove. (If you know, you know.)

I’ve tried seemingly everything to get this gunk off, but nothing really does the trick.

But a few months ago, I was helping a friend clean out the kitchen of a house that was going to be sold, and found a spray bottle of Dawn Powerwash under the sink. I decided to bring it home and try it on my sticky shelves.

I sprayed it on, and wiped it off. I was astounded. The grime was gone.

What is this stuff, I wondered? I spoke with Senior Scientist Morgan Brashear of Procter & Gamble’s Home Care department to find out.

Sign up for the Well-Equipped Cook newsletter

Shop smarter with our ATK Reviews team's expert guides and recommendations.

It turns out, Dawn Powerwash was designed for nothing fancier than washing ordinary dishes. Brashear said P&G realized consumers weren’t filling up the sink to soak dishes as they did in previous decades (although we recommend you try it). Instead, most people scrub dishes one-by-one, with the water running. A spritz of a thick, clinging spray that works fast, like Powerwash, makes this style of washing up easier, she said. 

Personally, I think it’s overkill to use this on run-of-the-mill dirty dishes. Powerwash contains several strong solvents, chelants, and high-alkaline ingredients that help it cling and decimate dirt—it’s absolutely not regular Dawn dish soap in a pump spray bottle (as internet rumor has it). When I need to rid my dishes of stubborn stuck-on food, I’ll just give ‘em a soak. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s worth keeping in your kitchen. Ever since I encountered it, I’ve been trying it on everything that needs a serious cleaning. And boy has it worked. It's like the Magic Eraser of cleaners (another handy item to tackle hard-to-clean items).

An old white plastic coffee maker that was brown with use came out like new: spotless and pearly white. Tea stains inside cups vanished. Grime on the stove hood? Spritz, wipe—gone. My husband even (successfully!) used it to clean the clogged spray head of our garden hose. According to Brashear, the only surface to avoid is marble, because the chelant binds to calcium carbonate in marble and dissolves it. 

Some quibbles: I don’t think it does a great job on the bottoms of my scorched stainless steel pans; for that, I’ll stick to Bar Keeper’s Friend. And I don't love the smell; I definitely prefer the light pear scent of the “Free & Clear” Powerwash over the (let’s call it “assertive”) fragrance of the blue-colored “Fresh Scent” option. 

But when I need to strong-arm some persistent gunk out of my kitchen gear, I’m grabbing the Powerwash. My open shelves have never been so sparkling. 

Photo credit: Procter & Gamble