With prices ranging from 15p to almost a pound, is it worth paying extra for posh washing up liquid, or is it a case of less spent is really more?

SOMETIMES you realise something that changes your whole world. Like the day you learned that there was no Father Christmas or that the Tooth Fairy was really your mum.

Or when it dawned on you that even if you lived on lettuce leaves all year, you still would never have skinny little hips.

And one of the things I've always believed in, is that you get what you pay for... that what seems like a bargain can be false economy....if you buy cheap, you buy twice. And that the most economical washing up liquid is the most expensive.

I was wrong.

Maybe I've just been brainwashed by Nanette Newman all these years. Or all those ads of little cub scouts or school boys at the long tables with all those extra dishes. Or those poor kids waiting for ever to make their space rocket or pirate ship.

Anyway, in the last year or so, the shelves of washing up liquid have undergone a dramatic transformation. Whereas there was once cheapo and posh, now there is cheapo, posh, ultra posh, aromatherapy, scented and anti-bacterial.

Prices for supermarket own brands range from 15p to 89p. Fairy Liquid costs around 88p, Persil 79p But is there, we wondered, any difference in the way they wash dishes?

And the surprising answer is NO. Well, very little anyway.

The main difference is in the fancy packaging and the smell. Do you buy washing up liquid for the smell? No, neither do we.

And, come to that, how dirty are your dishes? If you regularly have burnt black roasting tins, or leave half your supper stuck to cast iron frying pans or just wash up once a week, then maybe you might need something with a bit more oommph to it. But as most washing up is not really a challenge and as most of us have non stick pans, then we don't really need super high power washing up liquid.

Most supermarkets now do at least three different washing up liquids. And since Christmas we - and that includes the man with the dish pan hands - have been trying them out, to see if there really is a difference and if the expensive versions are worth the extra money.

And they're not.


Most supermarkets do an economy washing up liquid in litre bottles 15p in Asda, Safeway, Morrisons, 25p in the Co-op.

These are very thin liquids, but there's a lot of them - the bottles are twice as big as the others we tried. They seemed to do a perfectly adequate job.


There's a middle range in 500ml, that look like the old Fairy Liquid - 49p Asda, Co-op, Morrisons and Tesco; 55p Safeway; 65p Sainsburys.

These are thicker, tend to smell of lemon . They are half the size of the cheapos and between three and four times the price. Which means they should be at least six times as good. Are they? No. A bit better maybe, but really not that dramatic a difference.


Then there's the "ultra"or "premier" range, also 500ml , designed to look like the new style Fairy Liquid (88p); 64p in Asda; 65p in Morrisons; 67p in the Co-op; 69p in Safeway.

Sainsburys has a slightly different super-range, called Active Naturals and costing 89p for 500ml. Persil does an Aloe Vera liquid at 79p.

What really distinguished these were the smell. Overwhelming - from the Co-op's sickly apple, through Tesco and Morrisons Sping Fresh, Safeway Tropical Fruit to Sainsburys Orange and Lavender - yes, in the same bottle. Full marks to Fairy for not having a strong scent.

These were thicker than the others and so we could use a bit less, apart from Persil which has always had a design fault in that the nozzle is much wider than on ordinary bottles so it's easy to overdose - but again we didn't find a vast difference in performance. Maybe our dishes weren't dirty enough.


The most expensive washing up liquid actually cost twelve times as much as the cheapest. But it was not twelve times as good and it did not last twelve times as long.

Unless you have a lot of very heavy duty washing up - or really like strong, sickly, artificial perfumes - then these are a waste of money,.

The only thing we found that made a dramatic difference to results was to use really hot water to wash and really hot water to rinse - then even the 15p liquid made everything sparkle.


New consumer legislation has come into force, stating that that every consumer has a right to repair or replacement where goods prove faulty.

If an item develops a fault within six months, then the seller has to prove that a fault wasn't present at the time of purchase.

If the fault develops later, every consumer is now entitled to demand compensation - usually the cost of repair - or request a repair or replacement. Claims must be made within six years.

Consumers' Asociation magazine, Which? is sending out over half-a-million "shoppers rights cards" to make sure people know their rights and can deal with unco-operative retailers.

The Which? Shoppers' Rights Card will be sent to all readers of the magazine and a web-version of the card is available on the web-site at: http://www.which.net/campaigns/ contents

WE thought it was an April Fool's joke, but they promise it's not. Rohan has come up with new technology to stop men's pants getting so stinky. It's all to do with a layer of pure silver that neutralises bacteria and keeps clothes fresher for longer. Great news for travellers - but we fear there are stay-at-home men who might just use them as an excuse to delay doing in the laundry for even longer. The X-Stinctive Briefs cost £15 and are available in Rohan shops, or mail order. Tel: 0870 601 2244. www.roahn. co.uk.

Breast Cancer's guardian angel is a jolly little figure reminding women to check their breasts regularly. She features on a new skinny black T-shirt, sizes 10 to 16 in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. T-shirts £12 plus p&p. Tel: 020 7749 3700 or www.breastcancercampaign.org.