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Fairy’s no longer the Queen of washing-up liquids

Different washing-up liquids

It’s dominated our tests for 20 years, but now the unthinkable has happened. Fairy’s place as the top washing-up liquid has been usurped – by a much younger and cheaper model. Is it time to clean out the Fairy?

We were as surprised as anyone by these results. Fairy’s been at the top our washing-up liquid tests for so long that it seemed like it would never be knocked off. Just last year, it scored 90%, while the next-best liquid on test got 69%.

But products change formulas all the time, which is why we keep testing the likes of washing-up liquid every year. This year’s test showed that Aldi’s Magnum Premium Original and Fairy Original were equally good at removing fat, but the foam bubbles in Aldi’s liquid lasted longer.

This is important because when the foam disappears, it acts as a visual cue for people to add another squirt of liquid, even if it’s still working.

The price isn’t right

Aldi’s improved performance is down to them adding more active ingredients to the liquid, but it’s still cheap at 59p for a 500ml bottle.

In contrast, Fairy has been systematically reducing the size of its bottle over the last two years, from 500ml to 450ml and now 433ml. But has it reduced its price? No.

Fairy told us that changes in the formula have made a more concentrated liquid, allowing them to reduce the bottle’s volume, but it seems like a sneaky way of raising prices to me.

And it’s not just Aldi’s washing-up liquid that impressed us recently – Aldi Del Rivo orange juice with bits was also awarded a Best Buy in our orange juice test.

Have you used Aldi Magnum washing-up liquid? If not, will you give it a try? Or will you be sticking with Fairy?


Fairy liquid has not only reduced in size of bottle, but it’s also runnier than it used to be, which indicates thinning, so you use more.
It used to have to be squeezed out of the bottle, now it runs from it without pressure.

I have always used fairy though as it is diverse. Good for cleaning windows (dried off with sheets of old newspaper) it is excellent for a mortar sizer as well, when mixing sand and cement and applying to walls.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this.

Is Which? able to confirm this from their tests? I guess the results speak for themselves.

The last six months we have noticed Farley has gone down hill,will not be using it again. You are getting greedy by reducing quality and increasing price.

Has the formulation of Fairy changed to decrease or eliminate phosphates, or to improve biodegradability? The EU is pushing detergent manufacturers to make their products more environmentally friendly.

Sophie Gilbert says:
24 August 2011

Fairy has the advantage of being widely available so I’ll be sticking to it simply because there is no Aldi shop near me or on my way to anywhere. When there is, I’ll give it a go and see.

I’ve always been sceptical of washing-up liquid test results because I notice that most people just chuck a hefty squirt of liquid into the bowl regardless of how much is necessary ie they waste a lot! Thus the cost comparison is null and void and they might as well just use the cheapest
bottle they can find.

I wonder how much washing-up liquid the average person consumes a year. I don’t suppose that much washing up liquid remains if cups, plates etc are drained or drained and dried, but I don’t fancy it in my food.

When I do the washing-up I always finish by rinsing everything in hot water. It seems logical to remove the detergent. My mother did the same.

I wonder if Which? has ever tested the toxicity of different brands of washing-up liquid. I can’t remember reading about this.

There are no Aldi shops near to me – so I won’t even be trying the new leader. But honestly I’m satisfied with Sainsbuiy’s washing up liquid which is cheaper still and no after taste.

I must be the only one who measures the amount I use (10ml) every time I use it.

I really can’t believe you measure out how much you use every time Richard! Is that really necessary? Plus, 10ml sounds like quite a lot when a 500ml of Aldi can wash 11,000 plates!

Absolutely. Use a small amount and add more if necessary. If plates are wiped and rinsed before washing the amount of washing-up liquid needed is very small.

Detergents sometimes pollute waterways, so using the minimum amount of washing-up liquid, washing powder/liquid, and other cleaners makes good environmental sense. It also saves money.

old & cynical says:
26 August 2011

Funnily enough my wife said just a couple of weeks ago that the Fairy liquid is now runnier, and certainly not as good as it used to be.

Now it seems that she was right!

I have been using Aldi’s 500 ml. Magnum liquid for years and I have always loved it.

However, a word of warning: don’t buy the 1l. bottle. Although it is supposedly the same liquid (concentrated, as the half a litre bottle), and it has a cheaper unit price, the bubbles in the one litre bottle don’t last very long. The larger size is of noticeably inferior quality to the smaller one.

Jenny Murray says:
26 August 2011

I can get Fairy liquid at the local shop. The nearest Aldi is MILES away.

The local HSBC has closed its local sub-branch this year. Many are disadvantaged. The local Barclays has gained.

I have been shopping at Aldi for 15 years and have used their washing up liquid most of that time. I went back onto fairy when the old type bottles were on sale as limited issues and on offer but have gone back onto Aldi’s Magnum as both myself and my husband feel that it is better value and quality. If you don’t live near an Aldi try nipping in one when you’re out on your travels and pop a few bottles in your trolley ’cause at such a low price you can afford to stock up.

SaraJayne says:
26 August 2011

Wavechange, you’re not alone. I was appalled when I first saw someone doing washing up without rinsing – I don’t fancy eating soap, either! I can’t believe how many do.

As for Fairy vs Aldi, I’ll be sticking with my Ecover, as it doesn’t break my skin out (and it’s hopefully better for the environment), and gets the dishes clean. Even wearing rubber gloves my skin comes in contact with the soapy water – might as well use one that’s skin-friendly!

“Now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face, with mild green Fairy Liquid”. That’s what we were told in the 1960s TV adverts.

Reading the small print on a more recent bottle is not quite so positive.
“Handcare: after use, rinse and dry them thoroughly. As for all detergents, if you have damaged or sensitive skin, avoid prolonged contact with the liquid and washing solution.”

You are absolutely right to be careful with washing-up liquid. If you are sensitive to washing-up liquid, rinse your hands carefully and wash out your rubber gloves to remove any detergent that has got inside.

Jennyren says:
26 June 2012

I like the new fairy as the old one would strip the skin off my hands with one wash and I couldn’t even wipe surfaces with a cloth that has been rinsed in fairy water but this new fairy (yes the one everyone is complaining about) is just fine with my hands even though it could do with being a bit more bubbly!

@SaraJayne; @wavechange: Re: Rinsing after washing

Spot on.

Slightly off-topic, is there a product you can add to a dishwasher that rinses off the Rinse Aid?

Then you would need a product to remove the product used to rinse off the rinse aid. 🙂

Geoff 2 says:
26 August 2011

I’m not at all surprised at this result. Aldi’s own brands (food and non-food) are generally very good and always worth a try. I’ve just opened a packet of their tea bags and they’re excellent – and I’m fussy! However, it’s not the greatest shopping experience due to the utilitarian nature of the stores, but good for all the basics. No snob value, though!

Steve says:
26 August 2011

Aldi wash-up liquid is better than Fairy….why not?
You should try more important things ….like food!
I’ve been shopping there for years for fresh and frozen food, the quality is far superior than their competitors.
So no surprise to me!
Muesli lovers? Not tried their Luxury Fruit & Nut? You should!

Linda C says:
26 August 2011

I have used Fairy for years, and over the last 6 months have thought several times that it isn’t as good as it used to be – I even changed back to the green stuff in case it was a problem with the different ones I’d been using – but it made no difference. I think the bubbles don’t last as long, but more importantly I don’t think it cleans grease and fat as effectively as it used to. I’m glad to find other peope (and Which!) agreeing with me! Time to switch brands – no Aldi near me unfortunately though.

27 August 2011

You might be interested to know that I am still using – one drop into the washing-up bowl once a day – the same bottle of Fairy that I started on 14 Nov 2002. Currently the level is at the base of the red “FAIRY”on the front. At this rate I reckon I will get 14years’ usage!

Hilary says:
27 August 2011

What can you say to that one?

I guess you don’t have much to wash up every day

Well done Michael!!

MarkA says:
28 August 2011

Coincidence that i found this page after searching “has fairy liquid got weaker”. I visit Aldi every now and then so will give theirs a go.

Michael, unless you’re literally only washing one teacup per day I can’t see how one drop can be enough to bind with the quantity of fat molecules in anyone’s washing-up. In fact I would stake a lifetimes supply of washing-up liquid that your dishes aren’t very clean and I wouldn’t want to eat at your house! I know someone who uses a similarly frugal amount (more than a drop but still not enough to create any suds in the bowl; and yes his plates are greasy with questionable bits on them. Sorry, there must be better ways for you to save money than to eek out a sub £1 bottle of detergent for 10 years.


I do agree that Michael’s homeopathic use of washing-up liquid is a bit extreme, but I use very little myself.

I rinse everything in hot water and then scrub it with a soapy dishcloth or soapy cleaning pad. Then I rinse it with hot water. A bottle of Fairy Liquid lasts many months. My glasses are ‘squeaky clean’, so there is no doubt that my dishwashing works well. It helps that I don’t have greasy plates, but that’s because I eat a low-fat diet.

Who needs suds? I don’t even use a bowl for washing up.

I use a lot of hot water and very little washing-up liquid. Maybe Fairy Liquid is not very toxic but I don’t like the idea of eating any of it.

BAMF says:
29 August 2011

What about the small of Aldi washingup liquid – this worries me.
I am an Aldi fan as is my daughter.

“homeopathic” indeed! I was thinking that after I posted; with one drop in a bowl of water per day, you may as well not be using any at all- he is in fact just washing his dishes in plain water.

Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that Michael is probably pulling our legs and having a good laugh about it?