Dishing up the dirt: A good, ol’ Mexican smackdown

Welcome new readers. If you found out about this blog from “On  the Road to Mexico,”  I’m honored and happy  that you want to follow our adventures. When I posted my blog on the group page,  I had no idea that so many of you would choose to subscribe.


Some of you fun and adventurous sorts tried to friend me on Facebook. As a rule, I only “friend” people I have met in person at some point in my life, so until our paths cross face-to-face, please simply follow along.  However, feel free to instant message me via Facebook or post comments on the blog itself. I’ll reply.

Let me dish up the news about dishes. Most Mexican houses are sans dishwashers. The place where we are dog-sitting for one more month (two weeks down, four more to go) doesn’t have one, nor will we have one when we move into our six-month casa in Zihuatanejo in October. Doing so many dishes by hand, I began to notice that the dish soap just wasn’t foaming up to par. I wanted a bubblefest, but it wasn’t happening.

Thinking it might be the water in Mexico, I  did some research and what I found out fascinated the pantalones off me! You don’t really need soapy water to have clean dishes. This whole soapy water thing is a ruse by the dishwashing detergent companies to get you to purchase more of their product!  If you need to keep using more liquid to foam things up, you are going to have to purchase more. Want to geek out and learn more about how foam is made?  Read this paper by esteemed professor D.D. Joseph from the University of Minnesota.

It turns out that the most important thing regarding cleaning dishes by hand is to get the food particles off the dishes and remove any leftover grease. Yes, your Bubbie would be a big help (you could be, say, watching “The Simpsons” in Espanol while she cleaned up everything). But your bubbles don’t really matter. Bubbles that are foamy, foamier or foamiest have nothing to do with the process.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Throw a bit of liquid on a sponge.
  2. Put the sponge into contact with your dish or plate (or whatever) and move it in a circular or back-and-forth motion. Your personal preference is fine. There is no official recomendation.
  3. Say goodbye to the gristly remains of Bubbie’s cherished Old Country meatloaf surprise.

Success is guaranteed with or without a festival of bubbles.

Or is it?  I was yearning for more information. The experience of having such little foaming action was terribly unsatisfying, and made me miss the good ol’ U.S. of A. perhaps just a little bit too much.

Then I remembered Mexican dishwashing soap paste! My mom introduced me to this awesome product during one of my early visits to Zihuatanejo, perhaps 18 years ago.

Imagine sponging onto your silverware, mugs, pots and pans a substance that’s half toothpaste, half drywall spackle. That’s dishwashing soap paste! It’s available in Mexico and in many other Latin American countries. I’ve even found it in some Mexican grocery stores in the Fruitvale, the heavily Latin American neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., our city of residence until, geez, was it really only 16 days ago?).

So I moseyed on over to Comercial Mexicana, our local (and huge) grocery store, and I bough me a tub.

Then I convened the Great Mexican Dishwashing Soap Smackdown.

And the winner is …

Axion (on the right, dressed in a stunning neon yellow).  No competition. I love the consistency, I love the foam factor, and I’m even growing to love the color.

Another consumer hooked!






5 thoughts on “Dishing up the dirt: A good, ol’ Mexican smackdown

  1. I’m not sure where you got your information about “pointless bubbles,” but it’s incorrect. If you want to get your dishes clean, you need a surfactant. Bubbles are a surfactant, reducing interfacial tension so the stuff slides off your dish. That’s why your paste won out over the less-bubbly Mexican dish soap, because grit also reduces interfacial tension. I really like the stuff, but careful what you use it on. It’s possible to clean *too much* when you’re using grit as your surfactant, no matter how gentle it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Shannon on being careful on what to use the paste on. There can always be too much of a good thing, even if it’s bubbles. But I sure do love dishwashing, so I’ll do your dishes when we visit. 🙂 Note I said I, not we. I’m sure Susan will be hanging at the beach with y’all…


  3. I just returned home from Costa Rica. We have plenty of Super Mercado’s where I live in central California but not one of them carries Axion or Lava or any of the other paste dishwashing products. Do you have any idea where I might look to find any? Online or elsewhere?


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