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IMPORTANT! June 2016 Note: Dawn Pro/Dawn Pro Manual Pot and Pan may have changed. See Dawn Manual Pot and Pan.
Dawn is a family of dishwashing liquids manufactured by Procter & Gamble (P&G) for sale in the U.S.A. The Dawn family are considered (along with P&G's Joy brand) the best detergents to use as the base of bubble juice. However, not all members of the family are considered of equal quality with respect to creating large soap bubbles.
While the various members of the family all contain the word Dawn in their name, the ingredients and characteristics of the various Dawn dishwashing liquids vary substantially. Currently (2013), there are quite a few different versions of Dawn being manufactured. Be sure to try a recommended version (see below) if available. If you find and like a version not listed here, please let us know in the comments or add it to this page.
Discontinued versions. There are some discontinued versions of Dawn that are much revered by bubblers. The original formulation has long been unavailable. The word 'original' found on packaging refers to the fragrance and not the actual detergent formulation. Dawn Non-Ultra seems to have stopped being manufactured in about 2010 or 2011 though bottles of it were sometimes available at so-called "dollar stores" in 2012. As of mid-2013, the real Dawn Non-Ultra seems to be unavailable from anywhere. Some online advertisers are selling non-concentrated Dawn as non-ultra, but they are not the same detergent. It is possible that there are remaining bottles of non-ultra out there, but you must take care that you are not purchasing the much inferior non-concentrated Dawn.
Dawn Family from a Bubbling PerspectiveEdit
Updated March 2015
Recommended versions: Dawn Manual Pot & Pan / Dawn Pro / Dawn Professional, Dawn Power Clean (WARNING--May 2015! we have received a report that the current version of Dawn Power Clean does not work as well as the version we tested in 2013), Dawn Pure Essentials. Dawn Pure Essentials may no longer be available. (UPDATE 11/15 Pure Essentials was found at a local Walmart) These versions of Dawn compare favorably with some dispute among reliable reporters as to which is best. If you can't find one of these versions, Dawn Platinum PowerClean and Dawn Ultra can make great bubbles, too. Stay away from non-concentrated Dawn if you can help it.
Dawn Pro and Dawn Manual Pot & Pan when found in gallon containers is typically much less expensive than the other versions of Dawn.
History. At one time, Non-Ultra Dawn (which is different from the non-concentrated versions of Dawn currently available) which was discontinued sometime in 2012 was the preferred version of Dawn. Since 2012, there seems to be a general consensus that Dawn Pro (sometimes labeled Dawn Professional or Dawn Manual Pot & Pan) performs better than other members of the Dawn family with Dawn PowerClean achieving performance that approaches Dawn Pro. Dawn Ultra is capable of creating nice bubbles, but the resulting bubbles tend to be more fragile. Some people feel that Dawn Pure Essentials outperforms Dawn Pro, but we have not been able to confirm this.
People who have had an opportunity to use the long-discontinued "Old Dawn" believe that it was far superior to any of the products currently available.
See also: [THIS SECTION NEEDS TO BE FILLED IN. It should contain each of currently available and recently discontinued Dawn formulations with notes about their characteristics.]
Dawn Pro / Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan DetergentEdit
Dawn Pro is also called Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan Detergent (sometimes abbreviated P&P). It is available at Smart & Final, Sam's Club, and many janitorial and restaurant supply stores. In some states, it is available to the public (at places like Smart&Final or Cash&Carry), in others it is only available through janitorial supply houses that do not sell to the public. It is available via the internet.
See also: Dawn Manual Pot and Pan article which includes ingredient information.
Dawn Power CleanEditDawn Power Clean came in three varieties (Summer 2013) all of which seem to work well. While it is not as widely available as Dawn Ultra, it is available in many supermarkets. It is quite a bit less viscous than Dawn Ultra and the consensus is that it performs much better than Dawn Ultra and is very close in performance to Dawn Pro. Dawn Platinum Power Clean seems to have replaced the original varieties (as of early 2015). Be sure that the Dawn Platinum bottle has the words power clean on it. There is another Dawn Platinum (called Erasing Foam) that is not suitable as it is the new name for what used to be called Dawn Direct Foam.
Dawn Ultra/Ultra DawnEdit
The most widely available version of Dawn, it can create nice bubbles but the bubbles seem to be not as strong or as easy to make as those created with Dawn Pro or Dawn PowerClean. But, if you cannot find those detergents, it will still make great bubbles.
This product line stopped being available between 2010-2011 with occasional bottles appearing as late as early 2012. It is not the same as Non-Concentrated Dawn which is vastly inferior for making bubbles.
|Classic Dawn Non-Ultra Labels 2010. Notice that 'Non-Ultra' appears only on the back label and only in teeny-tiny letters.|
Other Members of the Dawn FamilyEdit
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This section needs clean up -- it was copy/pasted from Ingredients and needs to be better integrated.)
- "Original Dawn" or "Truly classic" Dawn also called "Old Dawn". (No longer available). Many bubblers indicate that Dawn dish soap prior to the mid-1990's was far more effective than later formulations. It was a non-concentrated detergent.
- Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn (available at Walmart Sept 2010). Not recommended. There are rumors that it is no longer being manufactured but this has not been confirmed. It has been suggested that this is essentially a watered down version of Non-Ultra Dawn that has only about 35% of the surfactants as Non-Ultra Dawn. Recipes that call for Non-Ultra Dawn should be adjusted accordingly by increasing the amount of NCCD used and decreasing the amount of water used to dilute it. 16 ounces of NCCD are equivalent to about 5.5 ounces non-ultra dawn plus 11.5 ounces water.
- Non-Concentrated Dawn. Not recommended. Something called Non-Concentrated Dawn (no mention of Classic on the label) started appearing in September 2011 in place of Non-Ultra Dawn in those parts of the country where Non-Ultra Dawn was still available.
- Non-Ultra Dawn. (Classic Dawn Non-Ultra). [Unavailable as of late 2011/early 2012] This version of Dawn is not as widely available on retailer shelves (Sept. 2010) as the other currently manufactured versions of Dawn. It is widely considered to be the best of currently available versions of Dawn (Sept. 2010) for use in bubble solutions. It can be identified by the words "Non-ultra" which appear (in fairly small print) on the back label of the bottle. On the front of the label the words "Classic Dawn" appear. As of June 2010, it was available on the shelves of Dollar General stores and Family Dollar store and some other discount retailers. (Sept. 2010) It is available online through Procter & Gamble's online store pgestore.com. Sept. 2011: For the last several months, there have been reports that Non-Ultra Dawn has been replaced on store shelves in many locales by Non-Concentrated Dawn (no Classic mentioned on the label). It is not clear if this is the same as the Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn found in California (primarily/exclusively (?) at Walmart). July 2012: For some months, the real non-ultra dawn seems to be unavailable, even at the Dollar Stores where it could be found earlier in the year.
- Ultra Dawn. As of 2010, this is the most widely available version of Dawn. You can make nice bubbles with it, but it is generally considered inferior to Dawn Pro (also called Dawn Professional or Dawn Manual Pot & Pan) and the (as of late 2011) no-longer-available Non-Ultra Dawn.
- **Dawn Professional (Dawn Pro Manual Pot and Pan). As of 2011, this seems to be the preferred version of Dawn for making bubbles. This formula has been quite stable and appears to have changed either very little or not at all in many years. since its customer base is professional and needs a consistent product. NOTE (JULY 2012): Comparisons with similar recipes creating giant bubbles indicate that Dawn Pro is superior to Dawn Ultra (significantly so) in almost all regards. Dawn Ultra will work if you cannot find a better detergent, but it seems less able than Dawn Pro or Dawn Power Clean.
- Dawn Direct Foam. This is a very different detergent from the other Dawn's. While containing a powerful surfactant, DDF (as it is called) does not work well on its own for large bubbles; however, a leading giant bubble maker (Brian Lawrence) is a fan of DDF as a performance booster when used with Dawn Pro as in this recipe.
- Dawn Complete
- **Dawn Power Clean. (Added summer 2012). This is a fairly new addition to the Dawn line. It is less viscous than Dawn Ultra but more viscous than Dawn Pro. In preliminary tests, it seems to be much more effective than Dawn Ultra. WIth a guar-based bubble juice, the Dawn Power Clean created longer tubes and created longer-lasting large bubbles than the same recipe brewed with Dawn Ultra. Quite a few people have reported that Dawn PowerClean's performance is very close to Dawn Pro's though Dawn PowerClean is quite a bit more expensive than Dawn Pro. Dawn PowerClean is more widely available than Dawn Pro as it is found in many supermarkets.
P&G introduced Dawn in 1973 . There have been several significant re-formulations since then. The original formulation ("Old Dawn") is considered to have been extraordinary for creating soap bubble mixes. It needed very little amendment (other than the addition of some glycerine and water) to create great soap bubbles. In 1996, Procter & Gamble took "Old Dawn" off the market and replaced it with a concentrated diswashing liquid called Ultra Dawn. A year later, P&G released Non-Ultra Dawn as a low-cost alternative to Ultra Dawn. Non-Ultra Dawn is considered superior to Ultra Dawn from a bubbler's perspective but is considered inferior to "Old Dawn". In 2006, Non-Ultra Dawn was renamed "Classic Dawn" but retained the words "Non-Ultra" in small print on the back of the label. (Classic Dawn Non-Ultra and Non-Ultra appear to be the same formulation with different names and packaging). In 2008 or 2009, Procter & Gamble released a new version of Dawn called Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn which is significantly more dilute than the two "Non-Ultra" formulations and may differ from the Non-Ultra versions in other ways as well. In late 2010, bottles labelled Non-Concentrated Dawn began appearing on the East Coast. The packaging is similar to Non-Ultra Dawn. It is unclear whether this is simply a rebranding of Non-Ultra Dawn (or Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn) or a new formulation.
At some point, P&G introduced Dawn Pro Manual Pot & Pan detergent for the institutional (restaurant and food service) and janitorial markets. It is considered the closest to Non-Ultra Dawn of the currently available (as of Sept. 2010) Dawn formulations. The timeline is unclear, but it appears that Dawn Pro was introduced before either Non-Ultra Dawn or Ultra Dawn, though the date of introduction is unclear.
In recent years, the Dawn Ultra brand has flourished and spawned many sub-brands which seem all based on the same Ultra formulation. In 2005, Dawn Direct Foam was introduced. It is substantially different from the other Dawn dishwashing liquids and seems based on entirely different surfactants and additives. Some bubblers (as of 2010) believe that it holds great promise as either a primary or secondary ingredient in bubble juice for creating giant bubbles.
The patent for "Old Dawn" 
The patents cited on bottles of Ultra Dawn include the patents cited above for "Non- Ultra Dawn" as well as 5,415,814
[previous number needs to be double-checked] 6,573,234 and D540,680 and D555,003
- The patents beginning with D are for the design of the bottle. Particularly, the form of the 'swirl' on the Dawn bottles. (SL)
The patents cited on Dawn Direct Foam are those cited for Non-Ultra Dawn plus 6,573,234 [also cited for Ultra Dawn] and D528,416
- Again, the patent D528416 has to do with package design. Particularly, the shape of the cap on Dawn Direct Foam. (SL)
Related article on SBF 
Links of InterestEdit
Dawn Product Locator on the Procter & Gamble site. This might be useful Its reliability has not been confirmed. Note that it does not list all of the types of Dawn that one actually finds on store shelves.
Much of the information on this page provided by Brian Lawrence of SBF, the Soap Bubble Fanciers Yahoo Group