IMPORTANT! June 2017 Note: Dawn Pro/Dawn Pro Manual Pot and Pan may have changed for the worse. See article Dawn Manual Pot and Pan. We currently recommend that you try Dawn Ultra, Dawn Platinum and Dawn Pro -- and please let us know which gives you the best results. While Dawn Pro was the clear preference for many years, there are some that feel that the 'new' Dawn Pro may no longer be a superior product--this is not the consensus opinion. (August 2017: the consensus seems to be that Dawn Pro has not changed for the worse but we continue to evaluate).
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
Past versions of our recommendations can be found here. Several previously recommended versions have been either discontinued or reformulated -- possibly for the worse Updated June 2017.
Help us with this section by contributing comments about your experience in the talk/comments section at the very bottom of the page.
Recommended (and possibly) versions:
- pre-2016 Dawn Professional / Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan. When you see Dawn Pro mentioned on the Wiki, it generally refers to this version of the detergent. Sometime in late 2015 or in 2016, the detergent was reformulated. What is on the store shelves now (June 2017) is not the same detergent. (See below)
- 2017 Dawn Professional / Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan. We are currently re-evaluating our recommendation. A number of people have reported very poor results when compared to the results that they get with Dawn Ultra (3x) or Dawn Platinum (2017 versions). August 2017: Most respondents to our surveys and our own tests seem to indicate that the current Dawn Pro (both the one labeled Manual Pot and Pan and the other one) perform similarly to the old version. Only a very small number of people feel that there has been a significant difference in performance. We are continuing to evaluate to see if there is something different that only affects some people (for as yet unknown reasons) or if the issues that people are having are being misattributed to the detergent. Sept. 2017: having performed many sessions with 2015 and 2017 Dawn Pro in the same session, I feel that the current version is comparable to the old version. Most people that have reported have reported similar findings. I am at a loss to explain the small handful of reports from people that find it unsatisfactory. IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM: try Dawn Ultra 3x (but use 2/3 as much Ultra 3x as you would Dawn Pro) or Dawn Platinum 4x (use the same amount of Platinum 4x as you would Dawn Pro).
- Dawn Ultra (3x) (2017). A number of people are reporting favorable results with the current Dawn Ultra 3x compared to the current Dawn Pro. August 2017: Edward's initial evaluation is that Ultra 3x works very well and that less of it needs to be used compared to Dawn Pro. Based on an August 12, 2017 evaluation, Edward estimates that Ultra 3x's surfactancy is about 1.5 times Dawn Pro's--perhaps ever so slightly less. So, use two-thirds the amount of Dawn Ultra 3x as you would Dawn Pro. Or, if you think about it in terms of dilution, the dilution ratio for Ultra 3x would be about 1.5 times Dawn Pro's. For instance, if you like Dawn Pro at 20:1, use Dawn Ultra 3x at 30:1. Dawn Ultra 3x seems to be more effective than Dawn Ultra 2x (which seems to be the same as the pre-2016 Dawn Ultra). Enter "Ultra 3x" in the search bar for blog posts related to Dawn Ultra 3x. ph-Adjustment note: Dawn Ultra 3x may require a different amount of pH-adjuster than Dawn Pro or Dawn Ultra 2x.
- Dawn Platinum (4x) (not Dawn Platinum Erasing foam). (Note 2017) a number of reports have come in from people that have used the current Dawn Pro, Dawn Ultra and Dawn Platinum and they find Platinum to be their preference. We haven't done any tests yet here on the Wiki. Apparently, the official name is Dawn Platinum Power Clean but Power Clean does not appear on the label. The label now (June 2017) has a 4x on it. It is unclear whether this '4x' version is different from the previous '3x' version. Edward performed a brief test on Sept. 7, 2017 comparing it to Dawn Pro (Manual Pot and Pan) and found the two detergents to perform similarly on that occasion. A blog post is found here. However, the conditions were such that it would be a mistake to draw many conclusions from this single session. Others have reported favorable results in recent weeks. Sept 2017: this works well. I haven't done enough sessions to have a definitive opinion about where this ranks in my preferences, but it definitely works well.
Note June 2017: Brian Lawrence recommends boosting the current Dawn Pro with some Dawn Erasing Foam. He creates a detergent base that is 8 parts Dawn Pro and 1 part Dawn Erasing Foam.
June 2017: The history section has been moved to Dawn Recommendation History.
Other Members of the Dawn FamilyEdit
- Dawn Simply Clean/Non-Concentrated Dawn (not recommended). This member of the Dawn family has half the surfactant concentration as Dawn Pro and Dawn Ultra. Even when you account for the lower concentration, the resulting bubble juice is inferior to that made with the full-concentration members of the Dawn family according to many bubblers, and we agree with that assessment.
- "Non-ultra Dawn" (2017). You may find references here and on SBF to Non-Ultra Dawn. This generally refers to a long discontinued (pre-2012) version of Dawn that is unrelated to the Non-Concentrated Dawn variations release after that.
- Dawn Erasing Foam (formerly called Dawn Direct Foam). This is a very different detergent from the other Dawn's. While containing a powerful surfactant, it does not work well on its own for large bubbles; however, a leading giant bubble maker (Brian Lawrence) is a fan of Dawn Erasing Foam (which is sometimes here referred to as DDF in spite of the name change) as a performance booster when used with Dawn Pro as in this recipe. It can be very effective for making 'small bubble mixes'.
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 labeled 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.
2016: Dawn Pro (Dawn Professional and Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan Detergent) seems to have been re-formulated.
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