Skip to comments.Dishes Still Dirty? Blame Phosphate-Free Detergent
Posted on 12/23/2010 9:45:22 AM PST by lacrew
Is your dishwasher not working the way it used to? Earlier this year, with little fanfare, detergent makers reworked their formulas.
This was supposed to be good for waterways. But it turned a simple chore into a frustrating mystery for many people across the country.
A couple of months ago, Sandra Young from Vernon, Fla., started to notice that something was seriously amiss with her dishes.
"The pots and pans were gray, the aluminum was starting to turn black, the glasses had fingerprints and lip prints still on them, and they were starting to get this powdery look to them," Vernon says. "I'm like, oh, my goodness, my dishwasher must be dying; I better get a new dishwasher."
Young's not alone. Many people across the country are tearing out their hair over stained flatware, filmy glasses and ruined dishes.
Sue Wright from Austin, Texas, says for months her cups and glasses have been coming out of her year-old dishwasher covered with black specks. She called three repairmen to her kitchen, but her dishes were still dirty.
"I looked at a plumber's rear end for about two months this summer sticking out from under my sink," Wright says. "I was just totally frustrated. I couldn't figure out what was going wrong."
Finally, after months of aggravation and expense, Wright found out the real reason for her speckled cups: This summer, detergent makers took phosphates out of their detergents.
Seventeen states banned phosphates from dishwasher detergents because the chemical compounds also pollute lakes, bays and streams. They create algae blooms and starve fish of oxygen.
But dirty and damaged dishes are turning many people into skeptics, including Wright.
"I'm angry at the people who decided that phosphate was growing algae. I'm not sure that I believe that," Wright adds.
Sandra Young was so mad that she called Procter & Gamble, which makes Cascade, to complain. But when she did, a company representative told her to be more careful about which pans she puts into her dishwasher.
"He said, 'Well, if you're really having that hard of a problem, maybe you should wash your dishes by hand.' Which I thought was kind of strange for an automatic dishwashing company."
Susan Baba from Procter & Gamble says the company had no choice. It just wasn't feasible to make detergent with phosphates for some states and without them for others.
"You know, this isn't really a huge environmental win," she says.
That's because phosphates are wonder ingredients. They not only strip food and grease from dishes but also prevent crud from getting reattached during the wash. So she says without phosphates, people have to wash or rinse their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher, which wastes water. Or they run their dishwasher twice, which wastes electricity.
Dennis Griesing of the American Cleaning Institute, a trade group, says it could take time, but phosphate-free detergents will improve. That's what happened with laundry detergents after phosphates were removed from them years ago. He says these inconveniences are part of a bigger trend.
"We're going though a very significant readjustment in our lives to accommodate our ecological needs," Griesing says.
But not everyone is willing to adjust. Sandra Young figured out a way to undo the phosphate ban at least in her own kitchen.
She bought some trisodium phosphate at a hardware store and started mixing her own formula.
"It seems to be working pretty good," Young says.
Other people have given up on their machines altogether and are washing dishes by hand. But some are switching to other brands and making peace with phosphate-free detergents.
Some of the comments at the link humor me. So many people rely on the knowledge of the all-knowing 'they'; and, they are horrified that people would be selfish enough to want soap to actually clean.
Phosphorus causes algae blooms. Fine. So they pick an incredibly small source of it for banning? Ever wonder what the middle number on a bag of fertilizer means...its phosphorous content. Just a hunch, but I bet the biggest source of phosphorus in lakes and streams is from farming...but they'll probably ban that next.
Hmm, the dishwasher simply will not remove stuff from dishes and pots, in fact they then get baked on. So I have to either rinse before or after.
Anybody have details on how much tsp to add to your dishwasher detergent? Very interesting information.
How do you add TSP and how much?
I have been noticing that the dishes are not getting clean lately. I thought I needed a new dishwasher.
Been having the same problem with our dishwasher too.
Heading back to the health conditions of the middle ages.
Add me to the list of those who want to know how much tsp to put in the dishwasher! Help!
We bought a Maytag about 15 years ago and it never did do a good job on the dishes. Was always having to redo them. It died about 10 years ago so I’ve been washing the dishes by hand since them.
I guess I owe my super an apology, I have been complaining that my dishwasher sucXXXXXX
Did my thesis on my degree in Biology on the Chemistry of TriClorol Phosphates in soaps.
The environmentalist seemed to not know how much we depend on Phosphates to produce blooms in our sewer system. Not only does it clean our systems if managed properly but the fact is that most of our vitamins comes from blooms created with phosphates. The additional growth of algae produces healthy feed source for cattle and other animals.
This is incredible! I’ve had the repairman out twice and he tinkered around with the damn machine and NOTHING changed. Now I know the answer!
Please help us with this tsp thing. I’m going crazy with these awful-looking dishes.
LOL, it takes me about 5-10 minutes to wash the night dishes for the four of us, of course the dog does the prewash on them so that helps, I have never owned a dishwasher too much time and noise, they run for an hour.
ping for later
Octagon was my favorite handwashing dish detergent. Did a great job. It was discontinued and when I contacted the manufacturer they hemmed and hawwed about the reason. Now we have all these shiny clear detergents that look like LED christmas lights. Yuck. They do not do a good job either. Lots of money for soap manufacterers because people use more for less return.
I am looking for a homemade hand dishwashing soap recipe.
I installed a dishwashing sink recently. It is a two bowl sink with cast iron drainers on each side. Nice and one can actually do dishes and other projects without getting the counters soaked.
Ironically I am using the old dishwasher’s bottom rack as a dishrack on the sink drainer.
I’ve been saying it for years: the environmentalist idiots won’t be happy until we’re all dying of cholera.
Click the link in post #7. It leads to an FR thread with your answer. 1/2 tsp TSP.
Is it really safe to add your own tsp to a dishwasher? It is toxic if swalloed, and is sold as a paint cleaner. I realize the dishwasher rinses but still.
Stupid libs don’t even know where phosphates come from. Most I’ve seen come from bird droppings near rivers. How do they plan on getting it out of the eco system when that’s where it comes from?
Notice how far down you have to go to see WHY they did this.
We have coped by washing the dishes by hand.
I will go to Home Depot tomorrow!
Prices will sky-rocket on pre-ban Cascade.
I usually add 1-2 tablespoons of TSP to the soap dispenser in our dishwasher for a full load. How much could depend on the softness of your water, as our well goes through an osmosis type softener. The TSP makes a huge difference.
Just looked at a generic brand of phosphate containing powdered dishwasher shop. All kinds of “do not swallow” warning labels on it. I think the dishwasher is fine.
Landowner permits and duck stamps.
Daffy family Motto: *If it's brown it's down... if it flies it dies*
>>>>>>>>>>>> Is it really safe to add your own tsp to a dishwasher? It is toxic if swalloed, and is sold as a paint cleaner. I realize the dishwasher rinses but still.<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Easy solution...add one quarter cup vinegar to dishwasher... works wonders...NO TSPs
There’s TSP and then there’s TSP. Home Depot sells a brand called “TSP” but it does not contain TSP. You have the read the label to ensure it does contain TSP. Best place to get it is at paint stores.
There’s a great book out about the cholera epidemic in London during the 1850’s. Then too, they’re also killing us with malaria due to the DDT ban. Songbirds sing while women and children die.
Any thoughts on if that is save for human consumption, so to speak? Whether traces of tsp left on your dishes is ok?
I’ll get some today. I’ll start by adding a half teaspoon per load and see how that does. It has to be a small amount, because the pre packaged detergent gel packs are so small.
Guys, Americans focus on harsh chemicals to clean everything. The stuff your clothes detergent/softener/dryer sheet/dry cleaning chemicals has NEXT TO (and ENTERING) your skin and bloodstream could well give you cancer, Lou Gherig’s (sp?), and a host of chronic illnesses.
I lived in a European country that didn’t allow harsh chemicals or bleaches (I do not agree with such top-heavy gov’t control but just mentioning how I was forced to learn this healthy fact), and I learned the secret of how to wash clothes (and dishes) really, really well without harsh chemicals.
It’s HOT water! Very, very hot water. Sometimes BOILING. Most European made machines will do this. It’s your healthy alternative to the kinds of chemicals that you do not want in your body, through either your dishes OR your clothing. Our skin takes everything in that’s on it. So I am talking about stain-free laundry that your baby can chew on (my son DOES like to chew his shirt sleeves and I am so OK with it!), and a clean glass with no residual chem taste when you fill it with water.
Focus on a little clean, safe soap and tons of HOT HOT water.
Will this also help in laundry detergent?
How do I get this crud off my hands?
I wash my dishes in battery acid.
As far as I know, it just replaces the phosphate that was previously a part of the dishwasher soap and rinses off just fine - no problems here. We use it for extra dirty laundry also, maybe a quarter cup per load - hope that helps.
We noticed that the dishes weren’t as clean at our house too. At first we blamed the dishwasher. Now we know better.
Great......now I won’t be able to buy TSP anymore. I use it for everything. People will go to the hardware store and drive the price up 3 fold and then the EPA will ban it out right.
This Eco-Fecal freak sh!t is way out of hand.
How do you get the dishes in and out of those little holes?
Econuts are always harping on homeowners to use phosphate-free fertilizers.
Go get Monsanto and all the other huge factory farmers to stop using phosphates first, then come and talk to me.
Of course, the econuts are also the same groups of people that believe human population needs to be reduced by 5 billion from where we are now.
“This Eco-Fecal freak sh!t is way out of hand.”
The Eco-Commies would force our living standards down to the level of North Korea if we let them. My question is, how much abuse will Americans endure before they get physical? With so many unreliable Republicrats in Congress, traditional representative government isn’t functioning as it should.
I’ve been having trouble with our dishwasher. Started about 6 months ago. I switched over to a no-name brand and instantly had better performance (My state is not one of the states).
I’m going to have to check labels.
= = =
States instituting the rule include Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin
More unintended consequences from the envirowhackos.
I have to disagree with your statement about farmers using too much fertilizer. Perhaps, decades ago, yes, but costs these days are so high, a farmer will use only just what is necessary to do the job.
I think there are two other culprits.
1.) The average homeowner with a lawn—do they use the entire huge bage of fertilizer in one summer, when only a cup or so will do?
2.) The average diet of a human being, in most areas I suppose, is mostly grain based. This can make for a nitrogen rich feces, which is then flushed down the toilet, then treated at the local sewage plant, then released into the local waterway. I am not sure all of the nitrogen is recovered from the waste stream before being put back into the local waters.
Oddly enough, Young and Wright (the two consumers mentioned in the article) are from Florida and Texas, neither of which has banned phosphates.
They would do better by switching to local or no-name detergents that may contain phosphates.
I live in Florida. I just checked the no name detergent I bought at Publix, and it is proudly phosphate free.
We will outlive our Cascade supply. Then our son can decide whether to use it or sell it for maximum profit.
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