Skip to comments.Environmentalists: Hands Off My Dishes!
Posted on 01/25/2011 6:41:58 AM PST by Kaslin
I began noticing the white coating, dull film, and simply unclean dishes a few weeks ago. Naturally, I suspected that other members of my clan were failing to place dishes on the racks of the dishwasher properly. "If the water can't reach it, it won't get clean," I lectured (not, ahem, for the first time), ostentatiously removing a small bowl that had been slipped under a larger one, no doubt by a person who clings to the discredited idea that dishwashers should be loaded to the gills. And those little separators in the utensil caddy -- they are there for a reason, gentlemen!
But the crisis persisted. And, as the days passed, it became clear that the matter was beyond poor placement. Bits of spaghetti, stiff and stubborn, stuck like stalactites to bowls. The walls and doors of the machine emerged waxy and coated from each wash, in contrast to the gleaming surfaces of the past. Between the tines of forks, ugly bits of hardened remains resembled something you'd see on "NCIS" -- if not quite repellent, then certainly unwelcome from what should have been a disinfected, pristine dishwasher!
I switched brands of dishwashing liquid. No change. Topped off the rinse aid reservoir. No change. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the thought of buying a new machine flitted through my consciousness. Sparkling, squeaky-clean dishes are a necessary part of our quality of life! But our dishwasher is only three years old.
And then I learned that I don't have a personal problem. I have a political problem. Jonathan V. Last of The Weekly Standard explains that, all across the nation, innocent Americans are grappling with the identical scourge. Our dishwashers are fine. The reason our dishes are dirty is that the environmentalists have succeeded in banning phosphates from dishwashing soap.
Until recently, dishwashing soap contained about 8 percent elemental phosphorus. That's the magic element that "strips food and grease off dirty dishes and breaks down calcium-based stains." It also prevents food from reattaching to the dishes.
Or used to. As of July 2010, the nation's detergent manufacturers, bowing to laws regulating phosphorus in 17 states, reconfigured the formula for all dishwashing soap to contain less than 0.5 percent phosphorus. It's taken till now for most of us to notice, as we used up the old (the wonderful old) soap and unwittingly made the switch.
Environmentalists argue that phosphorus winds up in our lakes and streams, causing algae blooms, which in turn reduce the oxygen available for other life. They admit that the amount of phosphorus coming from dishwasher soap is small, but, according to Jani Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the Department of Ecology in Washington State, "Anything we can do is good."
Well, hang on. According to a 2003 Minnesota study, only 1.9 percent of the phosphorus in that state came from dishwashing detergent. And even The New York Times acknowledges that fertilizer and manure are the big culprits, with dishwashing soap contributing only "a fraction" of phosphates in the water.
Besides, removing phosphorus has other environmental consequences. People may run their dishwashers twice (guilty), causing more greenhouse gases to be created, or they may hand-wash their dishes using more hot water than machines do (there are studies that show that hand-washers tend to run the hot water too long -- really).
This stealth attack on our dishes happened with little public debate. If there really is a serious problem with phosphates in our rivers and streams (and from my quick inquiries, it seems to vary considerably around the nation), then voters should be offered alternatives. We can reduce our use of lawn fertilizers, for example. I'd prefer a yellow lawn to grimy dishes if it came to that.
But I need to be convinced. Remember those compact fluorescent light bulbs that were supposed to save billions of kilowatts of energy? California was an early adopter and is spending $548 million over seven years to subsidize the sale of the bulbs (the rest of us will see incandescent bulbs disappear from shelves by 2014). But now it seems the CFL bulbs don't last 9.4 years -- more like 6.3. They don't work well when they're cold. They're very expensive. They cast a garish light. And if they break, you have to don a Hazmat suit to dispose of them. Meanwhile, LED lights are coming on fast, making the whole CFL thing seem as fresh as pet rocks.
In other words, environmentalists may not know what they're talking about. In any case, something as intimate and critical as the cleanliness of our dishes ought not to be decided through stealth or back-room deals. Arise! A cascade of complaints -- to the companies and to governments -- is our best hope
Note: We were forced to introduce low volume flush toilets two years ago but the powers that be didn’t increase the slope of the main piping system. The flushing action has been acceptable but not great.
For the last year I have been pouring 5 gallons of boiling water down the drain every week followed 10 minutes later by 4 or 5 flushes. That seemed to clean out any deposits that the low flow rate didn’t carry away.
A teaspoon of lime juice will cut the old deposits that have built up. 1/2 tsp after will keep everything clean.
We use the following mixture:
1 lb. Finish Glass Magic mixed with 1 1/2 lb. Cascade Complete. Mix well.
We add 1oz. of mix to detergent compartment plus we add 1/2oz. of Finish Glass Magic to the tub.
BTW: Phosphates are ONLY outlawed in HOME products - Cascade makes a terrific COMMERCIAL product that has phosphates. Alas, we cannot purchase it locally, shipping is expensive.
We ARE very happy with our solution.
So they sell you ‘phosphate’ with no phosphate in it??
I asked one of the Ace employees I trust about TSP without phosphate, he replied: ‘Oh, your WANT phosphate. TSP doesn't have any, but I think I can order some for you.’
Current TSP concoctions use acid to replace the phosphate.
Sam’s Club sells a no-name brand (in a green bottle) that has the normal level of phosphates in it.
Or at least it doesn’t say that it is phosphate-free and when I switched from Cascade to this no-name brand my dishes were clean again. Night and day difference.
Just use paper products or plasticware and throw everything away.
That will solve the dishwasher problem (but probably not what enviromentalists envisioned).
More like DO NOT know what they're talking about!
I remember also when washing detergent contained phosphates and your whites got whiter and the entire laundry cleaner. Things changed and now you have to add other products to get them clean and bright
From someone I know who is working on a PhD in biology in the fauna of the Cheaspeake Bay waters, I got to say that non point source phosphate pollution in that watershed is now the number one pollutant in the region, right behind it is the point source phosphate from agriculture...
Between suburban lawn fertilizer and phosphates from the prior concoction of dishwater detergent, it was killing huge swathes of the Cheasapeake Bay.
Took scientists over 20 years of research to come to widely tested and accepted conclusions about phosphate and nitrogen levels in the Bay.
To the point, if you like to eat seafood caught off American shores, the easiest way for average Americans to maintain water quality in the tributaries and nurseries for seafood is to avoid phosphates in the kitchen and the yard.
I’ve switched over to colored glass in the kitchen, if you can’t see the spots it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of food and beverage.
Oh, I think they know what they are talking about. They're just hoping WE don't know what they are talking about.
I noticed the film and grubby dishes too. And the 1/4tsp. of TSP makes a world of difference.
We’re scrapers here because we have a septic tank, so they’re not excessively dirty when we put them in the dishwasher. There was no excuse for how lousy job the reformulated stuff was doing other than for the absence of TSP.
So I put it back in.
I used FINISH the last few weeks and just threw out half the box. I honestly assessed it at the worst cleaner I’ve ever seen attempt to clean!
The packet didn’t dissolve and they didn’t make anything clean at all.
I’ve gone back to the Cascade packets and they don’t work like they used to so now I’ll be adding in the phosphate from the hardware store.
You DON'T want to do that. Trust me.
My husband accidentally plumbed our toilet that way once. The hot water will eventually melt the wax ring and...I'll be honest...the "steam effect" makes an extended stay on the toilet a very fragrant experience. And it makes your butt sweat.
That’s freakin’ crazy, I’ve been dealing with the same thing, and our glass have a white film all over them, they look terrible, anybody else notice this?
Added TSP as a keyword.
I bought some for Mrs R2 in December after reading up on it.
Advice: BE VERY CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT. 1/4 teaspoon is all you need. But use it.
Wow. The first useful thing that Mona Charen has written in quite a while! The fact that it’s merely about detergent should not detract from its contribution, however minute.
Oh God! I didn’t even think of that.
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