Make the Shift: Phosphate-Free Dish Detergent

Phosphates were once widely used in laundry detergents. Due to their deteriorating impact on water quality (too much phosphorus creates suffocating algae blooms), the Federal government limited phosphorus content to 5% by weight in the 1970s. But guess what? There’s no restriction on the phosphorus content of diswashing detergents, which may contain as much as 30 or 40% phosphorus.

Some manufacturers claim phosphates help get dishes cleaner. In tests conducted by Consumer Reports, it appears that enzymes actually pack the cleaning punch in the most effective dishwashing detergents.

These four phosphate-free, enzyme-containing brands were tested by Consumer Reports; all performed well.

You can find Seventh Generation, Ecover and Method in most Whole Foods stores; Method products are also available in Target. Trader Joe’s products are sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores. If you don’t see any of these brands where your regularly shop, you have a few other options:

* order online

*ask your store manager to order the brand into the store for you

*read labels of two or three brands you’re inclined to buy from what’s on the shelf; choose the option with the lowest phosphorus content.

169auto_dish_powder Seventh Generation

Trader Joe’s



3 Responses to Make the Shift: Phosphate-Free Dish Detergent

  1. Mary Clare Hunt August 26, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Thanks for the reminder. I shop at Trader Joe’s often and will SHIFT with the next shopping day. I’ll have to add that to my $1000 swap out promise. So far my new buying behavior includes UDSA Organic cereal, coffee and soy milk. I’m betting that if I swap out all cleaning supplies, that I’ll make hit $1000 without even trying.

  2. Gina Jannuzzi July 3, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    I have been told time and time again that Phosphate Free Dishwashing Detergent doesn’t work. I finally decided to try it for myself, especially since the people telling me it doesn’t work only heard other people saying it and never tried it out… Well, I bought Cascade with Baking Soda, Phosphate Free – and it WORKS GREAT!! Just as well as the fish killer kind. I am sold!!

  3. Amanda September 28, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    I recently noticed that my dishes are not only dirtier coming out of the dishwasher, but my cookie sheets/jelly roll pans are turning black and then I found out about how my detergent has recently become phosphate free. Clearly, it results in a poor performing detergent.

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