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.