Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Are your clean dishes still dirty?
The new phosphate ban is affecting the common grocery brands cleaning performance. Below is a good article explaining what has people calling the repair man and so frustrated with their dirty dishes.
Our 2-in-1 Dish Detergent is formulated with cleaning enzymes which remove food, grease and the elements which counter balances the phosphates and petrochemicals. They are expensive ingredients which is why they are not found in the common grocery brands or other natural products. We recommend adding some Scented Vinegar for extra sparkly glassware. Adding All-Purpose Bleach Alternative is great if you have really hard water, super caked-on pots/pans and filmy issues you are trying to rid of.
Why your dishes won't come clean anymore
By: Richard Mullins
Originally Published: January 25, 2011 via scnow.com
Charles Yezak keeps a secret stash hidden in the kitchen. He can't buy any more. It's illegal in many states now. So he only dips into his stockpile on special occasions. Not fine wine. Not Cuban cigars. It's dish detergent. Not just any dish detergent.
"This is the stockpile I bought before the changeover," Yezak confesses with a hushed voice while shopping the cleaning supply aisle at a Walmart Neighborhood store in Tampa. "It actually works – not like the new stuff."
Turns out, they really don't make dish detergent like they used to. And that's causing something of a disaster for everyone who gets stuck doing the dishes. It began last July when Cascade and most other detergent brands eliminated a key ingredient from their formulas, phosphate. Now people are finding their dishes covered in a white gunk that just won't come off, and some are tossing out sets of dishes and replacing their dishwashers – only to find the gunk appear again in a few days. PTA meetings, cul-du-sacs and soccer practice fields are abuzz with the calamity, and sales are skyrocketing of any product that promises to fix the problem.
Phosphates work fabulously in dish detergent, experts say, helping soap break up grease and suspending the naturally occurring minerals found in hard water so the minerals flush away. Unfortunately, phosphate is also a wonderful fertilizer for agriculture. That means every load of dishes also poured phosphates into the drain water, ultimately reaching lakes and oceans and encouraging huge algae blooms that plagued sea life.
With that in mind, detergent companies years ago eliminated phosphates from laundry detergents. Last July, 16 states jumped on board and banned phosphates in dish detergent. Even though Florida didn't join the ban, it must use phosphate-free detergent since manufacturers eliminated the substance in all their products. Shortly thereafter, consumers began to notice.
"Holy cow, we got bombarded, our phone literally rang off the hook with calls," said Don DiChristopher, owner of A DiChristopher Appliance Service. Hundreds of calls came in. "We started turning down repair calls." DiChristopher sent technicians out to frustrated customers who had already thrown out several sets of dishes or replaced their machines altogether. Technicians tore the machines apart, but couldn't find anything broken. Tracy Urso of Westchase assumed the problem was her old washer, and bought a new, high-end appliance. "But," she said, "our glasses were not much better." On Cascade's own online forum, one customer vented. "I had 20 guests in my home from a wedding, and was embarrassed with glasses, dishes, pans and silverware, all covered with white film." Another consumer posted "Cascade is ruining my silverware and coffee cups – huge residue. FIX IT!!!"
That white film on dishes is mainly made up of magnesium, calcium and aluminum – the elements that help make water "hard." The stains don't easily rub off, even with soap. Over time, that gunk can build up in dishwashers, DiChristopher said, clogging motors, sprayers and bearings. Given enough time, a dishwasher can become useless. While those minerals are common in many foods, Cascade officials published an online FAQ about the problem and said "we always recommend that consumers wash any residue on dishes before using them again." In other words, rewash the dishes you just washed.
The special irony for Florida is that this state is one of the world's largest producers of phosphates, primarily for agriculture fertilizer. Agriculture, construction and water treatment centers are the biggest users of phosphates. While Cascade officials say dishwashing represents just 3 percent of the phosphate in the environment, "Cascade is doing its part," and removing it. All this has triggered a bonanza in sales of any product or home remedy that promises to remove the gunk.
Sales of higher-end dish detergents are up, in particular eco-friendly, alternate or "complete" versions that come in a small "puck" of hard powder with a bubble of liquid shine enhancer. Electrosol Jet Dry Powerball soap sales rose 22 percent from last year, according to market researcher SymphonyIRI. Cascade "Complete" sales rose 30 percent. Method "Smarty" detergent sales rose 54 percent. The home-spun solution of white vinegar is also taking off. While DiChristopher considers it a myth, homeowners like Urso now religiously pour a cup into each wash cycle. Store-brand vinegar sales are up three percent from last year, while sales of Heinz-brand vinegar are up more than three percent. Stores like Target and Walmart are expanding shelf space for gallon-sized jugs of vinegar. Sales of Finish-brand detergent have taken off as well, notably after Consumer Reports magazine recommended it in tests of phosphate-free detergents.
However, the rising star of this new gunk-removing bonanza is "Lemi Shine." The Midland, Tex.-based company was relatively low-profile until last year, selling small bottles of granulated citric acid with a lemony smell – primarily to help in cities with especially hard water. The 20-employee Envirocon Technologies Inc. that makes Lemi Shine is producing at a breakneck pace, said spokesman Marty Hammond. Nationwide, Lemi Shine shipments are up 80 percent from last year according to IRI, and "our business has doubled in the Florida market." Dishwasher repair companies now tell anyone with a cleaning issue to first try Lemi Shine.
Detergent companies aren't likely to go back to including phosphates unless current laws change.
But in another layer of irony, the phosphate ban doesn't apply to commercial facilities like restaurants or hotels, so bulk packages of detergent are available at supply companies. Restaurant Depot in Tampa sells a box of professional detergent with phosphate, for $7.95, or a case of six boxes for $45.31. Some distributors still sell phosphate detergent on eBay. Meanwhile, Target, Walmart and Publix have started devoting more space to alternate detergents, and Lemi Shine and Finish-brand detergents are among the leaders in that growth, said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten.
Here's what you can do if you're stuck doing the dishes…
Don't replace your dishwasher. And don't bother trying to scrub your dishwasher or call a repair technician. The next wash cycle will put the gunk back on your dishes.
Hot water helps. Since your washer probably gets water from your sink supply, run the sink faucet as hot as possible before starting your machine.
Many consumers swear by the little-known Lemi Shine dissolves residue. And appliance technicians say it can fix "etched" glasses and dishes that seem hopeless. Sales of Lemi Shine have doubled in Florida. Walmart sells a bottle for $3.77 that lasts 18 cycles.
Some consumers swear by white vinegar, and some detergent makers recommend it. Put a cup or bowl right-side up in the bottom rack, and run a normal cycle, and another cycle to wash the vinegar out. Other consumers pour vinegar into every load.
Upper-tier products work better, according to Consumer Reports, but not as well as old formulas. The magazine recommends Finish Quantum tablets, Finish All-in-1 Powerball tabs, Cascade Complete All-in-1 Action Pacs and Cascade with Dawn Action Pacs.
Buy a water softener. Appliance repair technicians say the white gunk only appears in homes with a hard water issue.
Some eBay sellers are offering detergent with phosphates. And some restaurant supply companies still sell that variety.