One of the latest battles between civilization and the environment is happening in our dishwashers. Historically, phosphates have been a main ingredient of dishwasher detergents. Called “builders,” they improve the detergent’s ability to clean. Areas with “hard” water have considered phosphate-added dishwasher detergents to be especially important.

Several months ago, 17 states banned the use of phosphates in dish washing detergents. Not willing to produce separate formulas to sell in different states, the manufacturers began making only phosphate-free products.

Suddenly, dishwashing detergents weren’t cleaning as well as they had been. Lipstick stains and fingerprints were remaining on dishes after the wash cycle. Pots and pans became dingy. Aluminum utensils began to turn black.

People called plumbers and repairmen only to find that there was no equipment or plumbing problem. The changes were entirely due to the removal of phosphates from the dish washing detergents.

This situation has housewives across the country screaming foul. Some have called the manufacturers to complain. But the manufacturers have no choice. The law no longer allows them to use phosphates in their products.

Some people do not believe the claims that phosphates are destroying our waterways and depriving sea life of oxygen. Some say that without phosphates, they are forced to wash dishes twice, wasting water and negating at least part of the good.

In time, manufacturers will devise a way to make their products more effective without phosphates. Until then, phosphate-free detergents are the only game in town.

What do you think?