Phosphates Are Now Prohibited in 16 States
Phosphates in dishwasher detergents do improve dishwashing performance. However, phosphates are bad for marine life in water, as they negatively impact the growth of algae in water.
Given that environmental impact, a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents took effect in July 2010, in 16 states: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The law limits the phosphate level to 0.5 percent, down from up to 8.7 percent previously. Commercial dishwashing products are not affected by the ban, and limits on the phosphorus level of laundry detergents, have been around since 1994.
The good news is that consumers in these states can purchase newly introduced detergents, that according to consumers guide magazine do a good job of cleaning without phosphorus based detergents. Cascade Complete All In 1 pacs (28 cents per load), Ecover tablets (27 cents), Finish Powerball Tabs tablets (22 cents), and Method Smarty Dish tablets (21 cents). The September 10th 2010 edition of consumer reports gives testing results.
To help your dishwasher perform at its best and keep your items from getting damaged, use the loading tips here. And remember, hard water can affect how well your dishwasher cleans.
1. Load large items at the sides and back of the dishwasher, so that they don't block water and detergent from reaching other dishes.
2. Place the dirtier side of dishes toward the center of the machine to provide more exposure to the spray. Don't let dishes or utensils nest, or rest side by side, which can prevent water from reaching all surfaces.
3. Use the top rack for plastic and delicate items that are dishwasher safe.
4. Rest glassware on prongs to prevent breakage. And to prevent chipping, make sure that china, crystal, and stemware don't touch other items. Don't “machine-wash” brass, bronze, cast iron, disposable plastics, gold-colored flatware, gold-leaf china, hollow-handle knives, pewter, tin, or anything made of wood or with a wood handle.
5. Load silverware with handles down but place knives with the handles up. If your dishwasher has an open basket, mix spoons, forks, and knives to prevent them from sticking together.
6. Place items with baked-on food facedown and toward the sprayer in the bottom rack. Some newer machines have special spray jets for cleaning heavily-soiled items. Check the owner's manual for specifics on how to place items in the dishwasher.