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Dishwasher woes with phosphate-free detergents? Try this...

Dirty-dishes Look familiar? Sink full of dirty dishes just waitin' to be loaded into the dishwasher! I confess, sometimes my dishes sit there for most of the day. And for a good reason. They need to soak.

Long before I became aware of the evils of phosphate-containing detergents, I'd buy stuff like Cascade. No joke, that stuff gets the job done. Every dirty old dish just can be stuck straight into the dishwasher, where the crust sits for days while we fill the dishwasher to capacity. Then I learned about phosphates -- wreaking havoc on ecosystems, the algae thriving, fish and the oxygen they need no where to be found.

I was distressed when I read this news item about residents of Spokane, Washington driving to Idaho to buy phosphate-containing dishwasher detergents. Grrrr! This makes me crazy: "Everybody does it." Or that they have to use the pots-and-pans cycle of the dishwasher to get the everyday dishes washed (which uses an extra 5 gallons of water). Arghhh!!!

So let me exercise a great deal of restraint. I will not go off about this, and get on a soapbox (pun intended). I will empathize. When I first switched from Cascade to Planet, I was discouraged. The dishes did not sparkle and shine as hoped. So we discussed dishwashing detergents that EnviroMom readers recommend. I've since tried Trader Joe's and BioKleen, and I think they are both fantastic.

Let me add that I've also changed my routine a bit. There's often some day-long soaking in the sink. At the end of the day, there's plenty of cold, dirty water in the sink to wet a sponge. So I take the wet sponge, and give the dishes a quick wipe. Then I load the dishwasher. Less crust. Easier to clean. No extra-scrubbing cycle necessary. No extra gallons of water. Easy-peasy. Dishes now come out sparkling and shiny every time. Phosphate free.

Quick aside. My 7-year-old just did this little homework assignment about changing places with someone for a day. She picked me. She said it would be fun because she wouldn't have to go to school and she could blog! So don't anyone burst her bubble and let her know about all the dishes... Of course, whether the kids witness me washing dishes on a daily basis or not, they are always watching. I hope they'll learn from the get-go that you don't have to use nasty chemicals and you don't have to let the water run. And most of all, that you don't have to drive across state lines to get the dishes clean.

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