Phosphates are a concern in consumer products because when they end up in streams, lakes and rivers (they aren’t easily removed in waste water treatment plants), they promote the growth of algae, which sucks up oxygen, stealing it from other animals and organisms in the water.
Phosphates in detergents tie up water hardness minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium) so the minerals won’t interfere with cleaning or deposits on surfaces. Phosphates also help keep food soil particles in suspension after removal from the soiled surfaces and prevent their redeposition.
Residents say that the greener alternatives – Seventh Generation, Ecover, Palmolive Eco+ and Trader Joe’s, – just don’t clean as well.
The Washington Lake Protection Association thinks part of the problem may be the hard water and is encouraging consumers to install water softeners.
Here’s a few highly rated phosphate-free detergents that may do the job.
Bi-o-Kleen Automatic Dish Soap
“A phosphate-free alternative with natural corrosion fighters that requires no pre-washing of dishes.”
Method “SmartyDish” Dishwasher Cubes
No toxic chemicals, no bleach, no phosphates just naturally derived biodegradable ingredients in pre-measured tabs.