Phosphates. . .We’re gonna miss ya! Signed: Your Dishwasher


A beautiful image sent by our customer Mr. Forbes while visiting Portland

Phunnies: A mathematician, an accountant, and an economist are applying for the same job.  The HR person asked the mathematician “What does three plus three equal?”.  The mathematician answered “Six”.  The same question was asked of the accountant, who answered “On average, six, give or take a few percentage points.”  Of course, the interviewer also asked the economist “What does three plus three equal?”.  The economist got up and walked over the the interviewer. He whispered in the interviewer’s ear “What do you want it to equal?” Phacts and Philosophy: Without much fanfare, in the summer of 2010, phosphates were removed from dishwasher detergents.  Particularly with the hard water we have on the Central Coast, many people are experiencing poor  washing results with their dishwashers.   This all started in Washington state, who instituted the phosphate ban in order to save fish.  You see, phosphates, after they go down the drain, are dumped into bodies of water.  Unfortunately, they provide the perfect environment for the growth of algae blooms, which prosper and use up the available oxygen in the water, killing the fish populations.  As of now, there are 17 states(I think) that ban phosphates.   If you remember the fairly recent “dead fish incident”  in Redondo Beach, California, tons of fish were found dead in the harbor.  It was thought to be caused by just this type of algae bloom. So, what does this mean to you?  Well, first of all, you are already used to “No Phosphates”.  That’s right, many years ago they were banned from clothes washing detergents.  This tidbit may not not help your dishwashing performance; I just wanted you to know that eventually this won’t be a big deal. The most important item in any dishwasher doing a good job hasn’t changed. . .it’s water temperature.   One problem with that is when there are children in the house.  Many parents turn the heat down on the water heater to prevent scalding.  This may be great for the kids. . .not so much for the dishwasher.  Most of the codes recommend outlet hot water temperature not to exceed 120 degrees.  Dishwasher manufacturers would like to see closer to 140 degrees.  Moms want 110 degrees. First, what is your hot water temperature now?  Most people don’t have thermometers handy, but a good rule of thumb for getting close to 120 degrees is that once the water at the sink is hot, you should be able to stick your hand under it, but not be able to keep it there for more than a few seconds.  I just did that test at my kitchen sink, and it seemed plenty hot.  I then checked the actual temperature (because, of course, I have one of those handy thermometers) and it was 119 degrees. So what do we do to counter the lack of phosphates?  First, run the hot water at your sink faucet until it is hot, before you turn on the dishwasher.  Second, don’t run the dishwasher right after or during the time that you are using the washing machine or taking showers.  Third has to do with dishwasher detergents.  Just like with clothes washing detergents, the major manufacturers spend a lot of money on researching the right formulas that will work with our new energy saving appliances.  It’s not just hype.  In fact, most consumer surveys on this subject show that the Finish and Cascade brands in the little packets do the best job.   And last, you will need to monthly (or more often) clean the inner workings of your dishwasher.  You can use white vinegar or any of a number of products, many of which are citrus based.  Simply run the dishwasher (empty of dishes) with the cleaner of your choice. Be patient.  It won’t take too long for the soap manufacturers to get the optimum formula for new detergents. If you find that you need an actual repair to your dishwasher (or any other appliance) you can schedule an appointment at Do Good, Rich Johnson