Phosphate Free Detergents - An Eco-Friendly Solution
Phosphates are the main cleaning agent in many detergents and household cleaners.
Although phosphates break down grease and remove stains, they are difficult to remove in waste water and often end
up in rivers and lakes destroying aquatic life. Phosphate-free detergents keep phosphate out of lakes and streams,
protecting our natural environment ...
What You Should Know About Phosphate Free Detergent
Phosphorus has always been one of the main ingredients in detergents, but phosphate free
detergent is becoming more of the norm, with many countries opting to ban and/or place regulations on the use of
phosphates in detergents.
Phosphates are used in detergents as what are called “builders.’ Builders enhance the cleaning
efficiency of detergents by reducing soap scum and removing dirt from soiled clothing. Builders have been
increasingly necessary in areas where the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions creates “hard” water.
Builders keep the hard water from interfering with the cleaning process. In phosphate free detergent, the
phosphates are replaced by alternatives like sodium carbonate sodium silicate, citrates, and zeolite A, which are
effective builders in and of themselves.
The problem with phosphate detergent occurs when it is allowed to get into the water supply.
Unfortunately, when phosphates go down the drain, they often show up in bodies of fresh water. Higher than normal
phosphate levels can destroy fresh water bodies by causing algae to grow at a much faster rate than usual. The
build up pf algae makes it more difficult and expensive to filter water for drinking and can cause fresh water to
go cloudy and smell bad. Along with this, excessive algae growth can eventually kill lakes, rivers, and streams by
choking them until they go dry. This is a vital reason for the use of phosphate free detergent.
Many parts of the world have banned laundry detergents containing phosphates and insist on the
use of phosphate free detergent instead. Phosphate free detergent is the standard in places like the United Sates,
Japan, Canada, and Western Europe. There is, however, another fight brewing over the use of phosphates in other
soaps such as dishwasher detergent. Many of the same countries that require the use of phosphate free detergent for
laundry have yet to place such requirements in effect for other types of soaps. The fact that they would ignore the
use of phosphates in products like dishwasher detergent, but restrict it in laundry detergent seems hypocritical.
In fact, many environmental groups are calling for bans on all soaps and detergents containing phosphates.
With the problems we now face, in every country of the world, with our fresh water supply, it
only makes sense to eliminate proven contaminants from our water as much as possible. The history of detergents
containing phosphates leaves little doubt of their negative impact upon our environment. As green-conscious
consumers, it behooves us to take action wherever we can to eliminate the use of products that would bring damage
to our planet.
Nothing can change the negative impact of man on this planet, but man himself. By choosing to do
the right thing, and by using products whose alternative is to abolish the degradation of our planet rather than to
contribute it we make the right choice for ourselves, our fellow man, and the earth.
Sometimes, such choices are difficult. Sometimes they are as simple as choosing to use phosphate
free detergent for whatever type of cleaning you do. You won’t believe the healthy impact switching to phosphate
free detergents can make until you give it a try.
Detergents - Compare products, read user reviews and browse a
range of earth-friendly phosphate free laundry and dishwashing
detergents from Amazon.com.
Green Cleaning Products - What Is Wrong With Phosphates?
Phosphates are naturally occurring compounds crucial for life on our planet. The fact that
living organisms use phosphates has been a key argument in the detergent manufacturers claims that phosphates
are not dangerous and do not need to be removed. But once again, that old adage 'too much of a good thing..'
rings true in the case of phosphates. Although nature uses and needs phosphates it does not need the huge
volume we are depositing in the waterways.
As we send such vast quantities of phosphates into our water system, algae feed happily on
this free meal. Sadly the algae bloom out of control. Whole coastlines in the Baltic and Adriatic Seas become
covered in a mass of thick algae. While it lives in such un-sustainable volume it blocks light and warmth from
the organisms struggling to live below it.
As the algae dies it then becomes un-naturally large swathes of dead matter. With the algae
decomposing, suffocating out light, heat and oxygen from all the other struggling organisms in its stretch of
water. As anaerobic bacteria decompose the dead algae the oxygen levels in the body of water are much reduced.
It is likely that fish and other water borne organisms will die off due to insufficient oxygen.
This process is called eutrophication and is a naturally occurring process where waterways
gradually fill with plant life and silt. In nature the process takes thousands of years to clog up lakes. With
our un-natural over-fertilisation of the waterways by sending phosphates through the waste-water system, we can
speed things up significantly.
The problem of eutorphication is not just one of small streams and lakes. This poses a
significant threat to the balance and diversity of whole seas. Recently the World Wildlife Fund has made great
strides in getting detergent manufacturers to voluntarily reduce phosphates in a bid to save the Baltic Sea.
Although modern waste-water treatment facilities can remove much of the phosphate load in water, we are not all
lucky enough to have such high specification facilities. The countries sharing the Baltic Sea possess very
different levels of waste-water treatments. Even those with the most efficient, cannot hope to capture all the
phosphates in detergents because so many homes are not connected to the sewage treatment systems anyway.
This work to help prevent the Baltic Sea dying shows how important it is to think of the
wider world. So your town may harness 90% of the phosphates you send into the sewage treatment system. That's
great, but you share your waterways and we all share the oceans with others who may have less complicated
systems. Plus that 10% will never be captured. If we just prevent the phosphates arriving in the water in the
first place we can save ourselves some hassle.
Choosing phosphate free green cleaning products will not stop all phosphates affecting our
waterways. Much will still run off land, and be occurring naturally through human and animal waste. But
choosing Eco cleaners is an easy way to reduce that burden significantly. The World Wildlife Fund estimate a
24% reduction on the phosphate load of the Baltic Sea simply by removing phosphates from detergents. Once we
have done that we can move on to tackling all the other phosphates we are responsible. But if just making our
cleaning Eco friendly can reduce the burden by nearly a quarter I think it is worth making the switch.
Phosphates are found in many detergents, cleaning products, fertilizers and in water. Phosphate
is a mixture of salt and phosphoric acid and is considered to be an inorganic material. Water-softening phosphates
are great for breaking down grease and they remove stains very well but are often difficult to remove in waste
water. They very often end up in rivers and lakes which increases algae growth (algae blooms), choking lakes and
streams, suffocating fish and aquatic life.
There are two sides to the issue of if detergents should contain phosphate. On one side are
environmentalists who are fighting for cleaning products, like dishwasher detergents, to not have it in them. On
the other side are people who want good cleaning products that do the job they're supposed to. There have been many
complaints about these more expensive cleaning products and detergents that don't contain phosphate because they
don't clean very well. States like Washington have begun setting low limits on it in dishwasher detergent, forcing
people to smuggle in brands like Cascade and Electrasol over the state borders from stores like Costco. Other
states are considering similar legislation and environmentalists say it's just a matter of time before laws banning
phosphates in detergents goes nation-wide.
Phosphates are an important plant nutrient but higher than normal levels can destroy the health
of lakes. They allow increased algae growth make clear lakes and rivers look green and cloudy. This addition growth
of the algae is not unappealing to look at and also makes the water smell bad. It's not something people really
want to swim in. Another downside to increased levels is that it can make drinking water more expensive to filter
as it makes its way back to our faucets.
This demand in good cleaning products that are earth-friendly / eco-friendly has brought many
new dishwasher detergents to the market. Some of these brands are Seventh Generation, Caldrea and Biokleen - among
others. These new brands seem to have mixed reviews about how clean they will get dishes. People are trying them
and are finding that some work decently while others don't do the job.
Cleaning dishes is important since you do not want grease or old food to remain on dishes,
possibly growing harmful bacteria, causing sickness. Some people have ditched using their dishwashers and have gone
to hand washing their dishes to make sure they get clean as they wait for the industry to come out with a good
dishwasher detergent that is green, inexpensive and does a good job cleaning. Until such a new detergent proves
itself worthy, people will need to scrub a little harder or continue to smuggle in other brands to do their