Dish Soap Isn't What It Used To Be

No, it's not just you.

As your grandmother probably mentioned once or twice (or a dozen times), things aren't what they used to be. That goes for manners, fashion and, as it turns out, dish soap.

If you have ever run a load of dishes only for them to emerge from the wash cycle still dingy with food remnants loitering around and maybe even a cloudy film, you may have been tempted to scowl at your dishwasher. However, according to an interesting article over at Apartment Therapy, it may not be your dishwasher that is at fault, but your dish soap.

Vintage Woman and Daughter Washing Dishes


As dishwashers—and the proper technique for loading them—have evolved over the years, so too has the soap that is supposed to get your dishes spic-and-span. Sadly, they just aren't as effective as they used to be. That's because dish soap used to be filled with phosphates, which helped soften hard water and prevent soap scum. Scientists realized, though, that feeding phosphates directly into the water supply was a bad idea, because they killed fish and caused algae to take over lakes and bays. For that very good reason, back in 2010, phosphates were banned by 17 states and, according to NPR, that meant dish detergent manufacturers had to rework their formulas without phosphates.

While most of us would happily trade cloudy glasses and food bits for a healthy planet, it can be frustrating. Luckily, according to Apartment Therapy, the solution is easy: Just add rinse aid to your dishwasher. Rinse aids, like Finish, Cascade, or Seventh Generation, work with your dishwasher to help prevent water spots, stop food particles from reattaching to the dishes, and to dry your dishes faster. It's a win, win, win, and even more of a winning solution if you have hard water. Since most modern dishwashers have a little spot to add rinse aid, make use of it, and perhaps you can go back to having sparkling dishes.

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  1. National Environmental Education Foundation. Why phosphate free?

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