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March 30, 2009

Washington Bans Dishwashing Liquids

dishwashing-liquidIn an effort to improve water quality in Washington waters, the state is reducing one of the most common causes of pollution:  phosphorus in household products.

There are over 260 bodies of water polluted because of nutrients like phosphorus in Washington State.  Phosphorus is a common ingredient in household detergents and fertilizers, where it is often described as “phosphate.” It is used in many industrial processes. Phosphorus also occurs naturally in soil and human and animal wastes.

In water, phosphorus behaves as a fertilizer, accelerating plant and algae growth. When those plants and algae die in the water, bacteria consume oxygen that is dissolved in the water. When this happens, less oxygen is available for fish and aquatic life that need oxygen to survive. Excess phosphorus in drinking water is difficult to remove, and also can require an increase in treatment chemicals which adds cost.

Industry and wastewater treatment plants account for about fifty percent of the phosphorus contributed to Washington waters. The other half comes from a variety of “nonpoint” sources which are hard to trace such as such as storm-water runoff, septic tanks and agriculture.

When we reduce our use of phosphorus-based products we can considerably improve this pollution problem. The best way to protect our water sources is to avoid putting phosphorus into it to begin with.

There are alternatives to phosphorus-containing detergents that can be just as effective at food removal and spot reduction as phosphorus-containing soaps – Palmolive has a phosphorus free version.  Ask your supermarket(s) about phosphorus free products.

Even if your state isn’t regulating phosphorus in its water systems (as yet) we all need to start protecting our lakes and ground water. I believe that regulators should also ban phosphorus from our laundry detergents.



  1. Good for Washington State. Now all the other states should do the same. I have been using Shaklee cleaning products for over 30 years. Shaklee products have always been phosphate free. As a matter of fact, Shaklee cleaning products were the only products that were allowed to be used in “Biosphere 2” and the late Jacques Cousteau would only use Shaklee products on his boats. If you are interested in getting Shaklee products, contact me at kikenelle@gmail.com

    Thanks for posting this, Paulette.

    Comment by Cats r Flyfishn — March 30, 2009 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

    • Wow – thanks for the great info Cats! I remember Shaklee products, I use to have a distributor I used years ago.

      I hope lots of people read this and contact you.


      Comment by Paulette — March 30, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  2. I read your blog for quite a long time and must tell that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

    Comment by Ex Boyfriend — April 9, 2009 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

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