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Dishwasher Detergents and Water Pollution
7/7/2007 2:56:20 AM


Did you know that using most automatic dishwasher detergents is like pouring fertilizer down your drain?


In the 1980's it was recognized that a large portion of the phosphorus in the water coming into municipal wastewater treatment plants came from laundry detergent phosphates. Later, laundry detergents containing phosphates were banned in many parts of the country, including parts of western Montana and northern Idaho. Within the first year of this ban, the Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant measured a decrease of 30-40% in phosphorus entering its treatment facilty., and thereby decreasing the amount of phosphorus entering the Clark Fork River from wastewater discharge. To learn about why phosphorus in water is a problem, see the Nutrient Fact Sheet.


Automatic dishwasher detergents were not covered by the original bans on phosphorous in detergents.. Most automatic dishwasher detergents have a 6% to 8% phosphorus content by weight. This is about the same as the phosphorus content in Miracle-Gro, a common houseplant fertilizer. A recent study done in Lolo, MT, on the impact of dishwasher detergents on water quality showed that these detergents contribute from 15-20% of the phosphorus entering the wastewater treatment plant, and eventually, the river. (Contact Will McDowell, VNRP Coordinator for the Council at for detailed information about this study.) Another study in Massachusetts estimated that 8%-34% of the phosphorus in municipal wastewater may originate from automatic dishwashers. Check out that study and web site at:


Diamond Brite Gel

No Phosphates

No Caustic chlorine bleach

Powerful natural enzyme-bases formula

Requires only 1/4 the amount of retail brands

"There is no reason to pollute our rivers, lakes and streams"


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