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Coffee Stains, Tea Stains and Chalky Residue, Begone

Eco-friendly Developments That Keep Dishes Sparkling

Coffee stainBecause of its ability to prevent unsightly scale by trapping water-hardening calcium and magnesium ions, phosphate is a chelating agent that has long been a valued component of dishwashing detergent. Chelating agents literally take a tight grip on calcium and magnesium ions, which would otherwise leave scale on washed dishes. But, as helpful as they are in getting your dishes clean, phosphates may have had a significant downside. They are important plant nutrients that, when present in large amounts in wastewater, encourage extreme algae growth, which in turn disrupts the ecological balance in lakes and rivers. Even though, since the 1980s, progressively stricter phosphate standards have been able to control this phenomenon, manufacturers continue to seek out an alternative.

One of the most exciting alternatives is the development of new organic chelating agents that can replace phosphates. They are effective and safe – serving as a trapping agent for hardness ions, while also being biodegradable. Over the years, dishwashing detergents have become increasingly more effective. In addition to chelating agents, they contain surfactants that make grease water-soluble and enhance the water runoff from the dishes; amylases – natural digestive enzymes that break up the chain molecule of starch, removing it from dishes; proteases – also natural digestive enzymes that take care of protein foods, like dried egg yolk and meat residue; and bleaching agents that remove colored stains, such as those left by tea and coffee.

And for anyone who thinks that washing dishes by hand is a better ecological alternative, Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®, points to a study conducted by the Institute of Household Technology of Bonn University. After taking a close look at people's dishwashing habits, the study observed that modern dishwashers now consume about 2.7 gallons of water and well below one kilowatt-hour of energy per wash cycle. These favorable consumption values are practically impossible to achieve when washing dishes by hand. In addition, most automatic dishwashers save about an hour's time per day, which adds up to almost 50 working days a year.

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Dishwasher vs Hand Dishwashing