Thread Number: 71978  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
The EU-ban of phosphates in DW detergent - I didn't even notice
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Post# 952123   8/8/2017 at 09:02 by henene4 (Germany)        

So, from January 1st 2017 on, the EU limits the content of phosphor in DW detergent to 0.3g per standard dose. That basicly "bans" phosphates.

And quite honestly, with all that happend in my life, I totally forgot about it.

We didn't change ANYTHING about our DW habits (same loads, same soils, same DW, same cycle, same cheap detergent). And results are the same.

So much about "We need phosphates!".

Anybody else from the EU that had the same or maybe different experience?

Post# 952128 , Reply# 1   8/8/2017 at 09:20 by marky_mark (Sitges, Barcelona)        

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Do you have soft water? 

Or a whole-house water softener? 

Or do you add salt to the dishwasher's water softener, which all Euro dishwashers have?


If the answer to any of those questions is "yes" then you should be pretty much immune to a large extent and shouldn't really notice too much difference.  I personally haven't noticed any difference.


However phosphates make a massive difference to my parents-in-law.  They have extremely hard water and they don't have a whole-house water softener because my mother-in-law had one in the 1960s and didn't like washing her hair with soft water!!  I've tried telling her that you can set it to blend in a little hard water to avoid the slippery feel, but anyway.... the water softener in their dishwasher seems to be broken and their dishwasher is now using extremely hard unsoftened tap water.  I have tested the hardness.  It was never a problem when the detergent contained phosphates, but now that they have been removed, the dishwasher was leaving a build up of calcium both in the machine and on the dishes.  Plates and glasses actually had clearly visible patches of calcium.  The dishes still came clean but looked terrible.  I gave them a bag of STPP and they add a teaspoon to each load.  The results are outstanding once again.

Post# 952133 , Reply# 2   8/8/2017 at 10:02 by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

I have a 2001 Bosch 300 series (entry level) which has never had any repair or service. Several years ago, phosphates were removed from US DW products such as Finish: several (but not all) states banned phosphates, and manufacturers removed all phosphates nationwide to be in compliance in all 50 states.

I never noticed a difference, we have hard water here, and I use Finish Powerball tabs. Of course, my 2001 DW uses more water than contemporary models. I do not have a house water softener.

I am friends with the owner of our local appliance store. He did get complaints that new KAs and Bosches using no-phosphate detergent were not getting dishes as clean as before (high-end models here, like Bosch and Miele, have salt dispensers; he was referring to models without salt dispensers). He advised priming the hot water line before starting the DW, since in US machines the first rinse occurs at hot water line ambient temperature; there is no heat boost on first rinse. I followed this advice at the time of the phosphate removal and my results are still excellent---in a 2001 "water hog" model.

(actually, at time of purchase, my Bosch was considered water-efficient and qualified for a rebate from the city water agency)

Post# 952135 , Reply# 3   8/8/2017 at 10:12 by henene4 (Germany)        
Water softners

The thing is: Any DW in the EU that I know of that has been build in the past 30 years or so has a water softner. Still, we had 15+% phosphates in DW detergent.

Post# 952159 , Reply# 4   8/8/2017 at 11:49 by donprohel (I live in Denmark, but I am Italian)        
Water softener in dishwashers

Dishwashers use softened water only in the last rinse, water for wash and rinses (apart the last) is not softened.

Hence, the water softener does not make any difference as far as the detergent and washing performance are concerned

Post# 952175 , Reply# 5   8/8/2017 at 13:21 by iej (Ireland)        

It's called laziness and multi action tablets with "salt function"

I'm using Sun Expert 3 in 1 at the moment which is totally phosphate free. Works absolutely perfectly..

Post# 952178 , Reply# 6   8/8/2017 at 14:07 by Maytag85 (25 miles from Idywild, 25 miles from Temecula. )        
Detegent without phosphates does not equal clean!!!

We replaced our Kenmore dishwasher from 2004, then I discovered on a YouTube video By JayKay18 one day, in "Detergent Day Part 23" awhile back. JayKay18 mentioned why dishwashers and washing machines don't clean anymore, it is due to the fact they took phosphates out of laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent. looking back, it was not the dishwasher, it was the fact they took the phosphates out. The only way you are going to get your dishes and laundry clean, is to buy the high-end laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent.


Post# 952180 , Reply# 7   8/8/2017 at 14:19 by marky_mark (Sitges, Barcelona)        

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Softened water only in the last rinse?  I have never heard that.  My Siemens dishwasher uses soft water throughout.  Which dishwashers only use softened water in the last rinse?

Post# 952182 , Reply# 8   8/8/2017 at 14:46 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"Softened water only in the last rinse?"

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Softened water is required for the mainwash too.

I surmise that 'El Cheapo' machines soften every fill (prerinse, mainwash, rinses, final rinse). And regenerate the resin every cycle. That would explain why they seem to gallop through a load of salt. Think bottom end Hotpoint/Indesit - salt barely lasted a month.

Superior machines like Bosch and Siemens, only regenerate as needed - and even then my 2003/2004 Bosch Logixx states that the rinses are a mixture of unsoftened and softened water, in order to protect glassware.

Mum's 2013 cheap Bosch lasts 3 months before the salt needs replenished. Quite frugal, considering the machine is used every day.

Post# 952190 , Reply# 9   8/8/2017 at 15:10 by marky_mark (Sitges, Barcelona)        

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My machine uses soft water for every fill.  It only regenerates when necessary.  The regeneration is straight after the wash.  If the cycle chosen doesn't already do a purge before the first rinse, it will add a purge after regeneration.

Post# 952192 , Reply# 10   8/8/2017 at 15:28 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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How long does a load of salt last in your machine?

Post# 952196 , Reply# 11   8/8/2017 at 16:08 by marky_mark (Sitges, Barcelona)        

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Well, where I live the water is very hard.  So my apartment building has a "community" water softener that removes most of the hardness, leaving the water slightly hard.  Therefore I do add salt to the dishwasher but set to its lowest level.  My machine's softener only has 4 settings: off, 1, 2 and 3.  So I have it set to 1.  I haven't kept an exact record, but I would say it regenerates around once every 8 cycles or so.  I guess the "add salt" light comes on every 40 cycles or so.  Again, that's approximate.  When I do fill up the container, I guess I add somewhere between 500 g and 1 kg of salt.  So basically, it doesn't consume very much salt really.  I buy a box of Finish salt weighing 4 kg and it lasts for months and months.  I have tested the water in the dishwasher (when not contaminated by food or detergent etc.) and it is very soft.  My machine is a model specific to Spain and Portugal.  It always operates both spray arms simultaneously, unlike many other BSH machines.  It's about 10 years old.

Post# 952236 , Reply# 12   8/8/2017 at 20:06 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

I live in the Boston Area. We have "naturally soft" water as they say. The truth is that the water hardness varies depending on where they source the water from, usually things change during late summer and winter and come back to "normal" for spring and summer.

In any case, the vast majority of the time my dishwasher reports water hardness between 4-6 grains/gallon, with the majority of the cases being 4. Sometimes it reports 1,2 or 3, rarely above 6.

I also know that the fuzzy logic in the computer blends softened water with line water to protect the dishes, like said above. And I don't much pay attention to when regeneration happens, but most of the time I noticed it it happened before the cycle begins, there's a series of fill/drain. Then again, my detergent is set to "powder", maybe it will regenerate at the end if it's set to liquid/gel. In any case, in the last 8 years or so we've had the machine, we've added about 1 kg of salt per year or so.

Like I said in another thread, the most I noticed was that the machine took a bit longer and ran the pressure a little higher than usual when the detergents "switched" from phosphates to crap to make the citizens complain.

As soon as Finish decided "what the hell, let's make it work" and got first place and P&G did not like being in second place in Consumers Reports, Cascade improved too and the machine came back to behaving as usual.

I have not yet tried the other brands that refused to improve in the first year or two because I figure if they insisted in cheating the customers, they don't deserve my attention/money. It was relatively hard for a person like me who loves to try the different brands etc, but my feeling is that this industry *knew* this was coming, they had at least 20-30 years notice and they still refused to research&develop and being ready for the change.

For the people who think only phosphates are the solution. Please wake up. Phosphates are the *cheapest* solution, but not necessarily the best. Anyone who's worked in a chemistry lab and had to clean the glasswork will offer you at least a handful of solutions. If you think phosphates "clean", you ought to try EDTA sometimes. Be ready to pay top price too.

Also, please enlighten me, given that I've lived in areas with "soft" to "moderate" hard water my entire life.

Any of you when you wash something by hand, what are the results you are getting?

Because when I wash stuff by hand I get clean dishes. Detergents for hand washing have not had phosphates in at the very least 25 years that I know of.

What you are really seeing is that dishwashing machines *do* need specialized detergents because of the potential for suds/foam generation.

Dishwasher detergents manufacturers *knew* that they needed to add lots of enzymes and good detergents (which should generate no or very little suds and even then they need suds suppression agents), but instead they spent the last 50 years or so selling us a blend of (phosphates, chlorine bleach, metasilicates) and many did not have *any* soap or detergent in them. Translation: each box/bottle of "detergent" cost a few cents to put on the shelves and we paid several dollars for them.

No wonder they were resistant to making something that actually *costs* a dollar or two, but this time has actual cleaning ingredients.

I dunno about you, but what I noticed about the phosphate ban is that now my dishwasher cleans *way* better when it comes to lasagna pans and starches (rice pot, that used to always have some residue on it is now always clean, for example).

Please stop falling for the propaganda from mega corporations that don't care at all about anything but their profit. They certainly don't care about you and have been overcharging you for decades, when at the very least for the past 25 years they knew or should have known how to fix the problem properly.

   -- Paulo.

Post# 952241 , Reply# 13   8/8/2017 at 20:37 by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)        
well I know for a fact

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we have very hard water here in Lexington and I don't have a water softener. Finish Powerball works great..Just bought some yesterday at Costco and they are now individually wrapped in this clear plastic and it says "no need to unwrap"...I had to call them to make sure this was the case because that clear plastic is hard plastic....but they say it's made to throw in the dishwasher.

Post# 952347 , Reply# 14   8/9/2017 at 14:56 by iej (Ireland)        
Sun Expert (Unilever) in the uk too?

I was just wondering if this is also available in the UK?
Sun Expert (made in France)

Pretty decent detergent.

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Post# 952586 , Reply# 15   8/11/2017 at 09:59 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Sun Detergent

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I haven't seen Lever's domestic 'Sun' detergent for yonks.

The last domestic version I saw (in the early 2000s) was the teardrop tablets, loose in a bag, with a small bottle of rinse-aid included. The box was a metallic blue.

I had seen and used the Professional version of the powder and the liquid (chlorine based), both made by Diversey-Lever or some such. And I tried the Diversey 'Sun' multi-function tablets (enzymes and oxygen bleach). The chlorine detergents were better on tea stains; the biological formulation was better on starchy stains.

I think Diversey 'Sun' was/is also sold as 'Bryta'.

Post# 952587 , Reply# 16   8/11/2017 at 10:15 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Looking at

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It appears that 'Sun' is not supposed to be an official brand in Ireland either.

It's odd the way Unilever has retreated from certain markets.

Post# 952633 , Reply# 17   8/11/2017 at 21:14 by iej (Ireland)        

It definitely is an official brand here as they run media adverts for it.
I think their website is just inaccurate.

Post# 955634 , Reply# 18   9/1/2017 at 17:13 by iej (Ireland)        

Definitely seems to be a very official brand. It's in most stores in Ireland.

I just bought an 80 tab pack today and find it a really good detergent.

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Post# 955638 , Reply# 19   9/1/2017 at 17:53 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Haven't tried Sun in ages. After I was not very satisfied with Finish and Dreft/Fairy, I changed to Somat, but I have to buy that in Germany. I still have a lot left, but when I have to buy new detergent I'll try Sun.

Post# 955708 , Reply# 20   9/2/2017 at 08:21 by iej (Ireland)        

I found Fairy doesn’t work well in my Miele dishwasher as it’s far too high foaming. You can hear the machine gurgling as there’s nothing but foam in the sump.

Post# 955711 , Reply# 21   9/2/2017 at 08:55 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I only bought a bag of the Platinum version once, it foamed up indeed although my Miele wasn't gurgling. But you can hear it's foamy. The Platinum Fairy performed well, but because of the foaming I didn't buy it again.

Post# 955717 , Reply# 22   9/2/2017 at 09:28 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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I too have had Fairy foam up in my Bosch, and have had the machine go into a suds lock on a couple of occasions, where I opened the door to add an item, or checked to see what the problem was.

I thought dishwasher detergents simply had to be low-foaming so that the machine worked properly? i.e. non-ionic surfactants.

Which ingredients are causing the excess suds? Are they adding anionic surfactants to the mix?

Post# 955718 , Reply# 23   9/2/2017 at 09:38 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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I quite liked the older Fairy 'Tab-in-tab' tablets, which were hard tablets with a compressed blue powder in an indentation (like mortar on a brick).

Regarding Fairy Platinum pods: they also 'flavoured' the crockery! Awful.

Post# 955958 , Reply# 24   9/3/2017 at 18:15 by iej (Ireland)        
I'm giving Sun Expert Gel a try

They've launched two versions of Sun Expert Gel here now too.
I thought it might be interesting to give it a try. It was in Tesco for €8.00 reduced from €12.00 RRP

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Post# 955960 , Reply# 25   9/3/2017 at 18:24 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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It looks like a rocket ship ready for blast off!

"Active Oxygen Pearls" - does that mean there's bleaching agent in it?

Post# 956027 , Reply# 26   9/4/2017 at 07:05 by DishwasherRules (Italy)        
Sun expert gel

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@Rolls_rapid: Yes, Sun expert gel's pearls are made of a bleaching agent and it's the only gel detergent to clean tea and other bleachable stains completely (Finish classic gel, which was the only dishwasher detergent still available to contain some chlorine, changed to a non-chlorine formulation at some point at the end of 2016). I gave it a try but it makes way too much foam in my Miele G562 and I passed it to my mom, who has a more recent Miele dishwasher and loved it so much that she's been using only that ever since. You mentioned you used Sun professional powder - I'm tempted to try it, did you get any good result in your machine?
BTW, I live in a hard-water area in Nothern Italy and refill the salt tank in my machine whenever needed, I use Pril phosphate-free tablets (the Italian name for Somat) and a phosphate-free, supermarket-brand powdered detergent made by McBride that my G562 seems to enjoy much better than tablets, and I always get excellent results!

Post# 956043 , Reply# 27   9/4/2017 at 09:03 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Sun Professional Powder

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Not used since before 2012.

I did get good results in terms of removing tea stains from mugs, but starchy pasta was better removed with Finish or Lidl's bio formulations. Sun bio tablets were pretty equal to Finish, I thought.

Re: Sun Expert Gel:

If only Unilever would sell it in the UK - they'd probably 'clean up!' Finish Gel is useless - nice fragrance, but useless on bleachable stains.

I despair at Unilever's marketing department's logic. It's nuts!

Post# 956046 , Reply# 28   9/4/2017 at 09:13 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I bought a bottle of Sun gel too, but haven't tried it yet. Looks handy for small loads that aren't very dirty so you can dose less than a whole tab.

Post# 956052 , Reply# 29   9/4/2017 at 09:17 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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Because Sun Professional Powder was sold in larger cartons, and thus took longer to get through, I got the distinct impression that the cleanability of the detergent dropped as time went on. Probably the chlorine bleach was evaporating into the atmosphere just by sitting there. Took best part of a year to get through the stuff!

I remember one of the individually wrapped tablet brands (possibly Sun bio tablets or Fairy 'Tab-in-Tab') ballooned it's wrapper. I presumed the oxygen bleach was escaping from the package.

Post# 956133 , Reply# 30   9/4/2017 at 16:02 by iej (Ireland)        

The UK sun professional products don't look the same as the consumer ones here. It's possible they're not the same formulation at all.

Persil Dishwasher tablets aren't sold here btw. They appeared very briefly and were replaced again by Sun.

I don't remember Sun nor being available here but there seems to be a bit of a push on at the moment as it's taking a good bit of shelf space from Finish.

It's good to see R&B, P&G and Unilever with strong products though as otherwise we're stuck with a duopoly.

I would really like to see Henkel bringing in some.detergent products here though. I suspect the "UK & Ireland" market segmentation will be gone soon anyway wirh Brexit. I would guess Ireland will be rolled in with Benelux or France rather than the UK.

It should be interesting as it's not always entirely clear where the detergents are made. The final packing and branding isn't that big a deal and many of the national brands are just the same stuff with a slightly different brand name or label.

Post# 956201 , Reply# 31   9/5/2017 at 02:56 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"not always entirely clear where detergents are made"

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When I was trying to find out where the currently useless Finish Gel was made, I came across something in the Web, which basically said that manufacturers can opt to have products made in one country, for the distribution in other countries.

The old chlorine Finish Gel was bar-coded starting with '5'; i.e UK.
The new hopeless stuff is coded '8'... Italy

"The first two or three digits of an EAN-13 barcode identify the country in which the manufacturer's identification code was assigned. They do not necessarily indicate the country in which the goods were manufactured."


Post# 956305 , Reply# 32   9/5/2017 at 17:14 by brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

I recently finished off the last of my Finish Gel with Chlorine (Blue Slime) and have tried the new formula (Yellow Slime) a few times. The Gel hasnt been as good since they obviously made it safer as for years it came with a lid that was push to open and any spillage would turn into a Light blue powdery crust. The version I just finished turned into a blue rubbery substance around the lid and didnt quite have the same smell.

I now just keep the yellow version for the gentle cycle with glassware after a dinner party and have wine glasses to use day to day that go cloudy from the Finish Quantum tabs.

Post# 956482 , Reply# 33   9/7/2017 at 02:03 by iej (Ireland)        


It's usually an 87 code which is the Netherlands because it's a huge node for logistics.

Also Benckiser was a Dutch company and Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch company with joint HQ.

The UK is only 50
Quite a few other countries start with 5 too.

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