Thread Number: 41022
Phosphate Content Of Vintage Detergents
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 606779   6/27/2012 at 21:40 (2,307 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
Circa 1970, and published by a magazine of the day.

Lists many of the popular laundry detergents and soaps of the day along with household cleaners and products for automatic dishwashers.

Talk amoungst yourselves.


Post# 606781 , Reply# 1   6/27/2012 at 22:12 (2,307 days old) by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        

iheartmaytag's profile picture
No wonder Cascade was my favorite, and a clean bleach smell too.

Post# 606792 , Reply# 2   6/28/2012 at 00:08 (2,307 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

gansky1's profile picture
Wow - the STPP went out of the dishwasher detergents with a fizzle and tiny poof compared to what they were back then.

Look at those insecticides - the eyes burn just reading them.

Post# 606802 , Reply# 3   6/28/2012 at 01:40 (2,307 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
looks like it packed quite a wallop too!

Post# 606803 , Reply# 4   6/28/2012 at 02:19 (2,307 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Rodent & Insect Control

launderess's profile picture
Saw those too and was that gobsmacked at the chemicals and poisons allowed then for domestic use. Wonder how many household pets along with humans were sickened if not outright killed by accidental ingestion or simply by exposure.

Benzene, DDT, Endosulfan, Lindane, Thallium, oh my!

Thallium was banned as a rodent poison in the United States as of 1972.
Lindane is still used IIRC as part of lotions/creams to rid humans of lice.
A worldwide ban on the use and production of Endosulfan went into affect in 2011 after the Stockholm Convention.

As for the detergent/cleaner listings know now one can certainly cease adding phosphates from my stash when doing the wash with any of my vintage detergents on the above list. Many are from the 1970's and thus unless a different formula are packed with enough of the stuff already.

Have found the key is to read the directions printed on the box carefully. Find products laden with STPP most always state that added extra packaged water conditioners (as products such as Calgon were called) are not necessary...., then go on to say if water conditions are hard to simply add more of the detergent instead.

Am here to tell you that when the wash water drains out from using vintage Gain as the detergent it is clear, not cloudy as say when one uses Tide or even Persil. This told me long ago the products lacked or had minimal washing soda and most certainly no Zeolites.

Post# 606810 , Reply# 5   6/28/2012 at 05:04 (2,307 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
nows heres a question

stan's profile picture
Someone on another post, don't remember where or who was talking about about using phosphates , or using a phosphate detergent (laundry) and wanted to add a little washing soda to the mix, the first comment that came back was 'that would be superfluous"

After thinking about it I wondered.

I know that washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, and TSP has an even high Ph than washing soda, so where dose STPP fit into the PH scale?

And was it superfluous, because one was a precipitating water softener, and one ( STPP) was not? So one would ancel each other out?
Or if the phosphate is not to high on the PH scale, maybe a bit of washing soda would raise the PH of the water in the wash cycle, boosting the effectiveness??


Post# 606829 , Reply# 6   6/28/2012 at 07:53 (2,307 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

gansky1's profile picture
What is surprising is that into the 80's the phosphate content had declined to less than 10% in many brands but as Laundress mentioned, the rinsing is still clear and the clothes are still clean. Perhaps some know of the formulation changes and advancements that have occurred over these decades leading us to where we are now and can elaborate more. It would seem that we've moved backward by removing STPP from dishwasher detergents (and arguably laundry products) but I've always wondered what is the REAL environmental impact of the comparatively small amounts of phosphates in detergents and cleaners compared with the enormous volume used in food preparation, agriculture, etc.

Diazanon was banned a number of years ago as well and I sorely missed that insecticide for a while. It worked!

Post# 606923 , Reply# 7   6/28/2012 at 17:38 (2,306 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
There was an article linked here a couple of years ago that said 95% of the phosphorus in lakes and streams was from agricultural runoff. Considering the large quantity of fertilizer used by farmers, this isn't too surprising.

The amount of STPP in products must have declined before disappearing, but maybe not to less than 10%. I think the percentages that we were used to seeing on the sides of packages were of phosphorus content, not a percentage of STPP. As the article says, "if expressed in terms of other compounds of phosphorus, the percentages would be different."

Someone (I think sudsmaster) used to say that the amount of STPP was about three times as much as the phosphorus content -- in other words, if the formulation had 7% phosphorus, it would be about 21% STPP. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Post# 606927 , Reply# 8   6/28/2012 at 17:51 (2,306 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Phosphates In Agricultural Runoff

launderess's profile picture
Which is why when states such as NJ and NY banned phosphates recently for DW and other cleaning products they also regulated fertilizers for both domestic and IIRC commercial use as well. So farmers, landscapers, golf courses etc all must purchase and use products that contain less of the stuff than in the past.

Methinks government knows a bulk of of phosphates in waterways is the result of human waste. That is mainly a product of normal bodily functions thus cannot be changed. What they could and did do in many areas is control consumer products to the extent possible.

Post# 606928 , Reply# 9   6/28/2012 at 17:56 (2,306 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
STPP and SHPP are such excellent builders for laundry products you don't really need sodium carbonate or borax. It takes several different chemicals to replace phosphates when they are removed from laundry products. Dishwasher chemicals are another story because you actually want a high pH to help deal with grease and fat. OTHO while some alkalinity is good for laundry, too much is very hard on fabrics.

Highly alkaline laundry detergents are very old school and as mentioned can be hard on fabrics. If you ever sent wash to commercial laundries years ago where several high pH washes in hot to very hot water was used, you noticed the results after awhile.

Post# 606980 , Reply# 10   6/28/2012 at 23:37 (2,306 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Yes I realize this

stan's profile picture
I worked in professional Dry cleaning and Laundry.

I don't think the the user had intended to put in very much, if I understood him correctly?

It was my own curiosity regarding the PH. and if the precipitating water softener would cancel out the benefits of the non precipitating.
(I think it would) To me It would be one or the other, not both.

I"ll test the STPP PH, and find out.

Post# 606984 , Reply# 11   6/29/2012 at 00:11 (2,306 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Does This Answer Your Question?

launderess's profile picture
A little night reading. *LOL*


Post# 606993 , Reply# 12   6/29/2012 at 01:44 (2,306 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Laundress

stan's profile picture
Nice little read, but dose not mention the actual PH of either.
However found it interesting that the term *maintaining alkalinity" was used for both!
I know the PH of washing soda, but ashamed that I don't know the PH of STPP.
I'll find out!
A guess would be that STPP not as alkaline, but maintains the alkalinity of the detergent used (and a whole lot of other things) where as washing soda...well is just alkaline, and boosts the alkalinity of the water in general ?

I'm on a mission to know! *LOL*

Post# 606998 , Reply# 13   6/29/2012 at 02:17 (2,306 days old) by washer111 ()        

I think when it comes to fertilisers, lots is wasted by just dumping tons of high nitrate/phosphate fertilisers in farm land. After relatives apply fertiliser to their farm, the grass doesn't look any different. Another relative added Lime to the soil along with the fertiliser, and the results were astounding (from what I've heard), except the farmer decided he would take all the credit. Ouch.

I think, with such strong fertiliser, it never gets a chance to reach the roots, especially if farmers rely on torrential rain to wash the fertiliser in! I would recommend farmers and people use slow-release fertilisers, unless you are a home user and you're giving some freshly planted plants a head start (then I'd put the stuff in the hole, not just water it in).

As for detergent, I don't think I've ever experience phosphates. By the way, I would have thought that having slightly acidic water would be better for removing stuff as it just "melts it away." Obviously, I was wrong again :D

Post# 607001 , Reply# 14   6/29/2012 at 03:17 (2,306 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

foraloysius's profile picture
IIRC the most important reason for banning phosphates from household detergents is the limited amount of resources, not the impact on the environment. Overhere in Europe dishwasher detergents still contain phosphates but they will be banned in 2014 or 2015 for that reason.

Post# 607025 , Reply# 15   6/29/2012 at 07:39 (2,306 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

gansky1's profile picture
Ahhh. All in the expression of content values then. Thanks for the clarification.

A quick search of a few results shows a PH value of 9-10, but this looks somewhat variable depending on the PH regulating agent used. One did mention that a PH of 9-9.5 was necessary to not interfere with the surfactants in dishwasher detergent.

Post# 607137 , Reply# 16   6/29/2012 at 15:33 (2,306 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Nearest One Could Find

launderess's profile picture
Was the pH listed in my vintage commercial laundry manual for TSP, which is 10.9

Post# 607202 , Reply# 17   6/29/2012 at 22:30 (2,305 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
it's right up there with washing soda!

Just not as much required as ?

Post# 607212 , Reply# 18   6/29/2012 at 23:55 (2,305 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Wait a min

stan's profile picture
that PH was for TPS, the TSPP could easily be to find my tester!

Post# 607213 , Reply# 19   6/30/2012 at 00:10 (2,305 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
I got a reading

stan's profile picture
of 9.4 (mixed with distilled water)
So not quite as alkaline as TSP or Washing soda.

Post# 607256 , Reply# 20   6/30/2012 at 11:45 (2,305 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
In order of increasing alkalinity:



Sodium Carbonate (washing soda)

Sodium Silicate (water glass)

From what I gather, sodium carbonate does not negate the non precipitating power of STPP. It simply helps to increase the alkalinity, as does sodium silicate. Sodium silicate also functions to protect washer parts from corrosion.

Post# 607283 , Reply# 21   6/30/2012 at 16:07 (2,304 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
sodium carbonate does not negate the non precipitating power

launderess's profile picture
Hopefully not as those of us adding the stuff to modern sodium carbonate detergents would be for trouble.

Have some Ecolab Solid Super Star commercial laundry detergent in my stash and it is mainly STPP,Washing Soda and Surfactants along with the usual colorings, OBAs, fragrance etc. For a non-enzyme detergent this stuff cleans quite well. It's designed for linens from hotels, hospitals, and so forth. Guess one could (and one does) add a separate enzyme product if required.

Post# 607300 , Reply# 22   6/30/2012 at 17:19 (2,304 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
Phosphated detergents used to contain sodium carbonate and sodium silicate along with STPP. This was done to help lower the phosphate content from 50% or higher to around 30%, which was found to be more than adequate for effective cleaning and water softening.

30% phosphate works out to around 8% phosphorus content.

If sodium carbonate negated the non-precipitating nature of STPP I doubt that this would have been done.

In any case, I have found dramatically superior washing results from mixing STPP at a 33% by weight ratio to a variety of powdered non-phosphated detergents.

It's easy enough to test the conditions. Get a glass jar, fill it halfway with very hard water (most well water will do). Add STPP and note the absence of precipitate. Empty jar, rinse, fill 1/2 way with same hardness water, add same amount TSP, note precipitate. Repeat with non-phosphated detergent or washing soda. Then repeat with equal amounts of STPP and non-phosphated detergent or washing soda and note results.

I seem to recall I did the above about 10 years ago and found that STPP eliminated the precipitation problem. But it would bear repeating. Any volunteers?

Post# 607327 , Reply# 23   6/30/2012 at 19:45 (2,304 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Think I'll give it a shot

stan's profile picture
and see!

Interesting that my own ph tests show, in order of alkalinity as

TSP = 12

Washing soda = 11.6

STPP = 9.4


Post# 608765 , Reply# 24   7/6/2012 at 22:26 (2,298 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Sudsmaster's test and got the same results he did! (thanks for posting)

Also did one with a soap powder I make myself, with the just STPP and the soap, also found no precipitation.

Good Stuff, STPP!

Post# 608824 , Reply# 25   7/7/2012 at 07:07 (2,298 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Phosphates And Soap

launderess's profile picture
Thing to remember is that the water conditioner (phosphates, or whatever one is using) needs to into the water before the soap. This ensures whatever hard water minerals in the water are dealt with before being allowed to react with the soap.

If one is cheating by using a detergent & soap mixture while it still is best to add the detergent first, whatever surfactants in that product will deal well enough with hard water before the soap has any chance IMHO. For this reason one prefers to use liquid detergents as a "builder" when using soap washes. This way one also is not adding washing soda as found with most powdered detergents.

Post# 608929 , Reply# 26   7/7/2012 at 21:41 (2,297 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
But of course Dear *LOL*

stan's profile picture
Wouldn't do it any other way.

No cheating on that last test with the soap! (no detergent added) Dissolved the phosphate in the water then added the powdered soap.

Mind you now this is not off the shelf soap that I did that test with. (wink)

I'm going to repeat sudsmaster's test again, next week with even worse well water than I use this time!

A little sweet little lady is going to bring me a gallon of her very hard, nasty, well water. ( she has a lot of problems with it)
Want to see what STPP will do for that stuff!

Post# 608956 , Reply# 27   7/8/2012 at 00:08 (2,297 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
Thanks, Stan.

I have a well on my property that I use for irrigation only (too much nitrates for human consumption, I'm told). The water is relatively hard. I seem to recall doing this test about 10 years ago but like I said, I can't be sure that I verified that STPP prevents sodium carbonate from forming a precipitate. So thanks for your testing!

Post# 608957 , Reply# 28   7/8/2012 at 00:10 (2,297 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

As you may recall I went through a grated soap phase where I added STPP to the wash and then small amounts of soap. It worked well enough in teh Neptune, but after a while I got tired of the routine and went back to regular detergents. I also noticed that whites tended to yellow a bit after long-term soap washes, even with STPP.

Post# 608962 , Reply# 29   7/8/2012 at 00:49 (2,297 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Yellowing & Soap

launderess's profile picture
Were you doing at least one or more hot rinses, or at least warm?

Usually the yellowing of items washed in pure soap comes from a reaction between soap/soil residue and heat (iron or dryer).

Also know you knew this already but a good dosing of a sour in the rinse to remove any traces of sodium bicarbonate (residue from the break down of alkaline products in the wash such as sodium carbonate), from textiles as that too will yellow upon contact with heat.

Will tend to agree that soap alone for laundry day isn't on most of the time, even with STPP. One could probably get away with it but it's going to require lots of hot water rinses with probably a good dose of STPP in the first one or two in order to ensure all traces of soap are removed. Of course there is the old standby method of boiling the residue out. You've got a few Mieles lying about that could easily do that! *LOL*

Post# 609052 , Reply# 30   7/8/2012 at 13:56 (2,297 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Laundress make a good point on the possible yellowing!

Often time's "detergents" can do the same thing. And require a second rinse and or sour added.

With light colors, you find out real quick that there is a residue when you put a iron to a white shirt. Ends up having to be run thru another cycle, hot /warm (no detergent/soap) with sour, to get it out.

Post# 862964 , Reply# 31   1/19/2016 at 22:53 (1,006 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy