Homemakers in a lather over suds ban

March 31, 2009 8:17:41 AM PDT
What you use to wash your dishes is now under attack by some environmental activists.

The Oregon state senate last night approved a ban on dishwasher detergents with high amounts of phosphorus.

If it becomes law, the ban would go into effect July 2010.

Phosphorus is a problem for local waterways, because it helps algae blooms grow, and that sucks the oxygen out of the water.

The same ban in Spokane, Washington, has already created a black market for dishwashing detergent. Shoppers are crossing the border into Idaho, to smuggle suds.

Many people wonder if the eco-friendly brands leave dangerous bacteria on foods, not just a greasy film.

Even supporters admit the ban isn't very popular.

The Washington Lake Protection Association admits people are driving to Idaho to get big name brands like Cascade, after finding baked-on goo and grease on their dishes, after using more eco-friendly brands.

Patty Marcott is one of the confessed "detergent smugglers." She stockpiles the detergent in her basement. She claims the green bands actually waste more water and energy.

"It's ridiculous. I've had to clean every dish in the sink, or run the dishwasher again to get the film off," Patty says.

Another mom loves to be organic, but admits 'going green' can be greasy.

"I was like, let's try something natural and the one thing we did try did not work as well," she says.

How well a green detergent works may depend on your water at home. Hard water can be soap resistant, so add a water softener, and it may help the green detergent clean better.

In July 2010, Oregon residents who are loyal to certain brands may find their suds are no longer legal.

One frustrated homemaker said, "If it doesn't do what you're expecting it to do, what are you going to do."

Though to others, sparkling clean rivers outweigh sparkling dishes.

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