Consumers Still Cloudy on Phosphate Ban

GE clears up confusion with tips to fight filmy dishware

  • While detergents with less phosphate are better for the environment, it creates a special dilemma for dishwasher users
  • Get advice from GE Appliances and top detergent manufacturers to make the most of your dishwasher’s cleaning performance.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--()--(NYSE: GE) — As a result of phosphates no longer being included in dishwashing detergents, murky residue on glasses, plates, and utensils are plaguing consumers who live in areas with hard water.

“Many people still blame their dishwasher when a film covers their dinnerware,” says Lee Lagomarcino, marketing specialist for GE Appliances. “Most consumers aren’t aware of the ban on phosphates in their detergents.”

In the past, detergent manufactures used phosphates to separate calcium and other minerals on dishes, which helped consumers fight hard water build-up and enjoy sparkling dishes.

But, when too much phosphate ends up in aquatic environments, it spurs the growth of algae blooms that rob oxygen from fish and plants. The regulation banning phosphates from dishwashing detergents lessens the amount of phosphates that end up in waterways like streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the U.S.1

While your dishwasher isn’t the culprit, GE teamed up with Reckitt Benckiser and Lemi-Shine to deliver top tips to remove the film and make sure it doesn’t return. “We want our customers to be satisfied with their dishwasher 100 percent of the time,” says Lagomarcino.

Get the gleam back in your glasses

If your dishware or your dishwasher’s interior looks cloudy, there’s an easy test to determine if you have build-up due to detergents’ phosphate-free formulation.

“There’s a simple test we call the vinegar check,” says Diane Hoffman, senior strategic alliance manager, at Reckitt Benckiser. “Take a paper towel, dip it in vinegar, and gently rub the glass. If the cloudiness goes away, it’s hard water build-up.”

If your vinegar check reveals an issue of build-up, you can wipe out the problem fairly easily according to dishwashing chemists at GE. Either dump two cups of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher and run it on the coolest, shortest heat setting possible, or use a detergent booster.

“A detergent additive will take the calcium and magnesium out of the water, similar to what phosphates used to do,” says Marty Hammond, chief sales officer at Lemi-Shine, which manufacturers a detergent booster.

Once the cloud has been lifted from dishes and the dishwasher, follow these steps to maximize your dishwasher’s results and avoid hard water build-up in the future.

  1. Check Consumer Reports, which conducted a phosphate-free test in Oct. 2011, for information on detergents that performed the best. All top seven performers were single-dose detergents, either pacs or tablets.
  2. Use a rinse aid with every wash.
  3. Follow-up with a detergent booster periodically when you start to notice the build-up of white film on your dishes.
  4. Install a whole-home water softener. A water softener will help combat scaling on your dishes as well as extend the life of your dishwasher, water heater, and faucets. GE Appliances offers a whole-home water softener for about $400.*

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GE Appliances is at the forefront of building innovative, energy-efficient appliances that improve people's lives. GE Appliances' products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, water filtration systems and water heaters. General Electric (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter to build a world that works better. For more information on GE Appliances, visit

1 GreenDesigner Staff. " Household Dish Detergents Now Phosphate-Free.” July 2, 2010. GreenBiz Group, Inc. December 5, 2012.

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GE Appliances
Julie Wood, Manager, Appliances PR, 502-452-5914

Release Summary

With phosphates no longer in dish detergents, murky residue is plaguing consumers who live with hard water. GE teamed with Reckitt Benckiser & Lemi-Shine on tips to remove film and keep it away.


GE Appliances
Julie Wood, Manager, Appliances PR, 502-452-5914