Dear Home-Ec 101:
A few months ago Heather wrote a post on the voluntary phosphorus ban in dishwashing detergent. I don’t recall offhand if Texas is under that ban, but regardless I can’t buy phosphorus detergent anymore. My cousin found a website that offers Cascade with phosphorus but hasn’t tried it out yet. My only concern is that it says “for commercial use only”. Is there any reason it couldn’t be used in home dishwasher? I have an apartment sized dishwasher and I know commercial ones are much bigger but that is the only potential difference I see.
Filmy in Fort Worth
Frankly, Filmy your question stumped me. You see, there are different kinds of commercial dishwashers, some are very much like home dishwashers. I put in a call to the Cascade Consumer Helpline – 1-800-765-5516 where I spoke with a very patient lady. Don’t worry, I didn’t say, “Don’t you know who I am?”
The only advice we can safely give is for you to call the manufacturer of your dishwasher and make sure the use of a commercial dish detergent would not void a warranty.
You mention that the appliance is apartment size. Are you a renter? Is this your landlord’s dishwasher? These factors would also have an impact on whether or not I chose to experiment with the commercial formula. I simply wouldn’t want to risk losing my damage deposit.
As a company Cascade is having to deal with many disappointed and even irate customers due to the change in regulations regarding the use of phosphates. All you have to do is look at the reviews of the products and this problem isn’t limited to Cascade. Some of these complaints stem from people using the detergent improperly, which must be frustrating for both the consumer and producer. Make sure you follow the directions exactly and use a rinse aid to help get rid of any film.
Additionally, set your water heater to 120°F at a minimum. Without phosphates to improve solubility, hot water is that much more important. Keeping your hot water at 120F or lower is actually in a temperature range that can allow Legionella to grow. What’s Legionella? Have you heard of Legionnaire’s disease? That. 140°F is the temperature recommended to keep bacteria in check. As a side note, if you have young children or elderly family members in the home, it’s important to not keep the hot water heater too hot, to reduce the risk of burns. There’s always a trade off, isn’t there?
Whichever temperature you decide, be sure to give your dishwasher a jump start by running the water in the nearest sink until it’s hot before pressing start. This helps ensure the dishwasher has the hottest water possible to clean your dishes. Don’t waste that water, just fill the sink to clean the rest of the kitchen or catch it in a bucket to water plants -just let it cool, first.
Be aware that without the phosphates that help rinse away deposits aluminum cookware is more likely to discolor. It may be worthwhile to handwash these pots and pans.
Finally, Cascade recommends the Action Pacs for areas with very hard water.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.