A growing number of consumers are reporting that their dishes are not getting clean in their dishwashers.

Recent state laws have limited the amount of phosphates that dishwasher soap manufactures can have in their soap. After 16 states adopted such laws, manufactures changed the formulas that they sell nationwide.

Dennis Griesing, of the American Cleaning Institute, explained how the phosphates help to clean dishes: “Phosphorus likes to bind to things. It’s a very sociable element. It would hold soil from plates and glasses in suspension in the water and prevent redeposition.”

Without the phosphates, dishes just aren’t getting clean.

Consumers are often reporting that their dishes are covered with a thin white film after washing. The film is generally a combination of magnesium, calcium and aluminum, the elements that make water ‘hard’. The film is very difficult to remove.

 “Some are tossing out sets of dishes and replacing their dishwashers – only to find the gunk appear again in a few days, reported tbo.com.

Appliance repairmen are reporting an increase in calls related to dishwashers not getting dishes clean.

The news laws are intended to protect the environment. Phosphate is a fertilizer. With each load of dishes washed, phosphates would wash down the drain and eventually end up in lakes and oceans. It’s suspected that this leads to huge algae blooms, which are detrimental to sea life.

While dishwasher soaps appear less effective than they once were, other products are stepping up to the (dirty) plate. Consumer related forums often mention products such as Lemi Shine as a way to get dishes clean. Lemi Shine is used in an empty dishwasher first, to clean the washer. Afterwords it is used in the main dispenser, with regular dishwasher soap in the secondary dispenser, during each wash.