Red Eye Chicago

Dishing about detergents

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Talk about a clean sweep. The August issue of Consumer Reports reveals that the top five of 22 tested automatic dishwasher detergents come from Procter & Gamble’s Cascade brand.

The apparent key to the brand’s cleanlines­s: the use of enzymes, which are protein catalysts that speed up the breakdown of food particles during the wash cycle. Enzymes tend to work more effectivel­y in powder form, which accounts in part for the higher scores of powders and tablets, as opposed to the liquids.

Another chemical concept is generating buzz these days: phosphates. Starting in July 2008, as a nod to the environmen­t, detergents with more than 0.5 percent phosphorou­s content are banned from being sold in many areas of Washington state. According to Consumer Reports, phosphates may increase the cleaning efficacy of soaps, but they also cause algae to bloom in freshwater sources, an environmen­tal concern.

The highest-rated eco-friendly dishwashin­g detergent was Biokleen powder, which took eighth place.

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