Tardy Roundup: Dishwash detergent edition

Finally am climbing out from under the mountain of work. Monday the last of the five courses I’ve redesigned and rewritten went up onto their new sites. Yesterday I gave myself a vacation day. Soooo…. More work has already started to accrete: Haven’t written the newsletter that was supposed to have been done last week; haven’t got a single post ahead and so am late with today’s post.

Yea, verily. It’s quarter after 11 and I haven’t done anything even vaguely resembling paying work. Whyyyy? Because I spent half the morning scouring gray film off my glasses and stainless cookware, that’s why.

And why would that be? Because dishwasher detergent no longer works, thanks to the infinite wisdom of the Green Shirts and their lobbyists. As you know, last year the government mandated that detergent manufacturers remove phosphorus, the ingredient that softens water and makes dishwasher detergent function in hard-water areas. In going through my stockpile, I broke into a new container of Finish (phosphorus-free) Powerball tabs, to ill effect. First thing I noticed was that the price hasn’t changed but the package size has: 20 fewer packets. That’s 16% less product for the same or more money. (But don’t worry, folks, be happy: there’s no inflation!) Second thing, of course, is that the stuff doesn’t get the dishes clean. However, it does coat them with a sticky film of whitish-gray gunk that has to be scrubbed off with Barkeeper’s Helper.

To get that $500 appliance sitting under your kitchen counter to do something useful now, you can try one of four things:

Add a teaspoon of TSP (available at paint stores and some hardware stores—read the label and be sure to get the real thing, not “substitute”) to each washload; or
Buy commercial dishwasher detergent, which thanks to the wisdom of the restaurant and hotel industries and their lobbyists, was exempted from the new law; or
Use the dishwasher as a giant dish rack to drain the dishes you now have to wash by hand; or
Replace the dishwasher with a wine cooler or a new under-counter cabinet.

Me, I’m opting for the commercial dishwasher detergent, which can be found in restaurant and janitorial supply houses or through an online retailer. Yeah, I know: shameful unregenerate environment-wrecking earth-killing megabitch! But…before you hurl that epithet, consider: in these parts sewer water is not returned to rivers and lakes (we don’t even have any rivers or lakes anymore). It’s filtered, which removes most of the phosphorus, and then it’s used to irrigate golf courses, of which we have more, per capita, than any other state in the nation. There, what little remains of the phosphorus is consumed by the grass: it’s a fertilizer.

Well. That project done, that issue resolved, it’s on to more interesting things. To wit: what’s been going on in the blogosphere while I’ve been wandering around the seventh level of Hades?

I got quite a boot out of Crystal’s daily and weekly blogging checklists, over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Oh, to be young and full of energy again! ;-) Seriously, if I would get my act that much together, I’d spend a lot less time spinning my wheels.

Frugal Scholar has published SO many nice posts lately, it’s hard to pick one out. Blogger won’t let me comment on that site anymore—it’s decided I have to sign up first for my own Google Blogger site, for which I have no use and which I ain’t a-gunna do. So about all I can manage is to tell you from here how great some of these stories are. Check out her interesting observation that one may not need to shred documents after all. (But, by way of comment, Frugal: one day my neighbor walked into the alley to dump her trash and found a man sitting on the ground next to our four-house dumpster going through the paper he’d pulled out of there.) Also don’t miss Frugal’s post on frugality and aesthetics, which contains a link to some very inspirational decorating images.

Had to forward Revanche’s post about her new doggle to M’hijito, whose puppy was born just a few days ago. Heh heh heh heh…  As Gai Shan Life fans know, Revanche and her PiC have been contemplating their coming wedding, which has led her to some fairly amazing ruminations. How many of us can lean back and murmur, smugly, Thank God we’ll never have to go through that again?

Over at My Journey to Millions, Evan has found a site that will disgorge a free credit score for you. As you’ll recall, I recently ordered up credit reports from Annual Credit Report.com, but credit bureaus do not normally share your actual credit score without charging a fee. There’s a sales pitch at the site Evan discovered, but as he explains, it’s easy to avoid if you know about it.

Money Beagle, who apparently is still biding his time until Mrs. Beagle delivers the latest Beaglet, tells a very funny story on himself (uhm…funny if you enjoy watching other people’s Laurel & Hardy antics).

OMG! Hang onto your hats, folks, and check out the entire freaking wardrobe Mrs. Accountability scored for under twenty bucks! Not only did she practically steal the stuff, the clothes are cute and will look great on her.

Nicole and Maggie… Theirs is one of my fave blogs, which I’ve finally, just this minute, gotten around to adding to Funny’s blogroll. This post from Grumpy Rumblings felt particularly apposite this week, after I’d spent a fair amount of time listening to both KJG and La Maya hold forth about the peculiarities of their extended families.

Over at The Digerati Life, Silicon Valley Blogger has been posting a lot of nice pragmatic stuff. But in amongst the good advice, what should pop up but one of those ruminations that I tend to favor, a piece by writer Jacques Sprenger on money and couples relationships.

Y’know, I doubt if any living, breathing blogger can crank more posts in a single day than Julia at Bargain Babe. Every day, it’s deals deals deals—you really need to subscribe so you can keep your eye on this site. Today there’s a cookbook giveaway, and then leads to fistfuls of grocery coupons and free seeds and paw cleaner…paw cleaner? Go there, get that.

Check out this fast but interesting post on the psychology of brokitude, over at Money Crush. As much is not said here as is said…and that’s what makes it intriguing.

Microfibers, microfibers, OMG microfibers! At Ultimate Money Blog, Mrs. Money does a dance to spring microfiber cloths and asks readers for creative ideas on using the things.

So it goes. And now I must excuse myself to write a very, very, very overdue newsletter.

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Nicoleandmaggie June 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Awwww, thanks for the compliment!

Linda June 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Wow, I didn’t realize dishwasher detergent got reformulated. I have a box bought sometime last year that is nearing the end, so I bought some more just last week. I guess I’ll have to see how it performs and follow your tips if it is unsatisfactory. After nine years without a dishwasher, I’m so happy to have one that I’m certainly not converting it to a big dishrack. Besides, it makes sharing the kitchen with my roomie/tenants much easier. I’d hate to lose those lovely rent checks every month because I “lose it” over dishes left in the sink for days.

frugalscholar June 16, 2011 at 5:27 am

Luckily, Mr FS does the dishes. I wonder if the film is from too much detergent that doesn’t rinse off–in a parallel to too much laundry detergent.

funny June 16, 2011 at 5:42 am

@ frugalscholar: From what I’m able to tell, it happens because phosphates are needed to prevent hard-water spotting and film from forming inside dishwashers. It’s the phosphate — which is what TSP is (trisodium phosphate) — that actually cleans the dishes in a dishwasher.

Regular dish soap is a whole ‘nother animal. It contains different ingredients.

@ Linda: LOL! I remember the roommates’ dishes in the sink well! My mother had given us a set of her dishes, and one time when she came into town and saw a stack of several days’ worth sitting in water in the dirty sink, she was furious. She remarked that dishes get little cracks in them where (eeek!) germs would grow and make us sick.

Indeed, the very reason I wouldn’t be without a dishwasher is that it lets me keep the countertop and sink clear (and clean) while I’m cooking and moving around the kitchen (I stick the used dishes and cookware in the washer as I’m going), and that it allows me to delay having to run hot water and use soap until enough dishes have accrued to make the job worthwhile. With just one person in the house, I don’t run the dishwasher every day. IMHO, this saves a fair amount of energy, water, and chemicals.

Just pisses me off, though, that now we have to jump through yet another hoop to get our daily lives to function.

On the other hand, if I’m remembering the price right, buying commercial dishwash detergent will be a lot cheaper. I paid $15 at Costco for 58 oz of tabs; the same weight of commercial powder cost $10.

frugalscholar June 16, 2011 at 5:56 am

AHHHH. You inspired me to write a post about dish washing, a task I haven’t done much of…

Evan June 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

Thanks for the mention.

I freaking love that you figured out a phosphorus free work around already! lol

funny June 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Ahhh, but Evan: it’s not phosphorus-free.

The deal is, industry lobbyists engineered an exemption from the law for commercial dishwasher detergents, used in restaurants, hotels, hospitals, care homes, churches, soup kitchens, and the like. And you, too, can buy this stuff: just order it off the Web or present yourself at a restaurant supply or janitorial supply house.

Yea, verily, sometimes even the man (or woman) in the street can take advantage of Congress’s hypocrisy and corruption. ;-)

Danielle June 17, 2011 at 6:13 am

Oh wow! I must be under a rock because I didn’t know that phosphorus had been banned! That totally explains why I thought my dishwasher was going bad. My dishes look awful :(. Thanks for the tip!

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