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Seventh Generation offers several earth-friendly products to help you get your dishes clean while minimizing your environmental impact. In addition to the Free & Clear Automatic Dishwasher Detergent reviewed here (which comes in powder form), Seventh Generation also makes Automatic Dishwasher Gel, Dishwasher Detergent Packs, and a Dishwasher Rinse Aid to use with your home dishwasher.
As with all Seventh Generation products, all ingredients are disclosed on the package so consumers know exactly what they are buying. The Automatic Dishwasher Detergent contains sodium carbonate, citric acid, coconut based surfactant, non-toxic polymers, sodium silicate, sodium chloride (salt), sodium sulfate, sodium perborate, and non-animal derived enzymes.
The formula is non-toxic and contains no chlorine or phosphates. It is kosher certified and approved for use with septic and greywater systems. The box is made from 100% recycled paper, containing a minimum of 40% post-consumer waste.
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The Free & Clear Dishwasher Detergent is available in 45 oz. and 75 oz. packages, with prices ranging from around $5.00 for the smaller package and about $8.00 for the larger size. You can find the detergent at most mainstream and natural food stores or online.
When I first started using the powdered Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent, I felt it did a great job of getting my dishes clean. However, after a while I noticed a couple minor problems. A film would sometimes be left on my glassware and/or some detergent would be left undissolved in the dispenser after the washing cycle was completed. These problems didn't really bother me until, quite by accident, I switched detergents for a while.
For about a week, while I was out of Seventh Generation, I used a mainstream dishwasher detergent. Boy, were my dishes clean! As much as I wanted to believe that my natural brand cleaned as well as a brand that wasn't so eco-friendly, I found quite a discrepancy. My glassware sparkled. The old coffee stains in my mugs were gone.
I won't switch to consistently using a conventional dishwasher detergent, though. Phosphates, which can harm water life, are still used in most big brand dishwasher detergents.
I'm going to try Seventh Generation's liquid detergent in hopes that the issues I have with the powered detergent will be solved. Although I know that buying the gel detergent will come with a larger carbon footprint associated with the packaging and transportation of the product, it will help keep phosphates out of the water system.