Phosphate-Free Detergents: A Better Choice

Have you heard about phosphates? They’re the chemicals that are often used in products like laundry detergents, to help soften hard water and keep dirt in your washer rather than on your clothes. But in recent years, they’ve come under scrutiny, and more and more countries are trying to cut down on their use.

What’s wrong with phosphates?

Phosphates are natural fertilizers. When they enter a waterway, they can promote excessive plant growth and decay, which causes water quality to deteriorate and suffocates aquatic life.

Runoff from farms and lawns fertilized with phosphates is the largest contributor to phosphate pollution in waterways. And while pollution from detergents is comparatively small, companies committed to environmentally friendly products are doing what they can to alleviate it.

Phosphates are banned in some parts of the world

In fact, regulators in many countries have established a ban on the use of phosphates.

In regions of the world where phosphates are allowed, most retail laundry brands still sell formulas that contain them. But others, like Amway, have been committed to marketing phosphate-free detergents around the world for many years.

A commitment to our Independent Business Owners (IBO)

“We know that doing their part for the environment is important to our Amway Business Owners and customers,” said Doug Feenstra, a supervisor in home care formulation for Amway. “Giving them high-performing products with lower environmental impact has been a cornerstone of our business philosophy for more than 50 years. That’s what matters.”

Amway introduced its first phosphate-free laundry formula in the U.S. in the early 1970s. And it has manufactured phosphate-free laundry detergent for all its markets — even countries that don’t regulate phosphates — since the early 2000s.

Amway’s history of phosphate-free formulas

“(In the 1970s), we made it available across the country, including localities that hadn’t yet banned phosphates, to give customers a phosphate-free choice,” said Phil Sliva, a principal research scientist at Amway.

By the mid-1990s, we had developed a formula that performed on a par with our phosphate-containing detergents. We began to educate customers that they would get the same high-quality performance from the new phosphate-free formula as they got from the old detergent.

– Phil Sliva, a principal research scientist at Amway

Next, the company began replacing the original formula with the phosphate-free Bioquest™ Formula in both the U.S. and Europe. Asian markets followed in the early 2000s.

In 2008, Amway also introduced a phosphate-free formula for automatic dishwasher detergent. The company rolled it out first in North America, and two years later expanded to Europe, Russia and Japan.

Amway phosphate-free innovations

Our phosphate-free formula is one of our most patented powdered laundry detergent formulas ever, from the addition of the agent that helps the powder dissolve rapidly to the process by which we form the granule. It is entirely developed by Amway scientists.

– Phil Sliva, a principal research scientist at Amway

Amway uses a different phosphate alternative from many detergent makers, focusing on what Sliva calls soluble “builders.” Those are citrates, a natural fermentation product from grain, and sodium carbonate, which is refined from a mineral. “Both are fully soluble, so they will not leave an irritating residue on fabrics,” he said.

Ongoing commitment to green products

Today, most Amway laundry, dish and surface care products contain active ingredients derived from natural sources. They’re concentrated, biodegradable, environmentally sensitive and safer for families, while providing high-performance cleaning.

Our commitment has led us to a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program. The DfE designation helps consumers find safer products that perform well. More than 40 of Amway’s home care formulas have already qualified for the designation, and the company is working to qualify all of its home care products.

Want to learn more?

Find details on all of Amway’s sustainable cleaning products here.

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