A dirty-dish rebellion in Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. - The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in the city of Spokane into dishwasher-detergent smugglers.
They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because, they say, the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well.
Spokane County last July instituted the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates. The ban, aimed at reducing water pollution, will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.
Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover, and Trader Joe's left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease, and too dirty to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.
As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers into Idaho in search of old-school suds.
Real estate agent Patti Marcotte of Spokane stocks up on detergent at a Costco in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and doesn't care who knows it.
"Yes, I am a smuggler," she said. "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes I cannot live with."
In truth, the ban applies to the sale of detergents containing phosphates - not its use or possession - so Marcotte is not in any legal trouble.