Dishwasher liquid with phosphate is effective because it removes food and grease, reduces spotting and filming on dishes, and controls water hardness. It also suspends bits of food stuck on the dishes so they are not redistributed during the washing cycle. However, many people have concerns about its environmental impact.
In 2010, many states endorsed a ban on phosphates in both dishwasher and laundry detergents. This followed as a result of many lakes and rivers being filled up with phosphates. High concentrations of phosphates lower oxygen content for algae growth and threaten the freshwater ecosystem. Alternatives to dishwasher liquids with phosphates that can remove film and grease are citric acid and vinegar.