Dishwashing tabs with low waterfootprint

The Dishwasher is our second important cleaning tool in the guest-house. All groups use the dishwasher to clean their dishes. The dishwasher has high load factor.

I. Dishwashing Detergent

There are several Tests of dishwasher detergents. Main difference is if the tabs contain Phosphate or not. There are several phosphate-Free products on the market. They are sold by discounters or in the ecostores. We made a selection of tested products from discounters and ecostores with their results and prices. We only used Phosphate-free products, because of their water-sensitiveness. In Germany phosphates are only banned in washing-detergents but not in dishwasher-detergents.

Comparison-Chart of phosphate-free dishwasher detergents







fit Grüne Kraft classic


eco-friendly, gently

test “good” (2.1)*

best product

Seems to be the best and secure choice. Should be compared with “Denkmit nature”



eco-friendly, but partly poor cleaning

test “good” (2.4)*

second best

Second best choice.

Denkmit nature


eco-friendly, medium cleaning capabilities and additional salt-use needed

test “sufficient” (4.1)*

Poor cleaning results.

Lidl / W5 All-in-One Dish-washing tabs phosphate-free


good results, eco-friendly

good (2,4)**

Cheap and effective product but from criticized Lidl-discounter.#

domol Geschirr-Reiniger-Tabs “ultra sensitive”


good leaning results, eco-friendly

good ***

Cheap good-product – but replaced by new product.#


Ecover tabs


eco-friendly but very poor cleaning

test “sufficient” (4.2)*

poor product

the best of the ecostore-products, but still poor. Is salt the problem?

Sodasan Öko tabs


very poor washing results, eco-friendly

test “poor” (4.6)*



very poor washing-results, very eco-friendly

test “poor” (4,8)*

Sonett tabs


very poor washing results, very eco-friendly

test “poor” (4,9)*

* in: Stiftung Warentest, Berlin, Heft 8/2010

** in: Guter Rat, Heft 3/2012

*** in: Testmagazin, Heft 10/2011 / Product replaced

# Test was made from a commercial testing-journal.

Choosing the best dishwasher

After a long research we decided to buy a dishwasher from the Company BEKO.

We choose the product “BEKO DFN 6632”. It is certified Energy-Class A+ with a consumption of 0,94kW/h energy and 10l water in the standard-program (“ECO”).

The next best A++-Product would safe only 0,02kWh with same water-consumption but a much higher price. A nearly similar Model was tested “good” from Stiftung Warentest. The newest Model with Stiftung Warentest “good”-rating  is “BEKO DSN 6832 FX30”. It safes another 0,12kWh per washing-service while water-consumption is the same.

Using the right program

Comparing the Eco-program with other programs of the machine…

“Eco”: 171 Minutes, 10 l Water, 0,94 kWh Energy-Consumption

“Quick an clean”: 113 Minutes faster, 0,2l Water more, 0,38kWh more energy

“Intensive”: 28 Minutes faster, 6 l more Water, 0,32kWh more energy.

In practical tests with the machine we made the conclusion that the use of the program has to be adjusted to the group-size and it’s needs.

Large groups (more then 10 people):

In daytime during the meals should use the program “Quick and clean”, otherwise they get a storage-problem with dirty plates. For overnight-service they can use as well “Eco” (with mainly glasses and cups) or “Intensive” (if the plates are dirty and a lot of them.

Small groups (up to 10 people):

Should use the eco-program normally if the plates are not to dirty. Quick and clean is the best choice if they have less time between the dishes and need the plates and intensive if they turn on the dishwasher with hard and/or sticky food on the plates.

Improvement idea

Install a sign for the users!

Caution: We have a solar-thermal-water-system, that is providing 60° hot water through the warm-water-pipes. In case of strong sunshine this water will be delivered from solar-energy and with almost no energy-consumption. In this case the “Quick an Clean” program is a very good alternative, because it consumes nearly the same water, is much faster and the energy-consumption will not be almost the same because of the 60° water provided from the tubes.

The “Intensive”-program should only be used if the dishes a very dirty and the machine is very full and/or the dishes stand for a long period in the dishwasher.



Washing with the right waters

It’s good that we can mention good news in the beginning: the biggest problem of water pollution from washing detergents is largely solved in Germany now: The use of phosphates.

By legal regulations (prohibitions) and technical innovations in the water-treatment plants, the load of phosphate has been greatly reduced. Therefore, the energy efficiency in the washing process has become the most important environmental factor.

But still other ingredients of detergents pollute the waters.

Factors that influence water consumption and water pollution are:
1. Washing machine water consumption
2. Efficiency of the washing process and proper dosage
3. Choice of detergent and ingredients
4. Packing of detergent

1. Water consumption of the washing machine
When buying new washing machines, the consumption values must be specified.
Consumers should make sure to use a machine with the energy efficiency class at least A ++ or A +++. This machines consume at least 35% less energy than a machine of class A. In addition, care should be taken on water consumption. In the standard wash program – depending on the machine size – the water-usage should be between 40 litres (5kg machine) and 50 litres (8kg machine) per wash cycle.
In addition, the machine should have a capacity mechanism, which adjusts the amount of water used in accordance with the load factor of the machine.
The Eco-top-ten list of the Öko-Institut e.V. can help in selecting an appropriate product:

2. Efficiency of the washing process and the dosing.
630,000 tons of detergent are consumed annually in Germany. That are nearly 8 kg of washing-detergent per resident on average. In addition, 220,000 tons of special agents, softeners, cleaning products, etc. pollute the environment and in particular the wastewater.
Compact detergents can help you to dose the detergent and additives exact amount. Detergents can work only with soft water. Therefore, each detergent must contain softeners. But the local water hardness varies depending on the region. The Berlin tap water has an average water hardness of 17 ° dH, which means that it is “hard” water. In order to ensure an optimal blend of detergents and softeners, we recommend the use of a modular system, because otherwise ready mixed detergents contain unnecessarily many surfactants, enzymes and possibly bleach and with this pollute the wastewater useless.
Duty detergents also contain bleaches and should therefore only used for white laundry or to disinfect laundry against infectious diseases. Modular systems in this case allow the targeted use  as well.
Instead of a modular system colour detergents are used with minimum dosage (soft water) and combined with additional bleach and softener. At the Berlin water hardness, this can save about 40% of the detergent substances. Remember: Also ecological detergent pollute the water – though usually far less than petrochemicals.

Moreover, the choice of the right wash cycle is of central importance.
Temperature: In general, the washing temperature should be set for standard soiling in between 30 and 40 °.  According to the German Federal Environmental Agency this is sufficient for modern detergent (also eco). To disinfect the machine (as well as in case of diseases) every 2 to 4 weeks a machine should be washed with 60 °C.
Only in special cases, where germ-free laundry is needed, a hot wash with 90° is recommended. Boiled washing requires more than twice as much energy as a 60° wash.
Wash cycle: It is important to adjust the wash cycle to the appropriate wash. This washing separation makes sense to use the optimal washing programs. In general, we recommend a high loading factor of the machine but ensuring not to overloaded it. This increases the washing efficiency and saves a lot of energy and water. Modern machines have extra long eco-programs. This saves despite its long program-duration a significant amount of energy and water.

3. choice of detergent and ingredients
Although no phosphates are used in Germany any more many other ingredients of detergents pollute water heavily.

The yield of the detergent, their ingredients and the proper dosage play a crucial role to reduce water pollution. Modern detergents use surfactants (cleansing substances) to dissolve grease and dirt from the clothes. The natural soap surfactant has been replaced with synthetic surfactants in conventional detergents, which are made with high energy consumption from coal and petroleum. But there are surfactants derived from renewable resources such as sugar and vegetable oils. They are readily biodegradable and are often used by eco-brands. Ecological detergent also go without fillers (to make it appear larger by volume), optical brighteners, chlorine or controversial genetically engineered enzymes that are frequently used by the conventional detergent industry. But who wants to minimize environmental burden, should resort to a perfume-free detergent. Some fragrances, such as the citrus fruits are toxic to aquatic organisms.

A major problem of vegetable detergent surfactant production is currently, the extensive use of palm kernel oil and coconut oil. The ever-increasing demand for these oils has already led to massive environmental destruction, especially in Asia and has a comprehensively dramatic impact on ecosystems and therefore the water. Palm oil from organic production can alleviate this dramatic development. However, the production of organic palm oil worldwide is currently negligible.

When selecting a detergent one should consider the following criteria:

1. Efficiency of detergent power even at low temperatures

2. Biodegradable (organic ingredients as possible)

3. Modular system to dispense water softener and bleach correctly

4. Free of optical brighteners and perfume

5. Not tested on animals

6. Recycled packaging material

7. Phosphate free (in Germany already standard, but in other countries not very often!)

8. In general, enzymes are important cleansing ingredients, but allergies sufferers should consider whether the use of enzymes for them has negative consequences.

Two certifications can assist in the selection of detergents:

The stricter Eco-guarantee logo and the EU Ecolabel

Apart from that also the usage of fabric softeners should be largely dispensed. Often they contain a large number of potentially allergies promoting and environmentally harmful ingredients.

The strength of washing of diverse products is regularly tested by e.g. Stiftung Warentest (Foundation of product-testing) or Öko-Test (eco-test).

Our Eco-Tips

AlmaWin / Klarwashingcomparison

During our research, we were particularly convinced by the products of the company’s Almawin / Klar. In addition to using exclusively plants, easily biodegradable and largely organically produced detergents, the company produces with clean power. With the product line “Klar” the company Almawin offers a perfume-free detergent, which achieved good washing results in the test of the magazine “Öko-Test”. But it’s relatively expensive.

Finally OBUK e.V. decided to use the AlmaWin detergent in the guest-house as a first choice.


Products of the company Ecover also have good washing results. Ecover pays attention to ecological production and use of substances that put little stress on the the waters. In addition, perfume free products are offered. Ecover endeavors to reduce and perspectively abolish the usage of detergents that contains environmentally and socially often very problematic produced palm oil.

Frog – to strike a balance

The Color washing powder of the brand “Frosch” convinced us with good washing results, good environmental properties and an average price. The German manufacturer Werner & Mertz is committed to organic production, ensuring animal welfare and the exclusive use of plant surfactants with high and rapid biodegradability. In addition, the manufacturer is trying to reduce the use of palm oil and foster the use of surfactants from European raw materials. Unfortunately, however, he offers no perfume-free products.

The conventional way

The drugstore chain DM offers with their product “Denk mit – Colorwaschmittel Aktiv Schutz” value for money as well as good washing results but little information about the production process. After all, the manufacturers have set their target of sustainable production.