Claro Tabs (Copyright: claro products GmbH)

Ecological dishwasher tabs

Stiftung Warentest has put dishwasher tabs under the spotlight. In the current test, there are many products that contain an ecologically harmful chemical that is used to protect silver cutlery. But there are harmless alternatives.

Not all that sparkles is clean

Dishwashing tabs often advertise all-in-one multifunction: grease dissolving, descaling, clear rinsing and so on. One of the probably lesser-known functions is to protect silver cutlery and crockery from corrosion. To make this possible, the chemical benzotriazole is used. However, according to the classification of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), this has a hazardous effect on water. With every rinse cycle in which such a tab is used, the chemical is released into the waste water.

In the environment, benzotriazole sticks to suspended matter (such as algae or microplastics) and is then taken up by aquatic life such as crabs and fish. Benzotriazole has a hormonal effect and leads, for example, to fish no longer being able to reproduce after corresponding accumulation. Ultimately, the chemical can also be absorbed by humans through the food chain.

Prevention through avoidance

Even the most modern sewage treatment plants, which have a filter stage with activated carbon, can only filter part of the benzotriazole out of the water - the rest ends up in rivers and seas and thus continues to accumulate in the environment. It is much easier to avoid the problematic substance - already at home. Benzotriazole does not have to be specifically listed as an ingredient, but labels such as the Austrian Ecolabel, the EU Ecolabel and the Blue Angel prohibit the use of the ecologically questionable chemical. Therefore, consumers are advised to pay attention to these quality labels - in order to make an active contribution to environmental protection by buying an appropriate dishwasher detergent. Not using benzotriazole does not mean sacrificing good cleaning performance - as the current test by Stiftung Warentest shows, in which the Austrian manufacturer Claro received the best ratings for its eco-labelled products and was convincing in terms of both cleaning performance and environmental properties.

Watch the informative film report by SWR on the market check of dishwashers: