I've long been frustrated (as, I'm sure, have many of my readers) with the declining effectiveness of laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, floor cleaners and other cleaning products. They just don't seem to work as well these days as they used to. The reason is pretty clear: the EPA and other Federal agencies have been trying to legislate or regulate many effective cleaning materials out of existence in the name of "environmental protection" or "pollution control" or whatever is the reason du jour. (That's not helped by new "efficiency" regulations that hobble the performance of new clothes and dish washers, even if they had the old full-strength detergents to use.)
I've tried to get around the problem wherever possible by "adding back" some of the missing ingredients to the cleaning products I use. One of the most common "hacks" is to add a little TSP (trisodium phosphate) to laundry or dishwasher detergent. Until recently I've bought a box of the stuff at home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes and the like) when needed, and it's lasted two or three years when used sparingly. I find it particularly useful for mopping dirty floors and cleaning grimy, greasy paintwork. I don't do that often, but when I do it makes the job much easier. It makes cleaning a charcoal or gas grill much faster, too, and a lot less effort.
Unfortunately, when I went shopping for a box of TSP yesterday, I found that the major home improvement chains in a nearby city have all stopped carrying it. Instead, they're selling what they call "TSP Substitute Phosphate-Free". The packaging claims that it's as good as the real stuff, but many customer reviews online are pretty emphatic that it's not. I daresay the EPA and/or other agencies "leaned on" those stores to stop carrying TSP.
Fortunately, there are still ways around that. One can get TSP online from various suppliers in 1lb. or 4½lb. boxes, or even in 40lb. buckets. Buying in bulk, like the latter option, is also quite a lot cheaper than the current substitutes. I've just ordered enough to keep us going for the foreseeable future, plus a little extra in case the bureaucrats shut down even the online channels. If you, like me, have been accustomed to using the stuff, or you want a powerful cleaner that just plain works, you might want to stock up on some yourself while the going's good.
Another bone of contention is pre-mixed or pre-diluted solutions of common cleaning products, whether spray bottles or aerosols or whatever. I may be wrong, but the small consumer-ready bottles on the racks seem to be less effective than before. I suspect the concentration of cleaning product has been reduced, and/or some of the chemicals used to make it have been replaced by environmentally friendlier alternatives. That's great for the eco-weenies, but not so useful if you're trying to get something clean in a hurry. I've therefore started to buy one-gallon bottles of concentrated cleaning detergents and products (e.g. Simple Green, Zep, bleach, vinegar, etc.) and mix my own solutions in my own spray bottles to higher concentrations than those sold commercially. No more problems with weak-kneed solutions!
I hear that some people add TSP to their solutions of such cleaners. I'm leery of that, because I don't know all the chemical reactions involved. Instead, I'll have a spray bottle of TSP solution right alongside the bottle of cleaning detergent solution. I'll apply first one, then the other, then use a mop or cloth to rub the combination into the surface I'm cleaning. Works like a charm.
Finally, if the supply chain goes to hell in a handbasket and we can't get the cleaners we need in a timely manner, it's good to have extra in your emergency supplies to take care of that until supplies are restored. (I wonder how many of them are made here, and how many come from China? Even if the products are made here, where do their containers come from?) Buying cleaners in bulk makes that easy. One can put aside a year or two's worth of concentrated product in not very much space, and for a lot less money per unit than buying small consumer-size containers. Add a few spray bottles to your preps to mix them, and you're all set.
Just a thought.