Soap Smuggling's "Thelma and Louise"

What do you do when you can't get your dishes clean enough? Run across the state border of course, and smuggle in banned substances.

Carole Spotts and her friend Susan Barrentine call themselves the real-life "Thelma and Louise." Those 1990's movie characters gained fame for running from the law.

Carole and Susan are driving 70 miles round trip, to Idaho and back, to get a substance banned in their home state of Washington. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy followed them into the deep, dark corners of - the dishwasher detergent aisle.

They're on the hunt for detergent made with phosphates - chemicals known to get your dishes clean. They're bringing the dishwasher soap back to Spokane because phosphate detergents can't be sold there - though it's still legal to use them.

When phosphates go down the drain, they end up in rivers and lakes - causing algae to grow. The algae steals the oxygen from fish and other aquatic life.

Phosphates were banned nationwide from laundry detergents in the 1990's. This month they've been banned in dishwater detergents in Washington and at least 15 other states.

Carole worries about the environment, but says the non-phosphate cleaners just don't work - leaving a film on everything from spatulas to her glasses.

She showed off a bowl taken from her dishwasher that had spots and food debris.

"Most women aren't going to put up with this,'' she said

Ben Tracy agreed: "I'm a guy. I wouldn't put up with that. That is nasty."

Detergent manufacturers admit non-phosphate products haven't always worked well but say new formulas now hitting store shelves are much better.

In the meantime, Carole still smuggles her soap from Idaho. She says she'd be happy to use the new detergents, once they have a more spotless record.

"Carol Spotts likes spotless dishes."
  • Ben Tracy

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