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A quick search turns up the following categories:

  • Actual TSP (trisodium phosphate)

  • TSP-PF (phosphate free) - what's the significance?

  • TSP "substitute" - still not clear what this actually means

"Trisodium Phosphate removes greasy, sooty dirt and prepares surface for repainting" is a typical description.

What are the practical differences among these alternatives? I assume they can't all function identically.

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TSP stands for tri sodium phosphate . Anything not containing a lot of phosphate is not TSP ,so it can be anything. I would guess some kind of detergent. Detergents formerly contained significant amounts of TSP but now it is politically incorrect . So I get TSP and add a spoonful to the dishwasher for each load . It is also very useful as fertilizer in the yard but watch your pH level. My soil happens to be very acidic so TSP is a win-win fertilizer in my yard.

  • Politically incorrect? – DaveInCaz Jan 2 at 18:46
  • @DaveInCaz I believe it is a reference to TSP not being used much in detergents anymore as they are damaging to water ways. It is political correctness to care about the environment and algae blooms is how I read the subtext. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trisodium_phosphate#Regulation – UnhandledExcepSean Jan 2 at 20:20
  • @UnhandledExcepSean thanks... I think it is a matter of opinion whether something is done for "politically correct" (and therefore invalid?) reasons vs some other motivation (therefore valid?). So as far as this answer goes, it would be clearer and more objective simply to state that there are limitations or bans on using TSP. Whether or not those limitations are justified seems beside the point. – DaveInCaz Jan 2 at 20:46
  • +1. It's either real TSP or it isn't. That's the extremely significant difference. – Mazura Jan 3 at 5:02

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