Using environmentally safe cleaning products is vital to maintaining a healthy home. Eco-friendly dishwashing detergents can eliminate grease, food particles, and bacteria from our dishes without the use of harmful chemicals. They are also effective in keeping food prep areas clean and preventing contamination from the microbial that cause disease. Using only eco-friendly dish soap or dishwasher packs keeps toxic chemicals out of our home and out of the water system. Buying environmentally safe cleaning products also helps reduce plastic pollution and reduce carbon footprint.
However, most people rarely think about the ingredients of dish soaps and dishwasher packs and the possible side effects of using them. Unfortunately, some ingredients in dishwashing detergents can cause health problems such as contact dermatitis, allergies, eye and throat irritation, and headaches when inhaled. Besides being potentially harmful to our health, most dishwashing products have an environmental impact once they enter the wastewater system.
Common Chemicals in Dishwashing Detergents
Dishwashing products commonly contain a range of chemicals such as surfactants, softeners, bleaches, fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and other additives. The packaging of dish cleaning products also contributes to plastic pollution.
Surfactants: Synthetic surfactants are used in dishwashing detergents to lower the surface tension of the water and attract grease to wash it away. However, these chemicals degrade slowly, leaving the traces in the soil and water. Many surfactants are toxic to fish and kill their eggs.
Phosphates: Phosphates in dishwashing products reduce water hardness by binding mineral salts and increasing the effectiveness of the cleaning product. High phosphate levels in waterways can cause harmful algal blooms that deplete oxygen and release toxins, killing fish and plants.
Bleaching agents: Most mainstream brands still contain chlorine-based bleaching agents that increase washing efficiency and help to remove stubborn stains from the dishes. Chlorine bleach fumes that are often released into the air during the dry cycle on the dishwasher can cause respiratory problems and aggravate asthma. Chlorine is also toxic to fish and frogs and it is not readily degradable.
Fragrances: Fragrances are used in dishwashing liquids to make the product smell nice. A pleasant smell in dishwasher detergents is often demanded by consumers. The term “fragrances” may hide toxic substances that can irritate the skin and cause migraine headaches. These substances are also bioaccumulative and environmentally harmful.
Preservatives: Preservatives are used in liquid cleaning products to prevent microbial growth and product spoilage. However, preservatives can cause hypersensitivity and allergies. Some preservatives such as triclosan are hazardous to our endocrine systems. Triclosan is also bioaccumulative and environmentally problematic.
Other questionable ingredients in dishwashing cleaners include alkaline salts, anti-corrosion agents, thickening agents, and synthetic dyes.
Problems with Plastic Packaging
Plastic packaging contains additives and impurities that can be released from plastics, contaminating soil, water, air, and food. Plastic bottles and tubes that end up in the garbage contribute to landfill problems.
When buying detergents in plastic bottles check is if the bottle can be recycled. If this aspect isn’t clearly labeled on the bottle, look for the plastic recycling code number that should be stamped on the bottle.
Environmentally Friendly Dishwashing Detergents
Environmentally friendly dishwashing detergents have lower toxicity and have less of an impact on the environment after entering the waterways than traditional cleaning products.
- These products won’t cause allergy-related problems after coming into contact with the skin or when inhaled.
- They are made from natural, renewable raw materials and produced by using sustainable energy sources.
- Eco-friendly dish detergents contain only biodegradable natural ingredients, which makes them septic tank and grey water safe.
- All ingredients are listed on the product label.
- Green products come in biodegradable or recyclable packaging. The packaging doesn’t contain plastic materials that can be problematic after their disposal.
- Eco-friendly dish detergents are concentrated. They contain less water, which means less packaging items, less weight in shipping, and less transport-related carbon emissions.
This 100% natural formula contains only 6 ingredients: water, vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, potash, castor oil, and lavender essential oil. It doesn’t include toxic surfactants and additives. According to the manufacturer, all ingredients are biodegradable, vegan, and cruelty-free. It is gentle to your hands and safe for the environment.
This small business company uses 100% wind energy for the production process, creating zero waste to landfill. The formula is concentrated and comes in recyclable packaging.
These packs are biodegradable made without the addition of chlorine, phosphates, dyes, perfumes and other nasty chemicals which also makes them septic tank and grey water safe. It is made with 96% natural ingredients that are derived from plants and minerals. You will finely be able to work in your kitchen without inhaling the horrible chlorine smell.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives this product an A. The ingredients, packaging, and production are environmentally friendly, while the packs still doing their job.
Is There More You Could Do?
When choosing non-toxic and biodegradable dishwasher soaps, you need to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper measurements to avoid using a larger amount of the product than necessary. Using less of the product reduces waste and pollution during the manufacturing stage and less goes down the drain to leach into groundwater. That also means fewer bottles to contribute to landfills.