It’s not something I think about a lot, but it is something I use — constantly! As a stay-at-home, part-time work-from-home baker, attempting Paleo and clean-eating, mother of three boys, I’m in the kitchen a lot.
Cooking and cleaning to keep everyone fed and clean takes a lot of dishwashing liquid. So, on my green quest, I wanted to “green up” our kitchen including this little bottle of toxins that I was using to hand wash my dishes!
Do Dishwashing Liquids Really Contain Toxins?
I used to use the cheapest liquid on the shelf. “Why not?,” I used to think, “they’re all the same!” Sadly, that is mostly true.
If you take the time to check the labels on the huge rows of dishwashing liquids on the shelves, they are pretty much ALL filled with the same chemical toxins and fragrances. Even the self-proclaimed “green” products that are starting to pop-up have undesirable and undisclosed ingredients.
Here’s an actual screenshot of one of the leading “green” products you can find in stores:
The first ingredient is water, meaning that that most of the bottle is water. The second ingredient is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), meaning the first true ingredient is SLS. It also means the bottle is mostly water and SLS. The company claims SLS to be a “plant-derived cleaning agent,” but here is the truth: “plant derived” does not make it safe for you or the environment.
SLS may have plant origins, but it is made through a chemical process that takes it a long way from its organic source. From my research, it doesn’t seem to be cancer causing, but it does have enough of a bad rap for me to avoid it. It is a known skin irritant, organ toxin, and environmental toxin.
Related Post: Why I Recommend Poofy Organics Products
How Much Is Too Much of a Toxin in Dishwashing Liquid?
Although our risk is low in small quantities, we seldom use only one product and SLS is used in over 80 different kinds of products, including commercial toothpaste!
Think about how many different products you use each day. How many of them contain SLS? Is the risk still low when we use 5, 10, or 15 products per day that contain SLS?
What About the Environment?
If each of us is using 10-15 products per day containing these chemicals, how much of these environmental toxins are we washing down the drain into our water supply? Yikes!
I like products with 0 (zero!) known toxins. Why take the risk and allow our products to poison us and the environment?
I Don’t Want Toxins in My Dish Soap, So What Do I Do?
I stopped washing dishes. No, not really. It’s one of those products that we just can’t just stop using since dishes are an everyday event in almost every household, including mine.
DIY Dish Soap?
I tried a few recipes and found an effective one that included solid castile soap, super-washing soda, and essential oils. I used it for a few months, but I wasn’t really happy with it. It was a pain to make and I felt like we ran out of constantly. I also tried making larger batches, but storing it and pouring it was also messy. I had to drag out a funnel each time and find a place to store it all. It doesn’t seem like a big of a deal, but refilling the container at the sink every few days through a messy process was not working for me.
Safe, Effective Dishwashing Options
After doing my research and trying a few products, here are top two favorites and what I currently use to green clean my dishes.
- Poofy Organics Dish Washing Liquid: I love it.
I am a Poofy Organics affiliate, but that’s not why I love it. I love it because it’s very safe for me and the environment, it smells awesome, feels great, and works well. Each bottle is 16oz, but little of this soap goes a long, long way.It is made to be toxin-free without any harmful ingredients and each and every ingredient is listed on the label. See them here.With that being said, there are also a couple of things I don’t like about Poofy Dishwashing Liquid. It’s thick. You really need to shake it often to keep it from clogging the nozzle and it is a bit expensive. I have found that I can dilute it 50/50 with water and that helps with both of these problems.
- Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Castile Soap: My new favorite!
I use this castile soap a lot, but it was just recently that I READ the label. The label suggests a ton of uses including HAND WASHING DISH LIQUID when diluted 1:10. YEAH!I’ve been using it for about 4 weeks and I think it works great! It doesn’t smell as good as the Poofy Dishwashing liquid and it’s very runny, but it is very affordable, especially if you are a Costco member. At Costco, you can buy a 40-ounce bottle for $9.99. If you do the math and only use the bottle only for dish soap, dilute it as recommended, it will make about 40, 10oz bottles of soap that cost you approximately $1 each! And just like the Poofy Organics product, it’s safe for both me and the environment. Plus it is certified fair trade and non-GMO verified!Dr. Bronner’s castile soap comes in many different essential oil scents, but at the Costco nearest to me, only the peppermint is offered and is perfect for dishes. Peppermint essential oil smells good, but it also has antimicrobial properties. Win/Win! You can also buy the unscented soap and add your own essential oils to add in the properties you would prefer, like lemon (disinfectant) or lavender (calming, antibacterial and antimicrobial).
If you want to try it, but don’t have a Costco near you, you can see the full ingredients list and order it online at Amazon here.
But What About Seventh Generation and Method Dish Soaps? Aren’t they good too?
Well, no. The screenshot above is the ingredient list from Seventh Generation. See it here.
And Method? Well, I hate to say it, but they are no better. The EWG gives their hand washing dish soap a D rating for “high concerning” health and environmental dangers. See the EWG rating here.
I consider Seventh Generation and Method both, at least in part, greenwashers. I think their products are making an effort, but they are putting forth a much “greener” impression that they are actually giving consumers. When we look at the choices on the shelves of our grocery stores (at least here in Ohio), these seem like our only choices, but thankfully Dr. Bronner’s can now be found at several local stores.
Here is another option I haven’t personally tried, but it seems to have low-risk ingredients and is pretty popular with eco-friendly groups:
Better Life Dish Soap, Unscented, 22 Ounces ($6.25). You can find it in some Target stores or of course at Amazon.com. If you use it or try it, please leave a comment and tell us why you chose it and how it is working for you.
For me, Dr. Bronner’s is working well and the price is hard to beat.
BTW: I also use Dr. Bronner’s as a foaming hand soap and it works great!