What is in your dish soap? 20 Ingredients to Avoid

March 04, 2021

What is in your dish soap? 20 Ingredients to Avoid

If you think about it, dish soap should be one of the first items in our homes that we check for toxic ingredients and find an alternative for, if necessary. Not only does it get constantly used, with exposure to our hands and skin, but even "clean dishes" can have toxic soap residue left on them, which will then touch the food/drink that we end up ingesting. 

Per the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, here are some common dish soap ingredients to look out for and avoid:

  • Phosphates
  • Chlorine
  • Codamine DEA 
  • Ethanolamine
  • Formaldehyde (Formalin): main concerns include cancer, respiratory problems, skin irritation, allergies, or damage, acute aquatic toxicity.
  • Ammonia
  • Sulfuric acid: main concerns include cancer, respiratory problems, and skin irritation, allergies, or damage. 
  • Sodium borate: main concerns include endocrine disruptors, reproductive or developmetal effects, respiratory problems, and skin irritation, allergies or damage.
  • Triclosan: linked to liver and inhalation toxicity. Can disrupt thyroid function and cause a bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It is also very toxic to aquatic life.   
  • Methylisothiazolinone: highly corrosive. Main concerns are acute aquatic toxicity and skin irritant. 

We should also be wary of vague, non-specific ingredients, as these are often (but not always) used to hide additional toxic ingredients. In my opinion, not being forthcoming in stating exactly what is in their product is reason enough to avoid a company. 

  • Buffering agent
  • Colors
  • Fragrance
  • Foaming agent 
  • Foaming booster
  • Ph adjuster
  • Preservatives
  • Surfactants
  • Water softener
  • Softening agent

On top of comprehensive reports, scientific research, and health guides, the Environmental Working Group also provides a database of common household products, rated "A" through "F," based on the level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in the product. Dawn dishwashing soap was given a "D" rating for hazard/transparancy, while "Up & Up" from Target, "Method" brand found in Walmart and Home Depot, and the Kirland brand were all given an "F." YIKES! 

Go to your kitchen right now, and check your dish soap. If you find some of the ingredients listed above, or you look it up in the EWG database and aren't happy with its rating, I highly recommend switching to a safer one. 

Dish Washing Ecofriendly Sustainable Alternatives

My favorite eco-friendly alternative is the Vegan Dish Block by No Tox Life. Not only is it plastic-free, but it is rated an "A" (lowest concern) by the Environmental Working Group. You can shop it here, as part of our March Bundle. Or here, by itself

We have a lot of power as consumers! If we stop buying toxic products, companies will have to stop making them. 

Let me know what your current dish soap scored below, or in the comments on Instagram.

Thank you for reading! xo, Jess

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