Washing the dishes is a daily ritual for most of us. Consequently, the dish soap that we use is a part if our daily lives. It gets onto our skin, and is even accidentally ingested from residue left behind on the dishes themselves.
Let's take a deeper look into this daily ritual, and the health and environmental impacts that our dish soap could be causing. Then, we'll talk about a zero-waste, healthy & safe dish soap option that might just be the perfect alternative for you.
Is your dish soap toxic? Important ingredients to look out for.
Just a heads up, there are some scientific, scary-looking terms up ahead, but don't worry, it's easy enough to understand!
Here are 10 toxic ingredients typically found in conventional dish soaps:
1. Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Also known as "SLS", these two ingredients are among the most common found in conventional dish soaps. SLS affects your respiratory system, reproductive system, nervous system, and your digestive system. It’s also carcinogenic. Definitely not something you should be using on your dishes.
This ingredient can sometimes even be found in "natural" or "organic" products, so be sure to check your labels!
Concerns include cancer, effects on your organs, respiratory effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, and aquatic toxicity.
3. Cocamidopropyl betaine or Cocamide DEA.
These ingredients cause aquatic toxicity and contribute to water pollution, harming any living creature in the water.
4. Propylene or Dipropylene Glycol.
This is an ingredient used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, but you can also find it in dish soap, moisturizers, hand sanitizers, shampoo and conditioner, and even baby products.
These two ingredients can have side effects including skin irritation, vision damage, liver abnormalities, and kidney damage.
The word "fragrance" on an ingredient list does not refer to just one ingredient. It is a "black-box" term which manufacturers can use for hundreds, even thousands, of chemicals, including phthalates.
Phthalates can negatively affect estrogen and testosterone levels, and "fragrances" in general are a major cause of allergic reactions.
6. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.
This ingredient is harmful to your digestive system - not something you want to be using on your dishes!
7. Methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and benzisothiazolinone.
These three ingredients can irritate your skin, and even cause contact dermatitis. They're also harmful to ecosystems by killing anything that lives in the water.
Polysorbate-20 can damage your DNA and cause cancer. It can also cause developmental, reproductive, and endocrine issues. It may also affect your respiratory system, nervous system, your digestion, as well as your skin and your vision.
9. Sodium polyacrylate.
Once it washes down the drain, this ingredient is extremely harmful to aquatic life, and causes water pollution.
Concerns include aquatic toxicity, and general ecotoxicity. Triclosan can also cause developmental, endocrine and reproductive effects, and cancer. Additionally, it may cause negative effects to your immune, circulatory, digestive and nervous systems.
EWG Hazard Score
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a rating system for readily available products and chemicals that goes from A (little to no concern) to F (highest concern and harmful effects to health and the environment). After testing 165 different varieties of dish soaps, the EWG gave over 88% of them a C - F rating.
Phew! That was a lot. But don't be overwhelmed - knowledge is power! We recommend carefully reading labels and watching out for these ingredients while shopping. It can also be helpful to research dish soap brands in advance to learn which ones are safest for your health and the environment.
Dish soap plastic bottle usage
The average family of four goes through approximately thirty 20 oz plastic bottles of dish soap in a year. Think about how many plastic dish soap bottles that would be in your lifetime! You can save all that plastic by switching to dish soap bars instead.
A zero waste, healthy & safe dish soap option
NoTox Life makes a dish soap bar that is 100% zero-waste, truly biodegradable and natural, and contains ZERO of the harmful ingredients listed above. And each bar replaces 1-3 bottles of typical dish soap!
Here's the ingredient list of this dish soap bar:
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (plant derived)
Decyl Glucoside (plant derived)
Sodium Cocoate (plant derived)
Quillaja Saponaria (from the South American soap bark tree - organic)
Glycerin (plant derived)
Aloe Vera Leaf (organic)
Sodium Carbonate (mineral derived)
How to use a dish soap bar
Using a bar of soap to wash dishes is a little bit different than a liquid dish soap, but it's easy enough!
How to use: Scrape dishes to remove excess grease and food. Wet a sponge or washcloth, for plates, bowls and cups, and rub dish block soap to create suds. (Repeat as needed to refresh suds.) Wash items and rinse well. Works in warm or cold water. We prefer warm water for best results. For pots and pans, use a scrubber or scourer.
Please note: using a strong scourer or scrubber exclusively on the block will wear it down faster than using a soft sponge or cloth.
Other uses for the dish soap bar
She's a multi-purpose cleaner! You can use this dish soap bar for more than just your dishes:
Use the same suds you wash your dishes with to clean your sink
Take stains off of laundry
Remove labels from jars
Wipe down your counters
Spot-clean your carpet
That's a wrap on the HOW and WHY to switch to a zero-waste dish soap bar! We hope you've found this helpful as you make informed decisions for your health & safety.
To shop the Dish Washing Block, click here!